Our recommendations for activities and where to go in Costa Brava
La Costa Brava is one of the most beautiful sea regions in our country and it’s so worth visiting. Little seaside villages from Blanes to Portbou, 3 Natural Parks, lots of beaches and creeks, medieval villages and hundreds of activities and sites to visit. Sounds awesome, right? But without some little help it can be difficult to start planning your sightseeing. Don’t worry! Today we are sharing where to go in Costa Brava.
Here is what to do in Costa Brava:
Walk around the medieval village of Tossa de Mar. This seaside village was built between the 1100’s and the 1300’s, and its medieval wall has been almost completely preserved and constitutes an excellent viewpoint of the bay. There are still three watch towers standing, that were used to protect the village from pirates, and the cobblestone streets are really charming and were declared National Historic Monument. Plus there are lots of fun seafood restaurants by the beach. If you are traveling with kids, they’ll love exploring the old ruins, that include the squeleton of a medieval church. And even if you don’t travel with kids, there’s nothing more pleasant than a walk around the medieval walls to the top and maybe stop for a drink at a café overlooking the beach before strolling down back to the town, through the charming alleys covered with flowers.
See the views from the Sant Sebastià Lighthouse. In the seaside village of Palafrugell there’s one of the most beautiful lighthouses of the Catalan coast. It was built in 1857 and it rises at 169m from sea level. The views are great: you can see the cliffs and the beach of Llafranc. At night, when the lighthouse is on, its a quiet and relaxed place to be. Next to the lighthouse you’ll find a boutique beach hotel run by the owners of the prestigious Costa Brava resorts Mas de Torrent, open where there used to be an old watch-tower and a still existing hermitage. The rooms have astonishing views over the calanques and beaches of the Costa Brava towns of Palafrugell, Llafranch and Tamariu, plus there a restaurant open to guests and non-guests that programs monthly gourmet menus based on the fresh seafood and veggies in season.
Eat anchovies in L’Escala. It’s said that the Greeks in 500 bC already used this very same technique to preserve fish in salt that is used nowadays in L’Escala, plus documents from the 1500’s already talk about anchovy fishing in the area. If you are a foodie, that needs to be on your top list of things to do in Costa Brava: try them as an appetizer paired with a glass of wine, or on a toast rubbed with tomato and sprinkled with olive oil. I’m sure you’ll love them! Plus if you are interested in learning about the local products, not just eating them, don’t miss the Museum of Anchovy and Salt in this same village of L’Escala, that displays the history of blue fish fishing in our coasts from the 1600’s upto day and the use of salting procedures to preserve it. After the visit, you’ll appreciate even more the this humble fish that has become a delicacy – and you’ll understand why.
Visit the Dali House in Portlligat (Cadaqués). Salvador Dalí spent a few months in Portlligat every year from 1930 to 1982. Always in love with this area where he spent his summer holidays during his childhood, he bought a few fishermen shacks that he put together as a funky mansion for him and his wife, Gala. There he’ll receive friends and guests, and he’s said to act completely like a normal person with his inner circle, but would start acting weird to impress the journalists or press when they arrived. Nowadays you can visit the rooms of the mansion, that have been kept they way they were when the famous couple lived in the house, the studio where he worked, the gardens and some other artistic elements. Reservation in advance is a must, as the number of visitors is limited to just 10 every few minutes. And remember to arrive 30min early to pick up your tickets, otherwise they might consider you aren’t coming, and proceed to resell them.
Take a boat ride. Take a scenic boat ride from Lloret de Mar to Tossa to enjoy the views over the cliffs and coves of the Costa Brava. It’s about an hour ride with impressive coast landscape and the opportunity to sunbathe or stop in one of the secluded calanques instead of proceeding to Tossa. And while once in Tossa there are glass-bottom tours available as well, we’d rather recommend you to continue all the way to L’Estartit and take the Nautilus glass-bottom boat around the Medes Islands: the most important marine reserve in Catalonia. They have several routes available, from 1.5 to 3 hours and they can include not just the Medes Islands, but also some swim time, a ride along the coast all the way to the famous Roca Foradada (a spectacular holed rock), or even the underwater Greek ruins of Sant Martí d’Empúries. Oh! And they also have an old-fashioned pirate ship called the Black Corsar that will take you into the hidden caves under the Costa Brava cliffs that can only be reached from the sea. Your kids will love it! (Note: the Black Corsar does not offer underwater views).
Afraid of driving on your own? Then take one of our Costa Brava tours from Barcelona! A lovely day from Barcelona to Costa Brava and back.
AND BONUS! Here is where to go in Costa Brava for great beaches and lovely seaside villages:
Beaches and villages. Besides Tossa de Mar discussed above, the beaches in Palafrugell (Calella, Llafranch and Tamariu) are gorgeous and quieter, and the village of Calella de Palafrugell is famous for its porches by the beach. The beaches in Begur are similar to those in Palafrugell, although some of them require some walking along paths crossing Mediterranean pine forests to reach them. If you are looking for long sandy beaches, don’t miss those near the mouth of the Ter river near Pals. And for wilder rocky beaches and quaint whitewashed villages, don’t miss Cadaqués and Port de la Selva, close to the border with France.
So what about you? Head to the comments below and tells us: Do you have any more ideas for things to do in Costa Brava that you want to share?