The Costa Brava. OK, so it does have a bit of a package-holiday-y-destination concrete-high-rise reputation, but beyond the pockets of development, the Costa Brava – or ‘wild coast’ is rugged and dramatic, with pink-tinged coves and wind-buffeted cliffs which have proved too much of a challenge to developers thus far.
If you head north out of Barcelona, which we did, you’ll inadvertently come upon the wooded hills and secluded bays of the Costa Brava and wonder where you are – surely this is some un-recorded slice of paradise along the Mediterranean coast? But no, it’s the Costa Brava – can you imagine our surprise?! Why don’t you surprise yourself too, in one of these special spots, which we came upon like magic, driving around the bay…?
Begur – With a Beautiful Beach for Everyone
Begur is charming, peaceful and relaxing. Just the place to play some golf, swim in the sea, and take a stroll in the countryside and spend a long time over lunch. Begur has beautiful Spanish and Moorish architecture, and a medieval castle atop its hill. Restaurants are plentiful and of a high quality. And the coves and beaches, which are some of the best on the Costa Brava, in their perfect golden-peach hues, are more chi-chi than sunburned revellers – Begur is not the Costa Brava of the package holiday!
Where to Stay? Hotel Moli del Mig is a 15th century mill beautifully converted into an idyllic country spa hotel within easy reach of the Mediterranean. The sympathetic conversion is complemented by an ultra modern extension which has been architecturally designed to blend into the rural landscape and maximise the views. So you’re perfectly located for both the beach and for the pretty rural interior. There are 32 rooms, which start from only €105 per night including breakfast.
Or what about El Convent de Begur, an 18th century convent turned four star hotel, just 600 metres from one of Begur’s best beaches? The Convent’s 25 rooms have been converted from the original cells, and still have their simple tiled floors, plus beautiful views over the gardens and there’s a restaurant which serves modern Catalan cuisine. Doubles here cost from €142 per night B&B this summer.
Or try the Cap Sa Sal. It has a beautiful cliff top position, plus rooms and apartments decorated in a classic Mediterranean style. The ocean views are spectacular and they do wonderful home-cooked meals. Choose between the ten adults-only hotel rooms or larger apartments which are ideal for small groups or families. Adults-only hotel rooms start from around €305 per night including breakfast.
Practical Details: The closest main town to the Hotel Moli del Mig is Begur, which is about an hour’s drive north of Barcelona. If you’re flying you can either travel there, or to Girona, which is only 45kms away, and is linked to Luton, Stansted, Edinburgh and Dublin, among others.
In summer you can expect daily maximums of around 26°C, so it’s pleasantly warm and sunny.
The Gulf of Roses – for the Sparkling Mediterranean
If you want to dive or sail, or hike mountains or explore prehistoric monuments and ruins, then the Gulf of Roses is ideal for you. There’s more than six kilometres of beach and coves along this stretch of coast, with canals and clear, shallow waters. This is a wonderful place for families, but also ripe for relaxing, or for a series of adventures in the water or around it.
Where to Stay? Boutique Hotel Can Pico is a traditional 17th century Catalan farmhouse converted to a charming hotel, surrounded by its own vineyards. There’s a beautiful pool and verdant gardens, and you’re close to the beach. Rooms are light and airy with whitewashed walls and splashes of modern art. There are eight rooms, and they start from around €150 per night.
Hostal Empuries is one of Europe’s friendliest eco-resorts – but with plenty of added extras. Built right next to Greco Roman ruins, this is anther crafty blend of traditional and modern with interiors to suit both tastes, plus a top notch spa and two excellent restaurants. There are 53 rooms and suites, suitable for families and groups as well as couples, and they start from €175 per night B&B this summer.
Practical Details: The nearest major airport to the Boutique Hotel Can Pico is Girona, which is an ancient Catalan city with a reputation for delicious cuisine and fantastic Modernist and Art Nouveau architecture. Girona’s airport is called the Girona-Costa-Brava Airport, so it’s clear who it serves! Girona is well connected to the UK, but if you can’t find a flight you might want to look at flying into Barcelona. During the summer months Girona can expect maximum daily temperatures of between 29 and 30°C, but it’s much cooler once you get close to the coast.
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