Spain's rugged and cliff-edged Costa Brava (or Wild Coast) features some of the most picturesque scenery in the Mediterranean and stretches for 153km along the northeast coast of Spain from Blanes, north of Barcelona, to Cadaques near the French border.
Amid this scenic beauty lie several coastal resort towns that offer the perfect location for a honeymoon or romantic getaway holiday.
Indented with soaring cliffs and picturesque pine-fringed coves edged by golden-sand beaches and crystalline turquoise water, the Costa Brava offers perfect conditions for swimming and snorkelling as well as for experiencing a range of activities in several distinct holiday resorts.
Discover the vibrant party town of Lloret de Mar, renowned for its vibrant nightlife and packed with bars and dance clubs – perfect for fun-loving honeymoon couples.
Or visit the less crowded and very beautiful medieval walled town of Tossa de Mar, blessed with golden-sand beaches, bustling Playa d’Aro and its range of nightlife options, and unspoiled Playa de Palamós, which leads to the stunning Palafrugell coastline and its idyllic coves of Llafranc, Tamariu and d’Aigua Blava.
The Costa Brava's most popular beach resorts, include…
This popular holiday resort is well known for its huge range of hotels, bars, discos and nightclubs, as well as for its five golden-sand beaches that lie within easy reach of the town centre and fringe picturesque coves set between tree-covered headlands to the north and south of the town.
Away from the beach, Lloret de Mar offers several theme parks featuring a giant catapult at Skyrider, which shoots passengers some 70m into the air, a choice of white-knuckle rides and chutes at Water World and go-karts at nearby Karting Formula – perfect for thrill-seeking honeymoon couples.
Read more about Lloret de Mar…
The picturesque and historic town sits behind a golden-sand beach and offers a quiet alternative to the more commercial resort of Lloret de Mar.
Unwind on a choice of pristine beaches then stroll around the Old Quarter (or Vila Vella), which was built on the site of a 1st century AD Roman villa and surrounded by ancient medieval walls and turrets.
Discover narrow and twisting cobblestoned streets lined with whitewashed houses dating back to the 12th century.
Read more about Tossa de Mar…
Discover Spain's easternmost town – an unspoiled and remote picture-perfect fishing village that sprawls across several small coves surrounding a beautiful inlet.
Wander narrow twisting streets lined with old whitewashed houses topped with red roofs and overlooked by the charming 16th century Església de Santa María (church), which sits perched on a hilltop overlooking the village and its small golden-sand and shingle beach.
Stroll along the waterfront, pop into the Gothic church to see its Baroque alter and see artworks by Dalí in the Museo de Cadaqués. Even better, take a 30-minute walk to the nearby Port Lligat, where you can visit the artist’s summer home, now a small museum known as Casa-Museu Salvador Dalí and featuring two of his paintings. The former fisherman’s house and its egg-shaped towers face a small beach.
After dark, head to the famous L'Hostal, rated by some music critics as the second-best jazz club in Europe.
Cadaques sits beneath the dramatic Cap de Creus mountain range and is easily reached by bus or car along a winding mountain road from the nearby town of Rosas. Or hike the coastal path from Rosas, which stretches for 15km and passes several bays and beaches along the way.
Cadaques is the last resort on the Costa Brava before the French border, around 196km north of Barcelona and 31km east of Figueres.
Must-see attractions on the Costa Brava, include…
Girona is one of the most important historical sites in Spain. The city was once a Moorish stronghold before falling under French rule following countless sieges.
Stroll the ancient stone footbridge across the Onyar River into the Call, the labyrinthine Old Quarter crammed with steep and narrow alleyways and cobblestone lanes lined with ancient stone houses.
Climb the 17th century baroque staircase of 86 steep steps to the magnificent 14th century cathedral. Inside, discover the widest Gothic nave (23m) in Europe.
Don't miss the Tapestry of the Creation, a unique 11th or 12th century Romanesque embroidery depicting humans and animals in the Garden of Eden.
See also one of the world's rarest manuscripts – the 10th century Códex del Beatus, containing an illustrated commentary on the Book of the Apocalypse.
