The beautiful Costa Brava, is located in the northeast of Spain and with a 200 kilometers of coastline it is one of the most popular holiday destination in Europe. Pearly white beaches, picturesque villages and endless activities in combination with a wonderful climate ensure that there is something for every holidaymaker on the Costa Brava. What many people don't know when they think about the Costa Brava is that the area also has a beautiful history that goes back to the Iberian time. The Costa Brava sights and highlights date back to 4th century BC!
In this Blog I will therefore take you on a journey to the 18 most picturesque villages and areas on the Costa Brava, and I will introduce you the most beautiful sights that you can not miss!
Hve a look here for the most beautiful beaches on the Costa Brava!
The rich history of the Costa Brava
The history of the Costa Brava dates back to the Iberian and Roman times. The idyllic location of the region, on the water and in an elevated position in the hills, made the area ideal for the inhabitants of the time. In addition to the fact that there is a surrounding nature and the sea had enough food boat possibilities, the elevated position meant that attacks from the sea were seen from a great distance.
Over the centuries, various attacks have taken place by pirates, Moors, the French and the British. However, the Costa Brava always managed to recover. Although much of the history was destroyed during these attacks, there are still many historical objects and buildings to admire on the Costa Brava.
Most of this wonderful history can be found in the capital of the Costa Brava, Girona. But spread throughout the Costa Brava you will find many more remains from ancient times that are definitely worth a visit! Discover the most beautiful cathedrals, museums, monasteries, castles, settlements, botanical gardens and gothic buildings from Roman times, the Middle Ages and the Golden Age. Be transported by the unparalleled beauty of the Costa Brava during your journey back in time!
Costa Brava sights and highlights
In the picturesque villages and seaside resorts on the Costa Brava you will find numerous sights that will enrich your holiday. Most of the sights on the Costa Brava have to do with the long, beautiful and eventful history of this region. However, the Costa Brava is so large that it is practically impossible to admire all the sights during a holiday of 2 or 3 weeks.
So if you are going on holiday to the Costa Brava, take a look at the overview below of villages and seaside resorts, including their sights! Select which sights on the Costa de Brava you REALLY want to see, and also see which ones are closest to your holiday destination!
Top 18 of the most beautiful places and sights on the Costa Brava
Below you will find the most beautiful towns on the Costa Brava from A to Z and their unparalleled sights!
Begur is a beautiful medieval hill town located on the azure Mediterranean Sea. This small town, full of ancient architecture and surrounded by beautiful nature, has been largely built against a mountain and is a series of whitewashed houses, historic streets, churches and old watchtowers. The many fish restaurants and cozy bars also offer a breathtaking sea view thanks to the fantastic location.
However, the really big eye-catcher from Begur is the old fort dating from the 10th century which is spectacular to explore. Do not forget to bring your swimming gear during your visit. The magical bays around the hill on which Begur is located are wonderful for a refreshing dip!
At 15 km from the Spanish coast, west of Roses, we find the beautiful Besalu. This beautiful medieval village with several churches, cozy squares and picturesque streets is an absolute must if you want to imagine yourself in the Middle Ages. The first thing you will notice is the so-called 'Puente de Besalú, an 80 meter long Roman bridge built in the 11th century, with two towers on either side of the bridge. These served as city gates and to defend the city against attacks. You can also enjoy from the bridge a beautiful view of the entire city.
Blanes is of course a wonderful seaside resort for sun, sea and beach lovers. However, Blanes also has several sights that are definitely worth a visit. For example, Blanes has 2 beautiful gardens: the 4 hectares botanical garden Marimurtra and the 5 hectare tropical garden Pinya de Rosa. Thousands of different Mediterranean and exotic plants, as well as a variety of cacti, grow in these beautiful gardens. Thanks to the beautiful location of the gardens you also have a beautiful view of the Mediterranean Sea!
The center of Blanes also has a rich history, while walking through the historic heart of Blanes you willfind beautiful architectural masterpieces as gothic fountains, medieval churches and modernist houses from the golden age. The most famous landmark of Blanes, however, it is located on a hill Castle of Sant Joan. The first traces of this immense fortress go back to the 11th century and although today only one tower and part of a wall can be admired, it remains an extremely interesting sight to visit on the Costa Brava!
Want to learn more about Blanes? Then read on: Things to do in Blanes: Top 20 best activities!
Located in the northernmost part of the Costa Brava, near the Cap de Creus National Park lays the historic fishing village of Cadaques. The white houses around the village church, the narrow streets, cozy terraces and the fishing boats in the bay make Cadaques always a popular place for artists. Besides Salvador Dalí , artists such as Federico García Lorca, Pablo Picasso and Joan Míro also liked to come here. However, Dali really left his footprints here!
The biggest draw, however, is the Esglesia de Santa Maria. This gothic church is built on the highest point of the city and is therefore visible from almost every point in the city. From the outside, the white-colored church is decorated relatively simply, but inside it is, partly because of the large gold-colored and detailed Altar Major, absolutely beautiful. From Cadaques you can also perfectly explore the coast by boat, walking to the national natural park Cap de Creus or visit the surrounding Dali triangle villages (Port Lligat, Figueres and Púbol) with a visit!
