Spain’s Costa Brava, which is administratively part of Catalonia, is mainly famous for its beautiful beaches and holiday resorts, which are also crowded with our compatriots. In this post we will show you interesting places in the region that are worth seeing once you decide to leave the hotel walls.
The Costa Brava is by far Spain’s most popular coastline. And no wonder, because here are some of the most beautiful beaches in the country. However, not only beachcombing man lives, and sometimes it is worth getting up from the deckchair and moving in search of interesting places, and these are waiting for you here quite a lot. After all, in Catalonia alone you could spend a month exploring unique places, with Barcelona or Tarragona at the forefront. However, we will write about these places at another time, and today we would like to focus only on the Costa Brava.
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What’s worth seeing on the Costa Brava?
Moving on to the specifics, below you will find our 4 suggestions for enjoying your free time once you are on the “Wild Coast” or even in Barcelona and want to see more. Traveling from Barcelona are day trips – we traveled by car, which gave us a lot of flexibility, but on the other hand we often had to combine on-site parking.
The proposals are only 4, but this does not mean that there are no other interesting places in the area besides these, so do not consider it a closed list, but rather an opening list for conquering the Costa Brava :)
Well, and a rather important note before we start describing individual places – we were in the region in late September and early October. The weather was perfect for sightseeing, few tourists, peace and quiet. If you only have the opportunity to go outside the vacation season (July, August), it is worth going in the fall.
1) Salvador Dali Museum in Figueres
Our hit on the Costa Brava, but we give fair warning that not everyone will like it!
Some call it a “quirk” or “the author’s own exuberant imagination” and catch themselves looking at what has been built on the site of the former dilapidated city theater. For us, the Salvador Dali Museum is a place that allowed us to look at art from a completely different point of view and is etched in our memory as one of the most interesting places in Spain.
It’s worth going to Figueres if you want to see something unorthodox, take a break from the hot sun and city sightseeing. And you don’t have to be an art expert or know the history of Dali’s work to have an enjoyable time. What’s more, this museum is the second most popular museum in all of Spain!
We drove to Figueres by car from Barcelona, and the journey took us less than two hours. It’s a good idea to combine the tour with Girona, since it’s on the way, although then it’s better to plan a two-day trip, with an overnight stay in the regional capital, for example.
Once we arrived in Figueres, the problem proved to be finding “economical” parking. In the area around the museum itself, there are many paid parking lots (some are really expensive!), but after a short circling and driving away from the center, we managed to find free spaces.
Teatro-Museu Dali de Figueres, for that is the full name of the museum, is one of the few opportunities to see a museum with the work of the person who designed it himself. And this project will not hit every taste. Even from the outside, attention is drawn to the intense red walls and towers that form something like a castle with “eggs” on top. However, this did not discourage us from looking inside, in fact the opposite! We were very intrigued by what was inside.
Inside you can admire many exhibits, installations, paintings or portraits. And so, for example, in the courtyard there is a car in which it rains when you insert a coin!
One of the museum’s most interesting and popular attractions is the Mea West room in which a room has been arranged in the shape of a woman’s face. Optical illusions, entire walls that are exhibits – the artist’s works surround us throughout our visit to the museum.
There is even a crypt of Salvador Dali located here. And all this can arouse extreme emotions, but you have to admit the author knew how to arouse these emotions.
For those interested in the work of this surrealist artist, we encourage you to see the sites in the so-called “Surrealist”. Dale’s Triangle.
Let’s continue to stay with Salvador Dali, but this time it will be less controversial. The town of Cadaqués, was called an idyllic village by the artist, and here he spent family vacations in his youth. The city, by the way, is famous for meetings of the artistic elite, who eagerly flocked to Cadaqués.
What catches the eye in this small port town are the white, low-rise buildings that are reminiscent of Greek cities. Besides, it is often called the white town for a reason. Although it does not occupy a large area, you can spend a lot of time here simply weaving through the narrow streets. Noteworthy are the remains of the city walls, including a 13th century tower.
Right on the shore, many restaurants are located with tables with umbrellas set up outside – the perfect place for lunch. Our attention was also drawn to the narrow one-way road that winds right along the built-up coastline, which is often heavily traveled by cars! Our hair was standing on end as we watched the cars flashing just over the “precipice”.
Also, the location of the village itself is atmospheric – on the bay, surrounded by hills. Not surprisingly, it was the sea route that at one time was the easiest way to get to Cadaqués. However, this does not mean that beautiful sandy beaches are found here. On the contrary, there are only rocky ones here, but this still does not prevent them from drawing crowds of tourists in the highest season.
If you would like to look at the city from afar, we recommend crossing the bridge to a small island off Platja des Sortell – you can observe the entire bay and buildings from above.
Near the village is the Casa-Museu Salvador Dali (in Port Lligat), Dali’s former residence.
As for the access itself, going by car involves a lot of serpentines while climbing the hills separating the village from the hinterland. At the entrance to the city there is a large parking lot where we had no problem finding a free space.
3) Tossa de Mar
The beautiful, picturesque medieval town must be on your list of places to see on the Costa Brava. It is worth coming to see and feel the contrast between the different coastal towns on the Costa Brava.
The most interesting and postcard-perfect view is that of Mount Guardi (Mont Guardi) with the medieval walls and towers of Castel de Tossa. Known as Vila Vella or simply the old walled city, it was built between the 12th and 14th centuries. At the top are the ruins of buildings and the Far de Tossa, and walking along the streets all over the hill you can feel like you are in another era. In addition, the views from both sides of the bays and sandy beaches are stunning.
We will also experience pleasant sandy beaches in Tossa de Mar.
It is said that Tossa de Mar is more intimate, quieter, less crowded and you can completely get away from the tourist hustle and bustle here. How it is in season we do not know, but having been here in autumn we did not complain about the crowds :)
Girona is the largest city in the Costa Brava region.
On the right bank of the Onyar River is the Old Town with its narrow, winding streets. Walking along tight roads surrounded by high walls, you can feel like you are in a medieval town here. High buildings provide shade and make it possible to take a break from the high temperatures here. It’s worth taking a walk along Carrer de la Forca, which is used to reach the 17th-century staircase that leads to the Cathedral de Santa Maria, which towers over the city. The interior of this single-nave cathedral surprises with its austerity and awe-inspiring Gothic architecture.
Continuing down the aforementioned street, in a northerly direction, one passes the city’s former gateway – the two, monumental Portal de Sobreportes towers. After passing it, one goes straight to the apse of the Basilica of Sant Feliu – another example of Gothic architecture in Girona. The two religious buildings are in very close proximity to each other, but it is the cathedral that has a higher profile.
What else is worth seeing in Girona? While in this city, it’s worth delving into the history of the Jewish community living here, seeing the Arab baths and the unique, colorful houses right on the Onyar River (Casas del Oñar), which are probably the most photographed place in all of Girona, which is hardly surprising :)
Interested? We hope that we have encouraged you at least a little to explore a different face of the Costa Brava than just beachcombing…. which, by the way, also has its charm, especially on the beautiful beaches of the Costa Brava.
Would you add anything to our list?
Below you will also find a map with the above points:
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The material was created in cooperation with the Travel Agency