Check out the 12th century Moorish baths (Banys Arabs) then see artworks spanning 10 centuries at the Museu d'Art. This former Romanesque and Gothic Episcopal palace also houses an altarpiece of Sant Pere of Púbol and the altarpiece of Sant Miguel de Crüilles, both of which date from the 15th century. Nearby sits an altar stone of Sant Pere de Roda, dating from the 10th and 11th centuries.
Girona is located 97km (60mi) northeast of Barcelona, 39km (24mi) northeast of Lloret de Mar and 90km (56mi) south of Perpignan, France.
From Barcelona the fast TALGO train takes only 30 minutes to rach Girona. Apart from a frequent train service there are also buses to and from Barcelona as well as to the nearby towns of Tossa and Lloret.
Lying in the heart of Catalonia, around 20km from Roses, Figueres is famous as the home of the Dalí Museum, which pays homage to one of Spain and Europe’s most famous artists – Salvador Dalí.
Inside the Teatre Museu Dalí, discover a fabulous collection of paintings, watercolours, gouaches, charcoals, pastels, prints and sculptures. Figueres is located 219km north of Barcelona.
Wander around Greco-Roman ruins that were founded in 575 BC. See remains of a palaechristian basilica, Roman walls and a well-preserved floor of mosiacs.
Catalonia's most important archaeological site is located around 4km north of L'Escala, around 50km east of Girona and 28km south of Roses.
This imposing monastery is easily reached by driving along a winding switchback road followed by a 20-minute walk.
Built by Benedictine monks in the 10th and early 11th centuries, the Romanesque monastery offers a breathtaking panorama of the Pyrenees, the Bay of Roses and Cap de Creus.
Sant Pere de Rodes is located 7km from the fishing village of El Port de la Selva, which is in turn around 13km from Cadaques.
Discover a riot of Catalan culture in a cosmopolitan city like no other.
Get lost in the narrow medieval alleyways of Barri Gòtic, stroll along Barcelona’s popular boulevard Las Ramblas and admire the surreal work of Gaudi, the city’s infamous architect – don’t miss his impressive Sagrada Familia and the lovely works in Park Güell.
Drop into the Museo Picasso to marvel at some of Picasso’s earliest works and discover a riot of colour at the Joan Miro Foundation.
Relax at a pavement table at one of the city’s trendy bars and restaurants, savouring a selection of delicious tapas washed down with a cool cerveza (beer).
Discover a choice of stunning Blue Flag golden-sand beaches along the Costa Brava, which lie within tree-covered headlands framing idyllic coves and offer perfect conditions for swimming and snorkelling.
Here is a selection of the best Costa Brava beaches, running north from Barcelona to the French border…
(Lloret de Mar) – Dig your toes into the soft golden sand of this 45m-wide, 1.6km-long beach that curves around the bay.
Sitting framed between two rocky headlands, the long beach is lined with hotels, bars and restaurants.
Facilities include parasols and sun loungers for hire, toilets, showers, ramps for people with disabilities, lifeguards, regular police patrols and a range of water sports including windsurfing and sailing. Lloret de Mar is located 76km north of Barcelona.
(Lloret de Mar) – This 700m-long golden-sand beach nestles between bush-covered headlands and is fringed by a line of pine trees.
Fenals is a quiet alternative to the main beach of Lloret de Mar and offers good swimming and snorkelling in a calm turquoise bay.
Facilities include parasols and sun loungers for hire, toilets, showers, ramps for people with disabilities, lifeguards, regular police patrols, a range of water sports and nearby bars and cafes.
(Lloret de Mar) – Discover this small crescent of golden sand and shingle nestling between bush-covered hills in a tranquil, unspoiled cove of turquoise water.
There are no facilities here except for a kiosk selling ice cream and cold drinks. Playa de Santa Boadella is located 2.5km south of Lloret de Mar.
(Lloret de Mar) – Unwind on this small, 365m-long golden-sand beach that offers a range of facilities including parasols and sun loungers for hire, toilets, showers, ramps for people with disabilities, lifeguards and regular police patrols, but no water sports.
