The Costa Brava
The Costa Brava or “Wild Coast” was one of the first Spanish Costa’s to open up to tourism in the 1950’s and welcomed mainly British and Northern European visitors. The ensuing boom in tourism in the 1960’s and 70’s together with a lack of sensible building restrictions meant that many areas of coastline were spoiled by over-development. However due to the “wild” topography of the Costa Brava the developers quickly moved south in search of flatter, more accessible areas to develop. As a result many areas of the Costa Brava remained largely untouched and are now among some of the best preserved stretches of coastline in Spain.
Stretching for over 200 Km’s from Portbou on the French border to Blanes (70 Km’s north of Barcelona) the Costa Brava has many distinct sections, coastal towns and villages and beaches.
Coastal towns/Beach life
The Costa Brava can be split into two rough sections; the southern section and northern section. The whole of the Costa Brava is family-friendly although the southern section also attracts a younger clientele in search of nightlife in coastal towns such as Blanes, Lloret de Mar and Platja de Aro. The northern section is perhaps more family orientated with less Discotheques and late night bars than the southern section. The northern section is where the vast majority of our Costa Brava villas are located, mainly around Begur, Tamariu and Cadaques. The Costa Brava has a great selection of sandy beaches, coves and bays. Read more in our blog post, the best beaches on the Costa Brava.
Interior towns and villages
The Costa Brava is not just about the beaches, there’s a whole load of charming unspoilt villages to explore just a short trip inland. Among our favourites are Pals, Peratallada, Monells and Besalu. All these well preserved villages have a special charm with centuries old houses, narrow cobbled streets and an atmosphere which, with a little imagination, can transport oneself back in time. Most villages have a weekly food market and you can read more in our blog post, Costa Brava market days.
The world famous surrealist artist Salvador Dali was born in Figueres and he left a wonderful indelible mark on the region. Dali lived a large part of his life at Port Lligat, a small fishing village on the outskirts of Cadaques. Here he bought a series of small fishermen’s houses which he transformed into one larger house. The house has been preserved and is now a museum which makes up one part of the “Dali triangle”. The other parts of the triangle are the much larger Dali museum in his birth town of Figueres and the Castle museum located in the village of Pubol. Cadaques has attracted many artists over the years including Picasso, Miró, Marcel Duchamp, Antoni Pitxot, Henri-François Rey, Melina Mercouri and Maurice Boitel who all spent time in the town. The tradition continues and there are a number of small art galleries to discover in the narrow windy streets of Cadaques.
The Costa Brava and province of Girona is a Mecca for foodies and has a high concentration of Michelin stared restaurants. Probably the best known of which is El Celler de Can Roca which has been voted the number one restaurant in the world on two occasions and has consistently been in the top three for over a decade. But it is not all about fine dining and there’s plenty more reasons why epicureans love the area so much. A lot of it has to do with the climate and the local foods which are produced in the region including its wines which you can read more about in our blog post, Costa Brava Vineyards.
The biggest sporting club in Catalonia, if not one of the biggest in the world, is FC Barcelona, more commonly known as Barca. The ethos behind the club motto “Mes Que Un Club” (More than a Club) relates to a strong rooted sense of Catalan identity. Apart from Barca two other important football clubs are Girona FC and RCD Espanyol, at the time of writing both currently in the 2nd tier of Spanish football but have both recently been in the first division alongside Barca.
The capital of the Costa Brava is the city of Girona. Often referred to as Barcelona’s little brother the city has a population of around 100,000 inhabitants. Girona is certainly worth a visit and has plenty of activities for the whole family. The old quarter has a strong Jewish history with an interesting museum which explains the Jewish occupancy of the city through the times. The Cathedral of Girona was used as a filming location in the popular TV series, Game of Thrones and is a prominent visitor destination.
The city of Girona has a great selection of restaurants and not only the ones with Michelin stars! Girona also has a great selection of shops and is perfect for those wishing to spend time searching for something special to take home. The world of professional cycling has a strong link with the city with many teams based here.
Things to do?
The above categories are just a brief introduction of ideas of what to do on the Costa Brava. At Charming Villas we take great pleasure in helping our clients get the most out of their time while staying in the region and can help with suggestions of day trips and activities. We can help put together bespoke itineraries, secure tables at El Celler de Can Roca or at some of our favourite off the beaten track restaurants. We can arrange a fisherman’s lunch on the pier at Portlligat, just outside Dali’s house museum. We can also of course help with usual requests such as car hire, airport transfers and private chefs – just ask.