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Costa Brava may very well be the best kept secret in Spain. This September, I spent time in this region of Catalonia for the first time ever, and I was blown away by its sheer beauty, the variety of things to do, and its warm hospitality.
From beaches to cities, from jamon to tomatoes, Costa Brava is filled with so many treasures — and if you’re anything like me, you’ll fall in love with Costa Brava quickly.
Here are 13 reasons to fall in love with Costa Brava:
I’ve seen the coasts of California, Croatia, and the Faroe Islands, and Costa Brava’s dramatic coast blows all of them away. Pounding surf, wild rocks and stunning beaches dot the landscape — it’s impossible to not want to photograph them all!
Where to go: Lloret de Mar. This may seem like a tired party town, but the coastal walk is absolutely spectacular. This shot is just one of many.
Not just beaches — absolutely gorgeous beaches. There were times when it shocked me that these beaches were actually in Spain and not Thailand! You’ll find big, wide, sandy beaches good for families, as well as some more deserted and upscale ones. And nude beaches? Quite a few, my friends. Quite a few.
READ MORE: How to Protect Your Belongings on the Beach
Where to go: Tossa de Mar. Tossa’s beaches are absolutely stunning, particularly the hidden cove, and the town is lovely as well.
Charming Small Towns
Costa Brava is far more than just beaches. It’s also home to beautiful medieval towns that ooze charm and small town atmosphere — not to mention make perfect photos. When the sun gets to be a little too strong, these towns make lovely getaways.
Where to go: Besalù. We loved our time at the Besalu Bloghouse, and Besalu was the perfect place to soak up a few days.
Yes, there are also mountains in Costa Brava! They’re actually the foothills of the Pyrenees. We went into the woods and did an e-bike excursion, which was just fantastic, as the ebikes gave us a little extra oomph to get up the hills. You can just go downhill, too, if you’d like.
Where to go: Montseny. This is an excellent place to begin exploring the mountains that dot this region.
Yes, human towers! Costa Brava is part of Catalonia, and this is one of Catalonia’s most famous pieces of performance art. It’s traditionally a child who goes on the very top, and I think my heart was in my mouth as I watched each one all those people! (No worries. The kids wear helmets.)
Where to see it: Girona is your best bet for live performances.
Oh my GOD, the food in Costa Brava is amazing! The whole time I was there, I felt like the gluttony guy in Seven who was force-fed to death. They love their food in Costa Brava and it is SO delicious. Expect a full post about food soon.
What to try: Pan catalan (bread with tomato and oil), fresh seafood, pate, amazingly light fried calamari, risotto with spiny crab, crema catalana for dessert, and tons upon tons of jamon and tomatoes!
Costa Brava is home to some amazing hotels. The one that I liked the best, Sant Pere del Bosc Hotel, was one where we didn’t stay, but I absolutely loved its artsy design! In the photo above are glass lanterns hanging down the stairwell. There were also sinks carved from giant blocks of wood, little colorful stools, and beds that looked like Hershey kisses. It’s isolated, but the hotel itself is a destination piece.
Where to go: Sant Pere del Bosc hotel! I also loved the in-room jacuzzi at Hotel Balneari Prats in Caldes de Malavella and the sprawling luxury of Hotel Guitart Monterey in Lloret de Mar.
I’ve already told you how much I love Girona. Trust me — this city is something special, and I’m amazed that it doesn’t get more overflow from Barcelona tourists. It should!
What to do: Get gelato at Rocambolesc, of course!
Get up early enough and you’ll be glad you did. The sunrises here are gorgeous.
When the weather is just right, the clouds look like the world is about to end. In the best way possible.
When you’re done with the beach, spend the afternoon at the botanical gardens in Lloret de Mar. The gardens are beautiful, featuring Europe’s only staircase completely covered in ivy, and there’s a viewpoint that overlooks a nude beach. (Just saying. Some people might use that as reason enough to come.)
Where to go: Jardines de Santa Clotilde in Lloret de Mar. Why not bring a picnic?
Costa Brava is home to SO many delicious varieties of tomatoes that you can’t find anywhere else in the world. They all have their unique attributes and uses (believe me, you don’t want to use the wrong tomato on pan catalan), so head to a vegetable market, try several, and see what flights your fancy.
What to try: those variegated salmoney tomatoes that are kind of shaped like peppers. You’ll know them when you see them. They have an AMAZING texture — almost meaty and incredibly satisfying. Also, be sure to try the tomato salad at Restaurant Pont Vell in Besalù.
It’s So Easy!
Most Spain visitors I know go straight to Barcelona, but Costa Brava is so easy to get to from there! Girona is only an hour away, and some of Costa Brava is even closer than that. If it’s your dream to go to Barcelona, I recommend building a trip around both Barcelona and Costa Brava. They pair together SO nicely.
