Costa Brava Attractions Guide

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Tomorrow - 21st July 2024

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Costa Brava is a coastal region in northeastern Spain stretching from Blanes up to the border of France. It's known for sandy beaches, peaceful villages and mountain landscapes. The characteristic rugged coastline gives Costa Brava its name, which translates as 'wild coast'.

There's plenty going on whether you want to soak up the culture, get active or do some sight-seeing. Walk, cycle, travel by horse, segway or even hot-air balloon through stunning countryside. A boat trip around the Medes Islands and Cap de Creus Natural Parks is a must, as is a visit to one of the botanical gardens.

Costa Brava is known as the birthplace of artist Salvador Dalí, so if you're into art, why not visit his house in Cadaqués or his museum in Figueres? History buffs will enjoy exploring the capital, Girona, and the many medieval towns, interesting museums and markets.

If sports are your thing, there's plenty on offer. Golf is very popular, and there are plenty of outdoor activities and water parks. Diving and water sports can be found anywhere along the coast, and are a great way to discover the rich marine life and dramatic coastline.

Walking and trekking

If you want to go for an unguided walk, simply follow the Camino de Ronda coastal path at any point along the coast from Portbou to Blanes. For something more challenging, Spanish Trails do hiking tours of Costa Brava's cliffs and coves as well as a panoramic and medieval trail.

Cycling

For short cycling tours, go for Brava Bike located in Sant Feliu de Guixols. They do a gentle tour to S'Agaro, a half-day tour to Castell d'Aro and Santa Cristina d'Aro, and for the more ambitious, a full-day tour. Mystery Tours offers cycling tours of the Alt Empordà region, or if you're a wine connoisseur, go on We Bike Girona's Wine Trail. If you want to spend your holiday touring Costa Brava on a bike and have cash to splash, Bike Breaks in Girona are for you.

Horse riding

Mystery Tours do a guided horse riding tour in the stunning Aiguamolls de L'Emporda Natural Park. Choose to go in the morning or the evening for this short one-hour excursion.

For those more confident in the saddle Panorama Trails do horse riding holidays in the area. On the Costa Brava Beach and Discovery Ride you'll ride in the sea, though glorious countryside and even on a racetrack. 

Quad bikes and Segways

Quad biking fans should look no further than Golden Quads in Sant Pere Pescador, offering a wide range of tours and packages. Or Mystery Tours offer quad biking in the Aiguamolls and the Albera mountains.

To tour in style, go by Segway. Ocitania located in Gualta do a range of off-road segway tours in the beautiful Baix Empordà region. If you don't think you'd be up for that they also do off-road mini 4x4 tours.

Scenic flights and falls

If you want to see Costa Brava by air, Kon Tiki offers hot-air balloon rides over Alt Empordà. You'll have a birds-eye view of the Bay of Roses, Cap de Creus Natural Park and catch a glimpse of The Pyrenees. Or you can choose to fly over Baix Empordà and see the Medes Islands Marine Reserve, beaches and traditional villages.

If you're really daring, take the leap and go skydiving with Skydive Empuriabrava you'll get an amazing view of the Bay of Roses as you fall.

Boat trips

Being a coastal region, Costa Brava has plenty of boat excursions, whether you want to observe the marine life and intriguing coastline, or just party on the sea.

For sightseers there's Creuers Mare Nostrum centrally located in L'Escala. Their glass bottom boats can take you to the Medes Islands so you can marvel at the sea life. Nautilus Tours based in L'Estartit do trips along the coast to allow you to discover some interesting coves as well as Foradada Rock. Dofi Jet Boats are based further south so you can admire the rugged coastline between Tossa de Mar and Calella.

In Palamós there's Tela Marinera who offer night trips in antique boats so you can learn about the constellations. As a complete contrast, with The Catamaran Cruise you can board the Lady Joana at either Tossa de Mar, Lloret de Mar or Blanes and enjoy a barbeque and sangria on the Sunset Party Cruise.

