Costa Brava is Spain’s stretch of coastline that starts north of Barcelona and ends on the border with France. It’s known for impeccable scenery and picturesque coastal villages, as well as wild, rocky cliff sides. Traveling to Costa Brava is best started in Barcelona, which makes for an excellent base for enjoying the rest of the area or connecting to other cities.

From Barcelona, it’s quick and easy to drive to the small towns that dot the “Wild Coast”. Public transportation is also available, with trains and buses offering routes from Barcelona to the cities of Girona and Figueres. You can also reach Costa Brava from other large cities in Spain, such as Madrid or Bilbao. Most options, including plane, car, train, and bus, all require a connection in Barcelona.

If you’re looking to extend your trip and want to see more of Spain, this 17-day itinerary combines the three cities (Barcelona, Madrid, Bilbao) with the country’s southern province of Andalusia.

From Barcelona

Duration: 40 minutes - 1.5 hours

Technically, Costa Brava begins near the town of Blanes, which is just one hour by car from Barcelona. Alternatively, you can keep going all the way to Girona (1.5 hours) and use the historic city as a base. 

There are many coastal villages worth seeing, so having your own car is the best and most convenient option. Some of these idyllic towns include Pals, Cadaqués, Peratallada, and Calella de Palafrugell. If you prefer to visit the beaches and towns in the north, a more ideal hub is the city of Figueres—the hometown of Salvador Dalí.

Public transportation is also available, with trains being the most convenient. From Barcelona, you’ll reach Girona in just 40 minutes, or Figueres in one hour. Buses take a bit longer and are best used if traveling to Girona, arriving in 1.5 hours. You might be interested in this 9-day tour that explores the highlights of both Barcelona and the Costa Brava.

Once in Costa Brava, it’s best to explore its scenery by car as there are numerous beaches and hiking areas not serviced by buses. Rental cars are available in all three cities (Barcelona, Girona, Figueres) as well as in many of the towns along the coast. You can also book private transfers and tours, if you wish. Local buses are also available, but timetables are limited.

From Bilbao

Duration: 1 - 8.5 hours

Although it’s located on the north side of the French-Spanish border, it’s possible to travel to Costa Brava from Bilbao. The fastest option is by plane, with Vueling Airlines offering direct flights to Barcelona in about one hour. If you’re a foodie, you might be interested in eating your way through your trip in this 9-day culinary trip that combines Bilbao and Barcelona with stops in La Rioja.

Traveling by car is another option, although longer than flying. Rental cars and private transfers are available, passing through the city of Zaragoza and reaching Barcelona in about 5.5 hours. Buses and trains follow a similar route with trains being a bit faster at seven hours. Buses arrive Barcelona in 7.5-8.5 hours. 

For travel between Barcelona and the Costa Brava, as well as how to travel around the region, see the previous option.

From Madrid

Duration: 1.5 - 9.5 hours

The fastest way to travel to Costa Brava from Madrid is by plane. Direct flights leave throughout the day and arrive in Barcelona about 1.5 hours later. Airlines such as Iberia, Vueling Airlines, and Air Europa all serve this route. For travel between Barcelona and the Costa Brava, see the previous option.

Although it’s a longer alternative, you can also reach Costa Brava from Madrid by car, either rental or private transfer. The fastest route takes about 6.5 hours, following highways through Zaragoza. If you prefer a slightly longer route with seaside scenery, you can first take the highway to Valencia and connect to the AP-7 highway up the coast towards Barcelona. 

Public transportation is also available, with both trains and buses offering direct routes. Trains are faster at 4-4.5 hours, some requiring a connection in Barcelona. Buses arrive in Girona in 9.5 hours, passing through Zaragoza and Barcelona.

Find more details about the journey in How to Get From Madrid to Barcelona. And if you want to further explore the two cities, this 5-day itinerary highlights alternative tourist spots.

For more information about traveling around Costa Brava, see the first option.