5. Cap de Creus
In the northern part of the Costa Brava, near the towns of Llançà, Cadaqués and Roses, you will find one of the largest natural parks in Catalonia: Cap de Creus. You can reach Cap de Creus by car (car rental in Lloret? then look here) from Cadaqués via a country road with many sharp bends, but also on foot. You can enjoy a beautiful walk or bike ride through different routesby the mountain landscape with rocks along the sea and visit an old lighthouse containing an eco-museum.
The Cap de Creus belongs to a landscape park of 14000 hectares and of which 3000 hectares consists of water surface. This also makes it a beautiful area for diving and snorkeling enthusiasts. Cap de Creus is in fact thanks to its well-lit seabed, where you Posidonia Oceanica, red coral and a variety of fish, is an unrivaled place for diving and mustache. The best way to discover the underwater world of Cap de Creus is through an organized excursion by boat or catamaran.
6. Caminos de Ronda
The Caminos de Ronda is an historic walking route of no less than 583 kilometers and runs along the entire Costa Brava. Originally, the Caminos da Ronda are ancient paths that follow the coastline of the Costa Brava, connecting the various villages along the coast. They also give access to the beaches and hidden coves from the Costa Brava. Wherever you are on the coast of the Costa Brava, you will always be able to walk a part of the historic Caminos de Ronda!
7. El Port de la Selva
At an altitude of 520 meters above the bay of Port de la Selva, it stands on the slopes of a steep coast the monumental Benedictine monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes. Nobody knows how old the monastery is, but its legend says that the monastery was built in the early seventh century by monks who had fled Rome and had to bring some relics of Peter and other saints to safety by order of the then Pope.
In the seventeenth century, the monastery was attacked and looted several times, after which the monks left and the once beautiful monastery slowly fell into disrepair. In 1930 the monastery had the status of protected monument and is open to the public today.
At about 1 kilometer from the monastery you will find the ruins of a medieval village from the 12th century, Santa Creu de Rodes. Except for a small church and the bottom of the former houses that stood here, there is little left of the village. However, with a little imagination, you can clearly see how the room layout of the houses has been, but the old street plan is still clearly visible and the arches at the entrances and exits of the village are also still standing.
Empuriabrava is also called thanks to the 25 kilometers of canals that run through the city called the Venice of Spain. Just like in Venice, you can travel from one side of the city to the other by boat! This is one of those attractions on the Costa Brava that exudes a real Mediterranean atmosphere. However, if you are in Empuriabrava then a visit to the Basilica of Santa Maria de Castelló d'Empúries is also highly recommended. This gothic cathedral, built between 13th and 15th century AD is a 10 minute drive from Empuriabrava with its beautiful entrance decorated with 6 beautiful arches, an organ and museum a feast for the eyes.
9. Figueres, Púbol and Portlligat
Are you a real lover of the art of Dalí then you should definitely visit the so-called Dalí triangle. The Dalí triangle consists of three museums, in the town of Figueres, Púbol and Portlligat, which are entirely devoted to the life and works of art of Dalí and of course to his muse Gala. In Figueres, the birthplace of the painter, you will find the Teatro Museo Dalí which was designed by the surrealist himself. This is why the building alone is worth a visit, but when you enter the museum you can enjoy a fascinating collection of some of his most intriguing works.
In Púbol, east of Girona, is where Dalí bought a Castle for his muse Gala, which also serves today as museums for the works of Dali. The closing of the triangle is Port Lligat, near the artist's beloved Cadaques. Here Dalí had his own villa where he lived until the death of Gala. The most part of his art was created in this villa You can also see how Dalí worked on some of his greatest paintings.
For many people, the city of Girona is a port of call to visit the beautiful resorts of the Costa Brava. What many people don't realize is that Girona too a beautiful historic city is with many attractions from both the Romans, Visigoths and Moors. The most beautiful sights of Girona are the old city walls, the picturesque alleys with hidden gates, the Jewish quarter El Call and the hanging and colorful houses on the bank of the Onyar. What should not be missing on the list during your visit to Girona is the beautiful Cathedral.
The Gerona Cathedral built in the fourteenth century is an imposing structure that you can only enter by climbing the more than a hundred steps. These famous stairs have also been used in recordings of the popular television series Game of Thrones! The cathedral's magnificent barge is the second largest in the world, and the former cloister is also well worth a visit. Have a wonderful day in historic Girona!
Just outside the resort of L'Escala are the Ruins Empúries. These ruins built in the 6th century BC, are from a Greek trading city. The Greeks lived here for about eight centuries until the Romans moved into this part of Spain in the 3rd century AD. In the 4th century AD, the Romans left the city and the city fell into disrepair over the years.
Today, much of the ruins have been uncovered and form the Ruins Empúries, an important tourist attraction on the Costa Brava. During a visit to the archaeological site you will come across ancient Roman villas, a forum, a amphitheater, temples and a square square with a colonnade. You can also visit the museum of the Ruins Empúries.
