Discover the rich history and culture of the Costa Brava with a visit to one of its charming medieval villages. Each village offers a unique experience that takes you back in time, from fortified castles to quaint cobbled streets.

The Costa Brava is renowned for its stunning coastline, but it also has a rich history that you can easily explore through its many medieval villages. You'll find these charming towns throughout the region, offering a unique opportunity to step back in time and immerse yourself in the area's culture and history. Whether you're interested in visiting fortified castles, wandering through cobbled streets, or exploring traditional architecture, a medieval village in the Costa Brava will give you a unique and authentic experience.

Kimkim can help you plan a private excursion to the medieval villages of the Costa Brava, but here are six of the top options with detailed information to help you decide which ones are best for you.


The historic church in Peratallada

Peratallada is a small, well-preserved medieval village in the heart of the Empordà region. The town's name means "carved stone" in Catalan, a fitting description, as it's built entirely of stone, giving it a distinctively rustic and authentic look. You'll find narrow, cobbled streets, beautiful stone houses, and elegant Gothic architecture.

Peratallada's rich history dates back to the Middle Ages when it was a fortified town. The village was founded in the 10th century, and over time, it developed into a thriving center of agriculture, trade, and crafts. In the 14th century, the powerful Bisbe family owned the town, adding many grand buildings and landmarks that still exist today. Stroll through the town and admire the traditional architecture, castle ruins, fortified walls, and many well-preserved Gothic and Renaissance houses. 

One of the highlights of Peratallada is the castle, which dates back to the 11th century and is now a private residence. Stroll around the castle's perimeter walls, which offer stunning views of the surrounding countryside. Another must-see is the Plaça Major, the town's central square. Here you'll find many beautiful buildings, including the Church of Sant Esteve, which dates back to the 12th century, and the town hall, built in the 18th century.

The town is also famous for its cuisine, local shops, artisanal boutiques, and markets selling handmade crafts and souvenirs.

Getting there: It's best to have a rental car or hire a private transfer when visiting Peratallada. It's about a 45-minute drive from Girona and just 15 minutes from Begur. You'll find a few parking lots outside the old medieval center, so you can easily park and walk into the village. Though you can pay with a card or app in some lots, bring cash just in case. 

What to see and do: There are a few things to see and do in Peratallada. The village's historic core is the draw, so spend some time strolling along the narrow streets and admiring the beautiful stone houses and buildings. You can also visit the castle ruins, the church of Sant Esteve, and the beautiful plazas and gardens. The artisan shops are also great for finding locally made goods, and you may even happen upon a street market.

How much time to spend: Peratallada is small and compact, so you don't need much time to see everything. Plan at least 30 minutes to meander the village and visit its sites. Add an hour if you'd like to sit down for a meal or snack and peruse the shops. 

Best for: This medieval village is quaint and quiet, so it's best for those who want a more relaxed experience. It's also a great spot if you're interested in architecture, medieval history, and local cuisine. 

Pairs well with: If you'd like to visit more than one medieval village in the Costa Brava, Pertallada pairs well with Pals and Begur. 


Charming streets of Pals, Spain

Pals is a beautiful medieval village located in the province of Girona, specifically in the Baix Empordà region. Its location is a huge draw, as you'll find Pals on a hilltop overlooking the surrounding countryside and the Mediterranean Sea. The village is known for its well-preserved stone buildings, narrow, winding streets, and stunning views. 

The town of Pals dates back to the ninth century when the Moors founded it. The Franks later conquered Pals, making it a strategic military stronghold. During the Middle Ages, the village flourished as a center of agriculture and trade, and many of the town's most significant landmarks, such as the Church of Sant Pere, were built during this period.

Today, you can explore the town's fortified walls, which date back to the 12th century, and walk through the charming cobbled streets, admiring the many historic buildings and landmarks. One of the highlights of Pals is the Plaça Major, the town's central square. Here you will find the Church of Sant Pere, built in the 10th century and features a beautiful Romanesque bell tower. Many cafés, restaurants, and shops surround the square.

