Costa Brava, one of the best coastlines in Europe and part of Catalonia, a region of Spain in the northeast. Many think of the Costa Brava as a party coast with places such as Lloret de Mar and Blanes but it’s often forgotten (or unknown) that this area has a lot more to offer. Here you can find beautiful hidden beach towns, rough coast lines, great beaches, Mediterranean blue sea, friendly people and delicious food. It’s the perfect area to see some of the prettiest beach towns but you can also combine it with a city trip to Barcelona.
I’ve been visiting this area for many years since I was a little girl and it has become my home away from home. Throughout the years I’ve gotten to know this area quite well and although I actually want to keep all the little gems and recommendations to myself, this blog will show you some of the best beach towns along the Costa Brava.
How to get to the Costa Brava
The easiest way to get to the Costa Brava is to fly to Costa Brava’s airport, Girona Airport. RyanAir is flying to Girona Airport on a daily basis from many different locations within Europe. If you keep an eye out on cheap tickets, you can fly here from just €20 one way. From here, it’s a one-hour drive or less to get to the coast. There are also busses departing from the airport to many locations in the area such as party towns Lloret de Mar, but also Barcelona. The bus to Barcelona takes about 1,5 hours.
Other good options are airports in or around Barcelona. This is perfect if you want to combine Costa Brava with a city trip to Barcelona.
Best time to visit the Costa Brava
The best time to visit Costa Brava in Spain is between May and October. The busiest months are July and August whereas May, June and September are less crowded. Also, during May and June prices are lower, whereas during the summer it’s more expensive to stay at the Costa Brava.
Based on the weather, the best months are from mid-June until mid-September. Before and after, sunny and warm weather cannot be guaranteed. However, I’ve had great and less great weather in each of these months so I guess you can never really know.
Where to go at the Costa Brava?
1. Tossa de Mar
Tossa de Mar is one of the highlights on the Costa Brava, famous for its medieval castle looking out on the main beach of this beautiful beach town. Originally this used to be a fishing village and has become a popular place for tourist to visit. Completely the opposite of famous party towns at the Costa Brava, Tossa de Mar is still a small town and has an authentic vibe. It has a pictoresque boulevard and many little streets behind it filled with boutique shops and restaurants.
Although I might be a little biased as this place feels like home to me, it really is worth going here and enjoy the relaxing atmosphere, kind locals, old buildings and scenic nature in the surrounding area.
Villa Vella: Villa Vella is the name of the so called “Old Town” of Tossa de Mar and consists of the only remaining medieval town and castle of the Catalan Coast. The castle and town are built between the 12-14th century with the main purpose to defend the coast from pirates. Nowadays, Villa Vella is still occupied with restaurants, residences and shops. Spend some time wandering through the Old Town with its cobbled alleys that are still inside the original castle walls.
Beaches: The main beach is called Platja Gran and is located right in the middle of the town. From this beach you have views at the castle and is the perfect beach to lie down and enjoy a nice breeze. It’s a pebble beach and get’s deep quite fast once you go into the sea. At the beach you can rent beds and umbrella’s for about €6,- each. There are two beach bars at this beach and my favorite is the one in the middle. The owners are extremely friendly and there’s plenty of options to eat and drink at a fair price. Highly recommended!
If you’re looking for a beach that is smaller and calmer, then Platja d’es Codolar is a great option too. It’s hidden behind the walls of Villa Vella and is more secluded compared to the main beach. However, as it is smaller, it can feel more crowded too. Here you also have a beach bar, but you can’t rent beds. Also, this beach if perfect for snorkeling.
Shopping: Take a break from the beaches and visit some of Tossa’s boutique shops that you can find behind the boulevard or at Avenida Costa Brava. Furthermore, every Thursday there’s a market from 08.30 until 13.30 at Avenida Pau Casals. Here, you can find clothes, souvenirs but also fresh food and drinks.
Hiking: There’s a hiking path starting at Villa Vella all the way to Lloret taking you along the stunning coastline. Get up early to beat the heat and to enjoy the quietness away from the crowds in town.
Boat trip(s): If you want to explore another coastal town you can do this by boat. You can go to places such as Blanes or Lloret de Mar so be prepared that these aren’t the most worthwhile places to visit. Prices are from €24 which is pricey. However, it can be a nice day trip if you want to see the coast from another point of view.
- Braseria Can Pini ($$)
- Tapas del Mar ($$)
- Bahia ($$)
- La Placeta ($$)
- L’Ajustada ($)
- Bar Don Juan ($$)
2. Calella de Palafrugell
Calella de Palafrugell is another stunning beach town located two hours from Barcelona, and should not be mistaken for Calella. This place is known to be posh and prices are relatively high compared to other towns in this area. Nonetheless, it’s worth every penny as it’s definitely one of the nicest towns at the Costa Brava.
Here you can find several charming restaurants right at the beach and plenty of options to enjoy the beach and sea. If you want to explore, there are stunning hiking paths to other beaches nearby, such as Tamariu and Lla Franc. In addition, you can also find a Castle and Botanical Gardens on the hillside looking out on the town. Make sure not to skip this gem when you’re in the area.
Beaches: The beach at Calella de Palafrugell is stretched out but very small and close to the streets with restaurants. Hence, to be sure of a good spot near the sea make sure to go there in the early morning. Although it can get busy during summer, it’s a lovely beach area with crystal blue water and a calm sea.
If you’re looking for beaches further out from the town, then you should visit Tamariu Beach or Lla Franc Beach. Especially Tamariu Beach is a lovely and compact beach with soft sand. Both beaches have a small boulevard with restaurants. Llafranc is connected to Calella with a hiking trail and takes about 20 minutes.
Cap Roig Botanical Gardens: Wander around the Botanical Garden of Cap Coig where nature, art and history come together. The Gardens have more than 1.000 plant species from all over the Mediterranean and looks out on the sea and Calella. Moreover, there’s an old castle on the grounds of the Garden called Cap Coig. During summer, there are many concerts and festivals held at the Gardens.
- Bark ($)
- Calau ($$)
- Fiego ($$)
- La Blava ($$)
Begur is built on a mountain and is a stunning historical town only a few kilometers away from the sea. In this area the mountains dive into the sea and therefore has many coves with the most impressive sandy beaches among rocky cliffs. In Begur itself you can find many ruins and a castle on top, looking out on Begur and the sea. If you want to go to the beach in Begur you can go to Sa Tuna, Fonda or Sa Riera.
Sa Tuna: To get to Sa Tuna beach you’ll have to drive all the way down to the coast from Begur and takes about 15 minutes. A small and pictoresque village with cute white houses and coloured doors, a gravel beach in a small bay and a few terraces. There’s also a hiking trail Cala S’Eixugador, a beach and lookout point at Sa Tuna from sea. This hike is fairly easy and takes about 15 minutes to get there. There are several options to park your car in Sa Tuna.
Platja Fonda: This hidden beach is at the other side of Begur near Fornells and can only be reached via a coastal path and steep stairs. The beach has darker sand and doesn’t have any facilities except during summer there’s a small beach bar. This beautiful and raw beach is relatively unknown and therefore in general very quiet. There are parking facilities near the beach.
Extra tip: If you go right at Platja Fonda you’ll end up at a Piscina Natural Es Cau, which is a natural swimming pool in the rocky cliffs directly at sea. It’s supposed to be crystal blue during summer but when we were there it was brown and not too impressive. Google it and see what it can look like because it can be the perfect spot enjoy a sunny day.
- Ca l’Adela ($$)
- Hostal Sa Tuna Restaurant ($$)
- Hotel Sa Tuna ($$$)