Natural Parks

It's no surprise that Costa Brava was voted one of the top travel destinations in the world by National Geographic in 2012 as there are many areas of natural beauty.

Montgrí, Medes Islands and Baix Ter Natural Park covers over 8000 hectares, but the highlight is The Medes Islands Marine Reserve off the coast of L'Estartit. These seven islets have one of the richest marine ecosystems in the Mediterranean with a variety of flora and fauna. Stunning coral reefs and rock formations make it a great place for diving, kayaking and boat excursions.

If you're staying in Llançà, Cadaqués or Roses you'll be in the heart of the Cap de Creus Natural Park. This peninsula is characterised by high cliffs, hidden bays, inland forests and migratory birds, so it's also a great area for exploration.

The Aiguamolls de L'Emporda Natural Park in Castelló d'Empúries is the most symbolic of Catalonia. The wetland attracts a range of migratory birds so it's perfect for bird watchers.

Botanical gardens

There are four botanical gardens in Costa Brava, all landscaped in beautiful areas overlooking the sea.

In Calella de Palafrugell is Cap Roig Botanical Gardens, one of the most diverse gardens in Catalonia with its mix of Mediterranean flora and fauna with species from the other continents. Santa Clotilde Botantical Gardens are set atop a cliff in Lloret de Mar with impressive views of the coast. It has a clear Italian Renaissance style with its marble sculptures and fountains.

Blanes is home to the largest botanical garden in Costa Brava, Marimurta Bontanical Gardens, which combines native fauna with palms from Chile, and trees from Africa and Mexico, while boasting and lake and a temple. Pinya de Rosa Tropical Botanical Garden, also in Blanes, has more than 7000 varieties of tropical plant including cacti and aloes which have adapted to the Mediterranean setting.  

Animal Parks

If you're an animal lover there are a few ways to get up close with native animals, and some not so native.

L'Albera Mediterranean Tortoise Centre in Garriguella is a must for tortoise fans. Learn how they are protected and see some tiny hatchlings. The entrance fee goes toward conserving these magnificent creatures.

At Butterfly Park Empuriabrava they have recreated a tropical rainforest inside a giant greenhouse, so you'll see butterflies, birds and tropical plants galore.

Historical Sites

There are many interesting towns and villages in Costa Brava with ruins, monuments and buildings steeped in history.

A must-visit for history buffs is Girona with one of the most important and well-preserved Jewish Quarters in Europe. On your list of things to see in the Old Town should be The Catheral, the Arab Baths, Houses on the Onyar, the old city walls, and the churches of Sant Feliu and Sant Pere de Galligants.

Roses is an important tourist and fishing town on the northern end of the Bay of Roses. Travel back in time at the ruins of The Citadel, the Visigothic Fortress and the Megalithic Complex, stroll around the Historic Centre, and discover the Trinity Castle, and the Bufalaranya Castle. Guided tours are also available.

Figueres, capital of the Alt Empordà county is the birthplace of artist Salvador Dalí. Visit the Dalí Museum, designed by the artist himself, marvel at the Modernist buildings on the central avenue La Rambla, or take a trip to the Sant Ferran Castle.

Cadaqués is a beautiful medieval town on the Cap de Creus Peninsula. The town was often visited by Salvador Dalí who later bought a house in Port Lligat which is now the Salvador Dalí's House Museum. Wander around the cobbled streets of the Old Town and you'll come across the Church of Santa Maria, various sculptures and Modernist buildings.

If you're in search of more peaceful medieval towns head to Castelló d'Empúries with its Cathedral and Medieval Festival, or visit the Gothic Quarter of Pals with its medieval streets set on a small mountain.

Those staying in Tossa de Mar, should be sure to visit the Vila Vella (Old Town) or take a guided tour for an insight into its history. If you're staying in Lloret de Mar it's packed with churches and ruins and they also offer guided tours of the historical areas

Shopping

Weekly markets can be found in most town centres on every day of the week, so if you want a bargain souvenir and like to haggle, check them out.

