Costa Brava Vineyards

The aim of this blog post is to list all the local vineyards located in the province of Girona that offer to the public activitats such as wine tasting, tours, meals and picnics.

Most cellers require pre-booking of tastings and it is recommended to contact at least 24 hours in advance. Contact details are listed on the websites of each celler.

More information on the wines of the Emporda region can be found here: http://www.doemporda.cat/en/the-wines.html

Celler La Vinyeta La Vinyeta is one of the youngest and most dynamic DO Empordà projects. Its owners, Josep and Marta, are two young entrepreneurs who set up the business in 2002 with just 4 hectares of old vines located in Mollet de Peralada. In 2006 they built the cellar and began to produce their first bottles. In the space of just a few years, La Vinyeta has received numerous plaudits and has earned the appreciation of many visitors, drawn to the winery by a very personal service.La Vinyeta offers wine tours of the vineyards with tastings.They also offer picnics amongst the vines. http://www.lavinyeta.es/

Celler Espelt Espelt has been founded by members of a long line of winemakers who understand that the culture of wine lies in agriculture, quality, creativity and passion. The winemaking tradition of Empordà and the love for the earth and its fruits are what led those behind the project to plant vines in the Cap de Creus Natural Park, to set up the Espelt winery and to sell its wines.Espelt has a shop which is open to the public and offer wine tastings. http://www.espeltviticultors.com/

Celler Hugas de Batlle The “Celler Hugas de Batlle” is a small family ran winery based in the centre of Colera. It has a patio which serves as a production area and a shop inside with a place for the ageing process and another area for tasting.The celler offers various wine tasting options including a breakfast option and tours of the vineyards. http://www.cellerhugasdebatlle.com/

Celler Arché-Pagès is a family-owned winery located in the town of Capmany. Five generations of winegrowers have cultivated the estate’s 14 hectares of vineyards, in which mainly the indigenous varieties of the area are planted: garnacha and cariñena. The company exercises absolute control over the entire process, from pruning the vines to selling the wine. This modern and dynamic winery offers visitors the chance to visit its facilities in the company of the winegrower and winemaker, to stroll through the vineyards and to taste wines with a distinctive personality.
www.cellerarchepages.com

Mas Lunes Mas Llunes is a modern winery that specialises in the production of wine from the grapes grown in the estate’s own vineyards. It is owned by the Roig de Garriguella family, which has been closely involved in the world of winegrowing in Empordà for several generations. They offer wine tastings and tours of the vineyards in their own 4×4 vehicles.
http://www.masllunes.es/

Mas Oller Mas Oller currently has 12 hectares of wine-producing vines and 4 hectares of newly planted vines. The approach of Mas Oller is based on reviving the winegrowing tradition of Empordà, with a modern interpretation of the concept of wine. Both the winery and vineyards can be visited at Mas Oller, while the enoteca offers visitors the chance to purchase and taste the wines that it produces in an idyllic setting. They offer tastings and visits of the vineyards. Also check their website for information on special cheese and wine tastings.
http://www.masoller.es/

Celler Can Sais This small family-owned winery with a long winegrowing tradition is located in the old part of the town of Vall-llobrega, in the Gavarres Massif and 5 km from the sea. At Can Sais we attempt to produce wines with concentration and personality, wines that say something about the area and its way of life. They offer guided visits of the vineyards and instalations, wine tastings and other activities such as wine therapy massages. www.cellercansais.com

Celler Bell-Lloc This Empordà farmstead is imbued with a philosophy rooted in the land, which takes advantage of recent advances to provide quality, without losing spirit and authenticity. They offer celler visits and a gastronomic experience of a meal paired with their own wines.
http://www.fincabell-lloc.com/

Cellers d’en Guilla New wines produced with grapes from old vines: this is the approach adopted by Cellers d’en Guilla, a new winery with limited production located in the Delfià district of Rabós d’Empordà. Offering visits and wine tastings with local food products.
www.cellersdenguilla.com

