It’s not often you find somewhere in the world where you never want to leave. Somewhere you could imagine living one day or having a second home. Well for us it’s the Costa Brava Coastline and we can honestly say it’s one of the most romantic, gorgeous, unspoilt stretches of coast in Europe. In fact one of our friends had their wedding in Costa Brava which is why in part we know it so well. We’ve also been to the region a few times to stay with friends who have a second home there. Not jealous at all! Ok the green eyed monster does come out every now and then.
Costa Brava is located in the top corner of Spain in the region of Catalonia, about an hour's drive north from Barcelona and less than a two hour flight from England. You can also fly in to Gerona which is 45 minutes away. Costa Brava is an area where I would definitely recommend you hire a car. It’s super easy to drive around and you can take in the breathtaking views that you’ll find around every corner. There’s so much here that you can have a new adventure every day discovering charming towns and beautiful beaches. As you drive around you really see the influence of the french (being so close) and strangely you sometimes could be convinced you were in Italy. It’s a pretty successful combination anyway! It also remains largely undiscovered and away from the masses brought by tourism and urban development.
La Costa Brava, means ‘wild coast’ and the mountains really do seem to tumble into the sea. This coast has seasons so remains incredibly green. The mountains are filled with pines that drop down into stunning coves of rugged rocks, beautiful sandy bays and the teal-coloured Mediterranean Ocean. Wild in parts and tastefully manicured in others, It holds a record number of European Blue Flag beaches. You’ll also find wonderful independent hotels and restaurants here. If you’re a foodie you won’t be disappointed with this stretch of coastline. The food is incredible - from cheap and cheerful to high end, not to mention superb, locally produced wines. It’s no wonder it’s the holiday spot of choice for Barcelonesas and in-the-know French. Because of this I will add that it does get a little crowded on the beaches in the month of August.
Beyond all this there’s art, history and outdoor activities aplenty. This is Dalí country and three excellent museums – including the painter’s home at Cadaqués.
One of our favourite hotels to stay in this area is El Convent de Begur. Housed in a refurbished 17th century monastery El Convent's original character has been preserved which help keeps the charm of the hotel while it still offers modern comfort and a stylish environment. The outdoor dining area is idyllic and you won’t be disappointed by the food either. The hotel is central to most of the surrounding areas so very convenient for dinner reservations and beach trips. Or if you’re feeling lazy you could just relax by their very inviting pool until you get itchy feet.
For Laurie and I there’s no where quite like the Costa Brava. We never tire of it's magnificent coastline - spectacular views and rugged landscape, great food and delicious wine, beautiful beaches and clear waters. Here's a selection of our go-to's to help you on your way. We'll be back in our favourite spot this summer as we’re going on road trip through France and down to Costa Brava in our classic Jaguar XJS. No doubt I’ll be topping up this list.
This family-friendly Blue Flag beach (previously voted the best in Catalonia) has everything you could want, snorkelling, diving off rocks, golden sand and shallow water and is why it’s my favourite beach in this area. There are three restaurants in this bay and they’re all great. I personally love Toc Almar for lunch and Mar I Vent for dinner.
This sandy beach at this quietly exclusive yet unflashy bay is great for any beach activities and food. For basic spanish tapes visit Sirena and for something a little more upmarket Jani.
This small, horseshoe-shaped bay near Calella is perfect for boating and snorkelling and great for children. There is a pedestrianised promenade directly behind the beach is lined with excellent fish restaurants, cafés and bars. Walk to the end of the crescent and head to the family-friendly Es Dofi for some of the best, freshest fish on the Costa Brava.
This medieval town isn’t directly on the coast which means it's not swamped by tourists. This charming town isn't as well-known as most beach resorts, but with its cobbled streets, craft shops, traditional restaurants and bars it is a great place to visit in Catalonia. It's situated on top of a hill and overlooks Platja de Pals, the main city beach.