El Codolar, Tossa de Mar: My Favorite Hidden Beach in Europe

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As much as I’ve traveled in Europe, there has been one major gap in my European travels: beaches.

I’m puzzled over how this has happened.  I’ve even been to cities like Lisbon, Barcelona, Rimini, and Venice without setting foot on any of their famous beaches!

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen some absolutely gorgeous beaches in Europe, especially in Croatia.  But they fall into one of four categories:

1) Slabs of rock: like here in Kamenjak, Croatia.

2) Giant pebbles or small rocks: like here in Nice, France.

3) Nice but WAY too expensive: like this €50 beach in Sveti Stefan, Montenegro.

Aman Sveti Stefan Beach

4) Beautiful but freezing cold: like this one in Shetland.

Tropical Beach in Shetland?

A hot, sunny, sandy, and free beach in Europe?  I had actually never encountered one in my travels. The closest I got was the beach in Valencia, but it was mid-March and not warm enough for basking.

However, on my trip to Costa Brava this past September, I discovered my new favorite European beach town: Tossa de Mar.

Tossa de Mar is an easy getaway from Barcelona, located on the dramatic coastline of Costa Brava.  Tossa is definitely a tourist town, and particularly draws families, but it’s not as obnoxiously tourist-driven as many Spanish beach towns are.  It feels like Spain here.

I strolled around Tossa de Mar’s impossibly charming Old Town with its cobblestone streets and centuries-old towers.  In fact, this is the only medieval fortified town remaining on the Catalan coast to this day.

And then I came across a tiny opening in the wall with a patch of irresistible blue ocean in the distance…

The opening was so small that I had to crouch down in order to fit through it.  Where could this possibly lead?

Bursting out, this is what was before me: Playa El Codolar.

This was the European beach I’d been waiting for my whole life.  Hidden and difficult to get to.  Tiny. Surrounded by cliffs.  Sandy and warm, with turquoise and azure waters.  Big, fun waves.  And so incredibly beautiful!

While most people hit up the giant beach in Tossa de Mar, seen in the top photo, this is so much smaller — and more special.

Could you imagine living in one of those houses perched on the cliff?

As soon as the weather turns warm again, I’ll be off searching for beautiful beaches no matter where I end up.  Until then, though, you’ll find me dreaming of my return to Tossa de Mar and El Codolar.

Many thanks to Visit Costa Brava for hosting me in Tossa de Mar.  All opinions, as always, are my own.My Favorite Hidden Beach in Europe

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15 thoughts on “El Codolar, Tossa de Mar: My Favorite Hidden Beach in Europe”

  1. Europe’s beaches are were it all began for me! My travel experiences started with yearly family expeditions to the Costa Brava, often by coach from the UK. My first beach was on the island of Ibiza when I was 5.

    Since then, I’ve decided the beaches of the Greek Islands are my favourites – there are some absolute stunners! And for anyone yet to visit Greece, rest assured you’ll love so much more than just the beaches!

  2. When I lived in France we also had a rocky beach like the one in your picture of Nice. Surprisingly, it’s actually not that uncomfortable to lie on!

  3. Im with you on this. I am yet to really experiece the beaches in Europe. Im headed there in a couple weeks and hope to stay at least until the summer ends so I can experience it for myself. This one looks really cool how its hidden by the cliffs.

  4. Hey Kate! i can’t believe you’ve never been to Sardinia!! 🙂
    I was born and raised there and we have some stunning beaches! i wrote an article about the top 10 sardinian beaches last week…with some tips, if you ever feel like going let me know and i can tell u all about it!

    Ps: now people from Rimini are going to kill me, but you didn’t miss much there…. sorry guys 🙂
    i like the region and all, but let’s say that the sea is not one of the things that stands out there…

  5. Hi Kate, if you are looking for incredible beaches in Spain, in my humble opinion, Galicia has the best ones and they are also the least knwon by foreign tourists. I think you would love them! Sanxenxo is a town with many beautiful beaches that are claimed to be the best in Spain, and also there is the Rodas Beach in the Cíes Islands in Galicia which is claimed to be the best beach IN THE WORLD. You can google it, I’m not making this up 🙂 I would love to read a post in your blog about this beautiful and magical region which is very underrated by foreigner who usually go to the mediterranean coast of Spain.

    PS: I love you blog and I’m folowwing many of your tips to become a future travaller.

  6. gorgeous beach: Spain can really surprise you when you get of the beaten track. However, you should get towards Sicily or try to get to the calangue Sormiou around Marseille…those have real Caribbean splendour

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