The Costa Brava, Spain and Catalonia's far north east coastal holiday playground, offers variety and serves a number of holiday tastes. One of Spain's oldest friendly established resorts is here - the ever popular Lloret de Mar with its two main blue flag beaches, tons of tourist attractions including a big waterpark and great nightlife, and a watersports scene to beat all! Don't come for peace and quiet to Lloret de Mar! It's party time here in the Costa Brava's liveliest resort, a popular choice for stag and hen parties. Other popular Costa Brava resorts, albeit a little quieter, include Blanes, Tossa de Mar and increasingly popular Playa de Aro which also has good family holiday attractions including waterpark and big Magic Park amusement park. Roses and Escartit to the north are also popular beach bases, and Escartit is a centre for Costa Brava diving around the sublime Isles Medes.
Stunning rocky coasts are north of Roses at the natural park Cap de Creus. The sublime rocky coast here is referenced by Salvador Dali often in his paintings. The area to the far north, culminating with the Dali Theatre Museum in Figures but also including the two Dali homes at Pubol and Cadaques make up together the Dali Triangle. Prepare to have your senses wowed at the Dali Theatre Museum particularly - the definitive mecca for Dali's work. Girona is home to one of the oldest remaining Jewish quarters in Europe - Girona sightseeing tours of its medieval architecture are not to be missed, as is the hidden gem, Girona's Museum of Cinema!
Lloret de Mar on Spain's most northern resort coastal stretch - the Costa Brava - is one of the liveliest and most fun-packed resorts on the Costas. Lloret's attractions are numerous including two main superb blue flag beaches (Fenals & Lloret Playa are the main two, but Lloret has around 7km of coastline with a mix of 5 beaches some of which are small character rocky coves), a variety of beach watersports available, a local mammoth waterpark, a huge choice of Lloret discos, bars, restaurants, shops, fast food outlets and amusement arcades and a range of accommodation options from budget to luxury, and self catering to Lloret hotels.
Lloret de Mar is certainly the main resort hub on the Costa Brava. Lloret's privileged position just 70km North of Barcelona and 34 km South East of Girona (and Girona Airport which serves the resort), makes it not only a bustling beach family resort base but also means you've easy access to some superb excursions. Public transport in and out of Lloret is excellent, with cheap tourist buses running regularly now to both Barcelona and Girona, and Figures and the Dali museum further north! Lloret is where you come to party and get active! This Costa Brava resort has a superb nightlife scene, perfect for stag or hen dos, plus one of the best choice of watersports on the Costas including great diving off its mix of rocky cove and sandy beach coast. Look to Tossa De Mar for a quieter beach base.
Tossa de Mar just north of bustling Lloret on the Costa Brava has a different feel depending on the time of year you visit. Arrive in Tossa during June, July and August and you can expect it to be pretty busy, feeling more like a resort base with a superb beach bay, historic defensive walls and numerous shops, restaurants and bars. Arrive in Tossa de Mar just slightly out of season, say in October and things are a little quieter.
Tossa de Mar still has somewhat of a bohemian edge - it was a popular location with writers and artists during the 1930s prior to the Civil War. Tossa's main pretty beach bay Platja Gran is a real attraction, with beachside restaurants and cafe bars alongside where you can dine, sit and admire the views. The Medieval walls and castle at Tossa de Mar up on the Mont Guardi headland also give this Costa Brava resort a real edge. Walking and hiking opportunities nearby are also excellent.
L'Estartit on the Northern Costa Brava Coast sits 6km to the east of main town Torroella de Montgri and 51km north of Girona Airport. The Estartit area, including rocky Islets the Illes Medes situated 1m off-shore, is a centre for diving on the Costa Brava. Estartit's beach is also a big pull, long and sandy and popular with visitors seeking an all inclusive beach holiday package with a diving edge!
Playa de Aro, with superb long sandy beach Platja Aro, is the Costa Brava's second largest resort to Lloret de Mar. Superb Costa Brava beach family holidays are on the menu here at Playa de Aro which has a lively nightlife (some say the best on the Costa Brava) and a choice of holiday attractions including the Costa Brava's other big waterpark - Aquadiver Waterworld. Magic Park, the Costa Brava's big amusement park is here too in Playa de Aro. The combination of quick transfer time from Girona Airport to Platja de Aro, a host of holiday attractions, a stunning easy access long sandy beach perfect for families, great nightlife and inland original Plata de Aro village just 3km from the resort with castle and a Doll Museum make this Costa Brava resort a popular choice.
Girona's stunning list of historic medieval architecture and monuments is a huge draw for visitors. Such a cluster of preserved historic buildings on this scale is rarely found. Girona is the largest city in the North Catalonia region and boasts some of the finest Catalan Romanesque architecture alongside Arab baths, Girona Cathedral and The Call or Jewish Quarter which dates from the Middle Ages.