Terra Remota Terra Remota is a winery that is highly sensitive to its surroundings and, consequently, is strongly committed to becoming integrated within its environment. The result is a top quality wine and an enchanting landscape. They do winery visits, tastings and picnics amongst the vines.
http://www.terraremota.com/

The best beaches on the Costa Brava

The Costa Brava has many great beaches from the isolated, hard to get to bays and coves on the Cap de Creus to the popular sandy beaches of Begur and Palafrugell. With over 200kms of coastline from Portbou in the north to Blanes on the southern tip there is a beach for everyone. Here is a selection of our personal favourites.

Aiguablava beach, Begur.

Aiguablava beach Begur

Aiguablava beach, Begur

The beautiful turquoise waters of Aiguablava make this one of the most beautiful beaches of the Costa Brava. The beach has a few restaurants, toilets and showers. Large car park nearby.

Platja Castell, Palamos

Platja Castell, Palamos

Platja Castell, Palamos

With over 300m of fine sand, this is one of the largest and less busy beaches in the Palamos/Palafrugell area.

Tamariu beach, Palafrugell

Tamariu beach, Palafrugell

Tamariu beach, Palafrugell

One of the most popular beaches of the whole Costa Brava, Tamariu beach has beautiful clear waters and fine sand. There are also a choice of restaurants to choose from on the beach front.

Cala Taballera, Port de la Selva

Cala Taballera, Port de la Selva

Cala Taballera, Port de la Selva

The largest beach in the Cap de Creus peninsula. The Cala is a good two hour hike from Port de la Selva and well worth the effort.

Platja del Ros, Cadaques

Platja del Ros, Cadaques

Platja del Ros, Cadaques

The beaches of Cadaques are not huge but this is one of the best and has great views of the Cadaques seafront in the background.

Sa Sabolla, Cadaques

Sa Sabolla, Cadaques

Sa Sabolla, Cadaques

Sa Sabolla is a pleasant 45 minute walk from Cadaques in the direction of Cala Nans and the lighthouse. Pebbles rather than sandy and a great place for a swim.

Cala Joncols, Roses

Cala Joncols, Roses

Cala Joncols, Roses

Roughly half way between Roses and Cadaques Cala Joncols makes a great stop off for a swim if you are walking the coastal “Cami de Ronda” between the two towns.

Portixol beach, L’Escala

Platja de Portixol, L'Escala

Platja de Portixol, L’Escala

Portixol beach is a great sandy beach sitting half way between the charming coastal village of Sant Marti d’Empuries and the larger town of L’Escala. There are a number of similar lovely sandy beaches each side of Portixol and a selection of restaurants within walking distance.

Cala Montgo, L’Escala

Cala Montgo, L'Escala

Cala Montgo, L’Escala

Just on the southern edge of L’Escala Cala Montgo is a lovely sandy bay with great views of the Montgri national park. There’s also a couple of nearby restaurants to choose from.

Sa Riera, Begur

Sa Riera, Begur

Sa Riera, Begur

Another of our favourites, Sa Riera in our opinion, is the best beach of Begur. With a large area of sand and a handful of restaurants to choose from the beach offers space yet at the same time a sense of intimacy.

Llafranc beach, Palafrugell

Llafranc beach, Palafrugell

Llafranc beach, Palafrugell

Similar to the nearby Tamariu beach, Llafranc has a lovely sandy beach and a number of beachside restaurants to choose from.

Cala Estreta

Cala Estreta, Palamos

Cala Estreta, Palamos

Cala Estreta and El Crit beaches are on the Cami de Ronda coastal path and are a nice walk from either Platja Castell or from Calella de Palafrugell to the north. Isoloated and with no bars or shops these are a great beaches to escape the crowds.

