The Costa Brava - Catalonia (Spain)
LOCATION AND DESCRIPTION
The Costa Brava is the name given to the coastal area stretching from Blanes to Portbou, on the border with France, belonging to the province of Girona, in Catalonia. This 214 km. coastline was christened the Costa Brava by journalist Ferran Agulló in 1908, alluding to the wild natural landscape and capricious rock formations, which can be rough, steep and jagged along this part of the Mediterranean coast.
For its great beauty, combining its maritime essence with the shades of green in the vegetation that extends nearly to the sea, as well as its pleasant Mediterranean climate, with mild winters and warm summers (60% of days are sunny in December and 75% in July), it was chosen by many artists and writers, like Picasso, Marc Chagall, Dalí and Rusiñol. The Costa Brava was one of the first places in Spain to receive tourists, in the 1930s, although mass tourism only arrived in the 1960s and the name became official in 1965.
However, the Costa Brava has been able to strike a balance between urban growth and tourism and its charming fishing villages, hidden coves and endless fine-sand beaches. The area’s unique cuisine, numerous and varied natural spaces, exclusive homes (from typical Catalan farmhouses to villas, mansions, residential areas and elite modern houses) make the Costa Brava an ideal place to live year round, to spend the summers, or to holiday.
Natural areas give visitors the chance to participate in active tourism activities all year long, both inland (hiking, mountain biking, golf, etc.) and on the coast (sailing, diving, kayaking, snorkelling, etc.)
Culinary tourism is also an important part of the Costa Brava, with numerous Michelin-starred restaurants and two world-renowned icons of the culinary arts: Ferran Adrià’s El Bulli Foundation at Cala Montjoi (Roses) and the Roca brothers’ El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, named the best restaurant in the world in 2013.
The Costa Brava offers all of this and more, bathed in the sunlight that gives it a special luminosity, reflecting off the waters and blue skies, swept clear of clouds from time to time by the Tramontana wind.
WHERE TO GO
Palafrugell and its coves: Calella, Llafranch and Tamariu
The municipality of Palafrugell is made up of several towns: 4 inland, located at the foot of the Las Gavarras massif, Santa Margarida, Ermedàs, Llofriu and Palafrugell; and the coastal towns of Calella, Llafranc, Tamariu and Aigua Xelida.
Calella de Palafrugell
Although all of the towns that make up Palafrugell have their own charm, Calella de Palafrugell is a symbol of the Costa Brava and the marine influence that permeates it. Its calm beaches and hidden coves are a paradise for visitors and a refuge for the spirit. Against the backdrop of this extreme beauty, the soul calms listening to Havaneras music on warm summer nights. Music-lovers won’t want to miss the Cap Roig Festival, an unparalleled event that recreates vegetation from five continents.
Getting to Llafranc is like getting to the beach. 330 metres of fine-sand beach, 32 metres wide, with a beautiful bay, port and Cape San Sebastián all just metres away from the town centre, have made Llafranc a much-coveted holiday destination. A place to come and forget about everything else.
This town is named after the tree, as tamarind (“tamariu” in Catalan) grows along its beaches. The beautiful, wild coast is rocky and green, contrasting with the intense blue of the sea, and its urban beach, with whitewashed buildings, is presided over by a lovely promenade.
Begur and its beaches
The town of Begur and its beaches, at the heart of the Costa Brava, are the perfect place to live or spend a holiday, which is why many people looking for a permanent residence or holiday home choose this town.
The beaches and coves of Begur are, for some, the best in all of the Costa Brava, highlights including: Sa Riera, Aiguafreda, Sa Tuna, Fornells and Aiguablava.
Sa Riera beach, with its fine sand, is the largest and closest to Begur, just to the north of the town. It has a wide variety of touristic and sporting options.
The small cove of Aiguafreda, to the east of Begur, hides below mount Rodó and has a boat dock.
Getting to the hidden cove of Sa Tuna is no easy task, down a rocky trail, but its clean, transparent waters are a good reason to persevere.
The coves of Fornells inspired the writer who coined the term Costa Brava, for its wild beauty. Four coves make up Fornells, which can be reached along the well-known camino de ronda, the magnificent walking trail that allows hikers to discover the Costa Brava on foot, passing through the green pine groves with views of the wide, blue sea.
The beach at Aiguablava, south of Fornells, has fine sand and shallow, transparent water, making it a delight for families with small children. These characteristics also make it ideal for a one-of-a-kind underwater activity, visiting reproductions of the Roman amphoras found in the natural port in the first and second centuries BC.
The municipality of Castell-Platja d’Aro is made up of three towns: Castell d’Aro, inland, and Platja d’Aro and S’Agaró, on the coast. It is located in Vall d’Aro, a narrow valley etched out by the Ridaura River between the sea, the Gavarras massif and the Cadiretes massif.
