Why Spain's Costa Brava is the destination for you this summer
Spain's Costas are rightly famous for offering a brilliant holiday experience. But which one should you choose? Savvy travellers heading north to discover the Costa Brava* are rewarded by perhaps the most spectacular of all the Costas.
Whether you are flying solo, with pals or the kids, the resorts of Lloret de Mar, Malgrat de Mar, Pineda de Mar, Santa Susanna and Tossa de Mar always deliver.
With over 300 sunny days a year and an impressive necklace of sandy beaches you never want to leave, you can see the appeal instantly. But there is also real depth with the resorts boasting cobbled, tapas bar-charmed old quarters where traditional Spanish, or rather Catalan, culture still thrives.
Then there's the brace of Catalan cities that await for day trips in the form of Girona and Barcelona, plus active adventures, great food, Dalí's rich legacy and a party if you want it.
Getting to the Costa Brava: reaching Spain's northeast coast has never been easier thanks to TUI*, which offers holidays from airports across the UK.
1. Bountiful beaches
The superb beaches of the Costa Brava are what first attracted sunseekers to this gorgeous corner of the Mediterranean. The renowned resort of Tossa de Mar* sports two Blue Flag beaches, while fellow resort Lloret de Mar* boasts a quintet of sand-and-shingle stretches.
All of the resorts, like Santa Susanna* and Pineda de Mar* (which both offer three kilometres of beach) and Malgrat de Mar* (with its Blue Flag beach), let you unfurl your towel, laze back and forget about the world and its stresses.
2. Superb food & drink
Catalonia is renowned for its superb food and drink. Decent, and seriously underrated, wines hail from the region and you'll get a mean paella here given the relative proximity to the dish's home region of Valencia.
Catalan cuisine excels too, best enjoyed al fresco, served up tapas-style with lots of little sharing dishes. Seafood from the bountiful Mediterranean is a real highlight; don't miss out on trying cim-i-tomba, a famous fisherman's stew that has its aquatic roots in Tossa De Mar.
In Malgrat de Mar, check out the restaurants and fast food outlets sprinkled along the resort's beachfront promenade. You'll find all the world's great cuisines represented in the Costa Brava too, with Italian and Chinese restaurants especially popular.
Some families never feel like leaving the Costa Brava's beaches, but if you do there is plenty else to keep wee ones occupied. Think waterparks such as the remarkable PortAventura.
There are over 40 rides at this gravity-defying theme park, which are some of the best not just in Spain, but anywhere in Europe. We're talking freefall from a height of 100 metres on the Hurakan Condor and reaching speeds of over one hundred kilometres per hour on the eight-loop Dragon Khan rollercoaster.
Or get wet and wild on the Titoki Splash. This sprawling oasis spreads its fun-filled tentacles across half a dozen different 'worlds' with plenty for toddlers too, like teacup rides and shows.
4. Dreaming of Dalí
Mercurial artist Salvador Dalí is synonymous with the Costa Brava. If you have ever had even a passing interest in his remarkable surrealist art and his larger than life existence head for the inland town of Figueres to the Dalí Theatre-Museum that he created to... himself.
Typically for Dalí, it's deeply theatrical; literally, as the museum is housed in an old theatre and Dalí lies entombed beneath the stage in one last cheeky flourish. Highlights include the Mae West depiction with her lips a striking red sofa, the bizarre holographic art and Dalí's 'Soft self-portrait with grilled bacon'.
Dalí loved the Costa Brava; make a pilgrimage to nearby Cadaques if you want to feel the big skies and Mediterranean blues that inspired this seminal artist.
5. Costa del Party
The Spanish Costas are legendary for their party culture. What really works well in child-friendly Spain is that in the Costa Brava families enjoy a slice of nocturnal action in the old towns of the resorts and along the waterfronts, with Pineda de Mar especially renowned for its welcoming family atmosphere.
Nightlife is laidback on the Costa Brava and often swirls around hotel entertainment; non-guests are welcome to the cabaret shows and karaoke evenings.
Meanwhile, the clubbing crowd flock to Lloret de Mar for more buzzing nightlife - the open-air beach clubs bang on into the night with house hits backed up by cutting edge electronica.
Calella de la Costa is lots of fun; here bars and clubs tempt along three kilometres of sand.
6. Gorgeous Girona
Handily one of the most seriously underrated cities in Spain lies just inland from the Costa Brava. You'll fall in love with Girona from the moment you set eyes on the River Onyar, flanked by a gallery of pastel-hued historic buildings.
Walk the hulking old town walls, taking in the church spire-strewn skyline and you will fall in love with Girona all over again. Swirl in museums, great cafés and tapas bars, and a lively student community, and Girona really is a hard city not to adore.
7. Brilliant Barcelona
The Catalan capital of Barcelona* brilliantly used the forum of the 1992 Olympic Games to first establish then massively grow its reputation as a world-class city break destination. It really is a must for Gaudí's still unfinished, but utterly unique, Sagrada Familia cathedral alone.
The shopping is also superb; you'll find swathes more Gaudí, the tapas bars of Barceloneta and the old-world vibe of the cobbled Gothic quarter tempt. Then there is the majestic Nou Camp, one of the world's great sporting stadia, home to FC Barcelona.
8. Get active
You don't have to sprint out onto the pitch at the Nou Camp to enjoy a bit of exercise in the great outdoors on your Costa Brava holiday.
Tossa de Mar's Blue Flag-winning Mar Menuda beach is spot on for snorkelling and scuba diving. The resort even has its own dive school where you can rent all the gear you need. The heavily indented coves and beaches of the Costa Brava make sea kayaking a joy too.
If you prefer staying dry get on your walking shoes and head for the Montnegre i el Corredor Natural Park. This green lung is alive with flora and fauna, its rolling hills alive with pine and cork trees, a world away from the resorts.
Weather in Costa Brava
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Above shows the weather in Lloret de Mar. You can find out more about the weather along the Costa Brava in our dedicated weather guide.
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