Costa Brava, Spain

The beautiful Costa Brava area of Spain lies in the Catalonia region, which is adjacent to France and the Mediterranean Sea. Costa Brava is renowned for its rich history and great climate, and it contains several destinations that have become popular with vacationers. Although it's most famous for its beaches, there are many fascinating places to visit.


Calella coastline, Costa Brava, Spain Those who enjoy culture and history will be pleased to know that Calella has an interesting past, dating back to the Medieval era when the town was developed under hegemony of Barcelona’s Counts. Southwest Calella boasts an impressive lighthouse, which was constructed in 1859, and features two towers called “Les Torretes.” Calella is also home to a historical museum, which contains works of art dating back to the Roman era.

Lloret de Mar

Castle of Sant Joan, Lloret de Mar, Costa Brava, Spain The coastal town of Lloret de Mar is not far from Barcelona, and it's perhaps the busiest tourist resort in Costa Brava. Not surprisingly, Lloret de Mar is best known for its fantastic beaches and active nightlife. However, there are several important historical locations to see, including the 11th century Castle of Sant Joan and the 16th century Church of Sant Romà.

Canyelles Beach, Roses, Costa Brava, Spain

The coastal resort town of Roses sits on the northern end of Spain’s beautiful Gulf of Roses. Its location on the Costa Brava coast and the gulf’s quiet waters — a natural harbor — has made it a highly valued prize that was sought after and fought over by several countries over the years. Today, those same quiet, clear waters and beautiful location have made the town of Roses, which is located in Catalonia’s Girona province, a popular tourist destination
Tossa de Mar
Coastline of Tossa de Mar, Costa Brava, Spain

Tossa de Mar is another seaside town in Costa Brava with an interesting history. In fact, the only fortified medieval town that remains on the Catalan Coast — the 14th century Vila Vella enceinte — can be found here. Visitors can still visit its stone walls and towers. Additionally, the old part of Tossa de Mar has the remains of ancient Gothic and Roman churches. And like Lloret de Mar, there are plenty of beaches to be found there.


Dali Egg, Figueres Spain One of Costa Brava's most important cities is Figueres, which is located in the northeastern part of Catalonia. In addition to being politically influential, Figueres is celebrated for being the birthplace of Salvador Dali. Indeed, the city is home to the Teatre-Museu Gala Salvador Dali, which is a huge museum designed by the artist himself. It's truly a must-see for anyone who travels to Figueres.
Medieval Streets of Pals, Spain The small town of Pals is a great spot for visitors who want to authentically experience life in Costa Brava. Since it's slightly off the Mediterranean Sea, the average tourist never makes it to Pals. Therefore, it's the ideal location to try Catalan cuisine and examine the regional culture firsthand. However, there are still several historical sites to see, such as Pals' four towers dating all the way back to the 4th century. And most importantly, everyone who visits the town should go to the Torre de les Hores, a magnificent Roman tower built nearly a millennium ago.



Pals Spain

The picturesque town of Pals is easily overlooked when tourists visit Spain’s Costa Brava. Located in Catalonia and just a short drive southwest of Barcelona, this medieval town offers travelers both a charming city experience and ways to enjoy the region’s natural splendor.

Pals is an old town, set atop a hill with an attractive mixture of architectural styles. Some of its towers date as far back to the fourth century. It also has a beautiful Romanesque tower built during the medieval period known as the Torre de les Hores. The Gothic Quarter of the city has been undergoing reconstruction and has narrow cobblestone streets, stone balconies, and various arch designs (pointed and semicircular) running throughout the facades of various buildings.

Medieval Streets of Pals, SpainThe Church of Sant Pere brings together the various architectural styles present in Pals in a single building. It has a Romanesque base, upon which you’ll see a Gothic nave and apse. The church’s bell tower and portico have been done in the Baroque style. Its Underwater Archeology Museum, housed in fifteenth century fortified house, is worth a visit both for its building and its exhibition of the history of Catalan cavas and wines.

The starting point for enjoying Pals’ natural beauty is the Josep Pla viewpoint. Named for a renowned Catalan author and journalist, this viewing area overlooks the lush fields of Emporda and the Medes Islands just off the coast. You’ll want to go Platja de Pals for two miles of golden, Mediterranean beachfront. The conditions of the sea here make it a good place for surfing and swimming. You can also tour by boat or participate in beach sports, like volleyball.

