Begur is a small town located on the Costa Brava coastline with Barcelona approximately 80 miles to the south and the French border approximately 50 miles to the north. Sitting in the county of the “Emporda”, more specifically the “Baix Emporda” which means the “lower Emporda”. The cosmopolitan city of Girona is just 35 miles inland.
The closest beaches
The town of Begur sits in an elevated position two miles inland from its beaches. Each beach is quite different and has it’s own characteristics. Pals has the longest sandy beach and a few chiringuitos where to buy refreshments. Illa Roja is a small sandy beach dominated by the huge red rock from where the beach gets it’s name. This is also a nudist beach. Sa Riera beach is one of the most popular beaches in the area and benefits from a number of restaurants on the beachfront. Aiguafreda is more of a cove and does not have a sandy beach but great for swimming and kayaking. Sa Tuna is a pretty picture postcard small bay with a pebble beach. Platja Fonda is untouched and free of restaurants or shops. Aiguablava beach is possibly the most beautiful beach in the area with it’s turquoise waters.
The history of Begur
The town is steeped in history and the area has been inhabited since Pre-Roman times. Today the oldest remaining link to it’s ancient history are the foundations of the 11th century Castle which sits in a strategic high point overlooking the town and coastline. During the 16th and 17th centuries the town was fortified to protect itself against marauding pirates. Today parts of the perimeter defensive wall and no less than five watchtowers still exist.
The 1950’s saw the dawn of mass-tourism and the Costa Brava was the first Costa in Spain to open up to tourism. The 1960’s and 70’s saw a boom in tourism and the consequent development of accommodation along the coastline in Spain. Some parts of the coast were spoiled by short-sighted over-development however this part of the coastline was largely left untouched. Today it is this factor of well preserved beaches and villages which attract both local Catalans and foreigners to spend holidays in Begur and it’s surrounding beaches.
Things to do in the area
As we have already seen this region has some of the prettiest and unspoiled beaches on the whole Costa Brava. However there’s more to Begur than just it’s beaches and the town of Begur itself has a lot to offer the traveler. The center of town is dominated by the 16th century church and it’s surrounding plaza and restaurants. There’s a good selection of boutique shops selling everything from clothing to home decor as well as bakeries, butchers and grocery stores.
Begur is also great for outdoor pursuits especially walking and cycling. The GR 92 coastal path (Cami de Ronda) stretches the whole length of the Costa Brava coastline and some of the nicest sections are in the Begur region.
The Costa Brava is split into two zones; The Northern section (Alt Emporda) and the Southern section Baix Emporda). The Alt Emporda is considerably more dog-friendly than the Baix Emporda when it comes to dog-friendly beaches. As a result this is perhaps one consideration to take into mind when planning a family holiday on the Costa Brava with your pet dog.
Costa Brava dog friendly beaches.
Here is a list of dog friendly beaches on the Costa Brava during the summer months. Starting from the Northernmost:
Platja de les Portes, Colera. This is the main beach of the village and a section of the beach is deemed dog-friendly.
Platja de Sant Jordi, Llanca. Located to the northern section of the town this is a nice sandy beach easily accessible by foot on the Cami de Ronda.
Platja la Ribera is located in the centre of the town of Llanca.
Platja el Port de la Vall, Llanca. Located to the south of Llanca and in between Llanca and Port de la Selva.
Platja de la Rubina, Empuriabrava. Located on a long stretch of sandy beach between Empuriabrava and Roses.
Platja del Rec del Moli, L’Escala. Located between the north of the town of L’Escala and the coastal village of Sant Marti d’Empuries.
Platja Els Griells, L’Estartit. Located on a long sandy stretch of beach to the south of Estartit.
The Begur and Palafrugell Town Halls told me that officially, dogs are not allowed on any of the beaches in the Begur/Palafrugell region at any time of the year. However I have seen plenty of images on Instagram of people on these beaches with their dogs in the low season so expect it is not strictly policed.
This blog post is designed for those who are planning on visiting Catalonia and the Costa Brava for the first time. This is also for people who are seeking information about where to stay and what to do in the region. Below is a basic map highlighting the Costa Brava and the Maresme coastlines.
