Bear with me and forget anything anyone has ever said to you about the Costa Brava being too built up and concrete-y – these pockets do exist but they’re small – the rest still deserves its name in the original Spanish: Wild Coast. Great swathes of the coastline are far too rugged and dramatic to become overdeveloped – here the buildings really have to cling to the edge of the land. No matter how pink-tinged and gorgeous the sandy seascape is, the cliffs and coves are just too wind-buffeted to build seriously on. And these dramatic stretches, and the glorious rural interior, are the ‘bits’ I want to draw your attention to.
Pretty, sleepy Begur, which has gorgeous beaches and excellent restaurants and is only about an hour north of Barcelona, but has not a high-rise in sight. And Cadaques, which inspired Dali with its sparkling blue views. And the numerous stone villages, which are slightly orange coloured and bare, and the hilltop ones, with their medieval centres and magical views… As you might have guessed from the lyricism in my introduction, the Costa Brava is rather a favourite of mine. And yet so often when I tell people that’s where I’m headed over the summer I get a sense of a slightly turned up nose. However, that really is their loss…
Where to Stay?
For the Ultimate in Elegant Luxury
The Hostal de La Gavina is a five star hotel of the classical variety – the kind with elegant rooms filled with antiques, sprawling terraces and a beautiful restaurant and spa. As well as all the hotel facilities, the views are incredible, and you’re right on the beach front. There are 74 rooms, with rates starting from around £280 per night. But it’s worth it to feel like a film star.
For a Country Escape
Mas Falgarona was built in the 17th century as a farmhouse, but has been stylishly converted into a boutique hotel. This old Catalan beauty has kept her thick stone walls and exposed beams, but the interior decor is a more modern kind of chic. The setting is serene, and, as well as having a lovely pool and sunny terraces, there’s also a wonderful kitchen garden where much of the produce served in the restaurant is grown. There are just 13 rooms, with rates starting from around £170 per night. The location is just inland from Figueres.
To Be Right on the Beach
The Hotel Aigua Blava is a perfectly equipped seaside hotel on a collection of small sandy beaches close to Begur. There are 85 rooms, suites and apartments, all decorated in neutral tones, and many with private terraces and balconies. This is the kind of hotel you don’t need to leave, with a salt water pool, tennis courts, a great restaurant and a choice of bars onsite. And of course, a range of watersports facilities to make full use of the fantastic location. Rooms start from around £130 per night.
For Affordable Romance
L’Hort de Sant Cebrià is a beautiful Catalan country house covered in sprawling vines and overlooking a garden filled with herbs and roses, and a fountain or two. There are just five bedrooms – but only children over 12 are welcome. They’ll do meals by arrangement in their simple dining room or on the shady terrace. It’s located between Figueres and the Gulf of Roses and rooms start from around £90 per night.
If you like your accommodation small and family run then L’Horta d’en Rahola is perfect for you. The location couldn’t be better: on the Cap de Creus Peninsula in Cadaques, just 400metres from the coast, and the decor in the four rooms is nautical-ish. There’s a lovely garden and a traditional, rustic Spanish restaurant which is very popular with locals. You’re welcome to take some cooking classes while you stay. Rooms start from under £100 per night.
Practical Details: There are three international airports which can be said to serve the Costa Brava region. Girona-Costa Brava Airport is, arguably, closest to the prettiest parts the region, and is well connected to London Luton. But busier Barcelona-El Prat Airport will probably be an easier airport for many of us to get to – from here it’s about another two hours travel time to the Costa Brava. The third option is Reus Airport, which also involves travel at the arrivals end, but which is really well connected to UK airports during the summer months, so it might come up in your searches.
Weather wise, the Costa Brava is known for being beautiful all year round. Spring is perfect for walking and cycling, and the region’s Easter festivities are incredible – book now for next year, it’ll be worth it. Summer is buzzy and beautiful – and it’s not a negative to say that it’s cooler and damper than than much of coastal Spain, it’s a relief! But temperatures still get up around 30°C in July and August. The Costa Brava is still sunny and warm into September, and the maximum average is still 22°C in October. Even in autumn and winter there are still plenty of sunny days.
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