The Costa Brava, part of the coastal region of Cataluña, in the northeast of Spain, extends along 125 km of stunning coastline, from the resort of Blanes, in the south, to the French border. While the region is well known for its big resorts like Lloret de Mar, Tossa de Mar, and Estartit, which cater for mass tourism, there are still many unspoilt and beautiful places to stay. This is especially true along the north of the Costa Brava, where you’ll find places such as Tamariu and Cadaquès.
If you avoid the larger, crowded beaches, you’ll discover many small, charming resorts and villas tucked away in picturesque, whitewashed villages. These are often perched above secluded, scenic coves, and are bounded by wooded hillsides and rolling vineyards ideal places to stay when exploring this region renown for its extraordinary natural beauty and cultural heritage.
The best time to visit the Costa Brava is during May and June, when the resorts and villas are less crowded and temperatures are in the mid 70s. September is also a good time, but the weather can sometimes be rainy.
Heading north from Barcelona, you’ll encounter beautiful beaches, warm seas, small sandy bays, and quaint little fishing villages. Apart from the beaches and coastal scenery, the region has a highly rated, distinctive cuisine, several natural parks, a rich Roman civilization heritage, and museums featuring many of Spain’s famous artists. If you’re looking to give the crowds a miss, make an effort to visit some of these delightful places.
Tamariú is a lovely whitewashed village that overlooks a small cove with startling blue waters, set around with pink rocks. The restaurants along the promenade offer delicious grilled fish, paella and tapas, and local wines. There’s no nightlife to speak of, since the only resort closes at 11pm, which makes this a destination for those who appreciate quiet evenings, great seafood, and beautiful surroundings.
Backed by orange cliffs and wooded hills, Alguablava is a small traditional Costa Brava village with an immaculate sandy beach and the sea here is a particularly intense cobalt blue. Popular with older couples and young families, the nightlife is minimal, since the restaurants and bars tend to shut in the evenings. The town’s two hotels have excellent restaurants.
The coves between Aiguablava and Sa Riera, are among the Costa Brava’s most beautiful. Take a short drive inland to visit the medieval hilltop town of Begur, which lies in a semicircle around an imposing 15th-century castle, with five huge towers. The castle was occupied during the War of Independence. The narrow, winding streets end at the main square, where there are plenty of good restaurants.
Empúries is a fascinating archaeological site, just five minutes’ drive from L’Escala. First settled by the Phoenicians, then the Greeks and Romans, this was once a thriving city, founded early in the 6th century BC. Its ruins include temples, streets, shops, and the remains of villas and mosaic floors. In front of the ruins is a lovely duned beach with shallow water and soft sand.
To reach the secluded town of Cadaquès, you will have to drive along a steep road that winds through rolling hills toward the sea. At the coast, lines of old whitewashed, blue-shuttered houses stretch along the beautiful main bay, and the beach here is small and pebbly, with lots of boats coming and going. Restaurants, cafes, boutiques and galleries line the waterfront. Art lovers are well catered for here the Perrott-Moore Museum displays a collection of Dali’s graphic art, and the municipal Museu d’Art exhibits works by the locals, as well as paintings by Toulouse-Lautrec and others