Getting there: Pals is close to Begur, just a quick eight-minute drive or a 20-minute bus ride. If coming from Girona, driving or hiring a private transfer is best, as public transportation options take too long. The journey from Girona to Pals is about 40 minutes by car. Pals offers street parking and a few large lots where you can pay with cash or a card/app.

What to see and do: The Old Town is where you'll spend your time in Pals, so enjoy strolling along the narrow, winding streets of the village and visiting sites like the church of Sant Pere, the clock tower, and the castle. The tower, Torre de les Hores, is a medieval clock tower that dates back to the 15th century. You can climb to the top for panoramic views of the town and the surrounding countryside. Just be sure to have cash to buy your ticket to the top. For those interested in history, the Museu de la Torre de les Hores is a small museum inside the clock tower, showcasing the history of Pals and its people.

How much time to spend: Pals is a little bigger than Peratallada, with a little more to see and do. Plan for at least one hour in the village, adding more time if you'd like to sit down for a coffee or peruse any shops. 

Best for: This is the place if you want amazing views of inland Costa Brava. Plus, Pals is excellent for learning more about the area's medieval history. 

Pairs well with: Pals is neighbors with Begur, so visiting both is easy, and the two villages perfectly complement one another. 


The historic Old Town of Begur

If you're interested in visiting the Costa Brava, you've likely heard of the beautiful Begur. Though still a village, it's much bigger than Pertallada and Pals, but its historic core is just as charming. You can stroll through the streets and admire the Gothic architecture, including the castle and the church of Santa Maria. The town is on a hilltop overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, surrounded by beautiful beaches, coves, and rocky cliffs.

Begur has a long and rich history, dating back to the ninth century when founded by the Moors. During the Middle Ages, Begur was a center of agriculture and trade, and it was an important strategic location for defending the region against invaders. Today, you can stroll around the streets, admire the architecture, and walk to the top of the Castle of Begur

Another must-see attraction in Begur is the Church of Sant Pere, built in the 16th century with a beautiful Baroque facade. You can also stroll through the Plaça de la Vila, the town's central square, which charming cafés, restaurants, and shops surround.

Getting there: Begur is one of the more popular towns in the Costa Brava and makes an excellent hub for exploring the region and enjoying all its charms. You can drive there from Girona in less than an hour or take public transportation, though it takes over two hours, and you'll need to switch buses. If coming from Barcelona, there are a few ways to make the journey between Barcelona and Begur, the shortest being a 1.5-hour drive. There's plenty of parking in Begur, and if you're using the town as your base, most hotels in Begur provide parking.

What to see and do: Enjoy spending time in Begur's medieval center, strolling its charming streets of Gothic architecture. Walking up to the castle is well worth it, both for the history and views and visiting the church of Santa Maria is a must. For those interested in history, the Begur History Museum is in the town's former prison and showcases the village's history with artifacts, photographs, and documents.

Though not in the town center, Begur's beaches are also a highlight. You can stroll along the Camino de Ronda coastal path and enjoy popular beaches like Sa Riera, Sa Tuna, and Aiguablava, all of which offer crystal-clear waters and stunning views. Enjoy swimming, sunbathing, and participating in water sports like snorkeling, scuba diving, and kayaking. 

How much time to spend: Since Begur is a bit bigger, you might want to plan to spend more time here, especially if you'd like to enjoy the coastline, too. Plan for at least an hour in the town and another hour or two in the coastal spots. 

Best for: You'll enjoy Begur if you're interested in history and want to enjoy incredible views. It's also the best spot to combine beach time with medieval explorations. 

Pairs well with: With Begur being a little more popular, bigger, and busier, pair it with one of the smaller, quieter villages like Pals and/or Peratallada. 

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The medieval bridge of Besalú

It doesn't get more medieval than Besalú, a beautifully preserved medieval village located in the region of La Garrotxa. The village is known for its well-preserved stone buildings, narrow streets, and beautiful Gothic architecture, including the church of Sant Vicenç and the 12th-century bridge. It sits on the banks of the Fluvià River, so you get a mix of medieval architecture and countryside views.

