My Favorite Spots in Costa Brava
One thing everyone complains about in Madrid: summer with its 40 degrees heat! And the fact that, compared to Barcelona, there is no beach to escape to. Now, that’s a topic for another blog post, as Madrid does have some beautiful villages to escape to and yes, even a beach (a beautiful lake beach) and I generally prefer Madrid to Barcelona for various reasons. But we must give it to Barcelona for one thing at least - Costa Brava, which stretches 60 km northeast of Barcelona towards France. While majority of tourists flock to places such as Lloret de Mar or Tossa de Mar, locals go to the area of Palafrugell.
I have been lucky to spend many weekends this summer in Tamariu, one of the beach towns of Palafrugell, where the family of my boyfriend rented a house. From here, we had the perfect setting to explore the area, visiting other beautiful villages and beach towns such as Begur, Llafranc, Callela or Sa Tuna.
To be able to move around Costa Brava and make the most out of what it has to offer, you need a car. And don’t look for beach hotels, as 1. they will be difficult to find (it’s all cliff and coast) and 2. they are not worth the investment. Best way is to rent an apartment/ house, ideally with a pool and live the Spanish summer dream.
Below are six of my favorite spots I discovered in the area of Palafrugell on Costa Brava this summer.
1. The Secret Spot - Aigua Xelida Cove
Costa Brava is known for its beaches and coves, surrounded by nature, where land meets sea and the water is crystal clear. There are many “secret” coves one can discover while exploring this beautiful coast, but our favorite has been Aigua Xelida which literally means frozen water. Don’t worry, it is totally fine for a refreshing dip during the summer heat. Practical tip: buy some water shoes as it will make your entrance into the sea much more comfortable and you can focus on climbing the rocks and exploring the hidden caves.
2. Stone-village strolling in Begur
Begur is one of the most beautiful towns of the region, with a long history written by returned colonists, coral collectors or fishermen. With its medieval castle, the 16th century defense towers and the modern-time cafes, restaurants and hotels, there is definitely enough to do and see in this stone village. Have a drink in the courtyard of Citric restaurant, a little oasis with lemon trees and hanging lights that will inspire your afternoon stroll.
3. Peace and quiet in Sa Tuna
Sa Tuna is a small fishermen cove that is accessed by a winding road down the coast. It is remote and has an air of forgotten village, perfect for a a day of tranquility. On the coastal path you can get to the even more remote cove of S’Eixugador. Have lunch or dinner at Es Plom and sit on one of their outdoor tables on the little side street.
4. Lemonade and home-deco inspiration at Ultima Parada
I love good concept and deco stores, and find visiting them a very serious weekend activity. There’s no better way to spend a lazy Saturday afternoon than gathering inspiration with no purpose in a well designed vintage industrial store. So needless to say that I was in paradise at Ultima Parada, which is one of the best of its kind I’ve ever been to. It is housed in a big loft-style garage with big windows, and although everything seems like it’s been messily thrown around, it all fits perfectly together. There’s everything from wooden tables to ceramic kitchen sets, lavender sacks or leather-covered agendas. The cherry on the cake is their backyard, an orderly mess of planted vegetables, vintage chairs for sale and marble-tiles tables to sit at while enjoying a drink or meal from their Cafe.
5. On Salvador Dali’s steps
The famous Surrealist painter comes from Costa Brava and has influenced the region with his life and work. While one can take the “triangle route” of the artist in the Emporda region, we chose to visit one of the castles he one day wished to buy for his lovely wife Gala, now turned Hotel Castell Emporda. Dali wanted to pay the previous owner in his own art, however when the owner refused he went ahead and bought another castle in Pubol, which is now the Gala Dali House-Museum. The Hotel is now owned by Dutch pair Albert and Margo, who are so fascinated with the Waterloo battle that they have Europe’s biggest scale model of the battle in one of the towers of the building.
6. Sunset aperitivo at Far Nomo
Housed in one of the most important lighthouses of Spain’s Medditeranean coast, Far Nomo restaurant has the best views one could wish for when in Costa Brava. From the front courtyard side, you have the view over Llafranc and the sunset, while from the back side it is full and unobstructed sea view. Perfect for sunset aperitivo on the terrace! And if you want to have some sushi while in Costa Brava (although there are many other, more authentic restaurants you can try while in this area) be sure to book way in advance and maybe you’ll manage (if you request) to get a table at the back of the terrace facing the sea.
7. Party at Funky Pizza and Gitano
Should you still have energy after all of the above, there are two spots for some after-hour dancing in the area of Palafrugell. Funky Pizza is great if you wish an outdoor setting with a young crowd and techno/ commercial vibes. If you’re in for a more rough but very authentic party, go to Gitanos in Llafranc and you’ll surely have a drunk, dirty and fun night. The owner, a Catalan man probably in his 50s-60s has made himself into something of a legend. He undresses down to his underwear, smashes the lids of kitchen-pots to the sounds of 80s and 90s music and throws water on the audience until they are soaked.
Happy days in Costa Brava!