The Costa Brava stretches from the town of Blanes (60km north of Barcelona) to the French border and its name literally means wild or rugged coast inspired by the cliffs and coves which run all along the coast. Once home to small fishing villages the Costa Brava became a popular tourist destination in the 1960s and while some areas are still catering to mass tourism there are many almost untouched towns and beaches to explore.
What to do
Cadaqués/Cap de Creus
The Cap de Creus Natural Park is the most easterly point of the Iberian Peninsula and is characterized by its rugged landscape, weathered by the strong northerly wind the Tramontana. The park contains not only outstanding natural beauty such as the rugged cliffs giving way to coves and inlets or the wind formed rocks, but also historically important buildings such as the Sant Pere de Rodes monastery, one of the most important examples of Catalan Romanic architecture. The park is also home to several villages; Cadaqués is one of the most famous and beautiful, full of whitewashed buildings and home to many celebrated artists throughout the 20th Century. One artist who made Cadaqués his home was Salvador Dalí who bought his house in neighboring Port Lligat and is now a museum to the Surrealist artist, left just how it was when he died. It is a charming seaside town, perfect for a summer escape from the city.
Although the population of Begur does increase substantially in summer it is still a beautiful Costa Brava town well worth a visit. The town itself has a medieval castle and five defense towers built to protect the town from North African pirates. In the 19th Century, many people from Begur went to the Americas to make their fortunes and on their return constructed many beautiful mansion style houses that still stand today. One of the biggest attractions of Begur is that its beaches are some of the most stunning in the Mediterranean, if not the world. Aiguafreda, Aiguablava, and Sa Riera are just some of the perfect beaches and coves to be discovered in this area.
Diving in the Illes Medes
The Illes Medes are seven rocky islands off the coast of the town of L’Estartit and are famous for scuba diving. The islands themselves have been previously used to house military garrisons and prisons but are now abandoned and are becoming an important Mediterranean marine reserve. This conservation effort has renewed the marine life in the islands and scuba diving is now a possible pastime. The islands offer diving at various depths and apart from sea life, there are also underwater caves and tunnels as well as shipwrecks to explore.
Greco-Roman ruins at Empúries
Empúries was founded by the Greeks in 575BC due to its strategic position between the Mediterranean trading routes of Marseille and Tartessos (modern-day Andalucía). The town grew steadily to become the largest Greek colony on the Iberian Peninsula. When the Romans conquered Hispania, Empúries retained quasi-independence becoming almost a city-state until due to the growing power of Tarraco (Tarragona) and Barcino (Barcelona) the importance of the town began to decline. The town was finally abandoned in the early Middle Ages as its coastal position left it vulnerable to pirates and marauders. The location of the town was known locally but in 1908 excavations began and the area is now an open-air museum where you can walk amongst the remains of an important ancient Greek and Roman town and discover what life was like over 2000 years ago. Many different guided tours are available to truly make the most of your visit.