Girona's Museum of Art sits superbly alongside Girona's stunning Medieval, Gothic and Romanesque architecture. The artistic focus is very much on the Girona region, with particularly good examples of Medieval and Renasissance painting. Another Girona gem on the arts side is Girona's superb Cinema Museum. The Tomas Mallol Collection of cinematography and precinematographic apparatus in here is one of the most thorough collections of cinema artefacts in the world. Girona's Museum of Cinema is also an extremely accessible and interactive museum which children (and adults) will love. A better introduction to cinema history you're unlikely to find - and it's right here in Girona!
Roses on the north east Catalonia coast is a mecca for lovers of rural tourism, but also serves as low key Costa Brava tourist resort (a big waterpark and good beaches are in the area). Roses is also a most convenient base on the northern Costa Brave from which to push out and explore. Natural parks and stunning marine reserve territory are within easy reach, plus just to the west sits down to earth Figueres, home to the Dali Theatre Museum. Created by Dali himself, this onetime theatre holds the largest collection of Dali paintings, sculpture and furniture in the world. Dali's two houses in the area - one at Pubol and the other at Cadaques - are now museums and open to the public. (see the Dali Foundation's weblink right for details on the Salvador Dali Triangle).
The big nature reserve draw near Roses is the Cap de Creus Natural Park. The stunning rocky coast of the Costa Brava reaches its peak of beauty here on the Roses coastal strip with its mix of rocky coves, cliffs, islets and bays. Download the Cap de Creus park leaflet via the park weblink right. Car Hire from Girona Airport is recommended for the flexibility to push out and appreciate this stunning area of north east Catalonia. A number of historic sites are in the area, of which the Benedictine Monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes atop of the Verdera mountains overlooking the sea north of Roses near El Port de Selva is a highlight! Roses itself is thought to have once been an ancient Greek settlement. The town has the reminance of a 16th century seaward wall and citadel.
Blanes makes for a much more relaxing Costa Brava resort holiday than nearby neighbour Lloret de Mar. Serving as the gateway to the Costa Brava, Blanes offers 4km of golden sandy beach which never gets too crowded. Blanes has an excellent choice of accommodation and good accessible beaches alongside numerous restaurants, bars and cafes. Blanes is one of the larger Costa Brava resorts but at the same time has a relaxing feel. The fishing port here however is as much part of the scene as tourism, so Blanes retains its work-a-day fishing town feel.
Not to be confused with Calella de Palafrugell further north on the Costa Brava, Calella de la Costa resort south of Blanes sits on the lesser known Costa del Maresme. You're a little closer to Barcelona down here on this rather exclusive stretch of coast renowned for its superb beaches and good family facilities. The Costa Maresme (meaning Coast of the Swamp!) north of Barcelona incorporates main locations Calella, Arenys de Mar and El Masnou. Calella particularly on the Costa del Maresme is a superb beach resort for families with easy access into Barcelona City (and indeed north to Girona). Big family attractions such as Marineland in Palafolls and the Watersports centre within Calella are within easy reach too! You can expect some devine blue flag beaches down this way! Calella's 3km beach area is beautiful fine white sand and blue flag. It's quieter down here too as compared to bustling Lloret further north. Numerous cultural and historical sites are in the area, including archaeological sites at Burriac and Mataro and some stunning Baroque architecture in Arenys de Mar. Calella is the main town/resort on the Costa Maresme with a good choice of restaurants, bars and lively nightlife, with a good leaning towards family holidays.
The Llafranc and Palafrugell coastal stretch north of Platja d'Aro has an altogether more rural tourist feel than the Costa Brava's bustling resorts further south. Pretty beach bays, stunning coastal walking along marked coast paths, a choice of year round festivals and some superb restaurants are on the menu in this area (visit in December to sample some El Niu - a local casserole served up in Palafrugell's restaurants). Palafrugell has a historic heritage in cork production, explored in-depth in Museu del Suro on Carrer Tarongeta in the town (weblink right). Towns such as Palafrugell and Palamos were important world centres for cork production in the 19th century particularly. The biggest of the Costa Brava festivals - the Cantada de Havaneres takes place in Calella annually in June. The roots of this festival stem back to the Calella and Catalonia's links with Cuba. Local Costa Brava sailors brought back songs and festival ideas from their frequent contact with Cuba via trade routes. Palafrugell also lays on an extravaganza - the Carroussel Carnival parade held every year on Whit Sunday. Some sharp residents thought up the idea in 1962 to get round Franco's banning of the Shrovetide Carnival.