Sa Conca, S’Agaro

Sa Conca, S'Agaro

Sa Conca, S’Agaro

With numerous facilities, you can access it both by car and on foot, via a pleasant stroll along the coastal path. It has a blue flag and a few metres away from here is also the Port d’Aro marina.

Here is a map showing the locations of our favourite beaches on the Costa Brava

Costa Brava boat charter

The Costa Brava coastline is well known for its crystal clear waters together with its numerous hidden bays and coves. Many of these elusive coves are only accessible by sea making boat charter a popular pursuit on the Costa Brava.

The main ports for boat rental on the Costa Brava are Roses in the Alt Emporda and Palamos in the Baix Emporda although it is also possible to hire boats in Cadaques.

Roses is located on the edge of the Cap de Creus peninsula and makes a great base from where to spend a day exploring the bays and coves of the Cap de Creus with perhaps going ashore at Cadaques for lunch.

Restless Spirit

The restless Spirit on the Cap de Creus

The coastline from Palamos to the beaches of Begur is also very interesting with plenty of hidden coves and sandy beaches where to anchor and swim. A little further north from Begur at L’Estartit is where one finds the Medes Islands which are protected from fishing and are rich in local flora and fauna and are popular with divers.

If you do not have a Skipper’s licence this restricts the type of boat you can hire to smaller, less powerful boats. The vast majority of boats available for hire on the Costa Brava come with skipper included in the price.
Here are a selection of boat charter companies located on the Costa Brava:

Restless Spirit based in Roses https://www.restlessspirit.cat/en/
Boats Mediterrani based in Roses http://www.boatsmediterrani.com/alquiler-barcos-roses
Roses Yachts based in Roses http://www.rosesyachts.com/es
Aventura Nautica based in Roses http://www.aventuranautica.com/
Charter Sant Isidre based in Cadaques http://www.chartersantisidre.com/
Cadaques boats based in Cadaques http://www.cadaquesboats.com/web/index.php?lng=uk
Cadaques rent based in Cadaques https://www.cadaquesrent.es/en/
Palamos boats based in Palamos http://www.palamosboats.com/
General Nautic based in Palamos http://www.generalnautic.com/
Llauts i Velers based in Palamos http://www.llautsivelers.com/
Boat rental Palamos based in Palamos http://www.boatrentalpalamos.com/
Vela Nomada based in Palamos http://www.velanomada.com/

Tennis clubs on the Costa Brava

The Costa Brava and the province of Girona has a great selection of Tennis clubs of which probably the most well know is the club at Llafranc. Here is a map listing all the tennis clubs in the area:

The Costa Brava coastal path

From Port Bou at the north all the way down to Blanes, the Costa Brava coastline is connected by a series of coastal paths linking all the major towns and villages. This network of paths, “Cami de Ronda” in Catalan, covers over 200km and takes a total of nine or ten days walking at an average of 20/22kms/day.

Cala Guillola

Cala Guillola, Cap de Creus, Cadaques

In October 2013 I spent four days walking between Port Bou and Sant Marti d’Empuries. In October 2014 i picked up again from Sant Marti and spent another four days walking to Sant Feliu de Guixolls. Traveling light with just a medium sized rucksack i booked hotels in advance and usually arrived at my destination by mid afternoon after setting off in the mornings after breakfast at around 09.00am.

As we live in the Girona province i had already visited most of the main towns and villages along the Costa Brava but i was really keen to explore some of the less well known areas and discover little hidden bays and coves. I chose October as this is a relatively quiet time for us at Charming Villas and the weather is generally still good, not the intense heat of the summer and still T.Shirt weather for us Northern Europeans!

For my first four days of walking I drove to the small train station at Camallera where i left my car and took the train to the frontier town of Port Bou.

Day 1. Port Bou – El Port de la Selva.
This stretch of the Northern Costa Brava was relatively new to me. I had visited Llanca and Port de la Selva on various occasions but the rest of the coastline was a mystery. The train station at Port Bou was huge and pretty quiet. This frontier town used to be an important hub between Catalonia and France but now its glory days of commerce and movement are a distant memory. I didn’t hang around in the town and quickly caught up with the red and white stripped markings showing me the way to follow.

