Spain’s Costa Brava is a popular holiday destination with cozy seaside resorts and beautiful hiking trails. These are the best things to do in Costa Brava.
Where is the Costa Brava located?
The Costa Brava is a coastal strip in northeastern Spain. The northernmost point of the Costa Brava is Portbou (near the French border) and the southernmost point is Blanes. The area falls under Catalonia.
Is visiting Costa Brava fun? Absolutely. The Costa Brava has something for everyone: beautiful authentic Spanish towns and villages, beautiful beaches, and fine quiet hiking trails in the mountains. The Costa Brava is a popular vacation destination in Spain for a reason.
Fun detail: world-famous Spanish painter Salvador Dalí lived most of his life in the Costa Brava and they are very proud of that. You will therefore come across many sights related to this surrealist painter in this list of best things to do in Costa Brava.
Best things to do in Costa Brava
What are the most beautiful Costa Brava sights? These are 20 fun things to do and the most beautiful Costa Brava attractions.
The beautiful coastal town of Llançà was my first introduction to the Costa Brava and I was an instant fan. It is beautifully located on the coast, with many beautiful beaches and several hiking trails in the area.
The town has a nice center where you will find many restaurants and cafes to drink a glass of wine and eat some tapas. A good place to start your Costa Brava vacation in a relaxed way.
- Hotel tip: Hotel Carbonell – Nice 2* hotel in the cozy center of Llançà with a pool and fitness.
The fishing village of Cadaqués is a true gem. It is a bit off the route and you get there via a winding road through the mountains. Tucked away in a bay (with lots of beautiful little beaches), the village is full of white houses.
It was a popular place for artists, so it is not surprising that Salvador Dalí lived here. Cadaquès is a wonderful place to spend a day exploring.
- Hotel tip: Boutique Hotel Villa Gala – Beautifully decorated 4* hotel with pool and sea views.
The house of Dalí in Port Lligat
Port Lligat is a small village located next to Cadaqués and this is where Salvador Dalí created many of his famous works. You can tell immediately by the unusual shapes of this house that it is an artist’s home.
The villa is now a museum (Casa-Museu Salvador Dalí) and truly one of the most beautiful Costa Brava sights. It got this shape because Dalí and his wife Gala thought of the house as an organic structure. Something new was added each time, making it a very unusual house.
Tip! Book your tickets to visit Casa-Museu Salvador Dalí well in advance. Only a limited number of people are allowed into the house each day. Check this website for tickets and prices.
- Hotel tip: Hotel Calina – A nice 3* hotel with a large pool just 50 meters from Casa-Museu Salvador Dalí.
Cap de Creus
Just north of Cadaqués and Port Lligat is the Cap de Creus nature reserve. It is a peninsula and the easternmost point of mainland Spain. There are hardly any trees and it is very rugged and rocky. Painter Salvador Dalí drew much inspiration from this landscape.
There are many hiking trails on the Cap de Creus and going to the lighthouse is highly recommended. From here you have a beautiful view of the sea and the nature reserve.
Girona (also known as Gerona) is the largest city in this beautiful Spanish region and definitely worth a visit if you are there. It has a beautiful historic city center, full of narrow streets and steps. A great place to wander around and rest on one of the many terraces.
For fans of Game of Thrones: for the last few seasons, a lot of filming was done in Girona, so you might recognize parts of King’s Landing and Braavos.
- Hotel tip: Hotel Nord 1901 – A beautiful 4* hotel in the middle of the old town. It is truly an oasis of tranquility with a beautiful pool and modern furnished rooms.
- Fun thing to thing to do: City tour with a small group. Three-hour tour accompanied by an expert guide through the city’s most beautiful sites.
Read more: 10 fun things to do in Girona
Lloret de Mar
Lloret de Mar is known as a party destination and that’s exactly what it is. So if you feel like going out, dancing all night, and relaxing on the beach, Lloret de Mar is a perfect base for a Costa Brava vacation.
- Hotel tip: Delamar 4*Sup-Adults only – Nice luxury 4* hotel with a nice outdoor pool and cozy relaxation areas.
- Fun thing to do: Get out on the water for a day with this fine catamaran sailing trip with a barbecue.
