Whether you're a history buff interested in exploring ancient fortresses and castles or simply looking for a charming and authentic Mediterranean village, the Costa Brava has several excellent options. From the ancient ruins of Tossa de Mar to the fishing village of Calella de Palafrugell, you'll find numerous coastal towns, each with its history and beauty. Whatever you choose, you'll enjoy crystal clear waters, breathtaking vistas, and rich cultural heritage.
With so many options, choosing which village suits you isn't always easy. Kimkim can help you plan an active excursion to the Costa Brava's coastal villages, but this article will also help you decide which towns are best for you and your interests, focusing on five of the top picks.
Recommended for: Couples, families, and history buffs
Though the medieval town of Begur is technically inland, it's not far from the coast, and much of the region borders the Mediterranean Sea. Stunning beaches surround Begur, so you have many options for idyllic sandy stretches and water sports. The village has a rich history, with evidence of human settlement dating back to prehistoric times. More recently, Begur has been a hub of maritime activity, and its castle was used to defend the town from pirate attacks.
Getting to Begur: Begur is the ideal hub in the Costa Brava, as it's not too far from Girona or even Barcelona, plus it's connected to numerous beaches. Having a car is best when traveling from Barcelona to Begur, though there's a two-hour-long bus service or a slightly faster train option, but you'll need to take a taxi to Begur from Flaça. If coming from Girona, plan to drive for about one hour.
What to see and do: Begur has plenty to see and do, with its historic castle, charming old town, and beautiful beaches just a few of the highlights. Within the village, you can visit sites like the 11th-century Castle of Begur with incredible views, the 16th-century Church of Sant Pere, and the buzzy main square of Plaça de la Vila. The Begur History Museum is also an interesting site if you'd like to learn more about the village's history and culture.
Of course, there are plenty of active pursuits, too, such as walking along the coast via the Camí de Ronda trail and exploring the area beaches to relax or enjoy sports like kayaking, paddleboarding, snorkeling, and more. Begur's beaches are some of the most picturesque in the region, with crystal-clear waters and many stunning vistas.
Beaches to visit: Begur has several stunning beaches tucked away in small coves, providing a serene and peaceful atmosphere. Some of the most popular beaches include Sa Tuna, Aiguafreda, and Platja Fonda. These options offer sun loungers, umbrella rentals, and restaurants and cafés serving fresh, local cuisine.
Sa Tuna is best for relaxing and swimming, as it's in a small, secluded cove with clear waters. Check out Aiguablava if you need more space, as this wide and sandy beach also offers water sports and eateries. Try Fonda if you'd like to snorkel or swim in crystalline water in a calm, sheltered cove. Another option is Platja del Raco, a wide, sandy beach ideal for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports, such as renting kayaks, paddleboards, and other equipment and taking lessons.
Best for: Begur truly appeals to all, but it's ideal for families and couples. The beach amenities are convenient for families traveling with kids, and the secluded coves are perfect for finding a calm spot on the beach with your significant other.
Recommended for: Art and history buffs and active travelers
Cadaqués is a charming town on the easternmost point of the Iberian Peninsula, known for its beautiful beaches, stunning natural landscapes, and unique cultural heritage. The town's history dates back to ancient times when it was a small fishing village. Over the centuries, Cadaqués grew into a bustling port town, serving as an essential center of commerce and trade. During the 20th century, the village became a haven for artists and intellectuals, including Salvador Dalí, who had a summer house here.
Today, Cadaqués is perfect for strolling its narrow streets, admiring beautiful whitewashed houses, and enjoying the seaside atmosphere. The town has a few historic buildings and landmarks, including the 16th-century Church of Santa Maria with its captivating Gothic-style facade. Admire the church's beautiful stained glass windows, altarpieces, and other ornate decorations.
Of course, Cadaqués is also known for its beaches and natural landscapes. The coastline here is perfect for outdoor activities, such as swimming, sunbathing, snorkeling, and hiking, or simply relaxing and soaking up the Mediterranean sunshine. You can also enjoy delicious local cuisine, with many dishes featuring fresh seafood, local wines, and traditional Catalan recipes.
How to get there: Getting to Cadaqués can be a bit challenging, as the town is at the end of a winding road that isn't the easiest stretch to navigate. Having a rental car or hiring a private transfer is best, though a fun alternative is getting to Cadaqués by boat. The drive takes about one hour and 15 minutes from either Girona or Begur. If coming from Barcelona, plan for over two hours of driving.
What to see and do: One of the must-see attractions in Cadaqués is the Casa-Museu Salvador Dalí, the summer residence of the famous surrealist artist. The museum's many rooms and exhibits showcase Dalí's life and work, teaching visitors about his creative endeavors.
Since Cadaqués is on the Cap de Creus peninsula, you'll find many opportunities for active excursions in its neighboring Cap de Creus Natural Park. This scenic and rugged landscape offers hiking trails and cycling routes with viewpoints featuring rocky cliffs, hidden coves, and beaches. It's the perfect place to enjoy the natural beauty of the region. And, of course, Cadaqués also has beach options.
