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Blanes is an attractive seaside town in Catalonia famous for its gardens. It has a long sandy beach and a thirteenth century castle.
Blanes has an attractive old town with a working fishing port and a newer part full of accommodation for tourists. Its sandy beach is one of the longest on the Costa Brava and the town is overlooked by its castle - the 13th century Castle of Saint Joan as well as the mountain of St Joan. From here you get some excellent views over the town and the bay.
Blanes is a favouite with Catalans and a favouite seaside destination for people living in Barcelona and Girona because of its long sandy beaches and relaxed atmosphere. It is a lot quieter than busy Lloret de Mar to the north.
Blanes centre is attractive with lots of cafes and restaurants and interesting shops and it has nice long seafront boulevards. There are a number of classical mansions and a Gothic fountain as well as the Gothic Santa Maria church. Unfortunately a fire in the 1930s damaged the Gaudi pulpit.
The harbour and fishing port is very attractive and very pleasant for a stroll.
During the last week of July Blanes has an annual firework competition and you can watch the best free fireworks display in the whole of Spain. A particularly nice way to see the fireworks is to go out on one of the boat trips and watch the fireworks from the sea.
Blanes is best known, however for its gardens. Above the harbour with great views over the sea there is the Mar i Murtra botanical gardens full of plants from around the world. The gardens were designed by Karl Faust in 1928. The gardens are open all year round receive more than 100,000 visitors a year. It is one of the oldest botanical gardens in Europe and so as well as having over 4000 different species it has lots of very mature species too giving the garden a very special feel.
The gardens are split into three main areas: Mediterranean, Tropical and Temperate. Within these areas are lots of different landscapes each one beautifully set out to mimic the natural environment of the plants.
Key areas of the garden are the Pergola area, the very old Araucarias garden, the Linnaeus temple with its magnificent view over the sea, and the five Mediterraneans.
Also in Blanes is the Pinya de Rosa Tropical Gardens with a magnificent collection of cacti.
Places to visit nearby
Garden lovers will also enjoy a visit to the Cap Roig Gardens at nearby Calella de Palafrugell. This botanical garden is one of the most varied in Catalonia. In July and August the gardens host the Costa Brava Jazz Festival.
Marineland is a large marine zoo and waterpark at the nearby town of Palafolls. Each day there are dolphin shows, sealion shows and exotic bird shows. The waterpark has lots of different water-slides including the 'Tornado' a 60m long slide that has you spinning down as if you were caught in a tornado. There are free buses from Blanes to Marineland in the summer.
Lloret de Mar is a very popular seaside town with lots of nearby attractions as well as a castle and great beach.