Water World Aquatic Park
Just outside Lloret de Mar is one of the largest water theme parks in Europe: Water World Aquatic Park. The place to feel like a kid again or to take your kids when you’re on a family holiday. There are several fun tidal pools, lots of (fast) water slides, and a rafting river.
Water World Aquatic Park is a perfect place to cool off and have fun for all ages.
Hiking tip: the Camí de Ronda
The coast of Costa Brava is quite rugged and has hundreds of beautiful coves, hidden beaches, and picturesque villages. Along the coast runs a long 190-kilometer hiking trail called the Camí de Ronda (also known as the GR92).
You don’t have to walk it all the way, of course; a short stretch is also possible. During your hike, you can expect lots of stairs and great views. A great way to explore, relax and enjoy the views.
Read more: Hiking Camí de Ronda | Costa Brava, Spain
Roses is also a very pleasant beach town on the Costa Brava. It is somewhat known as a holiday destination for seniors, but it’s a fun place to visit for everyone. Besides beautiful large sandy beaches, Roses has a cozy center with narrow streets where you can wander around.
- Hotel tip: 1935 Hotel Boutique by Terraza – 4* hotel with nicely decorated rooms and close to the beach.
- Fun thing to do: Catamaran trip to Cap de Creus. Includes snorkeling and BBQ.
Not far from Roses is the seaside town of Empuriabrava. What makes this place so special are its 30 kilometers of canals. It is therefore also known as the Venice of Spain. The best way to explore this seaside town is to rent a boat and go boating.
- Hotel tip: Port Salins – Great 4* hotel right overlooking the harbor. It also has a large swimming pool and there is a cozy rooftop terrace with a jacuzzi.
The town of Figueres is world famous thanks to Salvador Dalí. Indeed, Figueres is home to the Teatre-Museu Dalí. A very special building that Dalí himself decorated as a museum in the 1970s. In the museum, you will find as many as 1,500 of his works. Dalí is also buried in this museum.
In addition, Figueres has a beautiful historic center and you can enjoy wandering the streets here. Here you’ll also see beautiful artworks, as you can read in this Costa Brava guide.
Another interesting sight in Figueres is Castell de Sant Ferran located just outside the city. This is a ruin of a large military fort and prison from the eighteenth century.
- Order your tickets for Teatre-Museu Dalí here and skip the line.
- Hotel tip: Hotel Pirineos – Cozy 4* hotel in the city center of Figueres.
The southernmost resort on the Costa Brava is the well-known Blanes. This place is also known as a party destination, but there is much more to see and do.
One of the most important Blanes attractions is the Jardin Botanique Marimurtra, a beautiful botanical garden. And the best view is from Castell de Sant Joan de Blanes, a former fortress that has stood here since the 13th century.
- Buy your tickets for the Jardin Botanique Marimurtra here.
- Hotel tip: Hotel Beverly Park & Spa – Modern 4* hotel in a quieter part of Blanes on the beach. This hotel has a spa with a hot tub, steam room, and sauna.
Tossa De Mar
Picturesque Tossa de Mar is one of the most beautiful seaside resorts in Spain. It has a beautiful old center full of narrow alleys and steps. A real eye-catcher is Vila Vella a castle on the rocks. Tossa de Mar is a great place for a beach vacation combined with culture.
- Hotel tip: Boutique Hotel Casa Granados – Superb 4* hotel in a restored mansion from the nineteenth century.
Empordà wine region
Empordà is the hinterland of the Costa Brava and there are an awful lot of vineyards here. And the wine from Costa Brava is very tasty! So if you’re a wine lover, it is highly recommended to go on an Empordà wine tour and taste the delicious wines.
- During this Local Wineries Tour with breakfast and wine tasting, you will learn how local wine is made and taste some 15 different wines. Starting point: Girona.
Castell Gala Dalí de Púbol
Púbol is a small inland village about 25 kilometers east of Girona. It is best known for the Castle of Púbol (Castell Gala Dalí de Púbol). A very old building from the 11th century, it was purchased by Salvador Dalí in 1969 as a gift to his wife Gala as a place of rest and refuge.
The castle is now a museum and in the castle and gardens, you can still see many influences and works of this famous artist.
Hiking in the Serra de Rodes
The northeast of Spain is a paradise for hiking enthusiasts, everywhere you can find beautiful hiking trails. One of the most beautiful hikes I did there myself was in the mountains, the Serra de Rodes.
