Costa Dorada resorts: Five of Catalonia's most popular
The autonomous region of Catalonia contains many of the Costa Dorada resorts that are so popular with holidaymakers, and it's easy to see why: the Costa Dorada has fabulous beaches, its own take on Spanish tapas and a host of attractions, including many art galleries and museums, many of them dedicated to Antoni Gaudí.
It's also a very laidback province, perhaps because of the Spanish sun, gentle breeze and way of life.The people are friendly and happy to chat to tourists in Spanish or English (or Catalan if you can). Each of the Costa Dorada resorts has its own charm, vistas and appeal, so the one you choose really depends on what you're looking for on your Spanish holiday.
Costa Dorada resorts: Top five destinations
To help you decide which Costa Dorada resort is best for you, we've pulled together a mini guide, highlighting the main attractions and general vibe of five of the most well known resorts on this vibrant northeastern coast.
1. Reus: best for arty types
Renowned for producing brandy and wine, Reus has one of the prettiest old towns of the Costa Dorada resorts. Around the market square is a plethora of tapas places but Xivarri Tasca (ask for Juan) is one of the best, with delicious padrón peppers, croquettes and fish dishes.
Reus is also the birthplace of Antoni Gaudí, so naturally, it's a favourite with art lovers. Don't miss the Gaudí Centre, which is an interpretative tribute that uses technology to share Gaudi's life and work, and for just 7 Euros its well worth it.
2. Tarragona: best for history buffs
As one of the oldest Costa Dorada resorts, Tarragona is home to a wealth of ancient architecture and an interesting past. The second century amphitheatre which sits against a backdrop of the Mediterranean is a particularly impressive sight, as is the Roman forum, but the cathedral has its own charm.
The main draw for tourists to this Costa Dorada resort however, is its coastline, with over nine miles of beaches, most of which have gradual slopes, making them safe for paddling and swimming. One of the nicest beaches in Tarragona is Platja de la Móra, with fine, golden sand that is cleaned daily and turquoise waters that glisten in the sunlight.
3. Salou: best for families
Another town renowned for its beautiful beaches, Salou may well be the most popular of Costa Dorada's resorts thanks to its mega theme park PortAventura. Attracting more than four million visitors a year, PortAventura has six main areas with roller coasters, water rides, shows and a water park - great fun for both children and adults alike.
The town of Salou has some excellent restaurants, including Lizarran which, although a chain, offers tasty tapas far cheaper than the seafront haunts, and the lovely Llevant Beach (nearly half a mile long), complete with an illuminated fountain which lights up to music.
4. Cambrils: best for couples
Popular with Spanish tourists, Cambrils is a small fishing village, unique among the other Costa Dorada resorts. Here you'll find not one, but two Michelin star restaurants (Rincon de Diego and Can Bosch) as well as an ever-changing food scene heavily centred around seafood, which is exquisite.
The agricultural museum (situated in an old wine cellar) is very interesting, and there are several historic watchtowers dotted around the town that were previously used to guard the village from pirates. Take a walk around the Roman village and visit the red lighthouse (Far Vermell) at the end of the wharf; its bright colour and location makes it a common sight in photographs of this Costa Dorada resort.
5. Sitges: best for partygoers
Just 20 minutes from Barcelona, but still classed as one of the Costa Dorada resorts, the sleepy town of Sitges has soft sandy beaches and seafront restaurants (the tapas in Pic Nic, by Platja de la Ribera, is delicious and the staff are great fun).
It also has fabulous bars, especially Bonita Bonita if you like cocktails and understated elegance. Nearby is Casa Bacardi where for just 8 Euros you can have a tour (in English at 4pm), try three types of Bacardi, and learn how to make (and drink) mojitos and Cuba libres. Once the sun sets however, Sitges wakes up; the nightlife in this Costa Dorada resort is fast and frantic, with a prominent gay scene and the first Pacha in Spain (Pacha Ibiza was the second).
The good thing about the Costa Dorada resorts is that there's a total mix of entertainment for all holidaymakers. Whether you want romance, culture, family fun or just a good night out, you'll find it on the Costa Dorada.
If you fancy exploring the Costa Dorada resorts for yourself, check out current deals from Thomas Cook and Monarch which both have great offers to help get you on your way. If you can't quite find what you're looking for, head on over to our travel deals and discounts section for the very latest from all major holiday providers.
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