If you’ve ever been on a budget holiday to Spain, chances are you’re aware of popular tourist resorts Tossa de Mar and Lloret de Mar. But you might not know that the Costa Brava region is also full of hidden gems off the tourism trail.
This sun-soaked coastline stretches from Blanes to the French border and is replete with rugged landscapes, crystalline waters, and a rich tapestry of history. It’s also full of delightful towns that beg exploration.
From Begur’s hilltop castle to the artistic allure of Cadaqués, a visit to the most beautiful towns on the Costa Brava is to go on a journey through time and culture.
Shying away from the tourist trappings, we explore eight of the most beautiful towns on the Costa Brava. It’s an ideal travel itinerary if you’re planning a first-time trip to Spain.
Perched atop a hill, the medieval town of Begur will captivate you with its ancient castle, narrow cobblestone streets, and panoramic views of the Costa Brava.
The town’s diverse architectural styles reflect its rich history, from Moorish influences to colonial-era houses built by the ‘Americanos,’ Begur’s wealthy returnees from Cuba.
Several pristine beaches and coves also surround Begur, such as Aiguablava and Sa Riera, making it a perfect base for sunbathing and exploring.
Blanes, often considered the gateway to the Costa Brava, presents a delightful mix of old and new. The bustling town features a vibrant marina and beautiful beaches, but it’s the historical sites that truly shine.
Visit the Marimurtra Botanical Gardens, home to a stunning variety of plants from around the world. Then, ascend the steps to the hilltop Castle of San Juan for a breathtaking view of the town and coast.
Given its proximity to Barcelona, Blanes is perhaps the most accessible Costa Brava town to visit if you only have one week to explore Spain.
Cadaqués is a charming town that has long inspired artists and writers. Its whitewashed houses, labyrinthine streets, and beautiful bay make up an incredibly picturesque whole.
Cadaqués was the home of Salvador Dalí for many years, and his house, now a museum, is a fascinating exploration of his life and art. The surrounding Cap de Creus natural park is also ideal for hiking.
Calella de Palafrugell
Once a humble fishing village, Calella de Palafrugell has retained its charm despite its growing popularity. Its traditional ‘llaüts’ (Catalan fishing boats) offer a glimpse into a simpler time.
Explore the sandy coves, dine at seafront restaurants serving the day’s catch, or walk the coastal path to the neighboring town of Llafranc. Additionally, the town hosts the Cap Roig Music Festival every summer, attracting big names in international music.
Just a short stroll from Calella de Palafrugell, Llafranc is a tranquil town that exudes elegance. Like the previous town, LLafranc offers a plethora of seafront restaurants offering delicious local cuisine.
Just a short walk uphill from the town, you’ll find the Sant Sebastià Lighthouse. This historic site not only serves as a beacon for ships, but also offers a glimpse into the region’s past, housing a small chapel and an archaeological museum.
The walk up to the lighthouse is an experience in itself, with a winding trail through pine-scented woods. Once you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the Costa Brava coastline.
The most off-the-beaten track town on this list, stepping into Pals is like stepping back in time. El Pedro, the historic quarter of Pals, is a must-visit for history lovers.
Here, you’ll find the Gothic church of Sant Pere, a testament to the town’s rich religious heritage. You should also pay a visit to the fourteenth-century Romanesque tower Torre de les Hores, and climb to the top for some fantastic views.
Beyond the town’s medieval walls, you’ll find an entirely different landscape – the rice fields of Pals. These lush green expanses have been part of the region’s gastronomic heritage for centuries, and fuel the rice dishes that take center stage in Catalan cuisine.
A visit to Pals wouldn’t be complete without venturing to the nearby coastline. Just a short drive away, you’ll discover pristine beaches that offer plenty of opportunities for sunbathing, swimming, and water sports.
If you are on the lookout for a vacation that’s peaceful, laid-back, and without any constraints, Tamariu is the perfect spot to explore. This coastal village is enriched with beautiful sandy beaches, clear water, and a scenic landscape with a variety of seafood restaurants.
Ideal for a relaxing weekend and also for an adventure-filled time, here you won’t ever have to complain about the hustle and bustle of city life. You can indulge in a variety of water adventures including snorkeling, swimming, diving, etc. Sometimes, you can also try indulging in a picnic by the beach.
Tossa de Mar
Unlike most of the other spots around Costa Brava that we have mentioned in this article, Tossa de Mar isn’t the untouched gem on the list. It is often frequented by tourists but that doesn’t take away from the beauty of this place.
Walking through the streets will enable you to bask in the authentic charm of this place. You get to witness a town that’s somehow preserved its medieval walls and architecture and has an array of narrow alleys and a picturesque old town feel that’s unlike anything else. The locals are genuinely humble and warm and make you feel right at home too.
In conclusion, whether you’re a beach lover, a history enthusiast, or a foodie, the Costa Brava’s diverse towns cater to every taste.
So why wait?
Pack your bags and get ready for an unforgettable Spanish escape along the stunning Costa Brava.