Impressive cliffs, beaches and coves of golden sand, and typical Mediterranean landscapes are the essential features of the Costa Brava, Girona’s wild coast. These are some of the most beautiful places in Catalonia, where travellers can explore old fishing villages by the sea, medieval inland towns, and the fascinating legacy of the artist Salvador Dalí. The best way to visit is by driving around the area at your own pace and stopping anywhere that attracts your attention. Travelling from north to south, we suggest 10 of the prettiest towns and villages of the Costa Brava, although the list could be much longer.
Walking through the narrow streets of this village of whitewashed houses to any of its pretty coves is simply a delight. In the 20th century, this charming and picturesque place beguiled bohemians and artists like Salvador Dalí, whose House-Museum is next door in Portlligat. As well as its little beaches, a visit to Cadaqués is an opportunity to discover Cap de Creus Natural Park and enjoy a delicious fish “suquet”.
This area boasts kilometres of beaches between two Natural Parks, and it is special for many more reasons. For example, in Roses you can see the oldest dolmen in Catalonia, the Visigothic settlement of Puig Rom, and the walled enclosure of the Citadel.
Now we go inland to another essential location for fans of Dalí. The artist was born here, and chose the town to create the unique Dalí Theatre-Museum, often called the world’s largest Surrealist object, where he is buried. Highly recommended. Other interesting sights: Sant Ferran castle and the Jewish quarter.
Also inland, this village is another must-see, for two important reasons. First, you can visit the beautiful castle where an International Music Festival is held every summer. And second, you will have the chance to try the exquisite local wines, from the vineyards of the Empordà region.
It’s worth the trip slightly further inland to discover one of Catalonia’s best conserved medieval sites. Any traveller will be enchanted by its churches, the Monastery of Sant Pere, its bath-house, and most of all, its monumental fortified bridge.
Let’s go back to the coast to enjoy the long beach of Pals. After a swim, be sure to take a walk around the cobbled streets and squares and the little craft shops of the amazing Gothic-period town centre, which feels like something from a fairy tale. It’s like travelling back in time to the Middle Ages.
The village of Begur sits at the foot of an 11th-century castle on a hill. The view from the top is stunning, and the walk down to the beach takes you past traditional fishermen’s cottages to the intense blue of the Mediterranean.
One of the most magical places on this coast is Calella and its beach at Port Bo. The village preserves the original layout of the streets and its white houses on the shore. And the brightly coloured boats moored in the harbour are all traditional types, like the Catalan dinghy. You’ll want to take plenty of photos. Also, in early July there is a famous song festival, Cantada de Habaneras.
Trees almost touching the sea, sailboats on the shore... The landscape of Palamós is fascinating. And it is very pleasant to stroll around its streets and enjoy the different views, to visit the Fishing Museum, and of course, try the tasty prawns, gambas de Palamós, on the seafront promenade.
Tossa de Mar
The bay, Platja Gran beach and the town’s other beaches are worth the visit in themselves. But you can also have the experience of climbing the beautiful medieval walls, visiting the lighthouse, Faro de Tossa, to enjoy the views, or trying local dishes like cim i tomba, made with fish and vegetables.