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The Costa Brava is the coastal region that runs from just north of Barcelona all the way up to the French border. It comprises charming seaside villages and popular resorts, as well as many beautiful natural parks and gardens. Here’s a list of Culture Trip favourites.
Located just outside the town of Palafrugell, these historic botanical gardens are a must-visit on the Costa Brava. The garden was created in 1927 when Russian Nicolai Weovodsky and his English wife Dorothy Webster bought the Cap Roig estate and built both a castle and a magnificent garden around it. It took 47 years to complete, but what stands today is a beautiful place to visit with a peaceful garden running all the way down to the sea. In the summer, the gardens play host to the Cap de Roig Festival, featuring well-known musicians from around the world.
Situated in the popular resort town of Lloret de Mar, looking over a clifftop towards the sea, a visit to the Santa Clotilde Gardens makes for a relaxing afternoon. Designed by the landscape artist Nicolau Maria Rubió i Tudurí – who also worked on the famous Montjuïc Gardens in Barcelona – they are built in the Italian Renaissance style, filled with statues, fountains and winding pathways.
The Botanical Gardens of Marimurtra can be found in the coastal town of Blanes and are named after the sea and the mountains, which can both be seen from its lovely shaded pathways. Built in 1920, it was created by Carlos Faust who planted more than 4,000 species of Mediterranean and sub-tropical plants within the gardens. Today, there are also areas dedicated to Africa, Central America and Catalonia. The best views can be enjoyed from the Greek-style Linnaeus temple, located at the top of the gardens.
Situated in the foothills of the Serra de Rodes, the Natural Park of Aiguamolls is one of the most important parks in Catalonia in terms of its biodiversity. A protected area since 1983, it’s home to vast marshlands which attract many types of bird species. For bird-watchers the best time to visit the park is from March to May and August to October.
The Pinya de Rosa Tropical Botanical Garden can be found two kilometres outside the town of Blanes, and spans across over 50 hectares. Designed by the industrial engineer Fernando Riviera de Caralt, it is a spectacular complex, comprising 7,000 species of flora and features many cactus and aloe plants, as well as palms.
The Cap de Crues Natural Park is a vast area of rugged cliffs, tranquil bays and inlets, forested areas and lush meadows. It can be accessed via the towns of Llançà, El Port de la Selva, La Selva de Mar, Cadaqués, Roses, Palau-saverdera, Vilajuïga and Pau, and is bisected by a good number of hiking routes. The area is also filled with weird and wonderful rock formations, many of which inspired the painter Salvador Dalí and feature in many of his works. Right at the tip of the peninsula sits the Cap de Creus Lighthouse, offering spectacular views across the landscape.
Located near the town of Olot, the Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park is a unique spot in Catalonia, featuring 40 volcanoes and 20 lava flows. Home to an interesting array of flora and fauna, the best way to explore it is via one of the 28 different hiking routes through the park or by hot-air balloon, which offers a breathtaking opportunity to see it from above.