Pals’ location along the Costa Brava has given the little town its share of historic importance as well. Some historians contend that Christopher Columbus embarked on his first voyage to the New World from Pals. More recently, the United States took advantage of its location jutting out into the Mediterranean to establish aerial towers to relay broadcasts of Radio Liberty during the Cold War.

Home to fewer than three thousand locals, Pals is a tiny corner off the beaten track in Costa Brava well worth visiting. A lazy afternoon spent meandering through its ancient walkways or sunning on the beach, it’s untouched atmosphere provides a perfect traveler’s hideaway.


Calella, Spain

Calella is a seaside town in Catalonia, Spain, approximately 35 miles northeast of Barcelona. It is situated on the Costa Brava coast between Pineda de Mar and Sant Pol de Mar. In the 1960s, tourism began to thrive in the community and has continued to do so ever since. Prior to this, the residents of Calella focused on fishing and textile manufacturing for their economic survival. The population of Calella is 18,000; however, this figure has been known to triple during peak vacation season.

Those who enjoy culture and history will be pleased to know that Calella has an interesting past, dating back to the Medieval era when the town was developed under hegemony of Barcelona’s Counts. Southwest Calella boasts an impressive lighthouse, which was constructed in 1859, and features two towers called “Les Torretes.” Calella is also home to a historical museum, which contains works of art dating back to the Roman era. The Santa Maria Church is another outstanding historical landmark that deserves a place on every visitor’s must-see list. The church is located next to a popular attraction called the Casa dels Salvadors, which is a residential structure built in the 1300s for a local wealthy family.

Calella coastline, Costa Brava, SpainCalella Beach is open to the public, and is a favorite of tourists and residents alike. The beach is just over one mile long, and its south end is relatively quiet, while its northern end is a bit livelier. The beach consistently receives the European Blue Flag Award for cleanliness and exceptionally good maintenance.

The rest of the area’s beaches span several miles, and offer visitors a mixture of course and fine golden sand. Similar to Calella beach, the surrounding beaches are also awarded the Blue Flag for superb maintenance on a regular basis, making them perfect for family vacations. There is a wide selection of water sports in Calella in which visitors can indulge, such as snorkeling, scuba diving, sea kayaking, sailing, surfing, jet skiing or water skiing, and the main beach is also home to a water sports club and sports center.

Vacationers can also indulge in a vast array of land activities in Calella, including aerobics, football and beach volleyball, and children’s activities are available for youngsters ages 6-16 at the sports center. One can also enjoy additional activities in the immediate area, such as rollerblading, horseback riding, bicycling, golf, tennis or fishing. Regardless of one’s personal preferences, Calella offers something for everyone, and is the ideal backdrop for a pleasant and memorable vacation.


Roses, Spain

 The coastal resort town of Roses sits on the northern end of Spain’s beautiful Gulf of Roses. Its location on the Costa Brava coast and the gulf’s quiet waters — a natural harbor — has made it a highly valued prize that was sought after and fought over by several countries over the years. Today, those same quiet, clear waters and beautiful location have made the town of Roses, which is located in Catalonia’s Girona province, a popular tourist destination.

Roses was founded by the Greeks, although there is some dispute as to exactly at what point in history. Some historians believe the town was founded in the 5th century BC, while others believe it was possibly in the 8th century BC. Over the years, Roses has been captured, besieged, or occupied by the Romans, the French, Barbary pirates, as well as the Spanish. Today, the city is home to many historical ruins, including those of the original ancient city that once sat on this site, which was known as Ciutadella, and a fortification that was constructed by Charles V in 1543 to protect the city from pirates and other invaders.

Canyelles Beach, Roses, Costa Brava, SpainTourists can choose from a number of beautiful beaches in or near Roses, including Playa Nova, which has many tourist-friendly facilities such as open-air bars and lifeguards; Cala Murtra, a very secluded and beautiful beach that is Roses’ only official nudist beaches; and Cala Joncols, which is located in the Cap de Creus Nature Park and offers excellent scuba diving and snorkeling opportunities. Some of the sea life that can be viewed in the waters around Cala Joncols include moray eels and sea horses.

Cala Montjoi, which is located approximately seven kilometers from Roses, is another excellent spot for diving. It was also home — until recently — to a highly regarded restaurant, ElBulli. Founded in 1961, this small restaurant, which had been awarded three stars by the Michelin Guide for several years, was often considered one of the best in the world. Its chef, Ferran Adria, plans on reopening the restaurant as a culinary creation center in 2014.