How to do it: Take a bus or train to Girona or bus to Tossa de Mar, Lloret de Mar, Besalù, Montseny, and beyond! There are many more places that I didn’t get a chance to explore this time around. Alternatively, fly straight into Girona.
Costa Brava is one of my favorite destinations from this past year, and I guarantee that it will earn a special place in your heart.
Where to Stay in Barcelona
Many thanks to Visit Costa Brava for introducing me to this beautiful part of the world.
28 thoughts on “13 Reasons to Fall in Love with Costa Brava, Spain”
Ok, I am sold. Adding this to the bucket list. I meant to make it to TBEX, but didn’t get there. I am regretting that now.
Was it fairly easy to get there from Barcelona?
The descriptions of the food is making my mouth water just reading it, and the rugged coastline reminds me a lot of the Mediterranean coastline of Southern France, which I thought was possible one of the most beautiful places on earth.
It couldn’t be easier to get there from Barcelona, Shanna — Girona is just an hourlong bus or train journey!
Oh the tomatoes! I enjoy reading big city alternative destinations especially when they’re just a short stop away. We really wanted to go to Costa Brava for TBEX but it was hard to get to on the other side of the world. Lol, next time for sure.
See you in Dublin, Kieu!
My only experiences of the Costa Brava were as a child when we did coach holidays to Spain from the UK. I think a return visit is needed!
Wow, I’m definitely bookmarking this in the event that I’ll have time to go to the Costa Brava. I love the sunset pictures!!
Stunning pictures!!! I want to be there right now! 🙂
These are some awesome Photographs and some cool chronicles of the place. I like it. Awesome!!!
Costa Brava looks incredible. Makes me want to visit Spain even more!
Those tomatoes look amazing! Another favourite of mine is chopped Spanish tomatoes on crusty baguettes, topped with black pepper… mmm…
This is awesome. I mean nude beaches, TOMATOES and human towers, what more could you want from life?
I love the Costa Brava! We had a family reunion there in 2009 and I’ve been wanting to go back ever since.
Beautiful pictures! And yes, all of those sound like perfect reasons to visit and never want to leave.
Oh my! Some of those shots look absolutely amazing. I went to Malaga, Spain last year and had a fantastic time while doing day trips to Nerja, Sevilla, Mijas and Salobrena. Your first two pictures definitely brought back some memories and your 3rd shot made me envious 🙂 Great post!
Wow, the buildings look stunning
Absolutely stunning photos and great memories. Now I am hungry!
I moved from the UK to live on the Costa Brava in the seaside town of L’Escala because, as well as being a beautiful area on land, the Costa Brava is so great for scuba diving!
I am a voluntary coordinator for the Silmar Project. Every summer volunteer divers from all over the world come to assist with underwater species surveys, and THEY ALL LOVE THE COSTA BRAVA!!!
A great blog post, Kate, and lovely photos!
Do you speak Spanish, and if not, did you find it easy to get by in this area as an English-speaker?
Thanks! Sounds beautiful!
They speak Catalan in Costa Brava. 😉 But you’ll be fine without it. English will get you buy.
Great post! I hope you can answer my questions though. I am planning a trip to Costa Brava around Sumemr 2014. My sister will be living in Germany until May and she was hoping I can go in May. What is the weather like in May? Or should I wait until June or July?
May should be very nice. Enjoy!
i love the Costa Brava!!!!!!!lived there for 2 years back in the 80’s(malgrat/santa susana,didnt explore enough,and plan to go back in july,hopefully to live! seeing all this has made me even more keen to go,and thanks for posting!!!!
really interesting post, really complete and curated. I agree with you: is a lovely place to fall in love with… I really like the beaches of Begur, Pals and Palafrugell, magical places. You can take a look to these beaches at http://www.costabravaphotography.com … lte me know your opinion
Good job your blog… I love it!
We took your advice and booked a boat tour from Dingle Ireland with Sean O’Shea to Skellig Micheal. He was awesome, cooked fish on the boat that he caught while we were hiking the island. F.Y.I. we were told they will be shutting down tours to the island because of erosion. So if anyone wants to go do it within the next year or so.
Thanks Kate for the advice!
xoxo Stephanie, Liam, Henry (my two boys) and my Mum
I’m so glad you made it, Stephanie!
Besalu is so wonderful. Even the name of the town sounds like a kiss ‘un beso’ !
Hi Kate. Looks like an awesome place. My husband and I are both 61 and have never been abroad for various reasons but, this year, we are finally been able to and I want our fist time abroad to be special. We’re going for our anniversary in September. So far, I’ve been searching for places, based on what others have told me about their own holidays but, we both want to see Barcelona so, having seen your blog and the wonderful photograohs, I am sold on the Costa Brava. Thank you so much for your article. Very helpful.