Costa Brava destination guide

By | Category: Travel destinations

The Costa Brava has its critics, but a holiday here can be a delight. Your definitive guide to this beautiful stretch of Catalan coastline starts here

Things to do on the Costa Brava
There’s more to life than work. More to experience than the 8.25am train or the M25 and it’s time to do something about it. What you need is a break on the Costa Brava where you can be as active or as lazy – tanning with long limbed locals on a stretch of fine golden sand anyone? – as you like.
The ‘rugged coast’ does indeed boast an abundance of beaches (Platja Castell, Platja Pals and Cap de Crues get our vote) where you can feel the sun on your back, but if rocky coves and pina coladas aren’t you idea of paradise, don’t despair.
For cultural enlightenment, check out the bizarre Teatre Museu Dali  in Figueres where you get to take a trip through one of the most fertile imaginations of the 20th century: this purple pink building devoted to Dali, is worth every Euro. Other musts include the towering monastery of St Pere de Rodes and the gem that is Girona: be sure to spend a morning or afternoon wandering around the cobbled streets of this well preserved medieval centre.
Adventure junkies, meanwhile, will be in their element:  the Costa Brava boasts some of the best diving in the whole of Spain. Standout spots include Els Ullastres, which has three underwater hills, and Illes Formigues. Back on dry land, the mountainous backdrop makes the Costa Brava a haven for mountain biking and walking.
Families aren’t forgotten about either: the Aquabrava water park with its rides and slides will keep little ones occupied and entertained for hours while their Mums can shop up a storm in Catalonia’s cool capital, Barcelona.
Add in the fact that the region can be reached in less than three hours and doesn’t require a string of vaccinations and it’s easy to understand the Costa Brava’s short break appeal…

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Weather on the Costa Brava
If you’re after a quick dose of guaranteed sunshine, Spain’s ‘Rugged Coast’ will suffice. It might not be as sunny, say, as the Costas further south but, nonetheless, the sun still shines an average of 12 hours a day during July and August and six hours a day during December – what’s not to like?

In summer, the Costa Brava’s climate can climb as high as 30C – perfect for basking in the sun’s rays. The temperature drops during the winter months (and you won’t see any locals soaking up the surf after October as the waters are cold enough to keep out even the keenest of swimmers), but you can still hope for the mercury to be hovering relatively high at around 16C – even in January. Spring and autumn are warm and the ideal time to indulge in an alfresco lunch or play a round of golf on one of the Costa Brava’s many courses.

Nightlife on the Costa Brava
If you’ve come to the Costa Brava in search of rest and relaxation, you’ve arrived in the wrong place. If, however, you’re looking for nightlife you won’t be disappointed! Mile for mile, the sheer array of pubs, bars, restaurants, discos, clubs and cafes makes London or New York seem almost provincial.
One of the best places to party on the Costa Brava is in the picturesque village of Tossa de Mar – one of the first places on the Costa to attract foreign visitors. Many of the most pumping bars are along and near Carrer de Sant Josep in the Old Town; here you can make like the locals and sip sangria or an ice cold Spanish beer before salsa-ing the night away.
Like your nightlife bigger and brasher? Time then, to take a taxi to Loret de Mar. The resort has undergone a renaissance and its pretty, palm lined promenades are brimming with bars and a cornucopia of clubs where you can body bop until you drop with a mix of nationalities. Whichever night spot you seek out, you’ll find that morning comes too soon – but you can always blow away your hangover on one of the glorious beaches that dot the Costa Brava’s coastline.
Of course the Costa Brava’s night scene isn’t only about drinking and dancing. Catalan cooking ranks up there among Spain’s best and, as such, a holiday here is as much about spending an evening in a taverna or tapas bar trying Spanish specialities as it is about dancing until dawn. One of the best known and most popular Spanish dishes is Paella, a moreish mix of rice, sea food and vegetables. Other treats to tempt your taste buds include fideua (sea food noodles) and arros negre – rice cooked in cuttlefish ink. It might sound dubious, but trust us: it’s awesome.

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Beaches on the Costa Brava
Attempting to pick the most beautiful beach on the Costa Brava is like trying to pick the spottiest dog in a kennel full of Dalmatians. Since you ask however, Tossa de Mar’s glorious golden sands – pictured on every postcard – can claim top spot. Tossa de Mar boasts two ‘Blue Flag’ beaches ( the blue flag is only granted to beaches that meet the  criteria for excellence in everything from cleanliness to the quantity of lifeguards) backed by bars and cafes,  making it especially suitable for families. Nonetheless for all its fame, the coves and bays at Tossa de Mar remain remarkably unspoilt compared to others in the area and – apart from the peak summer months of July and August – you can still stroll along the sand before breakfast and barely see another soul.
Tossa’s relaxing sand and shingle beaches are a world away from those at lively Lloret de Mar: for people watching at its most intoxicating, you can’t beat the beaches at this trendy resort. There are five to choose from – Lloret de Mar itself (the biggest at 1km in length), Sanat Cristina, Canqelles and Sa Baoudella. Regardless of where you end up laying your towel, expect to see couples strolling hand in hand while young hip things power strut past hardcore surfers – the waters are too enticing to pass up a water sport session.
Then there’s Cadaques – a favourite of both Picasso and Salvador Dali – to consider. It was Dali who declared back in 1920: “I have spent a delightful summer, as always, in the perfect and dreamy town of Cadaqués. There, alongside the Latin sea, I have been quenched by light and colour”. The surreal artist’s words still ring true today: the fusion of wind, sea, light and rock make this a magical place to soak up the sun. Don’t believe us? Just ask Walt Disney, the Duke of Windsor, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Mick Jagger – all of whom, at some time or other, have stayed and played here.

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