By No Vacation Required, on August 19, 2014

Discovering Costa Brava

This is the second post in a 4-part series about our epic visit to the Costa Brava region of Spain. We partnered up with fellow Expedia Viewfinder contributors, Captain and Clark, to create an adventure that touched on the themes of discovery, adventure, and camaraderie. To honor this once-in-a-lifetime trip, we each kept a journal of our experiences. We share some snippets here. 

We started and ended our journey in the Costa Brava region’s hub city, Girona. The charming, old-meets-new city makes an ideal base from which to get to know the region. From our two hotels, Nord1901 and Hotel Ultonia, we enjoyed exploring the old town, eating world-famous gelato near Plaça de la Independència, and touring the cathedral (including a rare visit to its bell tower). We were also fortunate enough to visit during the annual flower festival; a time when practically every structure and walkway is adorned with flowers.

Kent: Girona is the kind of place to which I could return again and again. I’m especially enjoying how easy it is to get around on foot, meaning that we have easy access to all of the sites and incredible restaurants. Today we were introduced to the silky, sweet gelato creations at Rocambolesc. I had baked apple gelato with candied hazelnuts, shortbread cookie crumbles, and caramelized apples.

In addition to spending several days in Girona, we were able to discover much of Costa Brava’s lush interior and jagged coastline, including Spain’s easternmost-point, Cap de Creus. We considered ourselves lucky to get lost (literally) driving the wind-swept peninsula. By the time we arrived in seaside Cadaqués and made it to the Dali Museum, the area had stolen our hearts.

With the über-luxurious Alva Park Hotel as a base, we discovered the coastal towns of Lloret de Mar and Tossa de Mar. These neighboring towns ooze history and make for an ideal location for a get-away-from-it-all vacation.


Near Tossa de Mar


Tawny: Contentedness. It’s a word that’s escaped our lips on numerous occasions, but today I found myself truly embracing the concept. There’s something so peaceful about the seaside towns of Costa Brava. The light salty breeze, honeyed sunlight, and sound of crashing waves make it hard to want for anything more. 

Something that really surprised us was how breathtakingly maintained Costa Brava’s medieval towns are. As if spending several nights in Hotel Castell d’Emporda wasn’t enough to appreciate this detail, a Segway tour of Guelta, a pre-dinner stroll through Pais, and a gasp-inducing moment seeing Besalú’s 12th century Romanesque bridge from the air (more on that in a future post) helped us understand more thoroughly.

Viewfinder Tip: Book your international air travel to Barcelona. Costa Brava is a quick train trip away.

Chris: It isn’t simply the architecture that inspires us about Costa Brava. We encounter a richer and fuller pace of life every day we’re here. The people are dancing in the streets, visiting their local mercados, and bathing in dappled sunlight just as they did hundreds of years ago. 

To explore Costa Brava’s volcanic interior, we stationed ourselves at the bucolic Mas Garganta, a working farmhouse on a hill. From there we were able to uncover the region’s world-class wineries, and ride burricletas along a small portion of the 136-kilometers of greenways that run through the charming town of Olot.

Caanan: We just experienced the greenways of Costa Brava on bike. Writing this, I see the Pyrenees in the distance, framing this region of Spain. Now I have a new entry on my bucket list: I want to come back do the entire 136-kilometer route.  

What sorts of things do you like to discover when traveling?