The best place to stay on the Costa Brava?

We are often asked by people who are coming to the region for the first time which area along the Costa Brava is the best place to stay. There’s lots of great places to choose from and this blog post is to help people get a better idea of what area might be best for them.

Probably the most popular coastal area is the Begur and Palafrugell region and their beaches which include Sa Riera, Sa Tuna, Aigua Blava, Aigua Xelida, Tamariu and Llafranc.

Sa Riera, Begur

Sa Riera, Begur

Like most of the Costa Brava this area is very family orientated and laid back. It is popular with local Catalans and Spanish as well as with other Europeans and increasingly North Americans who are discovering the region.

The beaches can get pretty busy during July and August and unless you are within walking distance to a beach you may have to leave your villa quite early in the morning to find a good parking place.

Cadaques is another popular destination. A beautiful old fishing town, Cadaques is where Salvador Dali lived for a large part of his life. His old house in the little bay of Port Lligat is now a museum and open to the public.

Cadaques

Cadaques

There is only one road in and out of Cadaques which is quite narrow and windy through the Cap de Creus headland. This inaccessibility is the main reason why Cadaques has retained its charm and avoided the developers. So because of the nature of the access to the town I always suggest to people that Cadaques makes a great base if you plan of parking up the car and sitting back and relaxing. The town is quite compact and all of our villas in Cadaques are within walking distance of the centre with its restaurants, bars, shops and beaches. There is a quite special and unique ambience to the place. However nice Cadaques is, I would not recommend it for people who plan to spend a large part of their time driving around and exploring the region.

Empuries

Greek/Roman ruins of Empuries

Sant Marti d’Empuries is off the beaten track and a favourite of ours. This tiny coastal village has a few restaurants and shops and is right on the beach. With nice sandy and un crowded beaches this is the place we normally go to ourselves if we are having a day at the beach. For those of you interested in history there’s the ancient Greek and Roman ruins and neighbouring Empuries. L’Escala which has a larger selection of bars and restaurants is only a 20 minutes walk along the seafront.

If bars, disco’s and partying you are after then Lloret de Mar is where you should go. Otherwise avoid it.

Other areas of the Costa Brava worth considering include Port de la Selva, Roses, and Palamos.

 

 

The best Costa in Spain?

Which is the best Costa in Spain is a question we are asked from time to time. Spain has no less than 13 Costas to choose from, 9 of which are on the Mediterranean coastline from the Catalan Costa Brava in the north and on the border with France down to the Costa del Sol on the southern tip of Spain.

The Costas of Spain

Spanish Costas

We have visited most of the Costas and for us the hands down winner is the Costa Brava. In fact we liked it so much we decided to come and live here!

There’s a number of reasons why we love the Costa Brava so much. From its intimate hidden coves, the climate, the people, its culture, the food, its medieval villages and the all round general ambience make the Costa Brava the best coastal region in Spain.

The Costa Brava was the very first Costa in Spain to welcome holiday makers back in the 1950’s and 60’s and for many people the Costa Brava conjures up images of tacky package holidays, fish and chips and sangria and for the first decade or so this is what people came here for. But because of the rugged nature of the Costa Brava coastline the developers quickly moved further south in search of flatter, more accessible land to build their high rise apartment blocks and for the most part left the Costa Brava behind. So today the Costa Brava is perhaps one of the better preserved Mediterranean coastal areas with little fishing villages, unspoilt coves and a distinct lack of large hotels and apartment blocks and package holidays.

Aigua Gelida, Tamariu

Aigua Xelida, Tamariu

With the exception of Lloret de Mar you will not find package tourism, loud all night bars or drunken teenagers on the Costa Brava. There is a more laid back family orientated culture here with holiday makers from a wide selection of countries from all around the world and local Catalan and Spanish people who have second residences in the area.

The temperatures on the Costa Brava do not reach the heights of those on the Costa del Sol although an average of the mid 30’s in July and August is hot enough for most people.

The province of Girona has a lot more to offer the traveller than just a fantastic coastline. There’s loads of things to see and do in the region from visiting unspoilt medieval villages, the Dali triangle, visiting the beech forests of the extinct volcanic region of La Garrotxa or a nice walk around the lake of Banyoles.

A view of Banyoles lake along a jetty

Banyoles lake just after sunrise

Then of course there’s the food! With a great selection of fresh local products at their disposal Catalan chefs are recognised worldwide as innovators from the record 5 time No1 restaurant in the world El Bulli to the current No1, El Celler de Can Roca in Girona. But it is not just all about Michelin star restaurant food as the general standard in the region is very good.

The best bits of the Costa Brava? The area around Begur and Palafrugell with its small bays and coves is very popular as is the Dali famed Cadaques. We also like the coastal village of Sant Marti d’Empuries which does not get as crowded as Begur or Cadaques and has nice beaches and a few decent restaurants to choose from.

The beach of AiguaBlava, Begur

Aigua Blava, Begur

 

Cadaques: Where I Left My Worries Behind The Mountains.

Cap de Creus

Onboard the Sant Isidre

This is a guest post by Ash Clark, one of our bloggers on our recent “blog trip” to Cadaques and the Costa Brava.

Seeing as I arrived at night, it wasn’t until the next day that I really got to appreciate the unique location that Cadaqués is set in.

