If you’re looking for the right destination for your 2017 holiday on the Costa Dorada, Calafell deserves a place at the top of your list. Situated on a hilltop, Calafell is a picturesque town steeped in a rich history that is just 1.5 kilometres from its neighbouring coastal resorts, Calafell Beach and Segur. The town has become a popular holiday destination thanks to its gorgeous scenery, pleasant weather and convenient location between Tarragona and Barcelona. Calafell is set around a medieval castle and was formerly a traditional Roman villa which is thought to originate from some 2,500 years ago. During the Roman occupation, the area underwent a significant development, substantially increasing the size of the town. This charming resort offers all the usual holiday amenities and facilities of a small Spanish town, including a good selection of restaurants, bars and shops. If you prefer more options, take a trip down the hill to neighbouring Segur and Calafell Beach for a larger shopping centre, range of outdoor markets and plenty of tourist-friendly shops at the La Platja, or old fishing quarter.
At a glance
- Currency: Euro
- Language: Spanish
- Time Zone: GMT +1
- Average flight time: 2h 40m
When to go
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Acting as a gateway to the Costa Dorada, Calafell has about five miles of beautiful golden sand and a variety of local attractions to keep all the family entertained during your Calafell holiday. Taking a holiday in this area opens your eyes to a huge amount of history and the wonderfully rich heritage of the Costa Dorada, making this an ideal place to take a step back and appreciate history, as well as teach your children about some of the fascinating cultures that have inhabited the Calafell area throughout the ages. Calafell has a variety of places of interest that are well worth a visit if you’re a history lover, including the Iberian Citadel, Romanesque church and medieval castle. The Citadel is both physically and culturally majestic, with over 20 years of excavations taking place on the site that have unravelled layer upon layer of history and culture. The Santa Creu Castle has wonderful views over the local area, nestled atop a hill where it was fortified in the earlier half of the 11th century. Today, the remains of the castle stand as a testament to the history of the area, also providing some fascinating examples of tombs carved into the rocks. Saint Michael Church in Calafell is considered one of the finest examples of Romanesque architecture in the area, with some crossover into the Gothic era. While the church is not frequently open to the public, the exterior is the real point of interest due to its incredible architecture.
Wine and Dine
Thanks to the gorgeous climate and prime Mediterranean location, the food and drink on the Costa Dorada is a favourite for foodies. Just off the coast, the diverse sea life and exceptionally clean waters produce incredible seafood that forms the basis of the area’s unique recipes. The food in Calafell, like much of Catalan cuisine, is famous for its adventurous yet complementary flavours, contrasting sweet and savoury notes for a mouth-watering experience. One of the must-try dishes in the area is Esqueixada, raw salt-cured codfish marinated with onions, olive oil and tomatoes. Many of the restaurants in the area integrate cooking into the social scene of their restaurant, with live cooking displays and cookery classes. You’ll find many of the chefs are happy to tell you more about the heritage of their local dishes.
Calafell is a very popular family holiday destination on Costa Dorada. With plenty of excellent family-friendly restaurants, bars and tourist shops, Calafell has been reinvented with family holidaymakers in mind. The Catalan government has certified Calafell as one of the best resorts on Costa Dorada for families. The accommodation in the area has been designed to cater to families with young children, so you’ll never be stuck for a high chair or baby-changing facilities. Finding food to keep the kids happy is easy here, as there’s a great mix of traditional Catalan cuisine and international food, ideal if you have picky eaters in the family. As you wander around the town during the peak summer months, you’ll find plenty of kids’ shows, puppet theatres, clowns and activity workshops for your young ones. For those who prefer doing things that keep the whole family entertained, you can also take part in dance classes and learn some of the region’s traditional dances such as the salsa or pasa doble.
