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If you are planning on visiting Spain, you can’t go past visiting Costa Brava. With fairytale towns, pristine beaches and delicious food Costa Brava is a traveller’s delight, and all within easy reach from Barcelona.
The region of Costa Brava stretches along 200 kilometres of coastline from Blanes to Portbou. If only we all had the time to explore it all! If, like us, you don’t have the luxury of time to explore it all, here is a 4-day itinerary of the best of Costa Brava. Of course, the more time you have the better, but this itinerary has a good mix of beaches, charming towns, food and culture. Note, this one is best if you have a hire car.
Day 1- Tossa de Mar
Tossa de Mar has the undeniable charm of a fishermen’s village combined with rich history, dating back to the 1st century. The most spectacular characteristic of Tossa de Mar is the medieval fortified village, Vila Vella, complete with picturesque streets and fortress walls offering views of the precious bay below.
AM – Tossa de Mar has a stunning coastline that can be enjoyed by foot or boat. There are plenty of hiking trails and mountain bike trails, or you can hire a kayak and make your way along the coast and stop in at some beaches at your own leisure. As the weather in September is glorious for the sea, we opted to kayak and enjoyed the pre-lunch workout.
Lunch – Even though Tossa de Mar is a small town, you are spoilt for restaurant options. There are a lot of ‘touristy’ places along the beach offering Menu del Días (Menu of the Day), but walk into the old quarters, and you’ll find a good variety of cuisines. Our personal favourite was La Grotta, offering delicious handmade pastas and wood-fired pizzas, in a cute setting just by the old walls.
PM – Tossa de Mar is a town made to be enjoyed on foot, so spend the afternoon strolling through the town and soaking up the history and charm. Visit the 1st century Els Ametllers Roman villa, (which has been immaculately preserved), enjoy the charming fairytale-like streets of the old town and admire the simplicity of the Chapel of Mare de Déu del Socors. Of course, the highlight is walking along the fortified walls of the Castillo de Tossa de Mar, where you can admire the quaint storefronts and wonderful views of the town and bay.
Dinner – Enjoy traditional recipes and local produce at Bahia Restaurant. Bahia Restaurant is one of the first restaurants to introduce traditional Catalan and local dishes from the area, and a lot of the menu are still original home recipes. One of their specialties is cim i tomba – a Tossa de Mar flavoursome stew consisting of fish and potatoes.
Where to stay: For comfortable apartments and views of the castle, check out Pierre & Vacances Villa Romana.
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Leave Tossa de Mar and drive up the coast to visit an abundance of beaches at your leisure.
Costa Brava boasts 200 kilometres of spectacular coastline, so it’s bound to have beaches and coves to please all tastes. Some will have restaurants and facilities nearby, while others are surrounded by nothing else but wonderful nature. Here are some of the locals’ picks:
- Cala Giverola
- Platja d’Aro
- Sa Tuna
- Cap de Begur
- Platja El Golfet
- Cala Montgó
Once you’ve had your fair share of beach, it’s time to head to Girona.
Where to stay: Nothing beats enjoying a coffee on the balcony at Apartamentos Casa Flora
AM – As Australians, we are coffee snobs, so when we find great coffee around the world, we make sure we save that info for future use! It turns out that Girona also has a good coffee culture (must be from all the expat cyclists that live there!) and a good place to start the day is at Espresso Mafia. These guys take their coffee seriously and they are situated in a pretty alley in the old town.
Once awake, stroll over to Local Market for a local food experience or cooking class. The girls here are passionate about food and local produce, and your tastebuds will thank you for the experience. Bookings are essential, and both Irene and Mariona speak perfect English and can help you decide on what to book.
Lunch – If you aren’t already full from the food tasting at Local Market, you can find an array of excellent places to eat within the old town. The locals take their food here seriously and you are bound to enjoy whatever you find in the area.
PM – Did you know Girona was selected by the producers of Game of Thrones to film Season 5 for the colour of the city’s stones and its medieval feel? In fact, not much had to be done to the city to convert it into the streets of Braavos and Kings Landing (apart from a bit of CGI here and there). Game of Thrones fan or not, Girona is incredibly picturesque and it’s worth spending a few hours wandering through the old town, crossing the Eiffel Bridge and admiring the colourful apartments that adorn the banks of the river. If all that walking requires a little pick-me-up, treat yourself to a famously quirky ice-cream from Rocambolesc.
Dinner – It’s too hard to pick just one place for dinner, so here are some of the local’s top picks below.
- Le Bistrot – Situated on the romantic Pujada de Sant Domènec and serving delicious pizza and pasta.
- Draps – Great place for sharing food.
- Llevataps – Here you will find delicious and creative dishes, all perfect for Instagram.
- Brots de Vi – Simple food and good wine.
- La Simfonia – The place to go if you love cheese and wine.
- El Celler de Can Roca – Voted in the Top 50 restaurants in the world, you are bound to be delighted. The wait list is long (and prices justifiably high), but if you are willing to splurge and treat yourself, this is the place to do it.
Day 4 – Get surreal in Figueres
AM – Today’s a big day, so you should start your morning with a delicious breakfast at our favourite breakfast franchise, Federal. This café is an Australian franchise, so the menu is filled with delicious options, from pancakes to bacon & egg rolls, and delicious coffee.
Drive to Figueres and get surreal. If you are a fan of art, then the Dalí Theatre-Museum should not be missed. Whilst Salvador Dalí is most famous for his surreal art, the museum displays all of the styles he’s explored and it is bound to please any art lover. Tickets are €14 per adult. For up-to-date opening days and hours (they are often closed on Mondays), check the website.
Lunch – If you like a good Italian meal, wander over to our favourite Italian chain, La Tagliatella, conveniently located around the corner of the Dalí Theatre-Museum. Our pick? The Tagliatella Casalinga.
PM –25 minutes from Figueres, is another gem of the Costa Brava region, Besalú. Besalú is a small medieval village, with a striking 11th century bridge. If you love the idea of wandering through enchanting cobblestone streets, then this is the place for you. Make sure you bring your camera, as there are plenty of picturesque corners, waiting to be captured.
Dinner – Head back to Girona and try one of the other restaurants listed above.
If you have more time….
Of course, the more time you have to explore Costa Brava, the better, so if you are fortunate to have more time, you should spend a couple more days in Tossa de Mar and Girona, or you can check out the following:
- Blanes – The ‘Gateway to the Costa Brava’, this seaside village has an extravagant botanical garden, Marimurtra, that overlooks the Mediterranean Sea.
- Ruins of Empúries – If you love Roman ruins and the sea, the Ruins of Empúries, dating back to 6th Century B.C. are worth a visit.
- Cadaques – The easternmost point in Spain, this is a picturesque fishing village of white buildings overlooking the sea and part of the Dalí Triangle.
Best time to visit – if you want to enjoy the best of Costa Brava and its beaches, but don’t like to share it with the summer crowds, early June and September are the perfect months, as the weather is still perfect and the crowds are minimal.
So there you have it, the best of Costa Brava in 4 days! It’s the perfect combination of medieval cities, spectacular beaches, delicious food and surreal art! If you are a lover of any of these things, then Costa Brava should be on your next Spanish itinerary.
Have you been to Costa Brava? Have we covered the best sights to see? Where else should be on the Costa Brava itinerary?
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