Beaches to visit: Some must-visit beaches in Cadaqués include Playa de Portlligat, a small and secluded option next to the Salvador Dalí House Museum. You can enjoy swimming, sunbathing, and water sports, or stroll along the beautiful coastal paths, admiring the views of the sea and coastline. Another option is Cala de Guillola, a picturesque cove with crystal-clear waters and views of the surrounding cliffs. This is a good spot for snorkeling.
Best for: Art and history buffs will enjoy Cadaqués and active travelers interested in water sports and hiking.
Sant Feliu de Guíxols
Recommended for: Families and water sport enthusiasts
Sant Feliu de Guíxols is an excellent option for families traveling with kids. This village offers various activities to keep the little ones busy, from kayaking and walking the coastal paths to playing on the beach or going to the nearby water park. But other travelers will find it entertaining, too, as Sant Feliu de Guíxols is also great for renting kayaks and standup paddleboards.
As a town, Sant Feliu de Guíxols has a rich and fascinating history that dates back to the Roman era. Originally known as "Benedicta" during this period, it became an important center for maritime trade and fishing, thanks to its strategic location along the coast. The town's namesake, Sant Feliu, was an early Christian martyr, and the iconic Monastery of Sant Feliu de Guíxols, founded in the 10th century, offers a testament to the town's religious heritage.
Over the centuries, the village grew significantly, evolving into a bustling hub for various crafts and industries, such as cork production. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Sant Feliu de Guíxols emerged as a popular destination for travelers drawn to its landscapes, cultural heritage, and local traditions, which still attract visitors today.
Getting to Sant Feliu de Guíxols: Sant Feliu de Guíxols is best reached by car. From Begur, plan for a 30-minute drive, and from Girona, the journey takes about 40 minutes. The town has plenty of parking, including lots near the coast, so getting to the beach is relatively easy.
What to see and do: One of the must-see attractions in Sant Feliu de Guíxols is the Monastery of Sant Feliu, which dates back to the 10th century and is one of the town's most iconic landmarks. You can explore the monastery's beautiful cloisters, chapels, and other historic buildings while learning about the town's past.
Another popular attraction in Sant Feliu de Guíxols is the Plaça del Mercat, the town's central square. Here you'll find many cafés, restaurants, shops, and the Municipal Market, which sells fresh local produce, meats, and seafood (perfect for a picnic on the beach).
To learn more about the town's history, visit the Can Mario Museum, a small museum in an old factory building with contemporary art and year-round historical exhibitions. Sant Feliu de Guíxols is also known for its beautiful beaches, seaside promenade, and water sports.
Beaches to Visit: Some of the best beaches in Sant Feliu de Guíxols include Platja de Sant Feliu, a wide, sandy beach with clear waters ideal for swimming and sunbathing, and Platja de Sant Pol, another long stretch popular for water sports, including kayaking, windsurfing, and sailing. Both beaches offer restaurants and bars nearby.
For a more secluded option, consider Cala Maset, a small cove along a walking path with a pebbly beach and clear waters providing a quiet and peaceful spot. It's popular with snorkelers and sunbathers.
Best for: Families will appreciate all the town's amenities, making traveling with kids a little easier. It's also a good choice if you'd like to try water sports.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Calella de Palafrugell / Llafranc
Recommended for: Older couples and travelers and those wanting quiet
For those seeking a calm, relaxed atmosphere, Calella de Palafrugell / Llafranc is a great option. You'll be in a beautiful, accessible part of the Camí De Ronda trail and outside the bustle of busier destinations. Calella de Palafrugell, also known as La Fosca, is a charming coastal village steeped in history with origins dating to the Roman period. The region was known for its thriving maritime trade and fishing activities.
Over the centuries, the town transformed into a prosperous center for various industries, including cork production, shipbuilding, and textiles. Calella de Palafrugell is now home to picturesque streets, whitewashed houses, and traditional fishing boats known as llaüts, evoking a sense of nostalgia for bygone days. Enjoy a delightful blend of history, culture, and natural beauty, with unspoiled beaches and crystal-clear waters.
Getting to Calella de Palafrugell / Llafranc: The area is best reached by car, with a quick 15-minute drive from Begur. If coming from Girona, plan on a longer trip, about an hour. There's convenient parking between the two towns, but you'll find more options in Calella de Palafrugell.
What to see and do: A popular attraction in Calella de Palafrugell is the Cap Roig Botanical Garden, a beautiful park on a hillside overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. You can enjoy the many walking paths and admire the views of the sea and surrounding coastline.
For those interested in history, the Museu del Suro showcases the chronology of the cork industry in the region. The museum features exhibits on the cork harvesting process and the many different products made from cork. Afterward, stroll through the streets and enjoy the town's many cafés, restaurants, and shops or explore the picturesque fishing harbor, watching the anglers bring in their daily catch.
As a coastal village in the Costa Brava, you'll also find plenty of beaches in Calella de Palafrugell / Llafranc. Since this is a quieter town and area, the beaches are best for relaxing, swimming, and sunbathing.