Action and Adventure
The balmy Mediterranean weather and naturally beautiful landscape make Calafell an ideal setting for an active holiday on the Costa Dorada, helping you keep in shape during your vacation. Calafell itself has a number of facilities for tennis, golf, basketball and petanca, a ball-throwing sport. The excellent facilities and family-friendly status of Calafell mean there’s no shortage of facilities and amenities for renting sports equipment or taking part in group sport events such as football, which is also great for meeting other holidaymakers and the friendly locals. Other active things to do in Calafell include Nordic Walking outings for kids – a sport that involves walking cross-country with long, ski-style poles for support – mini-golf, beach gym classes, roller skating, ice skating, surfing, sailing and catamaran hire.
Life's a Beach
Calafell itself has a beautiful five-kilometre long expanse of golden sand, which has been awarded the European Blue Flag Award for its cleanliness and excellent facilities. The water here is so good that the beaches have been nicknamed ‘the baby-bottle beaches’ thanks to how family-friendly they are. Whether you’re travelling on your own, with a group of friends or with your family, this beach is ideal for relaxed days at the beach lounging in the sun, paddling in the shallows or heading out a little further for a pleasant dip in the sea. All the beaches along the Costa Dorada are worth a visit, with warm sands, clean and clear waters, and all the facilities you could want for a beach holiday, including plenty of parasols and deck chairs. At many of the local beaches you’ll find watersports facilities, including places to rent equipment for all types of aquatic activities. There’s a sailing school at Calafell which offers courses for all ability levels, as well as the chance to head out on sailing tours, one-on-one lessons and courses, and kayaks and catamarans for hire.
Calafell has an eclectic mix of bars, eateries and restaurants that are open in the evening. As the ambience and lifestyle in Calafell is typically authentic Mediterranean, there aren’t a huge number of proper nightclubs. If you enjoy a vibrant nightlife scene and want to stay in Calafell itself, your options for clubs in the town are Louie Vega and the LOU Pub-Disco. If you’re willing to travel, the wider Costa Dorada area, however, has plenty of fantastic clubs that have a European disco feel, great club music, and affordable drinks and snacks. These include Chaplins Salou, on Calle Falset in Salou, the Disco Club Tropical and Flash Back which are also in Salou. Other options for nightclubs with all-night or early hours opening hours include Dansclas in Altafulla, the Graffiti Disco Bar in La Pineda, and the Sala Zero and Juanchito Discotek in Tarragona.
The beautiful weather, gorgeous Mediterranean scenery and rich heritage of Calafell make this an ideal destination for holidaying with your loved one on the Costa Dorada. If you and your significant other are fans of history and culture, some of the main attractions in Calafell that are geared to your interests include the Iberian Citadel, Romanesque Church of Saint Michael and ruins of Calafell Santa Creu Castle. Thanks to their prime positions, each of these points of interest also offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. Calafell Beach’s five kilometres of warm golden sand and clear blue waters also make an incredibly romantic setting for you and your partner, whether you want to take a stroll hand-in-hand along the beach, go swimming together or try an exhilarating parasailing ride. There are also a number of romantic restaurants both in and around Calafell that are perfect for an intimate dinner. These include Acqua Sitges, with a beautiful position overlooking the beach, the beachside D.O. Le Meridien Ra Beach restaurant, Vento at the Hotel Playa Golf and Spa, and the Blended Gastrobar.
As a centuries-old town that has been rebuilt on its original construction site, Calafell has a unique culture and heritage that you’ll love to explore. As a former Iberian fortress, people have always wanted to learn more about the rich culture and heritage of Calafell, meaning the town has undergone more than 20 years of excavations and reconstruction where it was originally built. Having undergone extensive archaeological studies, archaeologists have been able to piece together the settlement’s walls, buildings and original street layout as they were during the period of the 6th century BC and the 1st century BC. This makes a visit to Calafell unlike any other, as you are literally taking a step back in time as you explore the winding streets of the town. Some of the main cultural points of interest in the area include the remains of the castle of Santa Crue, which originates from the 11th century and the Iberian Citadel. A great way of exploring Calafell is to join a guided tour of the area, with many knowledgeable guides on hand to answer your questions, and tell you fascinating personal anecdotes about their ancestors and the Calafell area.