The Maresme coastline starts from Barcelona and finishes at Blanes. From Blanes the Costa Brava ends over 200 kilometers later at the French border. The Costa Brava can be split into three rough sections; Northern, central and Southern sections. Blanes to Palamos is the southern section. The middle section from Palafrugell to L’Estartit and the northern section from L’Escala to Portbou.
The middle and Northern sections
Middle and Northern sections of the Costa Brava are somewhat less developed (with one or two exceptions). These are also more family orientated and this is where the vast majority of our properties are located.
Popular locations are Begur (and it’s beaches of Sa Riera, Sa Tuna, Aiguablava). The beaches of Palafrugell – Tamariu, Llafranc and Calella de Palafrugell. Cadaques is the jewel of the Northern section of the Costa Brava.
For first time visitors to the Costa Brava i normally recommend the area around Begur/Tamariu. There’s a lot to see and do in a compact area and day-trips to explore the north or south of the Costa Brava are doable. Here is a map showing the main coves and beaches of the Begur/Palafrugell area;
Cadaques, the pearl of the Costa Brava
Cadaques in the north is probably our favorite coastal town on the whole of the Costa Brava. There’s only one road in and out of town and it is a windy mountain road which can take up to 30 minutes’ from the neighboring town of Roses. Once you finally descend into Cadaques the mountain road adventure is quickly forgotten. The town has a unique charm and ambiance which has been preserved down the centuries. This is in part thanks to it’s relative isolation from the rest of the Costa Brava located on the end of the Cap de Creus peninsula.
Cadaques has seen many artists staying over the years including Picasso, Man Ray, Duchamp, Joan Miro. Most famously of all Salvador Dali who lived a large part of his life in the neighboring Port Lligat. This link to the rich history of Cadaques is tangible today in the many local artists galleries you will find among the narrow cobbled streets of the town. The town has a somewhat Bohemian atmosphere and a wonderful selection of good quality restaurants.
However i am always cautious on recommending Cadaques to first time visitors to the region because of it’s isolated location. If travelling around visiting other towns/beaches is an important factor this can be quite a tiresome experience driving over the mountain road every day. For people who like to explore other areas i recommend finding a base in the Begur/Tamariu area and then taking a day trip to Cadaques during your holiday.
This post is just a rough guide and with our clients we go into much more detail not only with location and villa selection but also, if needed, advice and help planning activities and day trip itineraries. Please contact Sara or Richard at email@example.com for more information.
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.
Our favourite beaches on the northern Costa Brava
Cala Taballera, Port de la Selva
The largest beach in the Cap de Creus peninsula. It is a good two hour hike from Port de la Selva and well worth the effort.
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
A pleasant 45 minute walk from Cadaques in the direction of Cala Nans and the lighthouse this is a firm favorite of ours. Pebbles rather than sandy and a great place for a swim.
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.
Our favourite beaches on the mid-section of the Costa Brava
Aiguablava beach, Begur.
The beautiful turquoise waters of Aiguablava make this one of the most beautiful beaches of the Costa Brava. This beach has a few restaurants, toilets and showers and a large car park nearby.
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
One of the most popular beaches of the whole Costa Brava, Tamariu beach has beautiful clear waters and fine sand. There’s also a choice of restaurants to choose from on the beach front.
Portixol beach, 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
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
Another of our favourites, Sa Riera in our opinion, is the best beach of Begur. 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
Similar to the nearby Tamariu beach, Llafranc has a lovely sandy beach and a number of beach side restaurants to choose from.
On the Cami de Ronda coastal path one finds Cala Estreta and El Crit beaches and are a nice walk from either Platja Castell or from Calella de Palafrugell to the north. Isolated and with no bars or shops these are a great beaches to escape the crowds.
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.
One of the most popular requests from our clients is Costa Brava boat hire. Here is information on the different ports from where it is possible to charter boats. The second part of this post is a list of Costa Brava boat charter companies.
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.
Ports 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.
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.
