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The Costa Brava – The wild Coast – streteches over 200km from the north of Barcelona up to the French border.

Here is our guide to this beautiful area of Catalonia including the fiercely independant city of Girona, the inland Baix Empordà region – known as the golden triangle, Begur, Pals and Aiguablava, Llafranc and Calella de Palafrugell, and of course, Cadaqués

It was in 1908, when the writer and poet Ferran Agulló was inspired to give the rugged and beautiful Costa Brava its name in a newspaper column he wrote.

With its diverse and spectacular scenery, perfect Mediterranean climate and rich cultural heritage dating back millennia, this ‘Spanish Tuscany’ has become popular with visitors looking for something a little different, perhaps more refined to the Costa del Sol. From sleepy coves and beautiful beaches to lush forests and rolling countryside, and from historic stone villages and seaside towns to the iconic charms of old town Girona, the Costa Brava suits all tastes.

Visitors are enthralled by the vast rural surroundings, wealth of natural parks, sporting facilities, golf courses and water sports clubs, with plenty of spas and health resorts to help you recover and world-class restaurants and bars to pass the night away.

Girona City

The fiercely independent capital city of the province of Girona is steeped in history. Its historic and architectural legacy is a charming mix of influences from past its residents including the Iberian occupation, the Roman Empire and even Napoleon, who took over the city after a siege in 1809.

Take some time to walk along the old city walls. Relax in picturesque squares, narrow streets and alleys and hidden stone staircases are endlessly fascinating and perfect for exploring. The cathedral is reached via a spectacular 90-step Baroque staircase and dominates the city.

Girona is also a 21st century city with bars and boutiques, international conventions, great shopping and a central train station providing high speed rail links to Barcelona, Madrid and Paris. The airport services much of Europe and brings the tourists in search of gastronomic excellence delivered in spades by gourmet establishments such as Celler Can Roca, twice voted the ‘best restaurant in the world’.

Girona is also a hub for outdoor activities and  sport. Girona is home to many international professional cyclists whose training regimes benefit from the climate and georgraphy. There are also plenty of golf courses within easy reach, including the world-class PGA Catalunya resort which is now rated the number one course in Spain.

 

Baix Empordà (including the ‘Golden Triangle’)

From the west of Girona and goes all the way to the coast, stretching from L’Escala down to Sant Feliu de Guíxols Baix Emporda is breath taking. The countryside is dotted with medieval towns and villages dating back to Roman times – Pals is one of our favorites dominating a small hill overlooking the countryside towards Begur.  Pine-clad hillsides lead down to the Costa Brava’s trademark beautiful coves with pristine beaches and crystal clear turquoise water.

The names are as enchanting as the places themselves! From the lovely seaside town of Calella de Palafrugell to the hilltop settlement of Begur and the tiny bays of Tamariu, Sa Tuna and Aiguablava.

There are many luxury resorts here each offering comprehensive facilities including spa and wellness centres (Mas de Torrent Hotel and Spa, Hotel s’Agaró), golf (Golf Empordà, Golf d’Aro, Golf Costa Brava and Golf Platja de Pals) or simply excellent service in a fabulous setting (Hotel Aiguablava and Hotel Aiguaclara in Begur).

Restaurants such as the Bo.Tic just to the north of Peratallada and Casamar in Llafranc bring Michelin Star quality to an area already famous for its ‘sea and mountain’ culinary diversity, while the Empordà’s rising reputation for fine wine is taken care of by more than 420 growers who produce more than 6 million litres of wine every year.

 

Begur and Aiguablava

Begur is set on a hilltop boasting far reaching views to the Mediterranean Sea, across the emblematic Medes Islands and beyond to Cap de Creus, Spain’s most easterly point of coastline. Inland, the views extend over the rolling Empordà countryside to the snow-covered Pyrenees on the horizon. From the town the winding roads lead down to the sea. This is where you’ll find the beautiful coves and beaches -   Aiguablava – is just one - the place whose name means ‘Blue Water’.

The old town of Begur is easy to find, overlooked by the Medieval castle and offering plentiful charming squares, narrow, pedestrianised streets, excellent restaurants and boutiques. Begur also has a busy calendar of events and fiestas that take socialising up a notch and celebrate many things including the town’s close links to Cuba.

Come and  make the most of perfect weather, sandy beaches, rocky coves and clear blue sea. The water is ideal for snorkelling, while the more energetic might get on their bikes and rise to the challenge of the winding roads, with regular stops to take in the view of course and hydrate!

Llafranc and Calella de Palafrugell

The beaches, bays and coves that make up this short but spectacular stretch of the Costa Brava include two towns that have grown into each other to create what some say is the perfect holiday destination

Small boats bob gently in the blue water outside picture-postcard-perfect fishermen’s cottages and set the relaxed tone for Llafranc, while the more bustling nature of Calella de Palafrugell is emphasised by the pretty buildings that appear to jostle for position and almost tip their toes in the sand.  Both preserve the traditional charm of the original villages but also reflect the demand that the tourist place on the resorts. And they do it well!

The Cap Roig Festival – with actys like James Blunt, Liam Gallagher, Sting to name a few is held every August held in the scenic surroundings of the Cap Roig Castle and its botanical gardens overlooking the sea.

The Festival de Havaneres pays homage to the area’s strong links to Cuba, and this musical celebration has the added appeal of a surprising local beverage of choice, the ‘ron cremat’, which mixes rum, sugar and coffee beans and – naturally – sets it alight.

Cadaqués

This stunning fishing town stands in splendid isolation in the north of the Costa Brava. It is just 20km or so from the French border as the crow flies, but access by car or bus requires a much more enchanting journey that takes you over hills and reveals a stunning almost volcanic landscape that tumbles to the easternmost point of the Spanish mainland – Cap de Creus.

The Bohemian enclave of Cadaqués really is a hidden gem, with a sense of being frozen in time and yet rewarding a privileged few who make it here. And the rewards are clear! Cadaqués certainly has a magical feel. The views are unlike any other on the Costa Brava, with added unspoilt rugged charm and a sense of drama that even the most impressively rocky of the more southern rocky coves can’t offer.

Neighbouring Port Lligat, the famous home of Salvador Dalí, sets the artistic tone for this remarkable headland and you’re never far from his legacy, be it in a gallery or museum where he once painted.

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