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