Port Bou beach

The beach at the town of Port Bou, Costa Brava

From leaving the beach at Port Bou the route takes me up and over a headland and i don’t hit water again until I reach Colera. Similar to Port Bou, Colera was a small coastal town which looked totally shut down on a week day in mid October. On I walked through fields and pine forests catching glimpses of blue to my lef until I come to Port de Joan, a little bay just before Platja Garbet

Port de Joan, Garbet

Port de Joan, Garbet

I got a bit stuck here as the red and white stripes I had been following suddenly disappeared. I back tracked and could not pick up the track. Eventually i realised that the route took me around the base of the cliffs, around the corner to the long sandy “Platja Garbet” beach. From here i passed through the town of Llanca and followed the well marked path to Port de la Selva.

Day 2, Port de la Selva – Cadaques.
I was really looking forward to this stretch through the Cap de Creus headland. Wild and wind beaten, this is where Dali spent a lot of his time gaining inspiration from the terrain. From the moment i left Port de la Selva behind me i didn’t see another soul until i reached Cadaques a few hours later. I took a little detour down to Cala Tavallera which is about a third of the way into the day’s walk.

Cala Tavallera

Cala Tavallera

The rest of the day was somewhat foggy and i couldn’t see very much but nevertheless i enjoyed the walk into Cadaques.

Day 3, Cadaques – Roses
Another enjoyable day walking the Cap de Creus in relative solitude. Before arriving in Roses one passes a series of beautiful little bays, the first being Cala Joncols.

Cala Joncols

Cala Joncols, Cap de Creus

After crossing the headland of Cap de Norfeu one encounters a few more bays of which Cala Montjoi being the most well known due to the world famous chef Ferran Adria and his ground breaking Number 1 restaurant in the world, El Bulli. The walk into Roses was quite pleasant with some nice little beaches on the outskirts of the town but personally Roses is not my favourite town on the Costa Brava and I find it a bit tacky in places.

Day 4, Roses – Sant Marti d’Empuries.
The walk out of Roses was probably my least favourite stretch of the whole walk. There was some nice bits but i didn’t really start to enjoy it until i reached the natural reserve of the Aiguamolls De L’Emporda which is a famed wildlife reserve with many rare wild birds. The route then takes you along the Fluvia river, crossing at Sant Pere Pescador and through farmland until reaching the charming coastal village of Sant Marti d’Empuries.

Sant Marti d'Empuries

The beach at Sant Marti d’Empuries

From Sant Marti i took a taxi back to the train station at Camallera and picked up my car and headed home to Besalu.

Day 5, Sant Marti – L’Estartit.
In October 2014 I was ready to go back and continue from where i left off the previous year. This time i drive directly to Sant Marti and leave the car parked up.

Cala Portixol

Cala Portixol, Sant Marti d’Empuries

Once you arrive at Cala Montgo you leave the the hussle and bustle of L’Escala behind you until you get to L’Estartit.

Cala Montgo, L'Escala

Cala Montgo, L’Escala

The terrain is pretty stoney undefoot most of the day. There’s two little bays to stop off at before arriving at L’Estartit, Cala Ferriol and Cala Pedrosa.

Cala Ferriol

Cala Ferriol, L’Estartit

Day 6, L’Estartit – Begur
Day six starts off with a pleasant barefoot stroll along the sandy beach until reaching the river Ter which flows into the sea. The book i was reading stated that you could wade through this but upon reaching the river found that this was impossible. So the only option was to walk along the side of the river to the first crossing point at Torroella de Montgri then head back towards the beach and along to Begur. There is another option which takes you through the Emporda countryside and villages of Palau Sator and Pals before reaching Begur but i prefered to take the coastal route.

