A 4-DAY TRAVEL ITINERARY TO COSTA BRAVA
With 200 kilometres of spectacular coastline, Costa Brava has a beach for every reason (and season). This forever-sunny Spanish Costa is a big hit if you want powder-soft sands and historical sights in equal measure - lounge on the beach at Lloret de Mar, discover Girona’s medieval history, and sample the best local tapas and sangria. Unsure where to start? We’ve chalked out a 4-day travel itinerary to Costa Brava so you can make the most of this Mediterranean jewel, today...
Need more persuading? Find out what's cool about the Costas with our go-to resort guide.
DAY 1 – GIRONA
The medieval city of Girona – filled with Gothic and Romanesque architecture, cobbled streets, quaint beaches and thriving nightlife – is a great start to your Costa Brava holiday. Located by the Onyar river, this Catalonian town is just a 45-minute drive from Barcelona, or you can take a direct flight to the Girona Airport.
Play: Kick off your day with a visit to the imposing Gothic cathedral, followed by the evocative El Call – Girona’s Jewish Quarter. A walk along the medieval walls in the old town offers marvellous views of the city’s skyline. You can also take the ‘Game of Thrones’ walking tour, which explores the places where the hit TV series was shot in Girona. In fact, various corners of Spain have been popular filming locations of GOT. Near the Girona cathedral are the Basilica of Sant Feliu with its flat-edged bell tower and the Arab Baths, modelled on Islamic and Roman bathhouses. A walk across the Onyar – flanked on both sides by colourful modernist buildings – will take you to the newer part of the town, where the riverfront Rambla de la Llibertat pedestrian boulevard is lined with shops, cafes and restaurants.
Once you’ve soaked in the historic vibe, head outdoors for some beach fun! Just a short drive from Girona are the palm-shaded beaches of La Fosca at Palamós and Platja d’Aro. The Aquadiver water park at Platja d’Aro is a great place for a day out with kids. Visit the freshwater Banyoles Lake – half an hour’s drive from Girona – for a relaxing dip or unwinding at the lakeside bars.
Dine: From authentic Catalan dishes to world cuisine, Girona is a gastronomic paradise. You simply cannot miss the avant-garde menu at El Celler de Can Roca, awarded the world’s best restaurant multiple times. Savour contemporary Catalan cuisine at Occi, Nu and Boira, but if you’re looking for something more traditional, head to Can Marques. For a taste of street food, queue up at the food stalls of El Lleó market.
Party: Girona evenings can be best enjoyed at the buzzing town square Plaça de la Independència, surrounded by elegant arches and pillars. It features a clutch of restaurants, cafes, tapas bars and nightclubs. The convivial Lola Café, Nou Platea and Sunset Jazz Club host live music and delish cocktails. If a Catalonian-style tapas bar is on your list, Curcuma is a good choice, or enjoy an aperitif at the centrally located Lapsus Cafè, a local favourite.
DAY 2 – CADAQUÉS
A drive of 1 hour 15 minutes from Girona takes you to Cadaqués, a pristine coastal resort that charms visitors with quaint bays, picturesque beaches, stunning views of the Mediterranean, pretty harbour and whitewashed villages. No wonder this erstwhile fishing village inspired the works of its most famous resident – the surrealist artist Salvador Dalí.
Play: The best attraction at Cadaqués is its handsome selection of beaches – so choose from the family friendly, centrally located Playa Grande that’s buzzing with beach bars and restaurants, or the secluded Cala Portaló, framed by rugged cliffs. Another firm favourite is Playa es Sortell where the pebbled shore is lined with whitewashed modernist buildings giving a dramatic contrast to the azure sea. Head towards the north and you’ll arrive at Playa es Pianc, which offers one of the most beautiful sunset views of Costa Brava. If you’re fond of watersports, don’t forget to snorkel in the crystal-clear waters of Cala Jugadora.
Hike along the coastal trail through the Cap de Creus peninsula that’s now a natural park. The entire area is punctuated with scenic bays, windswept cliffs and tranquil coves. The lighthouse at Cap de Creus is the perfect place to catch a romantic sunset. Coming back to town, visit Dalí’s residence Casa Museu Dalí, overlooking the beautiful beach at Port Lligat. Finally, the Cadaqués old town, with a profusion of ornate whitewashed houses, calls for a leisurely stroll in the afternoon.
Dine: The beach boulevard at Cadaqués is a great spot to enjoy amazing sea views and savour suquet de peix (potato-based seafood stew), the town’s signature dish. One of the best restaurants in Cadaqués is Compartir, set in an atmospheric 18th-century building offering sharing plates of Catalan delights. If you’re looking for an informal eatery, Casa Anita welcomes guests with large, communal tables. For seafood, visit the friendly Casa Nun, while Es Fornet Pastisseria is your best bet for delectable pastries.
Party: As night descends, the unpretentious bars and pubs lining the seafront promenade come to life. Bar Boia, frequented by the city’s intellectuals, is a must-visit beach bar that serves irresistible cocktails. Grab a chair on the café/tapas terrace if you arrive early. With fabulous drinks, good food and great music, L'Hostal has a Dalí connection – its interior was designed by the famous Catalan artist.
