Do you like your beaches long and sandy? Or do you prefer a quiet cove all to yourself? We picked out our top 10 beaches on the Costa Brava, one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline on Spain’s Mediterranean Coast, for you to try on your next holiday.
1. Platja de Santa Cristina (Lloret de Mar)
A beautiful curve of golden sand divided by a rocky outcrop, the Santa Cristina beach makes a quiet alternative to the busy beaches in the centre of Lloret de Mar. If you don’t have your own transport, you can get there on a boat trip. There are no buildings except a smart hotel, and a path winds up to the hermitage that gives the beach its name. This is a popular beach for families in the summer, because the water is shallow, the sand is fine, and the bay is sheltered. It’s also a focal point for one of Lloret’s most beloved fiestas – the Festa Major. This is dedicated to the town’s patron saint, Saint Cristina, whose statue is carried down from the hermitage onto a boat. If you like snorkelling, you’ll also find a statue of the saint under the water.
2. Es Codolar (Tossa de Mar)
This immaculate little bay is fringed by steep cliffs, and boasts the walled citadel of the Vila Vella as a backdrop. Once the old fishing port, it still has a few colourfully painted boats pulled up on the strands. The beach is only about 80 metres long, and can get very full in the height of summer – but, come in June or September and you’re bound to find a spot for your beach umbrella. This is also the start of one of the Camins de Ronda – walking paths that fringe the coast. Climb the steep steps to reach a spectacular viewing point (mirador), which enjoys panoramic views of the coastline.
3. Sant Pol (Sant Feliu de Guíxols)
The handsome town of Sant Feliu de Guíxols is just 6 kilometres down the coast from the popular seaside resort of Platja d’Aro (Playa de Aro). Home to the excellent Espai Carmen Thyssen museum, and a string of pretty Modernista mansions, it also boasts a beautiful beach right in the town centre. Almost 1 kilometre in length, this Blue Flag beach has plenty of facilities, and is backed by an attractive wooden promenade. The water is shallow and inviting, making the beach popular with families. There are also a couple of charming Modernista villas, decorated with colourful tiles and fairy tale spires, overlooking the beach.
4. Cala Rovira (Playa de Aro)
A stunningly lovely and remarkably unspoilt beach located just north of Playa de Aro, this has been awarded Blue Flag status. You can reach it by following the Camí del Ronda coastal path from the centre of Playa de Aro (a very pleasant 50-minute walk): if you prefer to drive, it is also accessible by car. The beach, besides being one of the picturesque in the area, also has the remains of Roman villa. This beach only fills up in July and August: the rest of the time, it is considerably less crowded than the main town beaches. If you want a little more privacy, carry walking north along the coast to find a series of idyllic rocky bays where you can lounge on the rocks far from the madding crowds.
5. Platja de Castell (Palamós)
This stunning sandy beach fringed with Mediterranean woods is one of very few stretches of sand to have escaped development along this stretch of coast. In the 1990s, the local inhabitants voted overwhelmingly against the construction of a golf course here, and it has been protected ever since. The only buildings on the beach are the ancient ruins of an Iberian settlement, thought to date back to the 6th century BC. The unique beauty has long inspired painters: Dalí had a studio in one of the villas located nearby, and Josep Maria Sert lived here. To get there, drive along the C-31 north of Palafrugell or walk there along the coastal path that begins at the La Fosca beach in Palamós.
6. Platja del Canadell (Calella de Palafrugell)
Calella de Palafrugell is justly considered one of the prettiest towns on the Costa Brava. A former fishing village, its narrow lanes are still lined with whitewashed cottages – although nowadays most belong to wealthy families from Barcelona or Girona. Colourful fishing boats are still drawn up on to the Platja de Canadell, the picturesque beach in the town centre, which is backed by fishermen’s cottages with brightly painted doors (pictured at the top of this blog). It boasts great facilities but is only about 200 metres long, so can get very crowded in the peak summer season. The town is famous throughout Catalonia for its habaneras – shanty songs that have been sung since Catalan sailors left for the Americas to make their fortune in the 19th century.
7. Platja de Fenals (Lloret de Mar)
This 700-metre-long stretch of golden sand is sheltered by the rocky outcrop that separates it from the main beach in Lloret de Mar. Almost, but not quite, as busy as its neighbour, it is set in a sheltered bay which has not been completely overwhelmed by developments. Nonetheless, it still has lots of convenient facilities, from beach bars and lounger-rental to showers and play areas for kids. If you’re in the mood for a stroll, you could continue up the coast to the smaller and very pretty little cove of Sa Boadella, set among Mediterranean pine trees.
8. Cala Giverola (Tossa de Mar)
This quintessential cove on the Costa Brava is a minuscule curve of sand framed by plunging cliffs and turquoise seas. It’s only accessible by car: drive 5 kilometres north of Tossa de Mar towards Sant Feliu de Guíxols to find it. It has a beach bar and you can rent kayaks to explore the beautiful coast – and perhaps find yourself a secret spot far from the crowds. It can get very busy in July and August but is virtually empty for the rest of the year. Note that the seafloor drops quickly, so keep an eye out if you are visiting with young children.
9. Sa Cova (Playa de Aro)
S’Agaró, located just south of the popular resort of Playa de Aro, is one of the most exclusive and glamorous areas of the Costa Brava. It’s home to a legendary hotel (the Hostel Gavina), a beautiful coastal walk, and an enclave of lavish seafront homes that were built in the 1920s. The Sa Cova beach is a small but elegant sweep of golden sand (just 55 metres wide), almost enclosed by rocky headlands that are covered in Mediterranean pines. It’s an idyllic spot, which, like so many others on the Costa Brava, fills up in July and August, but remains blissfully empty for the rest of the year.
10. Playa dels Anglesos, Caldetes/Caldes d’Estrach
The spa town of Caldes d’Estrach (also called Caldetes) sits on the seafront about a 15-minute drive south of Calella. Its main beach is called the Platja dels Anglesos (the ‘English beach’) for its graceful villas built in the early 20th-century in the English style. The wealthy owners of these villas came for the town’s thermal spa, which continues to entice visitors. A sprinkling of these villas survive, now inserted between modern apartment buildings, and add an air of vintage glamour to the seafront. The sandy beach is a blissful 700 metres long, and well equipped with all the expected facilities – although, like many on this stretch of coast, it is backed by the train line (one of the first in Spain).