Sa Riera beach, Begur

Sa Riera beach, Begur

Day 7, Begur – Palamos
This is quite a long one but worth it for the breathtaking scenery along the way. First up is the view down to Platja Fonda and Aiguablava.

Platja Fonda, Aiguablava

The view of Platja Fonda and Aiguablava

The beach of AiguaBlava, Begur

Aigua Blava, Begur

From Aiguablava the route takes you inland and brings you out at the lovely little bay of Tamariu.

Tamariu, Costa Brava

The beach at Tamariu

After Tamariu the path takes you past the small cove of Cala Pedrosa, up to the lighthouse of El Far de Sant Sebastia then down again to Llafranc. For lunch you could either stop here in Llafranc or the next little coastal bay of Calella de Palafrugell.

The route now takes you through the Cap Roig headland where you will find the off the beaten track Cala Estreta.

Cala Estreta

Cala Estreta

As you approach Palamos the first beach you will come accross is the great Platja Castell.

Platja Castell, Palamos

Platja Castell, Palamos

The coastal path takes you past a few more small bays before arriving on the main seafront of Palamos.

Dat 8, Palamos – Sant Feliu de Guixols.
A pleasant, quite flat day of walking passing many lovely little bays.

Cala del Forn, Costa Brava

Cala del Forn, Costa Brava

Cap Roig, Costa Brava

Cap Roig, Costa Brava

Platja Sa Conca, Costa Brava

Platja Sa Conca, Costa Brava

I mean to get back and finish the last stretch down to Blanes so watch this space.

Public transport on the Costa Brava

This post is aimed at helping people who wish to travel to the Costa Brava by public transport from the airports of Barcelona and Girona.

The new, high speed train line between Barcelona, Girona and Figueres is a fast and easy way to travel between these cities. http://www.renfe.com/EN/viajeros/horarios.html However if your final destination is the Costa Brava coast then either bus or a combination of train and bus are your only options.

As well as the main fast speed train line linking Barcelona, Girona and Figueres there is a secondary slower train from Barcelona which passes through Girona and Figueres to the frontier town of Portbou. http://rodalies.gencat.cat/web/.content/pdf/horaris/R11.pdf

The bus company Sarfa offer routes directly from Barcelona airport to most of the main coastal towns on the Costa Brava http://www.grupsarbus.com/ca/trayectos.html and also from Girona airport http://www.grupsarbus.com/ca/trayectos-girona.html

Alternatively there is the option of taking the train to Girona and then a bus on to your final destination. As well as Sarfa other local bus companies include: Sagales http://www.sagales.com/ and Teisa http://www.teisa-bus.com/

Teisa also have a direct route between Barcelona and Olot stopping at Banyoles and Besalu. http://www.teisa-bus.com/ca/bus-interurba

Palafrugell supermarkets

Here you will find a list of the main supermarkets in Palafrugell including Carrefour, Esclat/Bon Preu, Aldi and Mercadona. These are the biggest supermarkets close to Tamariu, Llafranc and Calella.

Mercadona avda. Espanya, 236-240 17200 Palafrugell. Opening times 09.15 – 21.15 Monday – Saturday. Tel 972 657 646

Aldi Avinguda Espanya 141 17200 Palafrugell. Opening times 09.00 – 22.00 Monday – Saturday, 09.15 – 15.15 Sunday.

Carrefour Avda. del Mar, 1 17200 Palafrugell. Opening times 09.00 – 22.00 Monday – Saturday.

Esclat/Bon Preu Costa Brava Boulevard (La Fanga) 17200 – Palafrugell.Opening times 09.00 – 21.30 Monday – Friday and 09.00 – 14.30 Sundays.

There is also a weekly market in Palafrugell on Sunday mornings from 08.00 around the Street Pi Margall where you can buy fruit, vegetables, meat, fish as well as clothing and shoes etc.

