Costa Brava Holidays

Culture and sun by the coast

Costa Brava might mean 'wild coast’, but there’s nothing crazy about picking this dreamy, beach-filled sunspot for a holiday. The region lies in the northeast of Catalonia in Spain, right up to the French border. Traditional Catalan influences run throughout, making Costa Brava holidays an enticing mix of rich culture – its picturesque coastline has provided inspiration for generations of painters and thinkers over the centuries – and classic sun-and-sea pursuits.

First and foremost the Costa Brava is all about relaxing, and its sandy beaches are a huge draw. Days can be spent simply enjoying the sunshine, eating tapas and sipping Spanish wine by the sea, while adventure-seekers can get to know what lies beneath the ocean, too – the Costa Brava is celebrated for its marine life, and divers are spoilt for choice when it comes to spotting sealife.

Not all holidays to Costa Brava need to just zone in on the beach, though. The cities of Girona and Barcelona are an easy drive away, both of which are enticing destinations in their own right. In Girona, spend a day in Figueres discovering the life and works of Salvador Dali, the eccentric surrealist painter who lived and died there, or potter around Barcelona’s many world-class museums and galleries.

Three tips for a top trip

Hire a car
While there are bus routes running through all the region’s towns, a faster way to get around – and to explore more nooks and crannies along the coast – is to rent a car.
Book dinner in advance
The Costa Brava is incredibly popular during the summer months, and with good reason. This means restaurants can get booked up quickly, so do plan ahead.
Take a boat trip
A great way to experience the beauty of the rugged coastline is by boat. Take your pick of catamaran rides, motorboat cruises and other excursions on offer from many ports.

Best attractions to see in Costa Brava

Salvador Dali’s legacy

Surrealist painter Salvador Dali was born, and died, in Figueres, here in Costa Brava. Admire some of his best work in the zany, Dali-designed Teatro Museo.

Cathedral of Girona

There are cathedrals, and then there is the Placa de la Catedral. This towering Gothic building dates back to the 5th century – learn all about it in the museum.

Jardin Botanico Marmurta

With more than 4,000 plant species, this extraordinary botanical garden by the sea is well worth a trip. Admire the exotic specimens or simply enjoy the panoramic coastal views.

Your Costa Brava questions, answered

Here in Spain’s Catalonia region, Catalan is the Costa Brava’s native tongue. But many locals are fluent in Spanish, and often French and English, too.

Catalan history and culture are deeply entwined in the region’s cuisine. Dishes such as paella and fish dominate, while French influences are found in seasonings and flavours.

Great beaches can be found in or near every one of the Costa Brava’s towns. But if you want to see what the ‘Wild Coast’ is really all about, Tossa de Mar is a good spot. There’s a beach here called Cala Giverola that’s exactly what you’d expect from this part of Spain. It's wild and rugged with pine tree forests and really blue waters. You’ll usually find smaller, wilder secluded coves around the rocky headlands, and more accessible, family-friendly beaches around the larger Costa Brava towns and resorts.

For classic beach holidays, the best time to visit is during the hotter months of June, July and August. May and September are also warm, and you’ll avoid the summer crowds.

It depends on where you go. Places like Lloret de Mar and Calella are really lively, while other places like Begur are much quieter and more relaxed. The Costa Brava caters just as much for families as it does for 20-somethings. People visit the Costa Brava for a huge number of reasons. Some enjoy the party atmosphere and check out the clubs, and others just unwind and chill out in the summer sun.

It only takes an hour and a half to drive between Blanes at the south end of the coast to Portbou at the French border, so don’t worry too much about where to stay. No matter where you are, you’ll be within easy reach of the best attractions and sights on the Costa Brava. If you want lazy beachfront days and long party nights, Lloret de Mar and Calella have the best nightlife. If you’re travelling with kids, you might prefer to stay towards Platja d’Aro or Roses, which are close to some really fun water parks.

Yes! The Costa Brava is excellently set up for families with kids of all ages. That’s because there’s a really wide range of different things to do. There are beaches, nature, old villages, pretty towns, shopping opportunities, water parks, and loads more. You can do something different every day, so the little ones won't get bored. The Costa Brava enjoys nice weather most of the year too. So you won’t have to worry too much about planning rainy day activities.

June to September is the most popular time to visit the Costa Brava so, if you travel outside of this period, you may be able to find some super bargains. April, May, and October can be good for a low-cost break, and the weather is usually still pretty warm. If you really wanted to visit at the cheapest time of year, consider travelling over the winter months. Temperatures at this time reach about 15°C max. While it may not be sunbathing weather, there’s still lots to do in the old medieval towns.

If you want to take a peek into Spanish history, you really can’t go wrong with the Costa Brava. Probably one of the most important historic sites here is the Girona Cathedral. Why? Because it transports you through a whopping 700 years of history in just one building. Construction started in the 11th century, but it wasn’t finished until the 1700s. Just looking at the cathedral, you can see how things changed over time, moving from classic Romanesque styles to Gothic architectural design.