From Port Bou at the north, all the way down to Blanes, the Costa Brava coastline is connected by a series of coastal paths. This network of paths, “Cami de Ronda” in Catalan, covers over 200 km of coastline linking all the major towns and villages along the way. It can take a total of nine or ten days walking at an average of 20/22 kms/day.
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. Usually arriving at my destination by mid afternoon after setting off in the mornings after breakfast at around 09.00am.
We live in the Girona province and i had already visited most of the main towns and villages along the Costa Brava. However 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. The weather is generally warm and sunny but not the intense heat of the summer. Great tee shirt weather for us Northern Europeans!
I drove to the small station at Camallera, left my car and boarded the train to the frontier town, Portbou.
Walking the Cami de Ronda
costa brava cami de ronda Day 1. Port Bou – El Port de la Selva.
This stretch of the Northern section of the Costa Brava cami de ronda 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 Portbou was huge and pretty quiet. This frontier town used to be an important hub between Catalonia and France. Now its glory days of commerce and movement are a distant memory. I didn’t hang around in the town long and quickly caught up with the red and white stripped markings showing me the way to follow.
Leaving the beach at Portbou behind me i followed the route which took me up and over a headland. I didn’t hit water again until reaching Colera. Similar to Portbou, 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 left until I come to Port de Joan, a little bay just before Platja Garbet.
I got a bit stuck here as the red and white markings I had been following suddenly disappeared. I back tracked but could not find the way. Eventually i realized that the route took me around the base of the cliffs 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.
costa brava cami de ronda 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.
The rest of the day was somewhat foggy and i couldn’t see very much but nevertheless i enjoyed the walk into Cadaques.
Costa brava cami de ronda 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.
After crossing the headland of Cap de Norfeu I encountered a few more bays of which Cala Montjoi is the biggest and most well known. This is where the world famous chef Ferran Adria and his ground breaking restaurant, El Bulli. The walk into Roses was quite pleasant passing some nice little beaches on the outskirts of the town.
Costa Brava cami de ronda Day 4, Roses – Sant Marti d’Empuries.
The walk out of Roses was probably my least favorite 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. The Aiguamolls is a famed wildlife reserve with many rare wild birds and wildlife. 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.
From Sant Marti i took a taxi back to the train station at Camallera and picked up my car and headed home to Besalu.
Continuing from where i had left off
Costa Brava cami de Ronda 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 drove directly to Sant Marti and left the car parked up.
Once you arrive at Cala Montgo you leave the the hustle and bustle of L’Escala behind you until L’Estartit.
The terrain is pretty stony underfoot most of the day. There’s two little bays to stop off at before arriving at L’Estartit, Cala Ferriol and Cala Pedrosa.
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 preferred to take the coastal route.
Day 7, Begur – Palamos
This is quite a long stretch of the Costa Brava cami de ronda but worth it for the breathtaking scenery along the way. First up is the view down to Platja Fonda and Aiguablava.
From Aiguablava the route takes you inland and brings you out at the lovely little bay of 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.
As you approach Palamos the first beach you will come across is the great Platja Castell.
The coastal path takes you past a few more small bays before arriving on the main seafront of Palamos.
Day 8, Palamos – Sant Feliu de Guixols.
A pleasant, quite flat day of walking passing many lovely little bays.
I mean to get back and finish the last stretch down to Blanes so watch this space.
One of the questions we are asked by people who are coming to the region for the first time is which is the best place to stay on the Costa Brava? 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.
Begur and Palafrugell
Probably the most popular coastal area on the Costa Brava is the Begur and Palafrugell region and their beaches. Their beaches include Sa Riera, Sa Tuna, Aigua Blava, Aigua Xelida, Tamariu and Llafranc.
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. 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 in the north
Cadaques is another popular destination and quite possibly the best place to stay on the Costa Brava. 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.
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. Because of this relative isolation of 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 vacation villas in Cadaques are within walking distance of the center with its restaurants, bars, shops and beaches. There is a quite special and unique ambiance to the place. However beautiful Cadaques is, I would not recommend it for people who plan to spend time driving around and exploring.