The weather in Roses is generally pleasant. High temperatures in the summer average about 31 C or 87 F. Winter days are typically mild, with highs of 16 C or 60 F, but colder periods do occasionally occur. The area around Roses experiences approximately 1000 mm or about 40 inches of rain per year.


Tossa de Mar, Spain

A quaint town lined with cobbled streets, Tossa de Mar can be found in the Spanish area of Catalonia, along the Costa Brava. The mountainous region filled with beautiful green valleys, a multitude of gorges and natural springs juxtaposed the medieval remnants of what was once a fortress, complete with castle and alleyways, splashed with ancient homes, restaurants and little shops leaves nothing out for a vacation getaway memory.

Only 100 kilometers south of the French border, Tossa was visited by Hollywood in the 1950s, before it was known as a tourist attraction. The film, “Pandora & the Flying Dutchman” hosted screen greats such as Ava Gardner and James Mason, with Tossa de Mar’s beauty as the backdrop.

Coastline of Tossa de Mar, Costa Brava, SpainSheltered coves and sandy miles of sandy beaches give the opportunity to play in the crystal clear, Mediterranean waters. Scuba diving and snorkeling adventures can be had or for those that would rather see the undersea creatures from the safety of a glass bottomed boat, they are available.

The activity along the coast is buzzing with fun in the bars, restaurants, gift shops and ice cream parlors. No vacation in Tossa de Mar is complete without a trip through the historic region of town. The Villa Vella still hosts the ancient walls used for defense against enemies years ago and the remaining towers that are still in tact, create a day filled with endless intrigue and educational fact learning. Medieval times saw Tossa in the year 966 and with the 1187 castle that was erected with defense elements in mind, leaving enough historical structures behind to enjoy today.

After a tour through the enclosure, a visit to the man-made nature reserve of Sa Riera park delivers wildlife views and a diverse inspection of flora and fauna. Wildlife abounds in the reserve. The special ecosystem hosts higher levels of humidity and rain, lending hand to the observation of numerous rare species along the six kilometers of coastline that is protected from harm.

Tossa de Mar is the perfect holiday getaway. Relaxing, yet fun-filled, Tossa appeals to families and couples alike. Visit Tossa for your next vacation and be reminded just how relaxing a vacation can be.


Lloret de Mar, Spain

 Lloret de Mar is a small resort town located in the northeastern part of Spain on the coast. It is one of the most popular destinations in Costa Brava and is 75 km from Barcelona.


Since Lloret de Mar is on the coast, there are fabulous beaches to enjoy. You can bask in the sun, enjoy the Mediterranean waters, and sip a glass of Sangria. The beaches of Lloret de Mar consistently receive the Blue Flag award for cleanliness.

The main beach in Lloret de Mar is very popular and has white sand. Fenals Beach is nearby, less crowded, and has golden sand. Both offer an array of water sports including water skiing, jet skiing, and parasailing.

Castle of Sant Joan, Lloret de Mar, Costa Brava, SpainThings to See

The Sant Romà Church is a Gothic church built in 1522 which has been restored. It shows the influence of Byzantine, Renaissance, Moorish, and even Modernist architectural styles.

The Castle of Sant Joan is a castle from medieval times that defended the city from invasion by sea. It has been restored and offers a panoramic view of the area.

Two monuments that should not be missed are the beautiful Angel Monument that has an angel pointing up to Sant Pere del Bosc and the Monument to the Fisherman’s Wife that was placed on the beach on the 100th anniversary of the town.

The Santa Clotilde gardens are a lovely combination of landscaping and statuary. They were designed in the spirit of the Italian Renaissance.

Theme Parks

Water World is the largest water park in all of Europe and is located on the road to Vidreres. It has many rides to delight kids of all ages including a rubber raft ride that is 250 meters long.

Gnomo Park is another family theme park and it is located between Lloret de Mar and Blanes. It offers indoor and outdoor activities including a small animal farm.

Night Life

One thing about Lloret de Mar that keeps people coming back is the night life. It has over 100 bars and nightclubs that include pubs, karaoke bars, discos, and music bars and some of them stay open all night.

Lloret de Mar has many hotels, restaurants, and casinos for merry makers. It is known as the best party city in all of Costa Brava and is a favorite venue for bachelor and bachelorette parties.


Spain’s Regions

Spain’s constituent regions aren’t states or provinces, as in many other countries of the world, but autonomous communities. This political distinction results from the profound differences in culture within the country’s borders. Several of the regions have their own language, all have their own food, and many have their own storied histories as ancient, proud civilizations.