On Monday there's the Blanes street market in Passeig de Mar. Tuesday is the Girona market in Parc de la Devesa as well as Lloret de Mar market  in Rieral Avenue. On Wednesdays there's the Cassà de la Selva market in Vilaret Avenue, while Thursday is the Tossa de Mar market on Rambla Pau Casals. Platja d'Aro market is held on Fridays, Empuriabrava market on Saturdays and Roses market on Sundays.

At the markets you'll find everything from clothing and jewellery to crafts and fresh produce. If you're looking for modern shopping, Platja d'Aro's open air shopping centre is one of the largest in the Mediterranean. Visit the first ever pedestrian shopping zone in Figueres or browse through Giron's shopping area with its mix of traditional and cosmopolitan shops.

Museums

There are a wide range of museums in all of Costa Brava's main towns from historical collections to specialised museums and art galleries.

Girona has museums on a wide range of topics. If you want to learn more about the town's history there's the History Museum of Girona, for more about the Jewish heritage there's the History of the Jews Museum, or if you're interested in archaeology there's The Archaeological Museum of Catalunya. If you like architecture there's Casa Masó, art fans can admire the Medieval and Renaissance paintings at Girona Museum of Art, and film lovers will enjoy the Cinema Museum.

Art enthusiasts should head to Figueres there's the Dalí Museum containing some of his most famous works, as well as the Empordà Museum housing one of the county's best art collections. Check out the Toy Museum of Catalonia to see toys that belonged to Dalí and other historical figures.

In Cadaqués on Port Ligat bay you'll find Salvador Dalí's house which is now a museum. Walk around his workshop, library, garden, pool and you'll be amazed by the whispering room. In Castello d'Empúries you can visit the Curia Prison Museum and learn about where the condemned were sent, or marvel at the religious jewellery and paintings in the Parish Museum.

Head to L'Escala to learn about its fishing history at either the Anchovy and Salt Museum or the Maram Fish Interpretation Centre. Further south in Torroella de Montgrí there's the Mediterranean Museum, a hands-on experience for the whole family, and photography geeks will love Solterra Palace Museum.

In Tossa de Mar there's the Municipal Museum in the heart of the Old Town or you can learn about lighthouses at the Far de Tossa Museum. Over in Lloret de Mar there's the Maritime Museum where you can take a trip through Lloret's history and its links to the sea.

Festivals

Most towns have their own annual festivals with theatre, concerts and markets in the town centre, but there are also music festivals and other festivals around.

To embrace the culture, head to L'Escala for Portalblau music festival showcasing Mediterranean music. If classical music is more your thing there's Cadaqués Music Festival staged in Santa Maria church or Torroella de Montgrí Festival in Sant Genís Gothic church.

For acoustic lovers there's the Festival Acústica, set around the Dalí Museum in Figueres, while Jazz fans should visit Palafrugell for Costa Brava Jazz Festival or there's also Figueres Jazz Festival and Girona Jazz Festival.

If you want an eclectic mix there's Cap Roig Festival in Palafrugell's beautiful Cap Roig Gardens, playing dance, jazz, opera and world music. Tossa de Mar Music Festival is a bit more traditional with classical, opera, flamenco, Brazilian and tango concerts.

Aside from music there's the Costa Brava International Firework Competition in Blanes, Temps de Flors in Girona where the streets are decorated with flowers, or for a good old carnival, there's the Southern Costa Brava Carnival in Tossa de Mar.

Entertainment and attractions

The major towns have plenty in the way of entertainment and attractions.

Gambling fans can visit to Lloret de Mar's Gran Casino featuring slots, table games, poker, a restaurant, cocktail bar and lounge bar. If that's not your scene, why not go to the Flamenco Show in the casino's event room on every Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.

To really soak up the Spanish culture go for a Medieval Dinner at Castle Valltordera. You'll see shining knights in armour take part in swordfights and jousting as you tuck into a three-course feast with wine. The evening ends in true Spanish style with some foot-stomping flamenco.

Golf courses

Costa Brava is great for golfing and there are many courses dotted around.

