Undoubtedly one of Europe’s loveliest stretches of coastline, the Costa Brava stretches from the town of Blanes, around 45 miles north of Barcelona in the Spanish region of Catalonia, right up to the French border. With a name that translates as ‘wild coast’, much of the Costa Brava is ruggedly beautiful, with rocky cliffs and coves, soft sandy beaches, and turquoise waters. The Costa Brava is rich in culture too – the area is well known for its links to the surrealist artist Salvador Dali, and for its excellent restaurants – indeed Catalonia has the highest concentration of Michelin-starred chefs in the whole of Spain.
The fastest way to reach the Costa Brava is by flying directly into Girona Airport, although the region is easily accessible from both Barcelona to the south and from Perpignan, which is just over the border in France. Days on the Costa Brava are generally very sunny, and temperatures are pleasant from March to November. For the best of the weather without the crowds, plan to visit either side of the peak summer months, in either May or September.
The Costa Brava’s best-known son, the artist Salvador Dali was born in the town of Figueres in 1904 and maintained a close connection to the area throughout his life. After spending time in Madrid, Paris and the United States, Dali returned to the Costa Brava in 1948, buying a house just outside Cadaques with his wife Gala, which has now been turned into a museum. As you’d expect, the house and gardens are filled with Dali’s surrealist artworks, such as a 7-foot-tall bear who guards the front gate, and a number of large eggs, which sit in the garden and on the terrace. The trail continues at the must-see Dali Theater and Museum in Figueres, where you’ll find a large, diverse selection of the artist’s works, as well as pieces by other celebrated artists such as Marcel Duchamp and El Greco. Complete the tour at the Castell de Pubol, a medieval castle that Dali bought for Gala in 1968 which was opened to the public as the Gala-Dali Castle House Museum in 1996.
The largest city in Northern Catalonia, Girona is a medieval jewel with a compact center that is easy to explore. Encircled by walls that date to the 14th century, Girona is divided into a left bank and a right bank by the River Onyar which flows through it. The right bank is where you’ll find the old town, with its narrow cobbled streets and stone steps, although it is worth a trip to the lively bars and restaurants on the left bank’s Placa de la Independencia. The best way to see the city is by walking along the Passeig de la Muralla and admiring the views from the walls. While the snow-capped Pyrenees provide a beautiful backdrop, the foreground is dominated by Girona’s imposing cathedral, which has played a starring role in the hugely popular Game of Thrones series. As the sun sets head to one of the many bars and cafes for a selection of pintxos, or tapas served on bread, which are best enjoyed alongside a cold glass of local vermouth.
There’s much more to the Costa Brava than just sun, sea and sand – indeed, many of the region’s towns and villages are steeped in fascinating medieval history. If you want to take a trip back in time, start at the town of Besalu, which has one of the largest concentrations of medieval architecture in the whole of Catalonia. After crossing the town’s 11th-century bridge, be sure to take in the monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes, the church of Sant Vicenç and the Jewish Quarter. From there, head inland to the small town of Peratallada, where the pretty stone houses are covered in lush bougainvillea. Back on the coast, the beach at Tossa de Mar is overlooked by a fortified area which was constructed between the 12th and 14th centuries to protect the town from pirates.
The Costa Brava’s beaches are naturally one of the major attractions for anyone visiting the area, and it’s not difficult to see why. From rocky coves with crystal clear water to picture-postcard sandy beaches, this stretch of coastline has it all. For a true Costa Brava beach, don’t miss the Cala Treumal, just five minutes by car from the center of Blanes. As well as a long stretch of golden sand, there’s also a botanical garden filled with cacti. For a truly tranquil experience, there is a remote smugglers cove known as Cala Pedrosa or Calella de Palafrugell located near Tamariu, which is the perfect place to escape it all. Meanwhile, if you’re traveling with kids, the family-friendly beach at Tamariu is an ideal spot to while away a sunny afternoon. The small, horseshoe-shaped bay is great for swimming, boating, and snorkeling, and the pedestrianized promenade behind the beach is lined with excellent cafes and restaurants.
Overlooking the Mediterranean Sea from a bay in the middle of the Cap de Creus peninsula, Cadaques is a traditional Spanish town filled with whitewashed houses and narrow, winding streets. It is not hard to see why this place has had such a strong appeal among artists – as well as the town’s adopted son, Salvador Dali, who had a house in neighboring Port Lligat, Cadaques has hosted the likes of Pablo Picasso, Joan Miro, and Marcel Duchamp. To experience its appeal for yourself, take a look at ourCadaques villas to rent . Our homes here have been designed to make the most of the beautiful natural setting, and many boast fabulous terraces and infinity pools.
Situated just outside the Costa Brava’s biggest city, ourvillas in Girona would make the perfect base for anyone looking to explore this beautiful region. The fabulous Mas Mateu is one of the most exclusive villas in all of Spain, and with plenty of room for up to 25 guests, it would be the ideal choice for a special event.
Set just outside the town of Palafrugell, our Palafrugell villas incorporate traditional Spanish elements such as stone walls, vaulted ceilings, and fireplaces, along with thoroughly modern amenities, such as a heated swimming pool, whirlpool spa, or Finnish sauna. Choose aPalafrugell villa that can accommodate bigger groups for a family reunion or friends gathering – we have villas with room for up to 28 guests.