El País Vasco, or Basque Country, is perhaps the most famously independent of Spain’s autonomous communities. The Basque language is notoriously difficult to learn. Luckily Spanish is widely spoken, but any effort to communicate in Basque is appreciated by locals. San Sebastian is the area’s top destination, thanks to its breathtaking Atlantic shores and its reputation as the best producer of the region’s unique food. A local specialty worth sampling is sidra, a slightly alcoholic apple cider.

Spain’s other famously independent region, Catalonia, is located on the country’s eastern shore. Its language, Catalan, is easily learned by Spanish speakers. Barcelona is known for the many structures by famous modern architect Antoni Gaudí, whose style permeates this well-planned regional capital. The beaches of this cosmopolitan city nicely complement the region’s ski resorts to the north and nature reserves to the south.

Andalucia is the intersection of all the finest aspects of Spanish culture, from food to music to architecture. The region invented tapas and is the world’s largest producer of olive oil, while the city of Sevilla is known as the home of flamenco music and dance. This southern region of Spain enjoys a rich Moorish history; sites such as the Great Mosque of Córdoba and La Alhmabra of Granada exhibit the height of Arab art and architecture from the Middle Ages.

El Comunidad de Madrid consists of the city of Madrid and its surrounding towns. Despite being the home of Spain’s central government and the Royal Palace, Cathedral, and Gardens, Madrid is best known for its nightlife. The neighborhoods of Huertas and La Latina are filled with revelers at all hours of the night as they scour the city for the best bars and dance clubs.

Even Spain’s less famous regions have their own defining characteristics. Valencia is the birthplace of paella, La Rioja is famous for its red wines, and the windmills of Castilla La Mancha were immortalized in Don Quixote. One of Spain’s ancient kingdoms, Galicia adds another regional tongue, Galician, to the tally of official languages, and another famous dish, empanadas, to the nation’s cuisine. Aragon, another such kingdom, houses a wealth of historical artifacts from the Middle Ages, while Cantabria is home to more Stone Age archaeological sites than anywhere else in the world. In Navarre’s largest city, Pamplona, locals and tourists alike run through the narrow streets with bulls during the Feast of San Fermin, and with its soaring mountains and dramatic rocky coastline, Asturias is considered the most beautiful part of the country.

Thanks to the linguistic, culinary, architectural and artistic diversity displayed across Spain’s autonomous communities, a trip to this one country can feel like a tour of over a dozen different nations.


Montserrat, Spain

Millions of years ago, as the Iberian plate converged upon the European plate, masses of earth were thrust upwards, forming what is now the Pyrenees mountain range that borders Spain and France, and depositing rock to form what is now the Montserrat chain of mountains. In Catalan, “Montserrat” means “serrated mountain,” which describes the jagged silhouette of the mountain range, formed by centuries of erosion.

Today, Montserrat is famed for its unique rock formations, as the location of the Benedictine abbey, Santa Maria de Montserrat, and for the historical significance of the area in connection with the struggles of the Catalan people. At 4055 feet above the valley, Montserrat stands at a central point above the Catalan lowlands, and has long played an important role in Catalonian history. Overnight hikes up the mountain to watch the sunrise remain a significant part of Catalonian tradition.

Nestled within the crags of the mountain, the monastery was founded in 1025. The Montserrat Escolania, a world-famous boys’ choir, came into existence soon after. Traditionally, the boys lived and studied in the monastery. Though run by the Benedictine monks, the school’s goal is to prepare students for acceptance into music conservatories, not into the order. In 2005, when enrollment dropped drastically, allowances were made for the children to return home overnight and on weekends. The choir gives brief performances at the abbey every day but Saturday.

The monastery was destroyed by the French in 1811. Monks managed to hide the statue of Mary before the destruction. During the 1830’s, Spanish royalty banned religious orders from building monasteries and convents. The present church was built during the 1850’s. Under dictator Francisco Franco, 300 protestors were held as prisoners within the monastery.

The focus of the basilica is the statue of Mary, known as the Virgin of Montserrat, La Moreneta or the Black Madonna. Pilgrims line up along a decorated passageway for the opportunity to spend a few moments alone with her. All but encased in protective glass, only the orb that Mary holds in her hands is available for pilgrims to touch. The site is also home to the Museum of Montserrat, featuring paintings by El Greco, Caravaggio, Money, Picasso and Dalí.

