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Costa Brava

The Costa Brava is a composite of sensations and contrasts. It has over 200 kilometres of the most diverse coastline, varying greatly between wide beaches and small coves surrounded by vegetation and rock cliffs. To the north, the Costa Brava begins just at the French border in the municipality of Portbou, with a coastline of rocks and ravines.

It finishes in complete contrast to the fine sand of Blanes beach. However the gradient from north to south is not progressive, as the changes between sand and stone, nature and civilisation, history and the avant garde are constant. Thanks to its complicated rough and rocky geology, much of the natural beauty of the scenery has been preserved intact and with little urban presence. The rugged contour of the rocks, cliffs and pinewoods which stretch almost to the sea give this location a unique personality.

A unique destination with sea, mountains, culture, history and cuisine close at hand

Iberians, Greeks and Romans discovered this land’s wealth centuries ago, as demonstrated by the site of Empúries. The ancient cities of Emporion for the Greeks and Emporiae for the Romans were the gateway to the classic cultures of the Iberian peninsula. The preserved remains are a privileged testimony to this. The Romanesque style has also left us authentic architectural treasures such the monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes. With the Middle Ages, the castles, the forts and the mediaeval villages defined the geography of the region. As did the Jewish legacy, with the Girona Jewish quarter as one of its maximum exponents, and which even today appears as if the centuries had not passed. The great works of Modernism have also defined the identity of these regions and their people.

In the field of art, the surrealist footprint of Salvador Dalí deserves special mention. The genius from the Empordà left a priceless legacy in this land and his work continues to attract hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. To experience this, a Dalí Triangle has been created, made up of the Theatre-Museum in Figueres, the House-Museum in Portlligat and the Castle of Púbol.

But Dalí’s legacy is by no means the only global icon of creativity this land has provided. A culinary phenomenon unprecedented in the world has taken place. Only a decade apart, two Costa Brava restaurants have been named as the best on the planet. Ferran Adrià’s El Bulli blazed the trail from the Cala Montjoi in Roses, and the Roca brothers of El Celler de Can Roca in Girona currently top this global classification awarded by the prestigious British journal “Restaurant Magazine”. In the province of Girona there are currently thirteen restaurants that have been awarded Michelin stars.

Cuisine has a starring role on the Costa Brava, as does the culture of wine and cava. The region’s winegrowing tradition goes back 2,500 years.

The Costa Brava enjoys great natural diversity. The region has four natural parks, one of which, Cap de Creus, was the first protected land and sea area in Catalonia. Inland, the Montseny natural park has been declared a Biosphere Reserve by Unesco. The Aiguamolls de l’Empordà Natural Park and the Montgrí Natural Park, the Medes Islands and the Baix Ter complete these settings of great biological value. One third of the Costa Brava and the Girona Pyrenees is a protected natural zone.

There are beaches to suit all tastes, from large bays of fine sand, with all the services anyone could need, to small, uncrowded coves nestling among cliffs and vegetation, only accessible by sea or by small roads.

The changes between sand and stone, nature and civilisation, history and the avant garde are constant

The geographical contrasts are also evident in the coastal towns. The traditional fishing villages remain practically intact next to the large tourist centres. The most beautiful of them include Cadaqués in the heart of Cap de Creus, or Calella de Palafrugell in the centre of the Costa Brava. With regard to the large towns with more tourists, hotel rooms and bustle, both day and night, Roses in the north, Platja d’Aro in the centre and Lloret de Mar in the south are all outstanding.

Girona is the region’s capital and the largest city. This is a well-connected location, halfway between the coast and the Pyrenees and boasts of being one of the cities in the country with the best standard of living. It offers a wide cultural, culinary, monumental and also commercial range.

The Costa Brava summers have their own soundtrack. All types of festivals and concerts are held along the coast, ranging from those which attract the top stars of the musical world, such as the Cap Roig Festival or the Perelada Festival, to others of traditional and local music, such as the Calella de Palafrugell Habaneras singing event, which this year is celebrating its 50th anniversary. If there is such a thing as a ranking for points of cultural interest per square mile, the Girona region would surely have an outstanding score.

With regard to accommodation, the Costa Brava offers all types of options, including the range of conventional hotels, featuring charming small family hotels, holiday hotels, rural tourism hotels and of course also tourist apartments and campsites.

For the more adventurous, one way to discover the Costa Brava’s spectacular scenery is by doing sports like hiking or cycle touring, which are arranged through networks of marked trails such as the green ways or the seaside paths that line the Girona coastline. This is also a good region for road cycling. Since Lance Armstrong came here over a decade ago to live and train, dozens of professionals have set up in this region. Some of them, like David Millar from Scotland, have even stayed on to live here after retiring from the elite. For golf lovers, the Caldes de Malavella PGA is considered the best course in the country. Last year it was a finalist for holding the 2022 Ryder Cup, the most prestigious competition in the world of this sport. The good climate permits year-round activities in the most unique natural settings, ranging from the high mountains to the sea.

On the Costa Brava you can walk, swim, pedal, run, shop, rest and even ski just a few kilometres away. You can do everything or simply do nothing, but it must be experienced.