We hiked from Port de la Selva through the Serra de Rodes to Llançà. A fantastic trip past olive trees, a small mountain village (La Vall de Santa Creu), the impressive Sant Pere de Rodes (a monastery), lots of cacti, and beautiful views everywhere.
Palamós is famous because of a special shrimp called Gamba de Palamós. And yes, this place is bursting with delicious seafood restaurants. Want to know more about fishing in the Costa Brava? Then a visit to the fishing museum is a must.
In addition, Palamós has an endless sandy beach where you can relax and take long beach walks.
- Hotel tip: Casa Vincke Hotel – The fantastic building alone makes you want to sleep here. It is a small-scale 4* hotel with different types of rooms in a villa. In de mooie tuin ligt een fijn zwembad.
Snorkeling at the Illes Medes
Just off the coast of the resort town of L’Estartit are the Illes Medes, or Medes Islands. This is a perfect place to discover the underwater world of the Costa Brava on a snorkeling tour.
- Hotel tip: Hotel Santa Anna – Fine 3* hotel just 100 meters from the port.
- Also a fun thing to do: Go on a sea kayaking trip to the Illes Medes.
Begur is one of the most photogenic places in Costa Brava. It is located on a hill and you can still see many historical monuments here. In the center is a medieval castle and from here you have a fantastic view.
In addition, the place has several beautiful bays. For example, it is really recommended to visit Sa Tuna, one of the most beautiful beaches in Spain.
- Hotel tip: La Bionda Hotel – Adults Only – The best hotel in Begur. 4*, beautifully decorated and fully equipped for your needs.
Enjoy the delicious food
Everywhere in Costa Brava, you can eat delicious food. The menu features mostly tapas and paella (the paella in Spain is my favorite meal, it’s so good!), and of course, fresh fish is available in many places. In the afternoon, you can order a cheap, but delicious menu del dia at most restaurants. This is usually a three-course meal including wine. Enjoy your meal!
A few additional Costa Brava Tips
What else should you know before booking a Costa Brava vacation?
- In Costa Brava, they speak two languages: Catalan and Spanish. So you see both languages a lot, including on signs and menus in restaurants. In addition, many people also speak English because many tourists are visiting Costa Brava every year.
- It is often thought that Barcelona is also in the Costa Brava, but that is not the case. Barcelona is located in the Costa de Maresme.
- The best time for visiting the Costa Brava is from May through October. Then you will have pleasant temperatures and you can swim in the sea. If you do not like crowds, then it is wise to avoid the months of July and August, as that is when the Costa Brava can get very crowded.
Book a vacation to the Costa Brava
Do you want to go on vacation to Costa Brava Spain? These are useful websites to book your Costa Brava vacation:
- Costa Brava is easily accessible by public transportation. For example, there are high-speed trains between Paris and Figueres, and Girona. Check Rail Europe for international train tickets and for train tickets within Spain.
- Do you prefer to travel by bus? Check Busbud or Omio for tickets.
- Arriving by plane? The nearest international airports are in Girona and Barcelona. Find the cheapest flights with WayAway, a flight aggregator that provides travelers with the best rates on airline tickets.
- Do you want as much freedom as possible when you’re exploring the most beautiful places in Costa Brava? Get yourself a rental car! Check Rental Cars and Discover Cars to find the best deals.
- As for me, travel insurance is a necessary component of any trip, if you want to be calm in every unexpected event during your journey. So, I suggest you choose Insubuy. It is currently the largest provider of visitor insurance. You will definitely find the most appropriate insurance plan that suits your trip!
Read more about a vacation in Spain
After reading this article, are you totally in the mood for a vacation to the Costa Brava in Spain? I can totally relate, I almost booked a trip to visit the Costa Brava again while writing this article, haha! Order one of these travel guides for even more tips & inspiration:
From the golden beaches on the Mediterranean coast to the wild peaks of the Pyrenees, Spain's varied landscape is a treasure trove for outdoor enthusiasts. But its cities are just as enticing. Discover architectural wonders, Roman ruins, captivating museums and, to top it all off, a tantalizing cuisine complemented by world-class wine.
You can also read a lot about traveling in Spain on this website. Check out one of these articles:
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This article was published in August 2017. Last update with even more tips: September 2022.
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