Beaches to Visit: Some of the best beaches in Calella de Palafrugell / Llafranc include the main stretches of sand in each respective village. Calella de Palafrugell Beach is a sandy option with glassy waters, making it a popular spot for swimming and sunbathing. Llafranc Beach is smaller and in a sheltered cove, so it's better for those wanting more privacy and seclusion or if you'd like to snorkel. Both have several restaurants and cafés nearby.
Another option is Cala El Golfet, a small beach just north of Jardíns de Cap Roig with a parking lot. It's a good spot for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports or taking a stroll along the coastal path and admiring the sea vistas and cliffs. You can walk there from Calella de Palafrugell in about 20 minutes via the Camí de Ronda coastal path.
Best for: Relaxed travelers and older couples might appreciate Calella de Palafrugell / Llafranc the most, thanks to its peaceful and calm atmosphere. However, anyone looking for quiet can enjoy this area.
Tossa de Mar
Recommended for: Everyone
Tossa de Mar is a charming coastal town with long, wide beaches, rich history, and a vibrant atmosphere. The village dates to Roman times when it was a fortified settlement protected by now-ancient walls. This area of Tossa de Mar, the Vila Vella, still stands today and provides a glimpse into the town's past. During the Middle Ages, Tossa de Mar was a major center for the production of textiles. And in the 20th century, it became a popular destination for visitors from all over Europe.
Today, you can enjoy its main beach, which stretches nearly 1,320 feet (400 m) long and provides ample space to spread out and enjoy the sun and sand without worrying too much about crowds. And because it's in a large cove, the water tends to be calm and clear—perfect for safe swimming, especially with young children. Otherwise, walk up to the top of the castle, visit the lighthouse, and discover the "secret" beach on the other side of the Old Town. You can also walk the streets and enjoy a meal at one of the many eateries.
Getting there: Tossa de Mar is less than one hour from Begur and Girona by car, and you'll find several large parking lots throughout the town, both above and below ground. You can also park on the street and pay per minute with an app or at the meters. Though having a car or hiring a private transfer is best, if coming from Girona, the bus is pretty convenient, taking 1.5 hours. Just know you'll need to switch buses in Lloret.
What to see and do: The Vila Vella (Old Town) is the village's biggest appeal; an ancient fortified settlement with castle ruins, ancient walls, a lighthouse, charming cobbled streets, and views of the sea and coastline. You could easily spend an hour or more wandering around this area. The Tossa de Mar Lighthouse provides panoramic views of both the town and the coast and is a popular spot for taking photos.
You can also relax at Parc de les Aigües, a lovely green space in the town center perfect for picnicking, strolling, and bird-watching. And the other big draw is, of course, the beach.
Beaches to visit: Tossa de Mar is famous for its stunning beaches, including Platja Gran, Es Codolar Beach, and Platja Mar Menuda. Platja Gran is the main beach, long, wide, and sandy, sitting at the base of the castle. You can enjoy sunbathing, swimming, and water sports, or relax on the sand and take in the views. You'll find Es Codolar Beach on the other side of the castle, nestled into a picturesque cove. And Plajta Mar Menuda is at the other end of Platja Gran, a sandy spot with unique rock formations and transparent water.
You can also venture out of the town and enjoy other nearby beaches, including Cala Giverola, which requires a nice little walk down to the coast, and the secluded Cala Pola.
Best for: Tossa de Mar is one of those places that works well for almost anyone. Whether you want to combine history with beach time, enjoy stunning views, get active on the beach, relax, soak up nature, hike, or eat a delicious meal, the town has it all. And for families, the wide, sandy beach with shallow water is great for kids.
Should you have a car?
Having a car can be helpful for exploring the Costa Brava region, especially if you want to visit some of the more remote beaches and coves. However, many coastal towns are walkable and have good public transportation connections, so having a car while in the villages isn't necessarily essential—just getting there!
Should you stay overnight in any village?
Staying overnight in one of the coastal villages can be a great way to experience the authentic local culture and atmosphere. Many of the villages have a range of accommodation options, including hotels and apartments. Some of the most popular towns for overnight stays include Begur, Tossa de Mar, and Cadaqués.
What traditional food should you try?
There are many traditional Catalan recipes that visitors to the Costa Brava region should try. Some of the most popular dishes include pa amb tomàquet (bread with tomato and olive oil), escalivada (grilled vegetables), suquet de peix (fish stew), and fideuà (a type of paella made with noodles instead of rice). You can also try local seafood specialties, such as grilled sardines, anchovies, and squid. Plus, the region is famous for its wine production, such as varietals from the DO Empordà region.
More Costa Brava Itineraries
If you need some trip inspiration for how to spend your time in Spain, specifically the Costa Brava and Catalonia, past kimkim travelers have enjoyed the following itineraries that include time on the coast:
Barcelona, the Costa Brava & Rural Cataluña - 7 days
Self-Drive Costa Brava & Pyrenees Mountains - 10 Days
Barcelona & the Costa Brava - 14 Days