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Gorgeous beaches, vibrant nightlife, every imaginable water sport, and a breathtaking coastline are the main attractions of Roses. Set on one of the only west-facing bays on Spain's Costa Brava, it’s also a wonderful place to soak up the sunsets. The main city beaches are huge, family-friendly strands of fine sand, and the surrounding coastline is dotted with scores of picture-postcard coves, with azure waters framed by Mediterranean pines. You can explore the historic heart of the old fishing village, which is still home to Catalonia’s largest fishing fleet, wander around the remains of the vast Citadel, which dates back to the 4th century BC, and visit the mysterious ancient megaliths and dolmens. There are two superb nature reserves within easy reach: the Aiguamolls wetlands, home to myriad bird species, and the wild, windswept headland of the Cap de Creus, which inspired Salvador Dalí.

Top attractions

Top attractions

Gorgeous beaches, vibrant nightlife, every imaginable water sport, and a breathtaking coastline are the main attractions of Roses. Set on one of the only west-facing bays on Spain's Costa Brava, it’s also a wonderful place to soak up the sunsets. The main city beaches are huge, family-friendly strands of fine sand, and the surrounding coastline is dotted with scores of picture-postcard coves, with azure waters framed by Mediterranean pines. You can explore the historic heart of the old fishing village, which is still home to Catalonia’s largest fishing fleet, wander around the remains of the vast Citadel, which dates back to the 4th century BC, and visit the mysterious ancient megaliths and dolmens. There are two superb nature reserves within easy reach: the Aiguamolls wetlands, home to myriad bird species, and the wild, windswept headland of the Cap de Creus, which inspired Salvador Dalí.

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Eating out

Eating out

Catalan cuisine has become world-famous – in part thanks to super-chef Ferran Adrià, whose celebrated restaurant El Bullí (now closed) was located in Cala Montjoi. Seafood reigns supreme on local menus, and you can enjoy everything from freshly grilled sardines on the beach to the succulent fish stew, suquet, which is the main specialty in Roses. You’ll also find paella and a huge array of Mediterranean rice dishes, along with grilled meats (particularly lamb and pork), escalivada (roast peppers, aubergines and onions). You can tuck into the omnipresent pa amb tomàquet (bread rubbed with tomatoes and drizzled with olive oil) topped with some of the fantastic local cheese and charcuterie, and wash it all down with delicious Catalan wine. There are scores of atmospheric tapas bars, where you can enjoy classic Spanish favourites like tortilla (truita in Catalan), garlic prawns, fried baby squid and patatas bravas. Wine has been produced for millennia in Catalonia, and there are some fantastic wines: don’t miss the opportunity to try some of the wines from the new boutique wineries on the Cap de Creus.

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Families

Families

The gorgeous beaches entice families to Roses, thanks to the clean, shallow waters, fine sand (perfect for making sandcastles), and excellent facilities. Older kids will enjoy aquatic attractions such as jet skis and banana boats, as well as the huge array of water sports on offer. There are lots of local schools offering kite-surfing, windsurfing and sailing courses for children and teens. If you’re looking for non-stop thrills, head to the AquaBrava water park, which has plenty of slides, wave pools, plus attractions for the smallest kids. The Spanish are very welcoming to children, and you’ll find plenty of child-friendly restaurants and tapas bars.

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Action & Adventure

Action & Adventure

Historic monuments, ancient ruins and the legacy of Salvador Dalí make this stretch of the Costa Brava a perfect destination for culture buffs. Right in the middle of Roses is a huge citadel, which offers a fascinating insight into the town’s long history. Within it are remains of settlements and buildings spanning more than a thousand years, from the remains of the Greek, Roman and Visigothic settlements to an 11th-century monastery. An interesting museum puts the ruins in their historic context. There are several castles located around Roses, notably the star-shaped Trinity Castle and the medieval Bufalaranay castle which affords wonderful views. Just outside town is a notable collection of megalithic dolmens and menhirs that date back to 3000 BC. Art-lovers are in for a treat too: Salvador Dalí’s spectacular ‘theatre-museum’ is located in Figueres, a 30-minute drive away, and his charming little home and studio is in Port Lligat, which sits at the very tip of the Cap de Creus headland.

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Beaches

Beaches

There are a string of beaches in the centre of Roses that make up a virtually unbroken 2-kilometre stretch of fine sand that has been awarded Blue Flag status for its crystal clear waters and wide range of facilities and water sports. The shallow slope makes it a good choice for families with young children. About 1km from the centre, on the way to the lighthouse, is local favourite, Platja Palangres. The Santa Margarida beach, another wide sandy beach, is located near the marina. About 3 kilometres from the town centre is Canyelles Petits, a very pretty sandy beach, which is about 350 metres long. Beyond it is Almadrava beach, another local favourite. On the edge of the magnificent Cap de Creus nature reserve, there is a string of breathtaking little coves (‘cala’ in Catalan) to be discovered. These are about 7-10 kilometres from the city centre, and include Cala Montjoi, Cala Jòncols and Cala Calitjàs. Some of these miniature coves, like Cala Rustella and Cala Murtra, are only accessible by boat.

 

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Nightlife

Nightlife

Roses has plenty of nightlife to suit all tastes, whether you just want to enjoy a glass of wine and soak up the famous sunsets, or party till dawn in a disco bar. There are a few big clubs on the outskirts of Roses, in the suburb of Santa Margarida and in nearby Empuriabrava, but most of the main action in the town centre is in bars and pubs. These offer a mixed bag of flamenco shows, karaoke nights, live music and DJ sessions, so you’re sure to find something to suit. If you visit during one of the fantastic local festivals, you’re in for a treat: you might hear the traditional havaneres (sea shanties) that have been sung on the Costa Brava for more than a century. Carnival is one of the biggest festivals, with elaborately decorated floats and street parties. The Festa Major, held around the 15 August in honour of the town’s patron saint, is an exuberant affair that culminates with a fantastic firework display.

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Couples

Couples

Roses is a wonderful place for a romantic holiday in the sunshine. The fabulous beaches are perfect for lazing on, and you can seek out some of the miniature coves for added romance. The resort, set on a west-facing bay, is famous for its sunsets, and there is nothing more romantic than sitting at a rustic beach bar, enjoying the sight of the sun slipping beyond the horizon with a glass of wine in hand, while listening to the waves on the shore. For the ultimate romantic experience, there are also private sailing tours to some of the most remote coves, where you can enjoy a delicious seafood lunch at a beachfront bar.

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Culture

Culture

Roses has a huge range of exciting ways to get your adrenaline pumping. For a start, you’ll find one of the biggest skydiving centres in the world just down the road in Empuriabrava. If you can’t quite bring yourself to leap from a plane, you could also try their indoor wind tunnel. There are water sports galore, and the area is a mecca for kite-surfing and sailing in particular. For fun, you could rent a jet-ski or ride a banana boat, or rent a kayak or a dinghy to explore the enticing secret coves that dot the coastline. It’s also an outstanding place to snorkel and dive: the protected waters around the Cap de Creus are astonishingly clear and home to all kinds of marine life. There are scores of fantastic hiking routes in the area, including some stunning coastal walks.

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