DAY 3 – TOSSA DE MAR
Tossa de Mar is an intoxicating blend of medieval richness and contemporary exuberance. As you walk down the labyrinthine streets of this fortified village overlooking picture-postcard beaches, you can’t help but wonder how the quaint hamlet buzzes with bars and clubs at night. A 1.5-hour drive from Cadaqués, Tossa de Mar lives up to its nickname – the Blue Paradise!
Play: Start early by taking a stroll around the walled part of the city, Vila Vella. Perched on a hill, the immaculately preserved old town features cobblestone lanes, fortified walls, imposing arches and ivy-covered ancient buildings. As you hike up the summit going past bustling shops, cafes and restaurants, you’ll reach Castillo de Tossa de Mar – the medieval castle offering breath-taking views of the cobalt-blue Mediterranean. The town is dotted with antique structures, such as the 1st-century Roman villa Els Ametllers and the Moorish tower Torre de Can Magí.
Beach hopping is another unmissable attraction in the resort, where you have options galore. Playa Grande is the largest and the most popular beach, while the Blue Flag La Mar Menuda is perfect for kids. If you want tranquillity, head to the heavenly Cala Futadera surrounded by rocks and pine trees. The horseshoe-shaped Cala Giverola with golden sands and turquoise waters is a perfect beach for sunbathing or taking a glass-bottomed boat trip along the coast. The Tossa de Mar beaches are great for water sports like snorkelling and diving, particularly Playa d’es Codolar and Cala Bona.
Dine: You’ll find plenty of eateries along the beach offering menu del días (menu of the day), but if you’re looking for a more lavish affair, the Michelin-starred La Cuina de Can Simón satiates your taste buds with seafood and traditional dishes. Restaurant Bahia is a go-to venue for the local delicacy cim i tomba (fish and potato stew) and flavourful paella. Inside the old town, La Placeta offers a charming setting to enjoy your food accompanied by Spanish wines.
Party: Tossa de Mar boasts a clutch of upscale bars and vibrant nightlife venues, both in the old town and beachfront promenade Passeig del Mar. With Spanish music, refreshing drinks and alfresco seating, Romantic Bar lightens up your evenings. Bar Don Juan is a buzzing tapas bar filled with local patrons, while Bar Kars offers a relaxing place to unwind over a wide range of drinks, from cocktails to beers.
DAY 4 – LLORET DE MAR
The most glamorous of Costa Brava’s resorts, Lloret de Mar is all about sun-kissed Blue Flag beaches, palm-shaded boulevards, splash-tastic water sports, pulsating nightlife, traditional villages and endless entertainment. It takes 30 minutes from Tossa de Mar to reach this beach getaway where gleaming waters of the Med hug sweeping golden sands backed by lush mountains.
Play: On your final day, indulge in some beach fun. Lloret de Mar has 5 spectacular beaches, out of which 1.5km-long Lloret Beach is the largest and the busiest. It offers unending water sport options, from jet skiing to scuba diving. If you’re looking for privacy, Fenals Beach and Santa Cristina Beach are ideal spots to spread your beach towel. Lloret de Mar has a plethora of activities for the young ones – slide down into super-sized pools at Water World aqua park, hop on rides at Parc d'Atraccions Sould Park or have tons of fun at Gnomo Park.
Nature lovers can unwind at the verdant Santa Clotilde Gardens featuring exotic flowers and trees, fountains, Roman-style statues and unmatched views of the sea. Another place to admire magnificent Mediterranean views is Castell d’en Plaja – the Spanish castle perched on a hill. For a dash of culture, marvel at the colourful Parish Church of Sant Roma located in the city centre. End your tour with a visit to the cemetery that looks more like a museum, containing stunning specimens of Catalan Modernist architecture.
Dine: One of the best places to eat in Lloret de Mar is the fine dining restaurant Freu, where Spanish specialities like Iberian ham are to die for. La Parilla is a local favourite and prepares creative Spanish cuisine. The centrally located El Romani serves Mediterranean dishes with local wines. If you want to enjoy sea views while dining, the beachfront Atics la Carpa is where you should park yourself.
Party: After sunset, Lloret de Mar transforms into a nightlife paradise, giving you myriad options to party till dawn. The cheerful El Pub Lloret is a fantastic venue for beer lovers, while Voramar Beach Bar enlivens your evenings with amazing cocktails. Sa Xarxa has an enviable list of drinks served with tapas. Later, rock the dance floor at Disco Tropics, Disco Colossos or Disco Moef Gaga.
WHERE TO STAY IN COSTA BRAVA
Whether you want to admire fabulous Med views from your beachfront hotel room, or stay in the centre of the atmospheric old town – there’s a perfect hotel for you in Costa Brava. Close to the beach and the Tossa de Mar city centre, Tossa Beach Center Hotel is a great place to soak in the beach vibe. If you want to enjoy the countryside, Medplaya Aparthotel San Eloy is the perfect family-friendly hotel with huge swimming pools, mini golf and tennis court. The laid-back Medplaya Monterrey, just 75 metres from the Platja d’Aro beach, offers a blissful stay. The 3-star Guitart Central Park Aqua Resort is an ideal family hotel in Lloret de Mar where kids will have a wide choice of activities to choose from.