When we book our holidays we put in hours of research beforehand. It seems laborious at the time but we’re always grateful we’ve done it once we arrive at our chosen destination.
There are surprisingly few up-to-date books covering the Costa Brava so we did a lot of late night web-trawling.
I think in the past the Costa Brava has had a lot of bad press (particularly in the U.K.) so we were slightly dubious at first. However as we dug deeper we realised this was still a place of great natural beauty with many hidden gems.
We stayed for a week just East of Girona and were initially concerned that we’d be bored but left wishing we’d had longer, with loads of places still on our ‘must-see’ list.
Just inland from the coast are an abundance of beautiful medieval villages to explore, offering great restaurants serving traditional Catalan fare (and some more modern tapas) at low cost and great taste. We didn’t have one bad meal here and they were all served with a smile.
Grilled meat seems to be a particular speciality. They really are the Kings and Queens of the barbecue!
The more well known villages such as Pals (pics below) are worth visiting in the late afternoon/early morning to avoid any coach parties but don’t let that put you off. They really are quite stunning:
I’d also recommend hiring a kayak from busy Castell Beach and taking it to some of the nearby tranquil coves away from the crowds.
If the beach is not your thing, there are also a few wild swimming spots to be found just North West of Girona at Lake Banyoles (which we didn’t get too) and at one of the many gorges. We went to the gorge of Font de la Torre near the town of Canet d’Adri:
This kind of swimming/wallowing is not for the faint-hearted as the water is cold and the basins seem bottomless. As a swimming enthusiast it is one of the most extraordinary places I have ever swam in – I’m still trying to understand the geology of it. I think it maybe where a subterranean river meets the water coming down from the mountains (but then geography was never my strong suit!). If anyone can shed any light on the area I’d love to know!
We also took our boys snorkelling for the first time from a little cove called Cala d’Aigua Xelida just outside the town of Tamariu:
Then we progressed to the gorgeous Cala Estreta:
To get here you need to park and walk from Castell Beach. It’s quite a walk and if you choose the coastal path it takes longer and is somewhat more hazardous (but the views are amazing). Make sure you wear shoes with a decent grip and take plenty of water.
We definitely thought it was worth the journey though – there are no facilities here, just beautiful coves, clear water and the odd nudist, but ever so worth it!
I hope by writing this post that I’ve shown a bit of the ‘real’ Costa Brava as it is indeed an amazing place that is rich in beauty, history, art and culture. We were talking of returning before we even left and would love to go to Begur, Figueres and Cadaques – to name a few! Any recommendations for a future return trip would be most welcome.