The history of Besalú is similar to the other medieval towns in the region, dating back to the 10th century when founded by the Moors. It was later conquered by the Franks, who made it an important center of trade and commerce. Then, during the Middle Ages, Besalú flourished as a center of agriculture and crafts. Today, visitors flock to the town for its beautiful Romanesque bridge, which dates to the 12th century.

Another must-see attraction in Besalú is the Plaça de la Llibertat, the town's central square with numerous cafés, restaurants, and shops. Here you will find another Church of Sant Pere, built in the 11th century with a beautiful Romanesque bell tower. There's also the Museum of Miniatures and Microminiatures, a small museum with a collection of intricate sculptures smaller than a grain of rice.

Getting there: Besalú is a bit off-the-beaten-path, so using a rental car or hiring a private transfer is best. It's a 40-minute drive from Girona or just 20 minutes from Figueres. If coming from Begur, plan on a little over an hour. You'll find parking lots on the opposite side of the bridge, so you'll enjoy epic views from the very start. 

What to see and do: The highlights of Besalú are its incredibly charming town center, the Romanesque bridge, and the views. You can visit sites in the village, including the Sant Vicenç Church and Plaça de la Llibertat, but be sure to save time to stroll across the bridge. If you'd like to enjoy more of the countryside, Besalú is also near hiking trails and cycling routes, including a few in the nearby Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park. Kimkim can help you plan a visit to Besalú and its volcanic surroundings on a day trip. 

How much time to spend: If you just want to enjoy the town, plan for one hour in Besalú. This will give you enough time to walk along the cobbled streets and cross the bridge. Add more time to visit museums or sites, and give yourself at least another two hours if you'd like to hike or cycle in the area. 

Best for: Besalú combines picturesque medieval architecture and natural surroundings, so it's best for those who like history and nature. But you certainly don't need to hike or cycle, and those who stay in the village will enjoy its charming Old Town. 

Pairs well with: Not far from Besalú is the next village on the list, Castellfollit de la Roca, so these two are the perfect pair, but Besalú also complements Girona. 

Castellfollit de la Roca

The unique clifftop village of Castellfollit de la Roca

Castellfollit de la Roca is a small and charming village west of Besalú. It is an appealing destination atop a narrow and rocky outcrop overlooking the confluence of the Fluvià and Toronell rivers. This area is known for its stunning natural beauty and unique geological formations.

Castellfollit de la Roca has a long and fascinating history, dating to the Middle Ages when it was a strategic military stronghold. During this period, the village was fortified, and many of the town's most significant landmarks, such as the Church of Sant Salvador, were built. Today, travelers visit Castellfollit de la Roca for its scenic natural surroundings, including the cliffs and gorges that surround the village. Enjoy a stroll along the village's narrow streets, admiring the historic buildings and landmarks, such as the town hall built in the 16th century.

Getting there: Getting to Castellfollit de la Roca requires a car, whether a rental or private transfer. It'll take you a little under an hour from Girona and from Begur, about one hour and 15 minutes. You'll find a parking lot at the base of the cliff, which gives you access to the river, hiking trails, and a fantastic viewpoint. But for easier access, follow the road up to the top, where you'll find two parking lots, one on each side of the village. 

What to see and do: The views and unique location bring people to this particular village, so plan to spend time admiring both. You can also walk through the Old Town and visit sites like the Church of Sant Salvador and/or the Museum of the Garrotxa Region, a small museum highlighting the area's geology, flora, fauna, and cultural heritage.

Another must-see is the Basaltic Cliff, a unique geological formation above the river. You can take a guided tour of the cliff, learn about its formation and history, and enjoy the stunning views of the surrounding landscape. You'll also find options for hiking trails and cycling routes, and the nearby Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park features volcanic landscapes and hiking paths.

How much time to spend: This small village doesn't require much time, so plan for at least 30 minutes to stroll its long, narrow street and take in the views. On the way in or out, be sure to save time to take in the views from the bottom of the cliff at the famous lookout. Add about one hour if you'd like to enjoy a guided visit to the Basaltic Cliff and another hour or two for a trek along one of the hiking routes. 

Best for: History buffs and nature enthusiasts will surely enjoy Castellfollit de la Roca, especially those interested in geology. 

