Costa Brava, the Coast of the Brave. The rugged landscapes that define this stretch of the Girona region of eastern Spain has made Costa Brava a rich tapestry of food, drink, music, art and architecture. From buildings steeped in heritage and lore to nature trails that wind through the back country, there’s much for you to immerse yourself in across this inspiring stretch of sunny shoreline.
When you’re in Costa Brava, be sure to tick a few of our best loved places off your list.
Discover how local wines are made
Costa Brava is in Catalonia, a region famous for its wines. While you’re visiting, make sure you spend some time visiting wineries such as Empordalia, Gran Recosind and Celler Can Sais. Local experts and guided tours give you the opportunity to explore ancient cellars and learn advanced techniques in coaxing the finest flavours from local wines. Plus, the chance to taste a few of them on the way never hurts either, right?
Marvel at the Dali Triangle
As one of the most strikingly eccentric artists of the 20th century, Salvador Dali hailed from Catalonia, meaning that his legacy lives on across Costa Brava. The Emporda region is home to what locals call the Dali Triangle, which unites the Gala Dali Castle House Museum, the Dali House Museum of Portlligat and the Dali Theatre Museum. It’s a brilliant way to enjoy the surrealist’s art and life, all in the region where he was born and raised.
Learn the history of Castello d’Empuries
The crumbled city walls of Castello d’Empuries speak of the city’s standing as a powerful fortress of the Middle Ages. You can expect to find remnants of its medieval and gothic history on every street corner, together with 17th century additions, like the Sant Agusti convent, that further shaped the tale of the town.
See the remnants of the Castle of La Trinitat by the sea
Costa Brava’s history is moulded by many of the most famous events in the Mediterranean. In Roses, the well known port town of the region, Emperor Charles V of Spain laid the first stone of Castle of La Trinitat, which was built in the 1500s to defend Costa Brava and Catalonia from assault by sea. The remnants of the fortress tell the tale of its heroic history.
Explore prehistoric settlements from the megalithic era
Just outside the town of Roses is Parc Natural del Cap de Creus, where stone monuments and prehistoric structures weave the tale of some of the oldest known records of local human civilisation. Tours and freeform exploration are all open to you, so you’re free to step back to 3,000B.C.E and see how the locals lived.
See where ancient Greece and Rome first found Spain
At the Empuries Archaeological Site, you will find the ruins of Emporion and Emporiae, which were Greek and Roman cities respectively, from the ages of antiquity. Beautifully preserved statues and intriguing stonework from a bygone age are preserved here, forever marking where both of those powerful empires of the ancient world first came to the Iberian Peninsula.
Trace the riverside charm of Girona’s old town
It’s likely that a stay in Costa Brava will see you visiting Girona, the nearby city rich in heritage. While you’re there, take some time to soak in the huddled buildings and narrow lanes of Barri Vell, the old town district of the city. Tiny local shops and restaurants that have been in families for generations await in these winding streets of secrets.
Attend the autumn cultural event Ingravid in Figueres
You probably already known that Figueres was the birthplace of Salvador Dali, but the artistic and cultural flavour of the town runs far deeper than even that famous surrealist. Every year between September and October, local artists, dancers, writers and musicians get together to turn the streets of Figueres into a tapestry of provocative painting, thoughtful philosophy and passionate prose. It’s an unforgettable time to visit.
See famous art at Emporda Museum
Archeology, architecture and art join forces to furnish the Emporda Museum, which contains relics and exhibits from every facet of Catalonian culture. The pieces on display here lean towards the transition of the 19th Century into the 20th and beyond, which gives sensational insight into the way art and ingenuity has shaped the Costa Brava that we enjoy today.
See the grand walled town of Villa Vella in Tossa de Mar
A day by the beach here is going to feel much safer than most, thanks to Villa Vella, the great medieval walled fortress city that overlooks the shore. Rustic tanned and brown stonework speaks of the strength and dignity of this magnificent structure, and you can walk its streets to discover vibrant local food, drink and culture, all tucked in its secretive embrace.
See some sweet attractions at Trias Biscuit Museum
Spend enough time in Spain, particularly the towns around Costa Brava, and you’ll definitely see the unmistakable branding of Trias biscuits. The family business has been making that tasty magic happen since 1908, and in La Selva you’ll find the Trias Biscuit Museum, which shows how the legacy came to be, as well as the methods and machines they use. That’s a day trip sure to leave a good taste in your mouth.
