This Spanish getaway's literal translation is put most simply, “The Wild Coast.” Spain’s Costa Brava corrals sheer rocky cliffs, crystal clear waters, coves, tiny beaches and medieval villages into one pen of perfection in the region of Catalonia. Beginning just north of Barcelona in Blanes and heading all the way up the Mediterranean coast to the French border, Costa Brava is one of Spain’s great holiday getaways and for good reason. The 153 kilometers of coastline is lauded as some of the country’s best. Untamed and rugged, this corner of Spain warrants a gander away from big and bold Barcelona.
Cities and Towns To Explore
A traveler in search of activity in Costa Brava has no shorter of cities and towns to choose from in the area. The biggest city is Girona. The inland, medieval city was founded by the Romans and also acted as a Moorish stronghold. The medieval city begs for visitors to get lost in its old quarter and maze-like ancient streets. In addition to Girona, Figueres attracts crowds for its most legendary son, Salvador Dalí. The famous artist was born in Figueres. Dalí made sure the city was supplied with a monument to his life and work at the Teatre-Museu Dalí. The museum is hard to miss due to its red castle-like construction topped with giant eggs.
Costa Brava also covers in several pockets of villages, left behind by time. Madremanya is one of those villages. Located on top of a hill, the medieval community boasts an impressive 16th century church. Other medieval villages in the area include Monells, San Martí Vella and Pubol.
In terms of activities in Spain’s Costa Brava, the coastline is the activity. Stretching for nearly 100 miles along the Mediterranean Sea, you can find patches of sand on more popular beaches near Tossa del Mar. In opposition, you can also find many hidden coves and their beaches due to the landscape of Costa Brava. The Province of Girona Tourism Board makes a nice beach guide where you can search for beaches by location and find out if those beaches are suitable for your group. The beaches to the northeast and southwest of Tossa del Mar are small yet charming. The northern portion of the Costa Brava is more rocky and windswept, specifically at the Cap de Creus.
Eats and Drinks
Costa Brava and Catalonia revolve around the sea and the mountains when it comes to its cuisine. Many dishes are focused on meats and fish, drenched in creative yet simple sauces. A typical starter might include escalivada, a red pepper and eggplant concoction that is grilled, peeled and sliced. The dish is then drizzled with olive oil, salt and garlic. Other common dishes include snails and also crema cataluna, a Catalonia version of crème brûlée. In total, the province of Girona boasts 16 restaurants with 20 Michelin Stars including Restaurant Massana in Girona and La Llar in Roses. And while in Costa Brava you can also feast at arguably one of the best restaurants in the world, El Celler de Can Roca in Girona.
In addition to Michelin starred eateries, Costa Brava also fills up glasses with the fruits of the land. Costa Brava has had a tradition for winemaking since Roman times. The area features dozens of wineries where you can sip on Costa Brava-made wines and learn how they are produced.
Sweet Spanish Sleeps
For a historic yet luxurious experience in Catalonia, travelers can head to the small village of Madremanya. This little northeastern hideaway is close to both Costa Brava and Barcelona, making for a fine base to explore the area. One of the most luxurious accommodations in the area is Can Bassa. Set up in a 14th century building, Can Bassa transports guests to another time, yet with modern day amenities. The building was once used as a farmhouse. It was later restored in keeping with its 14th century charm.
The property features three suites and five cottages. The cottages can accommodate up to four guests. All of the rooms open up to Can Bassa’s main garden and patio area. Amenities on site include a wine cellar, massage services, gardens and bicycle rentals. Can Bassa proves ideal for vacationing couples looking to get away on a honeymoon or even for those seeking the perfect Spanish venue for their events with the right amount of history and luxury.
When To Go
While you could visit Spain’s Costa Brava during the summer months, you will most definitely not be alone. Around July and August, the northeastern coast of Spain clouds with visitors. Most places are booked up, making it hard to find a hotel or even a spot to eat for dinner. To experience the rugged coastline without the crowds, it is better to visit in May, June, September and October if you still want to take advantage of the warmth of the Mediterranean Sea.
What To Bring
What you will need to bring to Costa Brava depends upon the season in which you will visit. In the late spring, summer and early fall, Spain’s Costa Brava sizzles. Lightweight, breathable fabrics work best, especially if you plan on being outdoors throughout most of your visit. A sunhat, sunscreen and sunglasses are also essential. If you are visiting outside of the balmier months, a windbreaker and plenty of layers are necessary when the winds whip across the coastline. No matter what you pack, be sure to keep style on the table. Spaniards are a stylish bunch and notice foreigners in a heartbeat if they don’t also put their best foot, or rather shoe, forward.
Costa Brava lurks in northeastern Spain. It can easily be reached from the border with France. However, most arrive to Costa Brava by way of Barcelona. Drivers can cruise up the AP 7 from Barcelona toward Girona to arrive at the wild coast. Travelers should be advised that in the summer months, the roads along Costa Brava have the potential to clog. It is best to find alternative routes than some of the busier roads during the busy summer season.
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