The Costa Brava or “Wild Coast” is an incredibly gorgeous stretch of coast in the Catalunyan province of Spain easily reached 90 minutes north of Barcelona and runs all the way to the French border. The area is famous for stunning beach hiking trails and miles of cycling through vineyards and medieval villages. With the Mediterranean climate, the region is a year-round destination, but summer is wonderful with a myriad of festivals, crystal clear dips in the sea, and a holiday vibe. This is where people from Barcelona spend their summers and the French do too. So if you’re coming in the summer, it is imperative to book early!!
Mas de Torrent
We stayed at the terrific Mas De Torrent, a Relais & Chateaux property located in the heart of Emporda -“Just a few minutes from the beautiful beaches which account for the irresistible- famed charm of the Costa Brava- the Mas de Torrent proudly presents its stone walls between olive and cypress trees. Its elegant- welcoming interior is home to both classical and contemporary suites- come with its own private pool. Two extraordinary restaurants and the Mas Spa are the ideal complements to a magical stay. During your visit- take the time to explore some of the treasures in this beautiful region- the little port of Cadaques which Salvador Dali and other painters Picasso- Matisse- Man Ray rendered famous in their quest for light- the archaeological site of Ampurias and the medieval villages of Pals and Peratallada.”
The Mas Spa with its indoor pool is a terrific way to unwind while visiting the region even in the cooler months.
Cycling and Hiking Paradise
The Costa Brava is a cycling and hiking paradise with well-defined cycling routes.
West of the coastal area of the Costa Brava, the area is filled with soaring mountains, valleys, and stunning natural parks. It’s a great area for hiking and mountain biking especially. Some of the best areas include the Montseny Mountain Range, the Cap de Creus National Park and La Garrotxa Natural Park – filled with ancient volcanoes.
We spent our cycling day going back to the 14th century meandering through pretty medieval villages and meeting up with local producers along the way. We rode through Pals, which boasts a beautiful historic center on a hill surrounded by plains of paddy fields; stops can include artisans such as Can Solivera, a highly respected artisan olive oil producer with farmhouse premises dating back to the 11th century, or a visit to The Marmalade Museum with the most diverse and original tastes you can imagine: from exotic, sweet and bitter fruits, in the most unusual pairings.
We cycled to Peratallada, one of the most beautiful villages in Spain with a maze of narrow streets and sunny squares, towers and medieval palaces, past farmhouses, through fields, woods and picturesque villages with our guide. We encountered many professional cyclers who train in the region. Of course stops in lovely villages for a coffee, a glass of wine, or some good old hydration are just part of the experience!
Of course The DO (Designation of Origin) Empordà Wine Route immerses you in a deep-rooted tradition of the area, dating as far back as Roman times. An unforgettable wine tourism experience awaits you in Empordà on the Costa Brava.
The Costa Brava is home to some of the world’s best chefs and some of the best food in Europe and often at a fraction of the cost you’d pay elsewhere. From beachside cafés to Michelin-starred restaurants, Costa Brava caters to all tastes and wallets. Below is one of our favorite lunches and a fantastic bargain!
The Costa Brava is without a doubt home to some of the country’s best beaches. They may not be long and sweeping – but they’re small and intimate, surrounded by soaring clifftops and unusual rock formations.
Many of the beaches can only be reached on foot too, scrambling down steep coastal paths to find pebbly shorelines lapped by clear azure waters. Very well defined coastal paths allow hearty hikers to hike from one village to the next, stopping for refreshing dips in the crystal Mediterranean sea!
Each beachside village has a plethora of casual restaurants offering outstanding and inexpensive seafood lunches and who doesn’t love a fresh paella washed down with a crisp and fruity white wine?
After a lovely lunch and some wine, locals and tourists alike settle in on their towel with an umbrella and enjoy the afternoon!
El Celler de Can Roca
A highlight of our time in the region was a chance to dine at the famed El Celler de Can Roca, named the number one restaurant in the world multiple times.
The Roca brothers (executive chef Joan, pastry chef Jordi and head sommelier Josep) surprise with their twists and imaginative approach to traditional Spanish cuisine. El Celler de Can Roca continues to be one of Catalonia’s top restaurants, and among the best in the world. The evening was epic and certainly one for the storybook!! Yes, I do travel for food and you might like checking out my visit to another multi-year “number one”, Osteria Francescana – Memories of a Meal at the Number One Restaurant in the World.
Yes, this is the entire tasting menu and we enjoyed every single morsel mentioned. It was an EPIC night.
Girona & Felgueres
Girona & Figueres are two of the larger cities in the region and some of their highlights are the Salvador Dali museum, the architecture, and the ceramics. While we did not get to spend time visiting these charming cities, many of my clients will day trip from Barcelona specifically to visit the museum, medieval streets, and charming Jewish quarter. However, the Costa Brava deserves so much more than a day trip, and I suggest pairing a stay in the area following time in Barcelona or as a stop between France and Spain! It’s a beautiful area that deserves further exploration and a chance to soak up Catalunyan nature, culture, food, and wine!