In the beautiful area of L'estartit, with its beautiful location on the coast, lay the Medes Islands, and you can also enjoy the 13th century Montgrí Castle. This beautiful castle with four round towers on the corners seems to have come from a fairytale book. Thanks to the location of the castle, on a 300-meter high hill, the castle is relatively difficult to reach and only on foot. The climb up quickly takes 45 minutes, but it is definitely worth it!
If you are in Estartit then you may of course also visit the Medes Islands ! The Medes Islands are located about a kilometer off the coast of L'Estartit and are only reachable by boat . The seven islands that belong to the Medes Islands have an unprecedented sea flora and fauna and are therefore very popular with divers and snorkelers.
13. Lloret de Mar
For many, Lloret de Mar is a nightlife paradises with young partying holidaymakers looking for sun, sea, beach, action and adventure. What many people don't know is that Lloret de Mar also has a rich history that dates back to the Iberian times. The main evidence for this is the 3 built on a hill Iberian Settlements dating from the 3th and 4th century BC which you can find in and around Lloret de Mar: Puig de Castellet, Turó Rodó and Montbarbat.
Another beautiful piece of history in Lloret de Mar is the Medieval castle Castell de Sant Joan, the 16 built in typical Catalan Gothic styleth century Iglesia de Sant Roma and the Sant Pere del Bosc, a Benedictine monastery built in the 10th century and inhabited by Benedictine monks.
Another beautiful sight in Lloret de Mar are the 100 year old Botanical Santa Clotilde Gardens. The Santa Clotilde Gardens enjoy a spectacular cliff-top location with stunning views over the sea and the Costa Brava. This romantic botanical garden is considered one of the best Mediterranean gardens in all of Europe. In addition to the breathtaking view, you can enjoy fountains, marble sculptures and exotic trees and flowers here.
Thanks to its rich history, Lloret de Mar still offers various historical sights and traditions from different appealing periods in our history. Do you want to know everything about the sights in Lloret de Mar? Then read on : the 23 most beautiful sights in Lloret de Mar!
The Costa Brava has a so-called Golden triangle. This triangle connects the 3 most beautiful and most popular medieval villages that the Costa Brava has to offer. Under this triangle are the places: Pals, Palau Sator and Peratallada. However, let's start with the first: Pals! Near the tourist resort of Playa de Pals you will find the old town of Pals, with a medieval center on a hill in almost perfect condition. Inside the city you will not be able to believe your eyes, because in the old inner city every house is exactly as it was 800 years ago, everything has stood still.
However, the real highlight of Pals is in the 9th or 10th century built Castell de Pals. This beautiful castle is on the outside of Pals and consists of a 5 meter high battlements, a courtyard, a number “Luxury” Medieval houses and a 15 meter high tower called “Torre de les Hores". Do you really want to go back in time and experience the Middle Ages as you only see in movies or read in books? Then visit Pals!
15. Palau Sator
The second village of the golden triangle is Palau Sator. This is the smallest and least known village of the three. The city has less than 300 inhabitants and has a total area of only 12 km2. Palau Sator is not a place where you can spend a whole day, but thanks to its beautiful preserved history it is definitely worth it. Admire the old city battlements, the 20 meter high tower and stroll through the picturesque narrow streets.
The last of the golden triangle is also the most beautiful! For many, Peratallada is even one of the most beautiful villages in all of Spain. The village dates from the 10th century AD and has been very well preserved over the centuries. The narrow streets with gates and bridges are framed by beautiful houses all built around the castle of Peratallada. If you walk through the ancient streets of the town you can imagine exactly how life in the middle ages was in Peratallada.
Roses, with pearly white beaches, is a wonderful destination for a beach holiday on the Costa Brava. However, here too there are several historical remains that are definitely worth a visit. However, the most beautiful sights in the center of Roses are the 16th century Renaissance citadel at the city entrance which was commissioned by Charles V to protect the city from a Turkish invasion and the 11th century church of Santa Maria de Roses.
18. Tossa de Mar
Thanks to the rich history of Tossa de Mar, dating back to the Roman and even Iberian times, many beautiful pieces of history have been preserved that you can admire today. There is a beautiful historic center “Vila Vella”, a breathtaking castle called Castillo de Tossa de Mar, a beautiful lighthouse and several museums and churches. Finally, you will also find on the outskirts of Tossa de Mar. the ruins of the Roman villa Els Ametllers. Do you want to know more about Tossa de Mar? Then read on: Things to do in Tossa de Mar: Top 20 best activities!
Is Barcelona in this list of ultimate sights? That's right! Although many people think that Barcelona is part of the Costa Brava, Barcelona is on the Costa Maresme! However, do you want to know more about Barcelona? Then read on at: Barcelona Day Trip - Top 10 Attractions!
Do you want to know more about how to experience the ultimate holiday on the Costa Brava? Take a look at: 21 Tips for a Top Holiday!