Playa de Santa Cristina is around 3.5km south of Lloret de Mar.
(Lloret de Mar) – Dig your toes into the soft golden sand of this crescent-shaped beach that nestles beneath pine trees and tree-covered headlands.
Facilities include parasols and sun loungers for hire, toilets, showers, ramps for people with disabilities, lifeguards, regular police patrols and a range of water sports as well as nearby bars and cafes. Canyelles is located 3km north of Lloret de Mar.
(Santa Maria de Llorell) – Relax on this idyllic, unspoiled beach that nestles beneath low bush-covered cliffs and rocky headlands.
There are no facilities on this beach. Cala Llevado is located 14km north of Lloret de Mar and 3km south of Tossa de Mar.
(Tossa de Mar) – Unwind on this 430m-long crescent of course golden sand that sits between a medieval castle and a rocky headland.
The 60m-wide beach is edged by the town centre and offers a range of facilities including parasols and sun loungers for hire. Tossa de Mar Playa Gran is located around 103km north of Barcelona.
(Tossa de Mar) – This 180m-long, 20m-wide golden-sand beach is a less-crowded alternative to Playa Gran and offers a beautiful setting between rocky outcrops facing a turquoise bay as well as great conditions for swimming and snorkelling.
With limited facilities on the beach, it’s probably best to take your own food and drink.
(Tossa de Mar) – This small, golden-sand beach sits beneath soaring cliffs and the castle walls of Tossa de Mar. With limited facilities, it’s probably best to take your own food and drink.
(Playa d’Aro) – Pick your own spot to sunbathe and swim on this wide, 2km-long golden-sand beach that sits in front of a strip of bars, restaurants and high-rise hotels.
To the south and north lie smaller coves fringed by crescents of golden sand, for those sunbathers craving solitude.
Cliffs and rocky outcrops at the northern end of the beach are perfect for snorkelling.
Facilities include parasols and sun loungers for hire, toilets, showers, ramps for people with disabilities, lifeguards, regular police patrols and a range of water sports as well as nearby bars and cafes.
Inland sits Castell d'Aro, a medieval castle and fortified church located in the ancient village around 3km from the beach.
Come for a day or stay longer at the Hostal de la Gavina in the nearby town of S'Agaro, home to the rich and famous. Playa d'Aro is located in the heart of the Costa Brava, around 106km north of Barcelona.
(Palamós) – Unwind on this stunning crescent of golden sand that nestles between forest-covered hills facing a turquoise cove.
Swim and snorkel the crystalline waters, sunbathe on the soft golden sand and explore the neighbouring coves on foot along an old smugglers' trail that winds along the coast – don’t miss the ancient Iberian settlement that sits perched on a headland on the northern tip of Playa de Castell.
As there are no facilities here except for a beachside kiosk selling cold beers and seafood, it’s probably best to take your own food and drink.
Playa de Castell is located between Palamós and Palafrugell – or a short walk from La Fosca beach at the northern edge of Palamós via Cala S'Alguer, a narrow and pretty beach fringed by 19th century fishermen's huts and facing a stunning turquoise bay. Palamós is located around 120km north of Barcelona.
Discover one of the prettiest towns on the Costa Brava – a picture-perfect resort of whitewashed arches and fin-de-siècle villas that fringe a rocky coastline indented with several tiny golden-sand and shingle beaches.
While there are no facilities on the beach nearby bars, cafes and restaurants should cater for all your needs. Calella de Palafrugell lies just south of Llafranc and is around 125km north of Barcelona.
(Llafranc) – Unwind on this crescent of golden sand that sits beneath an ancient fortified stone wall and picturesque fishing port.
Llafranc beach faces a turquoise bay framed by bush-covered headlands dotted with hillside villas.
Facilities include parasols and sun loungers for hire and a string of beachfront bars and restaurants. Llafranc is located 7km north of Palamós.
(Tamariu) – Sunbathe on the soft golden sand of this gorgeous beach that shelves into a picture-perfect cove fringed by forest-covered headlands.
Swim and snorkel in the crystalline waters, stroll along the promenade lined with tamarind trees and relax with a cold drink and fresh seafood in one of the beachfront bars and restaurants.