The beautiful natural surroundings of these three towns offer a wide variety of options: nature and sport, beaches, culture, cuisine, day and night-time activities, and shopping, especially in the more cosmopolitan Platja d’Aro, which is well known for its famous Carnival and Beer Festival.
This is one of the most sought-after municipalities in the Mediterranean, for its mild climate, beauty and activities. It is undoubtedly an ideal place to live all year round. Castell-Platja d'Aro is officially accredited as a Family Tourist Destination.
This medieval town is traversed by steep, narrow streets with gorgeous stone houses leading up to the Benedormiens castle, where it is easy to imagine and relive history, visiting exhibits of art and traditional culture.
S’Agarówas created in the early 20th century as a seaside development of high-class houses in the noucentismestyle. The renowned Hostal La Gavina was built in 1932. S’Agaró is considered an architectural jewel of the Mediterranean and has been declared a Cultural Heritage Site by the Government of Catalonia.
Santa Cristina D´Aro,
The municipality of Santa Cristina d’Aro is located inland, in the sub-county of Vall d’Aro, but extends out to the coast with beaches and coves, some of which are so small and integrated into the natural surroundings that they are nearly empty even in the summer. A couple of examples include Cala Vallpresona and Cala del Senyor Ramon, both of which allow nudism.
Palamós is synonymous with the sea. The sea in all its glory, in its purest state, with all its colours and the unforgettable sound of its waves, its refreshing smell, salty and inspiring. The sea, with all of its benefits and all of its possibilities: resting on the beach, enjoying the seafood it brings us, sailing, living nearby, looking out onto its ever-changing landscapes, watching how it merges with the sky in a watercolour any painter would love to capture. Palamós, the eternal sea to live year-round.
Sant Feliu de Guíxols
Sant Feliu de Guíxols is strategically located, 100 km from both Barcelona and the French border. Open to the sea and with Iberian origins, it was the official port for the city of Girona in the Middle Ages and later a centre for exporting cork, which fuelled its business fabric and made the city quite rich. Wealthy families built elegant houses throughout the municipality. Since the 1950s, tourism has been its main activity and this city of more than 20,000 inhabitants has been a symbol of the glamour of the Costa Brava.
Sheltered by the Montgrí massif to the north and with the Medes Islands just off its coast, L’Estartit is undoubtedly a privileged location both for a holiday or a permanent residence, with elegant homes, luxurious villas and contemporary houses for all tastes and needs.
It is a town that has preserved its maritime essence, with links to fishing and its arts, including cuisine. Sea-lovers will enjoy its huge beach that runs down to the port, with its maritime club, as well as its lovely coves skirting the Montgrí massif, which is a joy to contemplate even in the winter. Those who love diving will find a paradise in the Medes Islands, called the best reserve in the western Mediterranean.
L’Escala is one of the towns on the Costa Brava where everyone wants to have a second home. Its spectacular setting, with the Montgrí massif, Medes Islands and Aiguamolls de l’Empordà to the south; beaches for all tastes, long and wide or sheltered coves under tall cliffs, combining all shades of green and blue, are an invitation to enjoy any sport imaginable: hiking, mountain biking, diving, kayaking, snorkelling, etc.
Empúries is the most important Greek site in all of Spain. It is located in the municipality of L’Escala, on the Bay of Roses. It was founded in the 5th century BC by the Greeks and later occupied by the Romans, who used it as their base in Romanising the Iberian Peninsula. Visitors can go on tours, see exhibits or participate in cultural and historical activities.
Since 2011, the Bay of Roses has been part of the Most Beautiful Bays in the World Club, a UNESCO distinction only held by 30 bays in the world.
Roses offers an endless range of possibilities for those who love the sea. Its widely varied coastline has numerous long beaches with shallow blue water, as well as hidden coves with transparent waters and green vegetation, which can be found in the Cap de Creus Natural Park, an area of unique beauty with wild landscapes, noteworthy among which is Cap Norfeu.
If only for these reasons, it is worth having a home in Roses, which in its day was an important Greek colony and is now home to one of the most important Renaissance forts in the Mediterranean, which has been declared a National Heritage Site: La Ciutadella.
Cadaqués is intrinsically linked to Dalí, to the Mediterranean, to the hidden, authentic, spectacular beauty of the Costa Brava found in the Cap de Creus Natural Park. Cadaqués, a fishing village with steep streets, whitewashed houses immortalised by Dali’s surrealist brush, and delicacies from the sea. Many… artists, musicians, writers… have fallen in love with Cadaqués and longed to live in this magical place.
Port de la Selva
Port de la Selva is in the north: at the northern most end of the Costa Brava and to the north of Cap de Creus. It is mainly a fishing village that looks to the sea, where calm tranquillity reigns and visitors are inspired to relax on the beach or discover its hiking trails along the coast or a longer route to the monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes, one of the most impressive Romanesque sites.