Club Golf d'Aro in Platja d'Aro is one of the oldest. This 18 hole golf course and 9 hole pitch and putt is located in Les Gavarres Natural Park with spectacular views over Costa Brava. Right near it in Santa Cristina d'Aro is the 18-hole Club Golf Costa Brava set among oaks, cork trees and pines.

Further up the coast is Golf Platja de Pals, one of the best golf courses in the area and host to many international competitions. Empordà Golf, part of a resort, has two 18-hole courses and is surrounded by pines, lakes and dunes.

In the heart of the countryside is PGA Golf Catalunya, the ultimate golfing location set in a luxury resort. Its Stadium Course is was ranked the number one golf course in Spain by Top 100 Golf Courses of the World. Just outside the city and the airport is Golf Girona, completely integrated with nature and suitable for all levels.

Outdoor activities and adventure parks

A fun day out for the kids can be had at Gnomo Park, nestled in a Lloret de Mar pine forest. Attractions include an adventure playground, mini golf and 'Arbre Aventura Park' a circuit of bridges and zip wires between the trees.

Catalunya en Miniatura in Torrelles de Llobregat is a great family day out. Learn about all the important landmarks and buildings as you admire the scaled-down model replica of Catalonia. There's also an aerial forest park and a playground to keep the kids entertained.

For even more aerial tree fun, visit Sant Feliu Parc Aventura. Navigate your way from tree to tree like Tarzan with ropes, Tibetan bridges, zip wires, nets and other obstacles. As well as this there's orienteering, archery and climbing.

If you're planning a hen or stag do, D-Aventura offer a range of fun activities from paintball and go-karting to quad biking and bungee jumping.

Water parks

There is an abundance of water sports available along the coast, as well as a few water parks great for family days out.

One of the best water parks in the area is Aqua Brava in Roses with water attractions for all ages from twisting slides and crazy rivers to a kid's lagoon and relaxation pool. There's also Aquadiver in Platja d'Aro. Whether you want to get the adrenaline pumping, chill out or have some family fun, there's something for you. If you're based in Lloret de Mar, the sister park Water World has similar attractions including a wave pool and extreme slides.

A bit further out, but definitely worth the trip is Marineland  in Parafolls, Barcelona. A water park (Aqualand) and marine zoo in one, you'll see penguins, sea lions and their spectacular bottle-nose dolphins put on a show.

Diving

Costa Brava is great for diving and you'll be spoilt for choice with over 30 diving centres along the coast.

If you're in the north and want to discover the extensive flora and fauna of Cap de Creus Nature Reserve, head to Cap de Creus Centre D'Immersio in Llançà or Sotamar in Cadaqués. If you're in Roses and want to see this rich underwater life go to Centre D'Immersio Roses.

In the middle there's Dive Paradis in L'Escala where you can try out wreck diving or deep sea diving. L'Estartit is the hub of diving activity  El Rei de Mar have a range of technical courses, while Aquàtica offer diving excursions to caves, tunnels and sea beds in The Medes Islands. Or you could try night diving or underwater photography at Ocean Sub.

Water sports

Costa Brava is great for water sports with its large windy bays and coastline to explore.

The Bay of Roses has a lot on offer. At Aventura Nautica you can rent a boat or jet ski, have some fun on a killer whale ski bus, or fly over the bay on a parasailing trip. If you're in L'Estartit, Estació Nàutic L'Estartit also offers a range of activities on water and on land. For those in Tossa de Mar there's Cala Llevadó Watersports Centre with water skiing, banana boats, sailing, canoeing, windsurfing and snorkelling.

If you're into surfing there's Capgirell Windsurf in Pals who do windsurfing, kitesurfing, SUP and surfing courses and well as rentals. Or if kayaking is your thing, Kayak Guixols in Sant Feliu de Guixols do sunset trips and dolphin spotting. Appreciate the wild coast with Kayaking Costa Brava in L'Escala as you weave in and out of rocky passages and discover hidden caves. Or there's Kayaks del Ter who offer kayaking down the River Ter.