Costa Brava is our favourite part of the Spanish mainland coast. Costa Brava boasts some of the best beaches in Spain, from golden sandy stretches of beach to rocky hidden coves and isolated beaches only accessible on foot. There are some incredible hidden beaches to be found. We fell in love with the area after a friend tipped us off about the region when we asked where the Spaniards go on holiday. The Costa Brava starts around 60 kilometres north of Barcelona at the town of Blanes and stretches all the way up to the French border. The coast is dotted with small, charming towns with spotless beaches, and if you get tired of the beach, the interior of this north eastern part of Spain has plenty of wineries, historic towns like Girona and more Michelin star restaurants than you can shake a stick at.
The Coastal Road
From Barcelona we would recommend taking the coastal road up the coast, and do a first small pitstop at Tossa Del Mar to see the spectacular Castell de Tossa Del Mar. Its construction originates in 1187, and it is the only example of a fortified medieval village that still exists on the Catalan coast. Built at the start of the 13th century with battlements for walls, it still has almost the entire original perimeter area. The wall includes four fortified towers and three cylindrical towers topped with machicolations (openings through which stones, hot oil or similar could be dropped onto attackers). A cool stop for a walk, a swim at the spectacular beach, and a spot of lunch along the esplanade.
The coastal road between Tossa del Mar and Sant Feliu de Guixols is pure epicness. One of the more spectacular coastal roads in Spain, it winds and twists along the rugged coastline, and we would compare it to the legendary Highway 1 in California. Along the road are access points to small coves and beaches that get very crowded from the Barcelonians on weekend daytrips in summer.
The first time we had our summer holiday in Costa Brava, we were recommended an absolute gem of a hotel just north of Platja d’Aro at Cap Roig. The Park Hotel San Jorge sits on top of a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean ocean. The rooms all have spectacular views of the ocean, the pool area is great (although we are not pool people), the restaurant and food were delish and just a few stairs down the cliffs in front of the hotel is the stunning Platja Cala Cap Roig beach. A small golden beach with a great little beach restaurant great for lunch and drinks, and the water is crystal clear. We had an epic week here.
Our next stay in Costa Brava was in the small village of Llafranc and the small Hotel Casamar. Situated at the hill above town, it offers views of the ocean and the golden beach of Llafranc. Like the village, it is not a big hotel and it only has a 2-star rating. The rating is due to the lack of pool and other “necessary” amenities, but the family run hotel and restaurant offers atmosphere in spades and it has a restaurant that received a Michelin star in 2011. We had a few dinners at the restaurant during our stay, and each meal was an epic culinary journey.
The small village of Llafranc is charming and contains a good selection of restaurants and bars. The village beach is stunning and golden like all the beaches in Costa Brava. It gets filled up in summer, so searching for a quiet spot can be hard in high season. We found our little piece of paradise on the rocks along the coastal path that runs between the villages on the Costa Brava. The coastal paths of Costa Brava are famous among ramblers, you can walk between villages and beaches for weeks if you feel like it. Check out the map of the paths if walking is your thing. While walking the path between Llafranc and Calella de Palafrugell we found a hidden cove with smooth rocks and easy access to swims in the crystal-clear waters of Costa Brava. We purchased a small cooler, filled it up with drinks and food, and had lazy days on the rocks all alone in our own little slice of paradise.
Calella de Palafrugell
The ancient fishing village of Calella de Palafrugell is formed by several coves that still preserve their charm, Calella de Palafrugell is one of the few places on the Costa Brava which still preserves the authenticity of the villages of the area before the arrival of mass tourism, with narrow streets, steep tiled roofs, and some traditional two-floor fishermen’s dwellings. The small coves all have beaches, and you can find your own spot in any of them. The sand is golden, and the waves are gentle, great for kids. The coastal path runs along the building and old boathouses. Restaurant Fiego at the southern end of the village is stunning with its beach location and absolute mouth-watering food.
If you are after a little more of an authentic Spanish seaside feeling, we would dare to say that the Costa Brava region is the best place to get that experience. For us Costa Brava is a place we will continue to go back to for that peace and quiet, combined with great food and great seaside living.