The Costa Brava is the coastal region of Spain running from north of Barcelona to the French border. It’s an unspoiled world with pink rocks touching crystal clear, blue waters. I would plan a 3 or 4 day trip to really soak in the region.
Sample the diversity of Costa Brava
Costa Brava is a great place for active travelers with swimming, snorkeling and diving opportunities in the water and hiking, golf and tennis on land. If you’re more the wine and dine type do not fear, world class wine and one of the highest concentrations of Michelin starred chefs in Spain provide plenty of foodie choices.
All that being said you still have access to history and architecture here with Girona, its well preserved old town and cathedral as well as the Salvador Dali house and museum, just to name a few.
A car is imperative to make your trip as enjoyable and flexible as possible. Other than that simple go and enjoy!
Where to stay in Costa Brava:
I recommend staying away from the most heavily touristed places to get a more tranquil experience with quieter beaches and clearer waters. Of course there’s a fair share of large, towering resorts if that's what you prefer (but I won't cover them here).
Tamariu is a great choice
The reason to choose Tamariu is due to its tranquility. You won’t find huge resorts and a thumping night life here. But if you’re looking to enjoy the beaches with locals rather than foreigners this is your spot.
Not only do you have the clean, relatively quiet playa de Tamariu but off its shores are some of the bluest, clearest waters on this part of the coast making it an excellent choice for snorkelers and divers. Stollis Divebase offers trips to 12 different dive sites all leaving from the jetty in town.
Where to sleep:
Hotel Hostalillo offers accommodation literally steps from the beach as well as a breakfast buffet and a picturesque dining terrace. Rooms a simple but the setting is idyllic. Alternatively, Tamariu is an excellent place to look into villa rentals. There are a number of private homes which you could rent for extended periods of time. This is especially a good option when traveling in larger groups.
Where to eat:
Since you can’t make a reservation at Es Dofi you may wait a few minutes, but the relaxed, casual atmosphere and top notch fish and deserts are worth a little lingering. El Clot dels Mussols on the other hand, can be reserved, and with its perfect seafront location, a booking is a good idea. Don’t hesitate for anything on the menu, everything comes out of the kitchen with perfection.
How to get there:
The most practical means of transportation would be to rent a car and drive in as it will be useful in getting around during your stay. However, from Barcelona it is possible to get in on public transport. Get a Moventis bus to Palafrguell, that’ll take you just over two hours. From there you’ll switch to a second bus to get you into Tamariu, or you could grab a taxi. The drive is 11 minutes but the bus takes about 50 with many stops along the way.
Costa Brava beyond the beaches:
Tamariu is a great base to see the region and you should absolutely spend time on the beaches, there are many of them and they are spectacular. But you should be sure not to lose track of time and before your holiday is up get off your tanning bed and explore a different side of the region.
Girona and its Cathedral
A day trip into Girona is essential. This city has preserved its history remarkably well. Including its Jewish Quarter, fortress walls and Cathedral. While you should plan to spend the day to explore all that the city has to offer do highlight the cathedral, which is a combination of Romanesque and Gothic architecture that began being constructed in the 11th century. It is full of artifacts, tombs and tapestries all of which are worthy of admiration.
Certainly, your best option is to drive here, it should take about an hour from your home base. If you are without a car you can head back into Palafrugell and get a Movenits bus from there, from Palafrugell the bus will take just over an hour and the buses leave hourly.
Cap de Creus National Park
This national park is a total of over 13,000 hectares more than 3,000 at sea and another 10,000+ on land. The park is a peninsula the juts out and is the easterly most piece of land in Spain. The park has stunning views and you should aim to take a stroll along the coastline.
Look out for the 800 types of plants native to the area as well as land animals and birds including eagles and falcons. You’ll need a car to get here.
Salvador Dali House Museum
Quirky. That is the word you will hear used time and time again to describe the home of Salvador Dali just 2m outside Cadaques in Portlligat. The home is a labyrinth of rooms, tunnels, passageways and corridors. It is a madly puzzling work of art and out the windows, of which there are many in different shapes and sizes, you can see the landscape that Dali himself was inspired by.
It is imperative that you book in advance to see the house and allow yourself ample to time to park before your schedule entry. You will need a car for access.
With enough time or a special interest in Dali, you can do the eye opening Dali Triangle tour of Costa Brava.
Best time to visit Costa Brava
When to go depends on what your after. Shoulder season, spring and autumn, see slightly cooler temperatures and certainly fewer people. But if your main interest is the beach and the sun, mid-summer will suit you just fine. Just do be prepared for higher prices and less elbow room.
How to get around Costa Brava
Drive! This is a hard region to visit without access to a car. While there are some buses you’ll end up having to switch and taking a great deal of time, and probably headache to get from place to place. Also, Spanish buses are notoriously not on schedule so be careful not to plan any transfers too close together!