Sant Marti and the ruins of Empuries
Sant Marti d’Empuries is a little off the beaten track and a favorite 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 neighboring Empuries. L’Escala which has a larger selection of bars and restaurants is only a 20 minutes walk along the seafront.
If it is 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.
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. Nine of which are on the Mediterranean coastline from the Catalan Costa Brava in the north on the border with France down to the Costa del Sol on the southern tip of Spain.
The Costa Brava, the best Costa in Spain
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. For us the all round general ambiance make the Costa Brava the best coastal region in Spain.
Early tourism on the Costa Brava
The Costa Brava was the very first Costa in Spain to welcome holiday makers back in the 1950’s and 60’s. For many people the Costa Brava conjures up images of tacky package holidays, fish and chips and sangria. It well may have been like that in the 1960’s but not any longer. 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. What we have are fishing villages, unspoiled coves and a distinct lack of large hotels, apartment blocks and package holidays.
With the exception of Lloret de Mar you will find very little package tourism, loud all night bars or drunken teenagers on the Costa Brava. There’s a more laid back family orientated culture here with holiday makers from a wide selection of countries from all around the world. A lot of 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.
What to do on the Costa Brava?
The province of Girona has a lot more to offer the traveler than just a fantastic coastline. There’s loads of things to see and do in the region. Choose from visiting unspoiled medieval villages, the Dali triangle, visiting the beech forests of the extinct volcanic region of La Garrotxa. Take a nice walk around the lake of Banyoles and visit the weekly farmers market.
Then of course there’s the food! With a great selection of fresh local products at their disposal Catalan chefs are recognized worldwide as innovators from the record five 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.
So for us the question “which is the best Costa in Spain?” is a resounding Costa Brava!
The Costa Brava has three water parks suitable for a great family day out.
Aqua Brava in the northern section of the Costa Brava close to the town of Roses is a water park which has no less than 18 attractions to choose from. Aqua Brava. When tired of the water park (as if!) there’s also the nearby Roses Go-Carts to keep both young and older occupied.
Roses sits at the northern end of the Costa Brava and has many options of activities for the whole family. As well as the water part and Go-Karts there’s also the Wind Tunnel at Empuriabrava or if you are feeling brave Empuriabrava sky diving. Close to Roses is the coastal town of Cadaques, one of the prettiest and unspoiled towns on the Costa Brava.
Close to Lloret de Mar, Water world is a well known water park which was first opened in 1985. Water world Lloret The park has around 20 rides and is a firm favorite for all the family.
Aquadiver is another water park situated close to Platja de Aro with around 15 rides for all the family. Aqua Diver
Where to stay on the Costa Brava
At Charming Villas Catalonia we offer our clients a selection of hand picked vacation rentals on the Costa Brava. Browse our collection of beachfront holiday villas and large country farmhouses. Locally based we know the Costa Brava and province of Girona very well and offer our clients a free concierge service. We can help set up extra services and activities as well as suggest interesting day trip itineraries.
Blanes is the last coastal town on the Costa Brava before it becomes the Maresme which then arrives at Barcelona. Cala Sant Francesc is perhaps the prettiest beach of all the beaches close to Blanes.
The lovely little bay of Cala Bona (as it is also known) just to the north of Blanes is one of the nicest intimate beaches on the whole Costa Brava. With its aquamarine waters and fine sand, the beach is a very popular destination during the summer months.
Cala Sant Francesc and the beaches of Blanes
Many of the main beaches closer to the camping and budget hotel district in central Blanes do tend to get rather crowded during the summer months. Because Cala Bona is located a bit further out from town and away from the budget district it perhaps has a reputation as a slightly more refined area.
This stretch of the Costa Brava coastline also has some rock pools which are great for children to explore and search for marine life. There is also a great restaurant, Cala Bona, which is right on the beach. It does get quite full during summer and tables should be booked in advance.
Charming Villas Catalonia lists a great number of luxury villas along the Costa Brava and province of Girona. Browse our selection of luxury Costa Brava villas and farmhouses.