A Bitesize Guide to Holidays on the Costa Brava, Spain
With both peaceful fishing villages and resorts, Spain's wild coast has something for everyone. The Costa Brava runs south of the Spanish-French border from Portbou to Blanes. Here, a series of mountain ranges plunges into the sea, interspersed with small, pine-adorned coves and long, sandy beaches, around which the coast's famous resorts have developed.
The Costa Brava is over 100 years old. An article in early 1900s appeared in La Veu de Catalunya that named the area as the Costa Brava and since considered as its birth certificate.
I Spy Camping lists and compares prices on over 50 of the top campsites in the area. Use this link to find campsites in the Costa Brava
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Visit the Costa Brava - Torroella de Montgri
Best known for its annual classical music festival, held in July and August, this small town of winding streets has a distinct medieval appeal. It is set on the Río El Ter, 30km (18 miles) from Girona, and was built beneath a 13th-century castle, now ruined.
The former medieval port has an attractive arcaded main square and a Gothic church, and is the main point of access to L'Estartit, the premier scuba-diving base on the Costa Brava.
From here you can take a boat trip out to the protected Reserva Marina Illes Medés, an archipelago that was once a shelter for smugglers, coral fishermen and pirates
. Back in Torroella, the Museu del Montgri, housed in a splendid mansion, contains exhibits on the marine reserve and local history.
Visit the Costa Brava - Girona (Gerona)
This city is full of medieval charm. The shadowy alleyways and stairs of its old quarter occupy a fortified hill overlooking the riverside, and the brightly restored houses along the Río Onyar provide great views.
Arab-influenced narrow streets and the best-preserved Jewish quarter in Spain give some clues as to Girona's mixed history and inhabitants, but it was in the prosperous Middle Ages that some of the most outstanding historical buildings were constructed. The impressive cathedral, with its baroque façade and reached via a grand stairway, has the widest single-span Gothic arch in Europe.
In the heart of the commercial area is the Rambla de la Llibertat, one of the city's liveliest spots and the setting for its market in medieval times. To reach the walls of the city, head for the Passeig Arqueològic.
For people-watching on a sunny day, try the pavement terraces along the Rambla de la Llibertat or the Placa del Vi, both in the old town. A stroll along the river-hugging Rambla leads to the Baroque façade of the city’s catherdral behind a Romanesque cloister and a museum of artefacts
This elegant medieval city has become something of a foodie destination. Accessible by budget airlines from the UK; Ryanair and Easyjet et al, visitors are happy to spend a week here spending time and money in the city’s wide range of restaurants, cafes and boutiques.
Earlier in the last decade The New York Times ran a cover story asking ‘Is Spain the new France?’ and featuring El Bulli restaurant. Seven of the top 50 restaurants in the world are found in Spain - 4 in the Basque country and 3 in Catalonia. Spain has always had talented chefs working in the Tapas hotspots of Seville, Cordoba, Barcelona and Bilbao and the ‘cocina nueva’ is a new style of cooking that pushes new boundaries. In Barcelona, the Sant Pau 3-michelin star restaurant in Sant Pol de Mar is run by Carme Ruscalleda and is said to be a match for the popular El Bulli.
Back in Girona, one of the more notable restaurants is El Celler de Can Roca, which has two Michelin stars and is located in one of the suburbs that serve the city. The restaurant is run by 3 brothers, Joan, Jordi and Josep, each of whom performs a different duty (head chef, desserts, wine respectively). They operate in a serene modern space that features slate, wood and glass and looks out to a courtyard of maple trees. Customers have a real sense of tucking in their napkins for a gourmet adventure when they arrive here. Most are not disappointed.
The Menu is arty and playful yet retains an earthiness: rosemary and truffle soup, liquorice with truffles, caviar omelette and a cigar dessert.
Visit Costa Brava - Cadaques
Continuing the Dali theme, hidden away at the end of a deep inlet in the southern part of the Cap de Creus peninsula is this coastal gem of a fishing town. Whitewashed houses with brightly painted shutters line the bedrock streets, which twist their way down to the main pebble bay. Along the scenic promenade is a row of outdoor cafés. Cadaqués was an inspirational artists' enclave, popularized by Salvador Dalí and frequented by Pablo Picasso, American photographer Man Ray and film director Luis Buñuel.
One thing about the approach to Cadaques never changes, and that is the first glimpse of the little town over the Alberes plateau begins towards the sea. There is a never failing thrill in the first sight of the white baroque tower of the church of Santa Maria. It is certainly not difficult to understand the impulse that determined Salvador Dali to make this his creative home.
Dalí's home at nearby Portlligat continues to attract a crowd. Note that if you are driving you should use the designated parking area signed as you enter the town - the narrow streets make this no place for cars.