When I woke the next morning, I got to see what it is that has made this sleepy fishing village grow into a popular summer holiday spot.

Walking from my villa through the cobbled lanes that wind around the town’s whitewashed buildings and villas, I had no doubt in my mind that I was on the Mediterranean.

Cadaques

A typical street of Cadaques

I was lucky enough to spend my first day sailing on a ‘laüt’, a traditional Catalan fishing vessel. While I generally find most sailing experiences rather memorable, this particular one especially stood out as we sailed along the coastline of the Cap de Creus National Park. The unique perspective offered from the decks of our boat really allowed me to appreciate how spectacular the natural landscape is in this part of Spain.

While the coastline that Cadaqués sits on is without a doubt its main draw card, it was the mountains around the town that drew a lot of my attention.

The vast majority of the hillsides around Cadaqués have terrace levels, made from stack-stone retaining walls.

It doesn’t take one long to realise that most of these impressive walls are rather aged and that the incredible amounts of manual labour it would of taken to construct them was originally completed to serve a specific purpose.

The blank terraced hillsides that dominate the area today haven’t always been that way. I soon learned that Cadaqués was once a major producer of wine and olive oil. Unfortunately the wineries and olive farms that once thrived here were completely wiped out after an outbreak of a plant virus that destroyed the plants.

Today, wineries in the region are making a come back, offering some high quality drops of both red and white which, like almost every aspect of Catalan, have their own unique flare to them.

Cadaques

A little bay along the Cap de Creus

As the local saying goes, “When you come to Cadaqués, you leave your worries behind the mountains.” The natural scenery, food, art and culture on display in this fascinating town really do play true to those words for those who visit.

 

About the Author: Ash Clark is a travel writer and photographer from Sydney, Australia. With a strong curiosity, he never manages to stay in one place for too long. To keep up to date with his current travels you can follow his personal travel blog at www.themostalive.com and on twitter @themostalive.

Cala Guillola, Cap de Creus, Cadaques

 

Cala Guillola

Cala Guillola, Cap de Creus, Cadaques

If hidden little coves and bays are your thing then look no further than Cala Guillola, roughly half way between Cadaques and Cap de Creus.

It can be a little difficult to find (you won’t see any signs pointing you where to go) and a little difficult actually getting there but your efforts will well be worth it.

Cala Guillola

Cala Guillola, close to Cadaques

We chanced upon the cove on a bright and fresh January morning with no other people in sight. Talk about idyllic, the temptation to try out the crystal clear water was very strong but the fact that we were in the middle of winter ensured sanity prevailed.

The beaches and coves of Cadaques

Cadaques beaches

Platja de Ses Oliveres

 

Situated within the Cap de Creus headland, the beaches of Cadaques and its surrounding area tend to be smaller, more intimate coves and bays rather than your typical long sandy beaches.

The water quality in this region is probably the best of the whole Costa Brava.

Although not official nudist beaches, don’t be surprised to see nudists in some of the more secluded bays further from Cadaques especially in the Cap de Creus.

In the following Google map you will find the location of all the local beaches of Cadaques.

https://maps.google.co.uk/maps/ms?msid=201953247244723058522.0004d3601a812c712fc67&msa=0&ll=42.292929,3.289633&spn=0.033142,0.084543

What to do in Cadaques

Cadaques

The beautiful coastal town of Cadaques

One of the most sought after holiday destinations on the whole Catalan coastline, Cadaques has an undeniable charm and mystique which draws you back time after time.

Cadaques has for the most part evaded the developers due mainly to the fact that it is situated in the Cap de Creus national park right at the top of the Costa Brava and is somewhat isolated. Cadaques has been around for centuries but the only road in and out of the town was built around 1908, meaning that up until then the only access to the town was by boat.

The Cap de Creus peninsula is the most eastern point of Spain meaning that it is also the first part of Spain to witness the sunrise. The area has also inspired many artists, most notably Salvador Dali who lived in the area for many years and who venerated the light and colour and elements which make up the Cap de Creus and Cadaques.

Cadaques

Cadaques beach

Dali bought a bunch of fisherman’s shacks on the harbour of Port Lligat which I guess you could call a suburb of Cadaques, converted them into one abode and spent a great part of his life here. The house is now a museum which is open to the public.

http://www.salvador-dali.org/museus/portlligat/en_index.html

A great way to spend a day or half a day is to take a boat trip around the Cap de Creus. The Sant Isidre is a classic Catalan fishing boat built in 1925 and which has a capacity for up to 35 people. You will visit isolated bays which are only accessible by boat and have the option of lunch onboard.

http://chartersantisidre.blogspot.com.es/p/english.html

Martin Faixo is a producer of some great local wines http://www.cellermartinfaixo.com/

Cadaques also has some great restaurants and too many to list here but here is a small sample:

Compartir . Opened in 2012 by three local chefs who worked at the world famous El Bulli, Compartir has quickly became one of Cadaques’s most popular restaurants.

http://en.compartircadaques.com/

MOS Cadaques is another new restaurant which opened its doors in 2012. Contemporary food from a Michelin starred chef.

 https://www.facebook.com/moscadaques.moscadaques

Haiku Cadaques is a small intimate restaurant serving Japanese fusion dishes.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Haiku-Tast-Cadaqu%C3%A9s/393340364056848