Amazing Day Trips to Take from the Costa Brava by Boat
From secluded coves to fishing villages, day trips around the Costa Brava are utterly unique | © Pere Sanz / Alamy Stock Photo
Birthplace of the architect, Anton Gaudi and home to some of the most beautiful and secluded coves in Spain, the Costa Brava begins at Portbou on the French border and runs just over 200km (124mi) south to the Catalonian fishing village of Blanes. Travelling by boat will give you an advantage, especially as most of the region’s key sights are coastal – so brush up on your Catalan and peruse our pick of the best Costa Brava day trips, all sailable from the port town of Palamos.
Tossa de Mar
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Tossa de Mar is the only fortified medieval town on the coast of Catalonia, where the 14th-century turrets and watchtowers are intact and you can circumnavigate its borders by walking along battlements. Marvel at these muscular defences from Playa Grande – the town’s main beach – before venturing inside to explore a labyrinth of bars, restaurants, souvenir shops and boutique hotels.
Lloret de Mar
© Prisma by Dukas Presseagentur / Alamy Stock Photo
Tossa’s more touristic neighbour, Lloret de Mar, has some of the Costa Brava’s busiest beaches – but sea and sand aren’t the only things to enjoy in this coastal resort. After a stint on the main beach or the slightly quieter Playa de Fenals, stroll into town to visit the early 20th-century Catalan Modernist Cemetery, featuring stylized mausoleums by the movement’s leading figures – or the Santa Clotilde Gardens, a clifftop Arcadia created in the Italian Renaissance style.
© Prisma by Dukas Presseagentur / Alamy Stock Photo
Blanes celebrates its status as the “Gateway to the Costa Brava” with a sculpture of an arched entrance, located on the track to the Palomera viewpoint. You’ll moor up in one of the town’s major attractions – the working harbour – where you can watch fish getting auctioned off in the late afternoon. If you’re a keen gardener, you’ll be in heaven as the town is home to the Marimurtra Botanical Gardens – which has more than 3,000 different species of plants – and the Rosa Pinya Gardens, which houses one of Europe’s largest collections of cacti.
Calella de Palafrugell
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If you’re sailing the Costa Brava in July, this normally-tranquil fishing village has a surprise in store. Taking place on an open-air stage in the botanical gardens situated a few kilometres south, the Cap Roig Festival is a music lovers dream. Over the years, it has attracted some of the world’s best-known artists – with everyone from Bob Dylan to Elton John travelling here to perform. Once the show’s over, Calella retains the charm of a quiet coastal village, with little fishing boats moored off sand-and-pebble beaches.
Boating is the best way to access this secluded cove, especially during the summer months, when a ban on motor vehicles requires land-based visitors to walk for up to 45 minutes. Open to the east and backed by low cliffs topped with pine and scrub, the double-horseshoe, nudist-friendly sands are washed by calm, turquoise waters – ideal for a spot of snorkelling or swimming. Bring all your supplies and be aware that mobile reception can be intermittent.
© Russell Kord / Alamy Stock Photo
The coves and beaches just off the inland medieval town of Begur are among the Costa Brava’s most unspoiled and secluded coastal spots. Make base at Cala Aiguafreda – where there’s a small wooden jetty – and use the scenic, clifftop Cami de Rona path to reach the neighbouring pockets of the coast. After around 15 minutes on foot, you’ll reach Sa Tuna – a rectangle of sand backed by old fishermen’s houses and a couple of excellent seafood restaurants.
© Stephen Hughes / Alamy Stock Photo
Punt south of Aiguafreda to the small harbour at Fornells and explore three more nuggets of raw coastline. Playa de Fornells and Cala Malaret, – the first two spots you’ll reach from the port – are perfect if you like swimming off rocks into deep, clear waters. If you’re looking for something a bit sandier, continue strolling for another 20 minutes to Playa Aiguablava, where you’ll find a fine stretch of beach overlooked by pine woods and the expansive four-star Parador Hotel.
Sant Feliu de Guíxols
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Moor up in this lively coastal resort for a nerve-shredding walk on the Via Ferrata Cala del Moli – the only such course in Europe that hangs above the ocean. Pinned to quartz and granite cliffs, the route runs for 480m (1,575ft), at heights of up to 20m (65ft). If this sounds like your worst nightmare, retreat to Playa Sant Feliu – where you can bathe in calm waters or indulge in some more adventurous activities such as kayaking, water skiing or scuba diving.
This seven islet-archipelago is the top-rated natural marine reserve in the Western Mediterranean, boasting a diverse range of underwater flora and fauna that truly sets it apart. Divers of all levels – whether swimming solo or on a guided excursion – can expect to encounter starfish, octopus, lobsters and more while navigating colourful corals and slips of seaweed. Above the water out on deck, keep a pair of binoculars handy to spot airborne species such as Peregrine Falcons, Egrets and Blue Rock Thrushes.