Facilities at this relatively quiet beach include parasols and sun loungers for hire, and kayaks, pedalos (small pedal boats) and sailing boats during the summer season. Tamariu is located 4km north of Llafranc.
(d’Aiguablava) – Choose from two gorgeous golden-sand beaches that lie on either side of a soaring pine tree-covered promontory sitting at the end of a picturesque bay framed in turn by a string of craggy headlands. This region is the perfect escape from the crowded beaches further south.
Sunbathe on the soft sand, swim and snorkel in crystalline waters and stay at the Parador de Aiguablava, which sits atop the craggy headland between the two beaches. Playa d’Aiguablava is located 1km south of the exclusive residential enclave of Fornells and 18km north of Palamós.
(Sa Riera) – Relax on this golden-sand beach that faces an idyllic cove framed by cliffs and forest-covered hills.
Swim and snorkel in the clear waters or stroll coastal paths. Facilities include parasols and sun loungers for hire and nearby bars and restaurants in the small village of Sa Riera.
Playa de Sa Riera stretches just to the south of Playa de Pals.
(Pals) – Escape the crowds on this 3.5km-long, 40m-wide golden-sand beach fringed by an 18-hole golf course and forest-covered hills.
On a coast mainly characterised by secluded rocky coves, Playa de Pals is a long strand perfect for families, with a range of facilities and water sports available.
There is also a clothing-optional section of the beach. When the Levante or Tramontana winds are blowing, go surfing, windsurfing or kite surfing.
Play volleyball and soccer on the beach, book a boat and diving trip to the nearby Isles Medes (known for good scuba diving) or explore rocky headlands to find charming golden-sand beaches further south.
Facilities include parasols and sun loungers for hire, plus several beach bars and restaurants serving fresh seafood. Playa de Pals is around 3km from Pals village, around 45km east of Girona and 135km north of Barcelona.
The Costa Brava offers an excellent choice of accommodation options in several coastal resorts, including the following 4- and 5-star hotels…
Alva Park Costa Brava
Location: Francesc Layret, Lloret de Mar
Ave nightly price: AUD865 per room
Description: A luxury spa and outdoor pool feature at the impressive Alva Park. Located 80 metres from Lloret’s Fenals Beach, it offers spacious suites with a Bang & Olufsen sound system and flat-screen TV. The rooms at the Alva Park Costa Brava feature carpeted floors and a lounge area with Oriental-style ornaments. Each one comes with a Nespresso coffee-maker, Fortnum & Mason tea and a hydromassage bath. The hotel has a gourmet restaurant and a Japanese restaurant serving sushi made from fresh fish. On Saturdays guests can enjoy their meal in the butterfly garden. Breakfast is à la carte. The spa features a warm saltwater pool and Molton Brown products. There is also a fitness centre and an indoor golf simulator. The Alva Park is an hour’s drive from central Barcelona. Girona Airport is around 35 minutes’ drive away. A shuttle service is available from Barcelona and Girona airports for a surcharge.
Mas de Torrent Hotel & Spa
Location: Afores de Torrent, Torrent
Ave nightly price: AUD447 per room
Description: This luxurious hotel and spa with indoor and outdoor swimming pool features an 18th-century Catalan farmhouse surrounded by lush gardens. Pals is less than 10 minutes’ drive away. The spa at Mas de Torrent includes a sauna and steam room, and includes a wide range of massage and beauty services. The hotel also has a fitness centre and tennis courts. All air-conditioned rooms at Mas de Torrent Hotel & Spa feature an elegant décor with hardwood floors. Some have a private pool, others have a patio with garden views. The restaurant serves gourmet Catalan cuisine and offers a seasonal menu, as well as an extensive wine list. There is also a bar and terrace. Guests can enjoy a wide range of outdoor activities in the Baix Empordà region, including hiking, horse riding and cycling. The hotel offers free bicycles. There are 3 golf courses within 15 minutes’ drive of the hotel, including Empordà Golf. The Costa Brava is just 20 minutes’ drive away.
