Photo of The Costa Brava

Visit The Costa Brava

The Costa Brava is the beautiful coastal region in the province of Girona in Spain's Catalonia region. The Costa Brava extends from the French-Spanish border to Blanes, 60km north of Barcelona. Its name means the wild coast and its lovely rocky coastline inset with tiny coves and large sandy beaches is beautiful.

Explore the Costa Brava coast

Like many parts of the Spanish coast the Costa Brava has parts which have been overdeveloped and before a recent visit I was half expecting to see little more than 'English Pubs', 'Sangria and Chips' and wall to wall developments along the beaches. I could not have been more wrong, the Costa Brava along with the beautiful medieval villages and mountains inland were wonderful and made for a fabulous holiday.

The Costa Brava coast is split into three areas: the Alt Empordia in the north, the chic Baix Empordia area and La Selva at the southern end. Also worth visiting is the area inland of here with the Garrotxa volcanic area and lots of medieval villages.

The Alt Empordia

CadaquesAt the northern tip of the Alt Empordia is the charming seaside village of Cadaques. White-washed houses form a backdrop to the harbour and it has attracted many famous artists including Picasso, Man Ray, Thomas Mann and Salvador Dali. Indeed this village so charmed Salvador Dali that he bought 3 fishing cottages in the neighbouring village of Portlligat. He turned these into quirky home which is now the Casa-Museu Salvador Dali and well worth a visit.

Below Cadaques is Roses on the northern edge of the Bay of Roses. Medieval walls, a harbour, the Bay of Roses itself and its large sandy beach have turned this into one of the largest resorts on the Costa Brava. With great facilities, especially for watersports it makes a good package resort but less attractive than many others.

Further south in the Bay of Roses is Empuries with its Roman and Greek ruins and the tiny village of Sant Marti d'Empuries - a popular spot for lunch. South of here is L'Escala with a picturesque old town.

Inland of Alt Empordia

The medieval town of Castello d'Empuies is not far from the beach and offers a peaceful respite as you wander its medieval streets. Further inland is Figueres with the wonderful Salvador Dali museum - not to be missed.

If you want a day in the wonderful volcanic interior then head inland from Figueres and first stop off at the charming town of Besalu with its huge medieval bridge and wonderful medieval centre, one of the most beautiful towns in Spain.

Keep heading inland and the village of Santa Pau is one of the best for exploring the volcanic countryside. Nearby Olot makes a good base if you want to spend a few days exploring this area known as the Baixa Garrotxa.


Baix Emporda

Calella de PalafrugellThis is the most stylish part of the Costa Brava and has some real gems to visit.

At its northern tip is L'Estartit, not one of its most picturesque resorts, but non the less it has good sandy beaches, a decent selection of bars and restaurants which do not dominate the beach, and it faces the Illes Medes which are well worth a boat trip to view the sea and bird life of these protected islands.

South of here is Begur, a charming hill-top town set slightly inland from its beaches on the coast below.

South of here are Llafranc and Tamariu which are some of the Costa Brava's stylish upmarket resorts. Calella de Palafrugell is utterly charming. A small coastal town with white-washed houses and sandy beaches seperated by rocky outcrops. Also here are the superb Cap Roig gardens.

Palamos is a working fishing town which has an attractive old centre as well as wide sandy beaches.

At the southern end of the Baix Emporda are the resorts of Platja d'Aro, S'Agaro and Sant Feliu de Guixols.

Inland of Baix Emporda

Pals is just a few kilometers inland from the Baix Emporda and yet is a great contrast with its medieval streets and old stone ramparts. Nearby is Peratallada, another medieval walled town and one of the most beautiful in Spain.

The city of Girona is the capital of the Girona province and is a wonderful city. Its historic centre is small but charming and the view of its painted houses either side of the river which runs through the centre of Girona is superb.

Between Peratallada and Girona is the tiny village of Pubol which is famous for the Casa-Museu Castell Gala Dali - which was home to Dali's wife and contains a good number of artworks he gave her to decorate the house. This completes the so-called 'Dali triangle' of Portlligat, Figueres and Pubol.

La Selva

Tossa de MarThe La Selva area is dominated by Lloret de Mar which is undeniably a very developed tourist resort but if you are looking for nightclubs, bars, restaurants, water-sports etc it does offer all of these in abundance. It is also home to the excellent Water World water park.

Slightly north of here is the slightly smaller and infinitely prettier Tossa de Mar with its medieval walls and old town dominating the beach and lots of charming cobbled streets full of restaurants and boutiques running behind the beach.

Blanes at the southern tip of the Costa Brava has a long sandy beach overlooked by a garden. It is home to the wonderful Marimurtra gardens.

See also: 

Map of The Costa Brava and places to visit