Pairs well with: This medieval village pairs best with its neighbor, Besalú, and the area's biggest city, Girona. 


Girona's medieval skyline

Though not a village, Girona makes the list, as it has one of the best-preserved medieval centers and Jewish Quarters in Europe. It's a beautiful city set along the banks of the Onyar River, known for its medieval architecture, charming narrow streets, and rich cultural heritage, as well as a filming location for the sixth season of "Game of Thrones." 

Girona has a long and fascinating history, dating back to the Roman era when it was an important center of trade and commerce. During the Middle Ages, Girona thrived as a center of art, culture, and learning. Many of the town's most significant landmarks, such as the Girona Cathedral, were built during this period.

Enjoy exploring the city's beautiful Old Town, a maze of narrow cobbled streets and alleyways lined with colorful houses and charming cafés. You'll find many historic buildings and landmarks to enjoy, such as the Arab Baths, which date back to the 12th century and feature beautiful Romanesque architecture. Walking along the medieval walls is a must, a stroll filled with history and views. There are also several museums and parks in the city, and it's the perfect spot for a meal, as Girona's restaurant scene is quite impressive.  

Getting there: Girona is a big city and hub, so getting there is fairly straightforward. If starting from Begur, it's best to drive or hire a private transfer, which takes just under one hour. There's also a bus service, but it takes over two hours, and you'll need to switch buses. The journey between Barcelona and Girona is more flexible, as you can drive in about 1.5 hours, take a fast 40-minute train, or go by bus, which takes about an hour and 40 minutes.

What to see and do: Girona is filled with things to do and see, with many sites in the historic Jewish Quarter. The Girona Cathedral, a stunning Gothic cathedral dating to the 11th century, is a must, with its in-house museum and a bell tower offering incredible views. You can also visit the Arab Baths and stroll around the Jewish Quarter. The medieval walls are fun, and a few charming streets include Carrer de la Força, Carrer de Sant Llorenç, and Carrer Manuel Cundaro

If you'd like to go to a museum, there are several options, with the Museum of Jewish History being the most popular. The City History Museum is also quite interesting, as are the Girona Art Museum and the Museum of Jewish Art and Culture. When ready for a snack, don't miss a few local staples, including fideuà, a type of paella made with noodles instead of rice, and xuixo, a sweet pastry filled with cream. 

You can also book a "Game of Thrones" walk in Girona, which blends the city's history with fun facts about the series and filming locations. 

How much time to spend: If you'd like to visit Girona quickly, give yourself at least a couple of hours in the city. But you could even spend 24 hours in Girona and have plenty to do! 

Best for: Girona is best for those wanting to dive deep into the region's medieval history—and the city hosts some of the best museums in the area. 

Pairs well with: You could easily pair Girona with one of the smaller medieval villages, which would be a nice combination. Besalú and Peratallada are both excellent options. 

Additional Considerations

The beautiful architecture in Pals

When visiting these smaller medieval villages in the Costa Brava, there are a few things to consider:

Do I need a car?

It's best to have a car when visiting any of these villages and cities, but you can rely on public transportation when traveling to bigger towns like Begur or Girona. If you don't want to rent a car, you can always hire a private transfer or, with some shorter distances, a local taxi. 

Can I pay with a card, or do I need cash?

Some of these smaller villages might require some cash, whether with parking, visiting some of the sites, or eating at a café. Though most places accept cards these days, carrying a small amount of cash with you is always a good idea. 

Should I book any tickets to the monuments in advance?

The answer to this question depends on the sites you plan to see. If you're visiting Girona and want to visit a museum or major monument, booking in advance is a good idea. If you're just popping into some of the smaller villages, there's likely no option to book in advance. Go in the morning if you'd like to avoid any crowds or long lines. 

Is a guided tour a good idea?

Whether you want to explore medieval towns in the Costa Brava with a guide is a personal preference. With a guided experience, you'll dive deeper into the village and its history and don't necessarily need to worry about transportation. But, at the same time, a guided tour means you're tied to specific timing. Exploring the area on your own provides a little more freedom and opportunity for spontaneity. So, the choice is yours!