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Costa Brava
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Costa Brava

By Amy Adejokun Amy Adejokun Section editor

Our Editorial team's advice

The Costa Brava stretches from the north of Barcelona all the way to the French border. The Mediterranean landscapes here extend for nearly 155 miles, displaying stark contrasts that inspired painters like Dali and Miro. Cap de Creus is a protected natural park and probably one of the most emblematic places on earth. The coastline here is a succession of large seaside resorts and small fishing villages that are sure to delight tourists! The region offers a huge array of activities, such as hiking, cultural sights, water sports, or quite simply sun bathing. All in all, the Costa Brava is the ideal place for enjoying your holiday to the rhythm of the Spanish way of life!

To see

The Costa Brava is packed with small and undeniably charming villages. Take, for example, those located beside the sea, such as Cadaquès, Callela, and Aguabrava, or those further inland, such as Begur, Pals, and Castillo de Empuriès; all of them are impressive for their architectural and cultural heritage. Through the monuments and museums of the region you'll discover the history of Catalonia and all of the legends surrounding it. Pirates, kings and queens, peasants and fishermen ready to brave the sea in search of fortune, the Costa Brava has a lot more to offer than just its beaches.

To do

The Ronda route, which is several hundred miles long, is a wonderful seaside walk that will take you from one village to the next, affording some splendid views of the coves and natural parks that make up the coast. Casa Museu de Salvador Dali in Port Lligat and the Roman ruins of Escala are also worth a visit, as are Cap de Creus Natural Park and the Santa Clotilde Gardens in Lloret de Mar.

pros

  • +  The numerous protected parks
  • +  The quality of the hotel infrastructure
  • +  A very rich historical and cultural heritage

cons

  • -  Catalan can sometimes create a bit of a language barrier when establishing contacts with locals
  • -  From Cadaquès on, most of the coves are sand-free and you'll have to get used to the pebbles!

To think about

The Costa Brava is the perfect region for outdoor activities. The plains of Empordà are ideal for cycling while the coasts of Lloret de Mar and Tossa del Mar, with the famous 'Tramontane' (northern wind), will thrill windsurfing and kite-surfing enthusiasts alike. When the weather is mild and the conditions are not too windy, you can try your hand at water- or jet skiing.

To avoid

Criticising the Catalan language will not earn you many friends. Try not to get angry if the people you meet initially speak to you in Catalan, as it is the mother tongue of the region's inhabitants. The Catalans are very proud of their language and like to speak it whenever they can. If you don't understand them, a simple "bon dia" should go a long way, since a simple acknowledgement that speaking Spanish is an effort will help establish good relations. Avoid telling them that you don't understand this regional particularity - they'll simply explain that Spanish is the language imposed on them by the State, whereas Catalan is the language of their ancestors. The relationship between the Catalans and the Spanish (from Madrid or Andalusia) is still rife with animosity and there is simply no point in getting involved.

To try

Have a taste of the local wine, the anchovies, the anchoïade (a kind of anchovy dip) and the olive oil with its Protected Designation of Origin certification. Berbechos (cockles) served with a dash of wine vinegar and grilled sargo fish (the typical local cooking method) go down very nicely with an evening drink.

To bring back

If you have a sweet tooth, why not try a cap, which are pastries made in Cadaquès. What's more, Emporia's wines are also very decent, both in terms of taste and price. Fashion victims will undoubtedly fancy a pair of bigatanes, traditionally worn for sardana dances. Try the anchovies and the anchovy-stuffed olives.
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