While a modern hotel is located near the abbey, visits to Montserrat are most often taken as day trips from Barcelona. By car, it’s a 30-minute drive from Barcelona to the base of the mountain. Many visitors choose to disembark at the base and ride the cable car up to the abbey site. Visitors may also drive up along a series of switchbacks to the site. Trains take visitors to the base of the mountain from Barcelona’s Plaça d’Espanya. Rack railway is also available up the mountain.


Figueres, Spain

Spain is a country rich in culture and history. Inspiring generations of visitors with the sweeping vistas and stunning mountains, Spain is home to some of the most splendid cities in Europe. Figueres located in Catalonia is often overlooked by tourists who prefer the larger cities that offer more hustle and bustle. Figueres is a charming location well loved by the residents and by those who happen across it.

The city is home to about 40,000 residents. Known for the beaches, the wine, and the gourmet food Figueres offers visitors an array of activities, sights, and sounds.

Dali Egg, Figueres SpainFigueres’ history can be traced to the 10th century and the city enjoys a rich diversity of architectural inspirations taken from nearly every era of its history. The Castell de Sant Ferran is billed as one of the largest castles in all of Europe. Constructed in the 18th century the castle overlooks the city and is a favorite spot for locals. While the grounds are most always open, the interior of the castle can only be viewed during certain time depending upon the season.

SALVADOR DALI MUSEUM IN FIGUERES, SPAINFor those who want to drink in the sights and sounds of Figueres a trip to the Placa de les Patates would be a welcomed diversion. The square is lined with traditional and classical architecture and lined with shade trees visitors can enjoy a lazy afternoon at any of the cafes and small restaurants. When night falls, the square is populated by revelers looking to unwind and relax after a long day.

It is the Dali Museum; however, that remains the biggest draw to the city. Figueres is the birthplace of the eccentric artist Salvador Dali that helped to change the face of art for generations to come. The Teatre-Museu Gala Salvador Dali is not hard to spot. The facade is bright pink decorated in an eccentric style must like Dali himself. Many visitors will spend the entire day roaming the halls and grounds of the museum. It houses the largest collection of Dali’s work including his sculptures and curiosities designed by the artist.

While visitors will find accommodations in Figueres many visitors come by rail from Barcelona. The trip to Figueres averages about 2 hours which makes for a perfect day trip. Figueres is an incredible town ideal for a quick getaway during a visit to Barcelona or an extended stay while in Spain.


Sitges, Spain

Approximately 22 miles south along the Spanish coast from Barcelona is Sitges, a town of about 26,000 which has been celebrating Carnival for over a hundred years. Carnestoltes (Carnival) beginning on Fat Thursday, continuing throughout the week before Lent, promotes nonstop festivities attracting over 250,000 visitors to one of Europe’s most outrageous parties. Beginning when the Carnival King comes back to life on Thursday through two huge parades until the Carnival King and Queen perform a ritual but doomed conflict with the Spirit of Lent on Ash Wednesday, drag queens change costumes to mourning head gear and black dress, screaming and wailing the death of Carnestoltes for another year.

Other than Carnival, Sitges is famed as the home of an international film festival billed as the world’s number one fantasy film celebration. Beginning in 1968 the Festival is an assemblage fantasy and horror movies lovers worldwide. Attendees have included Sir Anthony Hopkins, Jodie Foster, Paul Verhoeven, Jon Voight, Santiago Segura and Quentin Tarantino as well as many others year in and year out during early October.
The economy, based on tourism, offers 5,000 hotel beds weighted heavily with four-star ratings, all of which is easy to understand considering the extensive beaches, exciting nightlife, and active gay accommodations. Yet, it is also charming in winter, although much quieter, with day trips to Barcelona. Never forget that because Sitges’s main industry is tourism, there are many excellent restaurants specializing in seafood as well as local fare.

Sitges began as an agriculture, fishing and commerce center in the 10th century; therefore, its oldest building is the parish church, Eglesia de Sant Bartomeu I Santa Tecla, replete with stone foundations having withstood the past thousand years. By the end of the 16th century monasteries and castles appeared and Sitges became a township, important to American sailing ships by the 18th century. Cau Ferrat museum, commissioned in the late 19th century by Santiago Rusinol, became a center for bohemian art and modernist parties. Paintings by Picasso, El Greco, Miro and Ramon Casas are still shown at Cau Ferrat.

At the border of Catalan wine country, Spanish sparkling wines are in abundance promoting yet another celebration. In August Sitges entertains yet another crowd with its Fiesta Major in honor of Sant Bartomeu parading giant puppets through the streets and executing an outstanding fireworks display at the old cliff-edge church.