Visit Calonge, where the castle is the concert hall
Calonge is a town to the south of Costa Brava, but like everywhere else on this grand stretch of coast, there’s culture in every inch of stone. That’s especially true of Castle Calonge, which has stood in its full grandeur since the 11th century, or possibly longer. Even though it pre-dates official records, the centuries have seen various additions made to its structure, yet today it houses live music acts due to its excellent acoustics. It’s a pretty smart use of a magnificent building.
See Sant Ferran Castle, one of Europe’s largest ever fortresses
Although Costa Brava has plenty of castles, few are as impressive as Sant Ferran Castle in Figueres, which was built in the 1700s. Its grand arches and intelligent layout made it impregnable during its military service, where bastions and garrisons formed much of its pentagonal layout. It’s also famous for its underground waterways, which are big enough to be explored on foot today.
See fireworks light up summer nights in Blanes
Every July, a whole week is dedicated to fireworks in the town of Blanes. You can expect to see huge and colourful displays lighting up the night sky every evening, as master craftsmen engage in friendly competition to see whose creation delivers the biggest wow factor for the locals and tourists down below.
Commemorate the colonial age at Begur’s Indianos Fair
When Columbus discovered the Caribbean, he called it the West Indies because he thought he’d found a route to the East via the West. As the years went on, many Spanish families set out for the New World for new lives in places such as Puerto Rico and Cuba, which meant that they came home with plenty of wealth to build the amazing buildings that are so abundant across Costa Brava.
In September, the town of Begur celebrates that heritage with themed costumes, songs and dances, together with plenty to eat and a rich appreciation of the colonial days of yore.
Explore a magic museum house of tricks and fables in Santa Cristina d’Aro
The famous magician XEVI performed across the world, yet it was always Costa Brava that he called home. The Casa Magica in Santa Cristina d’Aro represents the culmination of XEVI’s lifelong love of all things conjuration and mystique, and a tour around this lovely building will see you enchanted by tarot cards, card decks, classic tricks, cheeky twists on old sleight of hand games, as well as a host of contraptions and devices to amaze and surprise.
See the walls of medieval Llanca
Today, Llanca is a small town where you’ll find a great mix of restaurants and venues. But in the Middle Ages, it was a walled city protected by towers, the remnants of which can still be seen today. Tours are available to teach you more about the secret story behind this place.
Take a guided tour of the home of Girona’s most famous architect
Casa Maso is where Rafael Maso most famously defined the architectural ideas that would go on to shape the city of Girona, as well as influence surrounding Costa Brava. Cosy tours of up to 10 give a personal touch to appreciating the exhibits and historic items left at Casa Maso in his wake.
Tour the bell tower of Breda
Owing to its medieval heritage, Breda is made up of tight little cobbled streets and buildings rich in the influences of yesteryear. Organised tours of the city’s most historic area, such as the surrounding streets of the town church and its landmark bell tower, give an insight into how perfectly preserved this corner of Costa Brava really is.
Taste local delights at November’s Mushroom & Game Fair
The rugged landscape of Costa Brava is an obvious choice when it comes to hunting and living off the land. In November, Santa Cristina d’Aro brings people together for the Wild Mushroom & Game Fair. Rabbit meat, wild fowl and those all important toadstools line the stalls as locals and tourists try out some of the flavours that are truly unique to Costa Brava.
Visit the weekly market
Girona, Figueres, Breda, Roses, Ripoll, Vilamalla… wherever you roam, you’ll find that the quaint streets become bustling and lively once the weekly market rolls around. Make sure you pack your best haggling tricks as you take to the plaza among the fruit, vegetables, fresh meat and traditional handicrafts. Don’t forget those souvenirs for the folks at home, either.
Visit the museum of miniatures in Besalu to see the Eiffel Tower… on a poppy seed
Micromundi in Besalu is dedicated to showcasing miniature works of art of unbelievable precision. Everything within the building is incredibly small, like paintings in the eye of a needles or sculptures sitting atop a single grain of rice. The lighting and magnifying equipment makes viewing everything safe and comfortable, although you might never look at the sesame seeds on a burger bun the same way again.
Trek the Costa Brava cliffs
There are many agencies across Costa Brava that specialise in organising walks and hikes across the rough and ready terrain. You’ll have the chance to see quaint walled towns from on high, traipse through the forgotten walkways that weave through woodland, as well as seeing the fantastic sea views that define this place.
Unleash your inner child at Figueres’ Toy Museum
With thousands of playthings to choose from, together with a whole range of informative snippets on the history of both local and international toy craftsmanship, you’ll find everything from rocking horses to teddy bears at the Catalonia Toy Museum of Figueres. Famous individuals have also seen that their former favourite toys are donated here too, including the local legend that is Salvador Dali.
Attend a gastronomic festival
Across Costa Brava and wider Catalonia, food is at the heart of the people. If you’re ready to get involved in the celebration of local meals and delectable dishes, you’ve got plenty of options all year round, including the L’Escala Christmas Cuisine Show, the Noodle Casserole festivities of Tossa de Mar in June, as well as the October Garlic Fair in Cornella del Terri.
See how modernism evolved at the Raset Museum
Located in Cervia de Ter, the Raset Museum of Modern Art makes its home in a 13th century building of stunning grace. The pieces inside show with pride the Spanish and Catalonian artists who helped to shape the modernism movement. International pieces are also very well represented, while the special exhibit, ‘100 Years of Modern Still Life Painting’, shows how 40 individual artists have each interpreted the same objects in different ways.
Meet the mysterious stone heads of Orrius Forest
Orrius is a tiny village close to Barcelona, tucked away to the northeast. Surrounding the village is a forest full of stone statues of staring heads, mystic creatures and goblin-like rascals. They say the woods are haunted, so who knows what witches, warlocks and wonders lie in wait for you?
See international photographic art at Palau Solterra
This collection of houses has been converted into a heritage site that showcases international photography. It’s located in Torroella de Montgri. The architecture is also pretty astounding, because this was once a nobleman’s home in the 15th century, while the museum space that occupies it today also hosts talks and presentations throughout the year.
Explore beneath the waves on a Nautilus tour
You don’t just have to spend your trip to Costa Brava on dry land. The region’s historic relationship with the sea is a big part of what makes it such a compelling place to visit, and you can see it for yourself through the underwater viewing chambers on Nautilus tour boats.
Climb the hill to the magnificent Castle of Sant Joan
Towering high above Breda, the Castle of Sant Joan once protected the town and its surrounding villages from attacks from the ocean. It offers amazing views of the area, together with some sublime architecture in its own right, with its proud cylindrical tower making it easily distinguished for miles around.
See fossils of Costa Brava’s former furry friends at Banyoles Regional Archeology Museum
Medieval relics and prehistoric artifacts line the walls of this hugely historic museum Banyoles, located in a building of sublime beauty in its own right. Take an afternoon to explore the unearthed secrets of days gone by and you’ll see just how deeply Costa Brava’s history goes.
Get your groove on at the Begur Music Festival
Every summer from July to August, Begur becomes home to some of the best up and coming musical talent in Europe. Soul music, acoustic sets and classical performances are among the treats in store, so expect the local nights to get lively with song and dance while you’re in town for this.
Take pottery classes at La Bisbal d’Emporda
You’ve spent plenty of time looking at everyone else’s artwork, now you can try making some of your own. There are lots of opportunities to take to the wheel and get your hands wet with the clay. Once you’ve tried making pottery for yourself, you’re sure to get a deeper appreciation for just how much work goes into the ones lining souvenir store shelves.
Visit the three towns that became one at Cruilles-Monells-Sant Sadurni de L’Heura
If you think the name of this place is a mouthful, bear in mind that it’s three communities linked together. In 1973, the three towns, which were all very close together, united as one administrative entity. The architectural beauty, as well as the stunning landscape and hiking trails in the vicinity, make this place well worth your attention.
Experience art in a fortress in Villa Vella
Villa Vella in Tossa de Mar is a famous fort town, but while you’re exploring its winding streets you can also soak up some art in the Municipal Museum of Tossa de Mar. The museum itself is in a building that once housed a feudal lord, which makes it an ideal place for these local treasures to be kept.
See the counts, countesses and costumes of Castello d’Empuries
You’ll find the historic towns of Costa Brava love to commemorate yesteryear, and that’s definitely true in Castello d’Empuries. In September, they annually throw their Land of Troubadours party, where locals dress in the clothes of jesters, lords and regal nobles, all with music, fun, food and laughter.
Watch the carnival parade of Palafrugell’s Spring Festival
The coming of the warmer months are always a reason to celebrate for the people of Palafrugell, who fill the streets with colour every year. Although many visit for the food and music, it’s the street procession and grand parade that really ignites everyone’s spirits.
See how rice has helped the local community in Pals
Every June, the little town of Pals ceremoniously plants new rice in the muddy soil, just as they did in days gone by. To join in with the fun, there are plenty of talks and tours detailing the ways rice has become so crucial to Pal’s growth over the years, as well as a food enjoyed worldwide.
Visit the Josep Aragay Municipal Museum in Breda
When first visiting this place, which is located in a 12th-century church, artist Josep Aragay was so moved by his surroundings that he asked that a museum for his works be created here when he passed away. That’s exactly what’s happened, and today you can find an unparalleled collection of his life’s work at this venue in Breda.
Party all summer at Parafrugell’s Cap Roig Festival
Often voted among the top 10 music festivals in Europe, international artists and stars congregate in Parafrugell every summer for this sensational event. It’s held in the grounds and adjoining botanical gardens of Cap Roig Castle, giving it a unique feel that’s a far cry from the mud, tents and drizzle of home.
Sing sea shanties in Tossa de Mar for Fisherman’s Day
You’ve probably enjoyed the catch of the day more than once during your visit to Costa Brava, but the community likes to thank those who brave the deep to bring home those tasty fish suppers. In Tossa de Mar, Fisherman’s Day has tasty fish dishes and locally sung sea shanties backed by hot coffees glazed with rum. What could be finer?
Celebrate good music at Figueres Acustica Festival
What was once a small local music celebration has blossomed into one of the most beloved acoustic music celebrations on the calendar, anticipated every year worldwide. Professionals and breakthrough acts are united in this series of performances, so factor it in to your plans if you’re heading to Costa Brava.
Hike up to the remains of Castle Bufalaranya
The leaning masonry and imposing mystery of Castle Bufalaranya, up in the hills near Roses, lends it a mystery quite unlike anything else in Costa Brava. Its position in the wilderness makes it somewhere that’s very much off the beaten path, but the views and the feeling of history make it well worth the trek.
See sea views and stunning statues at Santa Clotilde Gardens
Taking its cues from Renaissance art, classic architecture and European chic, the Santa Clotilde Gardens in Lloret de Mar have been intricately landscaped to maximise relaxation, appealing contrasts of colour and cultural values innate Costa Brava. Of course, the splendid sea view certainly helps as well.
Visit the interactive installation of Montseny Space in Viladrau
Using screens, sounds and a sense of place, this enclosed exhibit propels users into an interactive experience, where mysterious ethereal creatures and other delights await in the depths of mist and mystery. It makes for quite an engrossing way to take in the art and definitely comes recommended if you’re passing through.
See where Palau-Sator once greeted visitors at The Hours Tower
Long ago, The Hours Tower, so named for its clock, was part of the gate to the town of Palau-Sator. Although the city itself has definitely moved on, the still-standing tower is a place of cultural importance to Costa Brava, which means it attracts plenty of tourist attention each year.
Meet your friends from the deep at MARAM
MARAM in L’Escala is an interactive museum and education centre about sealife and aquatic culture, established by the local Fisherman’s Guild. Seminars and tours are available all year around, or you can instead freely tour the exhibits and learn how Costa Brava’s relationship with the sea has evolved.
Learn the history of Llanca Keep
In medieval times, Llanca Keep was a central element in the town’s culture and administration, as well as the home of numerous local abbots over the years. Today it’s a testament to the ingenuity of history’s craftsmen, as well as a great place to learn about the lifestyles of those who called Costa Brava home long before we wanted to visit.
Watch zombies walk through Girona
As outlandish as it may seem, it’s become quite the annual highlight for zombies to break out and trudge through the beautiful streets of Girona. Don’t panic just yet though, because this is just part of the local fantasy and film festival that Girona celebrates each year. Even so, you and your friends fleeing from a zombie horde is going to make for a pretty unforgettable holiday photo, wouldn’t you say?
Now you know the top cultural spots to visit, all that’s left is to book that holiday to Costa Brava!