Pickpockets and scams to look out for in Barcelona

Unfortunately most large European cities in recent years have been blighted with an increase in pickpockets and bag snatching and sadly Barcelona is no exception. So we urge all of our clients to be vigilant and keep all valubles close and safe especially in crowded areas such as the airport, metro and busy streets such as the Ramblas.

If you are flying in to Barcelona airport and collecting a hire car and heading up to Girona or the Costa Brava you also have to be vigilant. We know at least two people who have been robbed on the roadside and the pólice say that it happens everyday. If you hear a loud noise coming from the car while you are driving and then a car at the side pointing to the rear of your car ignore them and don’t stop! This scam involves three people in the other car, the driver, a woman passenger and one hiding in the back. What they do is target hire cars (they can spot them a mile off) approaching from behind where the person in the back fires a catapult at your car and then hides on the back seat. Then the car draws level and the woman passenger points to the rear of your car indicating something amiss with the car. You pull over and the other car also stops in front of you. The driver stays in the car with the engine running while the woman gets out and takes you to the back of your car. While you are looking under the car either she or the third person grabs valubles from the car and then speed off.

If you stop at a motorway service station on the way between the airport and your destination it is advisable that one person stay with the car while the others use the services as we have also heard stories of people losing all their belonings. The thieves can easily spot hire cars and know that travellers will have a lot of valuble possessions with them in the car.

At the same time while we urge our clients to be vigilant we also don’t want you to be over careful or paranoid and as a consequence not get the most out of the beautiful city during your time here. Just try not to carry too much cash around with you and keep wallets and purses well out of reach and you will be fine.

It is a good idea to prepare photo copies of Passports and other important documents before you travel. You should also keep a list of important phone numbers such as Banks or credit card companies that you can call to cancel cards in case of theft.

If you are unlucky enough to be a victim of crime while in Spain the first thing you will need to do after cancelling your cards is to make a report at a Police station. In Catalonia there are various types of police; Guardia Civil, Guardia Militar and Mossos d’Esquadra. To make a police report it is necessary to speak to the Mossos d’Esquadra. This report will be necessary for insurance claims.

If your Passport is stolen you will need to make an apointment to visit your Consulate. Here is a list of all the Consultes in Barcelona

Guided tours in Barcelona

The Catalan city of Barcelona is without doubt one of the most loved and visited cities within Europe and welcomes more than seven million visitors each year.
Sagrada Familia, The Ramblas, Park Güell, Casa Battlo are some of the better know attractions of the city and although they are a “must do” there’s so much more that the city has to offer the seasoned traveller.

There’s countless guide books you can read about the city which will give you some great pointers but to find those off the beaten track gems you really need an insider’s help to get the most out of your time in the city. Again, there’s lots of guides out there to choose from but we highly recommend the British Ex-Pat Simon Harris. Simon has been living in Barcelona since 1988 and knows the city like the back of his hand. Fluent in both Catalan and Spanish Simon is the man behind the website http://www.barcelonas.com/

The website lists ideas of places to visit and things to see but Simon is also available to give private guided tours and can be contacted from the website. Let him know what your interests are and Simon can arrange a bespoke itinerary best suited to your interests and Schedule.

For those of you interested in history Simon is also the author of the book “Catalonia is not Spain” which gives a detailed account of over a thousand years of Catalan history up to the present day. I truly believe that in understanding the history of the often troubled relationship between Catalonia and Spain visitors will appreciate more their time in Barcelona and Catalonia.

Golf courses on the Costa Brava

The Costa Brava is not just about the amazing beaches and award winning cuisine. Here you will find some of the best Golf courses in Spain with no less than eight courses to choose from.
The first golf course to be built on the Costa Brava was at Pals, close to Begur, in 1966 and is still a firm favourite with many golfers. The PGA Catalunya resort has two courses, built in 1999 and 2005 respectively and is perhaps regarded as the best golf course in Catalonia, if not the whole of Spain.
Here is a map with the locations of all the golf courses indicated: