I have been to a lot of Spanish beaches in my day. And to be honest each one of them is gorgeous in its own way. The extensive beaches of Cádiz, the rocky and virgin coves in Alméria, the dramatic cliffs of Galicia and Asturias. But the Costa Brava is still one of the highest on my list.
SUMMER TIP: From mid-May to September, the coast is crawling with people—tourists and locals alike. They have good taste, its understandable. But there is one big problem with this, (besides the high demand for Aloe Vera lotion), parking. There are no big parking structures and in many places, no designated parking area at all. And when there is no space you could find yourself walking a mile or more just to get to the beach. My advice? Get there as early as possible and mark your territory. You have all day on the beach to sleep.
Also keep in mind that due to the fact that it is a big summer tourist destination, most Airbnb’s and apartments require a minimum stay of 7 nights. You may have to stay in a hotel if your stay will be shorter.
Tossa de mar
A must if you have at least one free day during your time in Barcelona. There are buses that leave from Estacion Nord and go to Tossa every day, so even if you don’t have a car, you should be able to get there, at least for a day trip. There are even buses in the summer that go from the airport. It is a beautiful medieval city and has two beaches—one small one on the right side of the castle, and a larger one on the left side. There are bathrooms and showers and bars in case you find yourself needing a glass of sangria. This is the perfect mixture of history, culture, and architecture, and beautiful coastline. There are also great restaurants and bars, as well as aquatic activities like paddleboarding you can look into.
View on the way out of town before getting to the coves mentioned below.
Cala Bona, Cala Pola, and Cala Giverola
These coves are right after you pass Tossa de Mar, (don’t miss the look out point as you leave the city!), and they are beautiful. Cala Pola is part of a campground, one that I highly recommend if you have more time to spend, but also open to the public. We go every year with friends and have a blast. There are even hiking trails connecting these coves and going all the way from Tossa to Giverola. Well worth it!
Cala Sa Boadella—(Passing Lloret de Mar)
Whatever you do, DO NOT STAY IN LLORET. It is the epitome of “boozed-up-brits-abroad”, and I say that with love, because I used to be one. (Well, American, but you get the idea). It is a city that I compare to Wisconsin Dells…completely overrun with the wrong kind of tourism and doesn’t maintain any of its original charm. Casinos, clubs, and fluorescent lights will assault your eyes everywhere you go.
Lloret may be shit, but the Sa Boadella cove is a dream. You will need a car to get to this one, unless you get creative and take a bus to Lloret and a taxi to the cove, but price-wise I´m not sure I would recommend it. But it is a gorgeous example of the Costa Brava and worth a stop. There is a beach bar as well in case that sangria craving comes back.
Cala Aigua Blava
Beautiful but tiny! Get there as earlier as possible. If you’re looking for a fancy night out, I recommend reserving at Hotel Aigua Blava and requesting a table on the terrace. Gorgeous views of the cove.
Don’t make the same mistake I did–ask for the terrace, not a window view! Still an awesome view but the terrace is even more delightful.
Not technically the coast, but a beautiful example of medieval Catalan history and architecture, very close to Aigua Blava, Aigua Freda, and Tamariu.
Another beautiful stone town on the interior, in case you’re stuck with a cloudy day. Just 15-20 minutes from the coast.
Beautiful and quite big, as far as “calas” go. BONUS! There is a diving board off of the rocks on the right side of the beach, facing the ocean. Guys, my mom loved it. You will too.
Considered by many to be the crown jewel of the Costa Brava, this fishermen’s town is a little tricky to get into, but I cannot recommend it enough. Standing at the cathedral looking below you will think you are on a Greek isle as your eyes blink from the contrast of the start white houses against the turquoise Med. Take a leisurely stroll around the center, enjoying the cobblestone streets. It is a town famous for artists, (there is even a Dali museum on the hill), and many artists have studios there. Be warned, this town is probably the most beautiful of all the Costa Brava, but you won’t find much of a beach here!
BONUS! I know I promised the Costa Brava in less then 10 stops but here are some very honorable mentions to keep you busy on your journey!
Now all that’s left to do is grab a map and draw some lines. Go for it, milkers!
Are you a fellow Costa Brava lover? Did I miss any of your favorite beaches or places? Let me know in the comments below!