Hotel & Spa Cala del Pi
Location: Avenida Cavall Bernat 160, Playa d'Aro
Ave nightly price: AUD276 per room
Description: This luxury hotel offers direct access to Playa d’Aro’s Cala del Pi Beach. It has a free 600 m² spa, free WiFi and parking and an outdoor pool with sea views. Rooms at Hotel & Spa Cala del Pi feature a hydromassage shower and a private terrace, many with views over the Mediterranean Sea. All come with satellite TV, pillow menu and Tous amenities. Hotel Cala del Pi features a heated indoor pool, waterfalls, ice fountains, a Finnish sauna and Turkish bath. There is also a small fitness centre. The Rosa dels Vents restaurant serves Mediterranean cuisine prepared using seasonal products. The café bar includes a summer terrace overlooking the sea. Hotel & Spa Cala del Pi is located on the Costa Brava, just 27 km from Girona-Costa Brava Airport.
Location: Playa de Santa Cristina, Lloret de Mar
Ave nightly price: AUD223 per room
Description: Ideally situated in a magnificent woodland area of 14 acres, this hotel is located on the edge of the Santa Cristina beach. A sea-facing hotel that is just 202 m away from the beach, which you can approach along different footpaths encircled by a variety of trees. The hotel opens its doors to all those looking for sun, comfort, and personalized customer care, as well as of course the Mediterranean culture that fills each nook and cranny of the Costa Brava.
Location: Avenida Díaz Pacheco, Roses
Ave nightly price: AUD222 per room
Description: The seafront Vistabella offers fantastic views of Roses Bay and the surrounding mountains. It features rooms with balconies, a spa and 4 restaurants, including the Michelin-starred Els Brancs. Rooms at the Vistabella come equipped with a flat-screen TV and a bathroom with a bathrobe. Each room is individually decorated and some offer sea or mountain views. The spa has an indoor swimming pool, a whirlpool, steam baths and a sauna. Treatments available include massage and wraps. Els Brancs serves creative cuisine and has over 300 wines to choose from. Guests can dine on the charming terrace overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. El Balcó de Mar Restaurant serves fresh seafood, including lobster. El Pirata is a casual beach-grill set right by the sea, featuring its own jetty. It is open from June until September. La Tapa has traditional tapas dishes, and Bar Panoràmic offers views of Roses Bay.
The ideal months to visit the Costa Brava are May and June, with an average high of 25°C (77°F), and September and October, with an average of 23°C (73°F).
July and August sees the coast swamped with mainly British and Spanish tourists and temperatures soar beyond 30°C (86°F).
Note: The Costa Brava is one of Spain’s most popular summer destinations and hotel bookings should be made well in advance.
For more climate info: Costa Brava Weather Guide…
The Costa Brava stretches for more than 153km (95mi) along the northeast coast of Spain, from the town of Blanes, 60km (37mi) northeast of Barcelona, to Cadaques near the French border.
The Costa Brava is easily explored by road from Barcelona, Girona and from the French border. Local buses offer a frequent and efficient service along the coast.
The most convenient route to the Costa Brava is by air to Barcelona–El Prat Josep Tarradellas Airport (BCN), previously known as Barcelona-El Prat and also El Prat Airport, located around 15km (9mi) southwest of the centre of Barcelona.
From the airport, it's easy to either hire a car or take a train or shuttle bus to any of the towns located on the Costa Brava, including Blanes, Lloret de Mar, Tossa de Mar and Cadaques.
By bus, from Barcelona to Tossa de Mar takes 1 hour 20 minutes, with an hourly service.
Alternatively, you may prefer to fly into Girona–Costa Brava Airport (GRO) located 12.5km (7.8mi) southwest of Girona. The airport is well connected to the Costa Brava and the Pyrenees, but typically receives much of it's traffic during the summer season from budget carriers and charter flights.
By train, the high-speed Tren de Alta Velocidad Española (AVE) runs between Madrid and Barcelona, with 17 trains daily in each direction – non-stop trains take just 2 hours, 40 minutes.
Information on how to get to the Costa Brava…
Latest update: Costa Brava: 14 January, 2023