This blog post was originally published on Outdoor Trip Magazine – a travel agency that will help you turn your outdoor adventures into reality!
Costa Brava (literally meaning wild or rough coast) is one of the most scenic road trips of Europe. This beautiful coastal region of Catalonia in Spain stretches from the French border to the town of Blanes (60 km northeast of Barcelona).
The breathtakingly beautiful Costa Brava has enchanted many with its stunning beaches, azure waters, abundant sunshine, quaint little towns, and windy roads along the coast! No wonder it was the playground of famous artists like Salvador Dalí and Picasso.
The best time to visit this place and enjoy the brilliant sun is from May to September (August has the highest footfall). So, without further ado, here are the 5 places you must visit on your Costa Brava road trip!
1. Cadaqués – The Beautiful White Village
A 3-hour drive from Barcelona, Cadaqués is arguably one of the Costa Brava’s best spots. This beautiful fishing village nestled between the mountains of Cap de Creus had me completely captivated with its stunning landscape and architecture.
What’s unique about this place is that even with a lot of tourists around, it still manages to retain a tranquil feeling. This cute village of white houses, embracing the cliffs of the rugged bay is picture perfect. My favorite thing here was gazing at the turquoise waters dotted with pretty fishing boats bobbing along the harbor.
I also absolutely loved exploring the town, walking through the streets, stopping at souvenir shops and the local antique market in the main square. The town’s cobbled streets wind up, down and around surreal art galleries, stunning cafés and tiny hotels.
Oh, and If you are a Dalí lover, this is just so your place, the real house-museum of Portlligat was the only stable house of Salvador Dalí; the place where he lived and worked until 1982.
2. Tossa De Mar
The “Blue Paradise”, Tossa De Mar is a 2 hour drive from Cadaqués and one of the most beautiful towns of Spain! This sleepy beachside town turned into a major attraction overnight when Ava Gardner and James Mason came here in the 1950s to film Pandora and the Flying Dutchman.
This pretty town is constructed around a magnificent ancient castle, its 14th Century walls are the last fortified medieval town to survive to today on the Costa Brava. I especially loved the beautiful mountainous hinterland which creates a stunning backdrop and the old town Vilavella Enceinte that can be spotted from the beach.
A striking part of Tossa de Mar is La Vila Vella castle which gives this city a medieval feel; the towering castle walls perimeter the most delightful part of the city, the old town. It’s a charming labyrinth of medieval alleys lined with shops, restaurants and ancient houses. (Random Food Tip – I highly recommend the typical sea dishes served in the numerous restaurants in the city centre.)
Medieval Tossa dates back to the year 966; in 1187 the castle was built on the headland to defend the town. The trip through the area of the old castle only takes a few hours and you pass by various cute corners with many historical buildings, monuments or stunning views of the coast and mountains. I was delighted in a sense of history and the wonderful views from the castle, the highest point of the town.
3. Cap de Creus Natural Park
The Cap de Creus (Creus Cape) is one of the most gorgeous places in Costa Brava. A paradise with stunning sea and mountain landscapes, this is a peninsula and headland located at the far northeast of Catalonia.
Legend has it that Cap de Creus was hewn by the Roman God Hercules and it sure looks ethereal! The collection of beauty spots in this place have left a lasting imprint on my memory.
The unforgettable views of the wild coastline with its dizzying cliffs and hidden coves, and with islets spread all along are sure to blow your mind too! The signature quirky-shaped rocks, sculpted by the wind and the erosion of the sea; seem like figures of lions, dragons, horses, eagles and other mystical beings. The park’s interior consisting of forests and meadows is a biological paradise.
4. Castel d’Emporda
Castell d’Empordà is a 4-star hotel in Costa Brava, set in a restored 14th-century castle. It stands on a 12-hectare property, spangled with olive trees and oak, and a fantastic swimming pool offering panoramic views.
It is the perfect combination of a magical thousand-year old castle and modern-day luxury and comfort. I was smitten by the beauty of the castle, surrounded by olive groves and well-kept gardens. The castle enjoys a commanding position atop a hill overlooking the broad plains and rolling hills of the Empordà.
The interior is elegantly decorated with contemporary design furniture, stone arches and chandeliers. Dinner at Drac, the castle’s well-known restaurant, paired with fantastic wines from the Empordà region, the food was sumptuous. My exploration of the castle took me to the top and views from there were absolutely stunning!
5. Hikes on Camins de Ronda
One of Europe’s greatest hiking trails, the Camino de Ronda coastal trail spans over 200 km (125 miles) through gorgeous beach towns that are a must visit! I would suggest a day hike along the main trail. There are smaller dirt trails, which branch off towards the ocean down to little rocky coves, fishing spots and small beaches. There are signs and maps posted all along the trail to guide you.
It’s important to note that there are many variations of the route. Along the way different bike paths and trails connect to the Camino de Ronda and wander inland before usually meeting back up later.
My favorite beach was ‘Cala Rostella’, which is a 100 m long coarse sand cove, accessible by boat or on foot along dirt track (about a 20 minute walk).
The turquoise waters, sandy beaches and delicious coastal cuisine of Costa Brava have absolutely stolen my heart. The surreal landscapes and enchanting experiences have made this journey an unforgettable road trip for me! So, when are you planning your trip to Costa Brava?