Travel Guide: Costa Brava, Spain
You have a few weeks off and enough miles for round trip airfare. What kind of trip do you plan and to where? I’d start in Italy for a succession of olive oil orchard visits and wine tastings, and make my way to France for the food, beaches and wine, then head to Spain and Portugal for architecture, food and dancing. – Brianne Garcia
Renowned for its azure-blue waters and unspoiled shores, Costa Brava is one of Europe’s most beloved holiday destinations. This picturesque region can be found on Spain’s northeastern coast in the province of Girona, which is also the name of Costa Brava’s biggest city.
With attractions as varied as translucent lakes, centuries-old monasteries, beautiful beaches and surrealist art museums, