When I think of summer in Spain, my mind immediately thinks of the Costa Brava. When we were living in Barcelona, we often took day trips to visit Costa Brava. Only a few short hours away from Barcelona, it’s the perfect destination for a week of relaxing.
My favorite part of the area was finding small beaches and coves, each unique in its own way. We’d spend the long days under the sun, swimming in the turquoise waters, and snacking on goods from the market. There are so many charming things to do in Costa Brava.
At night, we would retreat back to Begur for dinner, enjoy a glass of local wine, and call it a night. It was this easy-going, exploring that made for one of the best places to visit out of Barcelona. If you’re Spain-bound and looking to get out of the city, these are my tips for the best things to do in Costa Brava, Spain.
Short on Time? Here Are My Top Picks for the Best Hotels in Costa Brava:
- Hotel Palau Fugit, for the best new hotel
- Cluc Hotel, for the best boutique hotel
- Hotel Lavida, for the best luxury hotel
- Hotel Sant Roc, for the best oceanside hotel
For more on Costa Brava, read: A Weekend in Costa Brava!
Where to Visit in Costa Brava, Spain
From seaside towns and natural parks to medieval towns, there are many areas of Costa Brava. It’s a wonderful stretch of coastline that goes up into the mountains. So you can have your pick of where you visit. Costa Brava stretches from Barcelona to the French border to give you an idea of the geographic location.
One of the more central towns in Costa Brava, I loved this hilltop town that overlooks the area. The old town is wonderful to explore, with small boutiques and restaurants. Since it is so central, it’s my first choice to stay in Costa Brava to explore the wild coast. I have this recap post from my time there. Atop a hill in Begur stands the imposing Begur Castle (Castell de Begur), which dates back to the 11th century. Although mostly in ruins today, it offers a glimpse into the town’s medieval past and offers panoramic views of the surrounding countryside and coastline.
After descending onto the coast from Begur, there are many small fishing villages and one of the best sits right on the water’s edge. Sa Tuna has a small beach area with a rocky coastline on a cove. We spent a few hours here and enjoyed one of the best lunches at Sa Tuna Restaurant at Hotel Sa Tuna in the small town.
If you’re already in Sa Tuna, you could take a coastal walk along the oceanside to this town. It’s a great thing to do in Costa Brava and you have wonderful views along the way. This is a wonderful part of the coastline.
The stairs may be steep but it’s worth it for the crystal waters. It’s a good beach to visit in Costa Brava if you want to camp out for the day and relax. Be sure to bring your own shade and food as there are no facilities here.
One of the gems of Costa Brava is the famous city of Girona. I spent a week or so here a few years back and fell in love with history and architecture here. It’s also a food capital of the region so you have plenty of restaurant options. I would even consider coming here for a night or two while in Costa Brava. The city is famous for its impressive Girona Cathedral, a masterpiece of Catalan Gothic architecture, and the colorful houses along the Onyar River.
Playa Cala Aiguablava
Another picturesque cove to cozy up in for the afternoon. I would come here at least once if you can during your trip.
The town of Cadaqués is famously associated with the renowned surrealist artist Salvador Dalí, who once called it home, and his influence can still be felt in the town. The Salvador Dalí House Museum, located in nearby Portlligat, provides a glimpse into the artist’s life and work. The town’s artistic heritage extends beyond Dalí, with a thriving arts and culture scene that includes galleries, boutiques, and cultural events. It’s also home to the famous Cap de Creus as well to visit and close to Port Lligat.
Calella de Palafrugell
Calella de Palafrugell is one of the closest villages to Barcelona. The village is known for its stunning coastline, featuring a series of small, rocky coves and sandy beaches with crystal-clear waters. Some of the popular beaches in Calella de Palafrugell include El Golfet, Canadell, and Port Pelegrí. These beaches are ideal for sunbathing, swimming, snorkeling, and other water activities.
The Best Costa Brava Hotels (Where to Stay)
When visiting Costa Brava, I would recommend picking one central location to visit the area. When I went, we stayed in Begur which was perfect for visiting the region. Hotels in Begur like Hotel Aiguaclara or the boutique hotel called Cluc Hotel are great for their design and service.
Hotel Lavida has a stunning swimming pool and is considered one of the best luxury hotels in Costa Brava. The Hotel Sant Roc is an excellent choice for a beach holiday as it’s near the ocean and has access to the coast. Their hotel restaurant comes highly recommended for views as well. Other hotels to consider include Hotel la Plaça de Madremanya, and Hotel Mas de Torrent.
One of the newest hotels to open in the Costa Brava region is the design hotel, Hotel Palau Fugit in Girona. It has an outdoor swimming pool, and its focus on artistic design is stunning.
Things to Do in Costa Brava
Take a Day trip to Girona
If you’re looking for a full day out in Costa Brava to tour around, then head to Girona. There is plenty to do here with sites like the Cathedral of Girona and the Girona Art Museum. Girona is also known for its culinary delights, with numerous restaurants offering traditional Catalan dishes. The city’s vibrant cultural scene, including museums and festivals, adds to its appeal, making it a must-visit destination for those exploring the charms of northern Spain.
Visit Tossa de Mar
One of the most beautiful ancient towns in Costa Brava, it’s a wonderful village to explore. I’d recommend arriving earlier in the day to avoid the crowds. Tossa de Mar’s coastline is a stunning juxtaposition of rocky cliffs, sandy beaches, and crystal-clear waters. The town is home to several picturesque beaches, including the main beach, Platja Gran, which is ideal for sunbathing and swimming. Consider the more secluded Cala Pola and Cala Bona coves, perfect for those seeking a quieter atmosphere.
Spend the Day at the Beach
There are plenty of beaches and are all very family-friendly. Among the best are the pristine Platja de Aro, known for its golden sands and lively atmosphere; the secluded Cala Pola in Tossa de Mar, offering tranquil turquoise waters and dramatic cliffs; and the picturesque Cala Sa Tuna in Begur, a small cove surrounded by charming fishing houses. My favorite is always Sa Tuna.
See the Dalí Theatre and Museum
For art lovers, this is right where you want to be. Located in Figueres, this is the hometown of Dalí and he is also buried here. The Dalí Theatre-Museum is a tribute to Salvador Dalí’s genius and a testament to his unique and surreal artistic legacy.
One of the most stunning gardens on the Mediterranean, Marimurta Botanical Garden is worth a visit for the afternoon. Established in 1920, it covers over 16 hectares of land and is renowned for its extensive collection of diverse plant species from all over the world. The garden’s terraced layout offers visitors a stunning panoramic view of the coastline, while its meticulously curated plantings include exotic trees, succulents, cacti, and Mediterranean flora.
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