The ruggedly beautiful Costa Brava holiday coast stretches for 100 miles (160km), along the shores of Catalonia in Spain's northeastern corner, from Port Bou on the Franco-Spanish border to Tossa del Mar, just north of Barcelona.
The coast is filled with high-rise resort developments and modern marinas catering to package tourists, but retains enough green hillsides and lonely, wild cliffs, coves, and caves to belie its reputation as one of Europe's busiest holiday destinations.
Holidaymakers revel in the hidden delights of the craggy coastline, many venturing out in boats to discover deserted coves scented with pine and citrus trees, fragrant herbs, and bright flowers. Popular resorts and marinas lie in close proximity to relatively unspoilt fishing villages and towns.
Along with some old castles and fortifications, these resorts are evidence of the area's rich history. Offshore divers revel in the abundance of wrecks to explore in the crystalline waters, while seemingly endless sunshine pours down on stretches of sandy or shingle beach.
The undeveloped natural areas and fishing industry have also resulted in making a holiday here a gastronomic treat. Seafood reigns supreme, from sardines to delicious lobster, but specialities also include local wild game, like boar, duck, and rabbit, which can all be washed down with a variety of wines produced from the vineyards that clothe the hillsides.
The city of Girona, on the route from the Pyrenees to Barcelona, is one of the most important historical sites in Spain, founded by the Romans and later turned into a Moorish stronghold. Sitting astride the confluence of the Onyar and Ter rivers, this quaint medieval city attracts hordes of tourists from the Costa Brava resorts and Barcelona. All are lured by the experience of walking through the old quarter, the Call, with its narrow alleyways and ancient stone houses. Inside the ancient walls are such gems as the 12th-century Benedictine monastery of Sant Pere de Galligants and the 14th-century cathedral built in the Catalonian Baroque style. The cathedral can be accessed by climbing up 90 steps. It includes a museum containing art works and rare manuscripts.
The busy fishing village of Cadaques draws plenty of visitors, but they do not come for the local beach, which is rather narrow and stony. Rather, the resort town's attractions are its picturesque natural harbour, some excellent restaurants, numerous galleries, fashion, and art and craft shops, and the former home-turned-museum of world-renowned surrealist painter, Salvador Dali, situated in nearby Portlligat Bay. Dali's bizarre home consists of a labyrinthine cluster of fishermen's huts, added to the original building in various stages by the artist over a period of 40 years. Visitors must reserve a time for entry in advance as only about eight people are allowed in the museum at a time.
Situated scarcely a mile from the beach of the popular resort town of L'Estartit on the Costa Brava, the protected Medes Islands are seen as heaven for divers. The craggy little archipelago of seven islets and a few reefs form one of the most important and rich marine reserves in the Mediterranean. Meda Gran, the largest of the islands, is the only one of considerable size, and there is a 10th-century lighthouse on it. Most of the islands are just rocky outcrops jutting out of the sea, with little vegetation. However, the magic happens underwater, where millions of fish and thousands of animal and plant species inhabit the shallows, crevices, and submarine caves at the base of the island cliffs.
Visiting the dormant volcanoes is not one of the typical things to do in Spain, yet they offer stunning scenery and a one-of-a-kind experience. Sandwiched between the Pyrenees and Costa Brava, the region of Garrotxa is home to a multitude of prehistoric volcanoes as well as many castles and country houses. Visitors wanting to experience more of Spain than the quintessential beach and city breaks should head to Garrotxa Nature Reserve, just outside of Girona, to experience a land of amazing and rugged landscapes, fire, and ash. The reserve showcases the best of rural tourism in Spain and is perfect for enthusiastic hikers.
The allure of the Costa Brava is the combination of crowded, manicured resorts, and rugged unspoilt coastline, offering tourists the best of both worlds: great amenities and luxury, as well as natural beauty. There are a number of Blue Flag beaches along the Costa Brava, and also some secluded, rocky coves.
The glorious beaches, in combination with the renowned food and restaurant scene, makes the Costa Brava ideal for resort holidays, and the most popular destinations include Roses, Lloret de Mar and Blanes. Tossa de Mar, a smaller, more authentic coastal resort village, is also a delight, and the bigger centres of Girona and Banyoles offer many attractions.
There are some wonderful coastal walks and numerous golf courses to enjoy in Costa Brava, as well as many fun water sports. There is also some quality cultural and historical sightseeing for those interested, including some impressive Roman and Iberian archaeological sites. The famous archaeological site of Empuries, a Greco-Roman site with extensive ruins, is the highlight for many visitors.
The nearby medieval village of Sant Marti d'Empuries is also lovely to explore. Lastly, Costa Brava is Dali country and there are three museums to visit for fans of the artist, including the fascinating Salvador Dali Museum House near Cadaques.
No direct flights from Heathrow to this Destination
Your session has timed out due to inactivity.