Apartments de la Costa Brava.

Costa Brava's History

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Costa BravaCosta Brava Beach

Stretching from Blanes, 60km northeast of Barcelona, to the French border, the coast ranks up there with the Costa Blanca and Costa del Sol as one of Spain’s three great holiday “costas”. But for all the discos, concrete megaliths, English breakfast and Konditoreien (German cake shops), much of the coast has remained untamed. Sheer cliffs, crystal clear water, sand and pebble beaches accessible only on foot, enchanting coastal towns, diving, wild and woolly coastal walking path and high winding drives combine to make much of this coast a joy. There is always some hidden “cala” (a small beach on an inlet) to discover.

The country varies with astounding, rapidity. The southern half of the coast, hilly and pine-covered, gives way to several flatter stretches before reaching the lunar-locking Cap de Creus peninsula. Beyond, on the final stretch to the French frontier, the terraced contour of the green hills appear as so many natural stadiums looking seawards.

Inland, the story also changes. Rolling hills, sunflower fields and the deep green carpets of grass and wheat in spring, unfold like a patchwork quilt before you. Sprinkled in among it all is a series of warm stone inland again stands the proud medieval city of Girona, and Figueres, famous for its bizarre Teatre Museu Dalí, the foremost of a series of sites associated with the eccentric surrealist artist Salvador Dalí.

The Costa Brava does get packed in the second half of July and August. June and September are a pleasant couple of degrees cooler than July and August, while May and October can be nicely warm. Sea temperatures hold up well through September. Beware however in particular you must be prepared for anything. When the howling tramuntana blows, whipping up the sea into an oceanic frenzy and making the simplest operations (like closing doors and windows) a challenge, you simply have to sit it out. It is fair to stay that the weather is lees predictable on the Costa Brava than south of Barcelona.


The ruggedness of the Costa Brava continues into the sea, providing some of the best diving in Spain. In some spots remarkable crimson coral, an increasingly rare item in the Mediterranean, still thrives. Approved tourist diving centres with certified instructors operate at a dozen or more places. The Illes Medes off L’Estartit are a group of protected islets off the coast between Palamós and Calella de Palafurgell with waters down to 45m, and Els Ullastres, three underwater hills off Llafranc with some sheer walls and depths to 54m.

Getting there & away

Direct buses from Barcelona go to most towns on and near the Costa Brava. The railway between Barcelona and the coastal border town of Portbou runs inland most of the way, through Girona and Figueres there are fairly good bus services to the coast. The main bus company operating along and around the coast is SARFA.

In summer, you could take an alternative approach to the southern Costa Brava from Barcelona by a combination of suburban radalies train and boat.

The A-7 toll road and the toll-free N-II highway both run from Barcelona via Girona and Figueres to the French border a few kilometers north of La Junquera. The C-32 foll road follows the N-II up the coast and inland to Girona and Figueres.

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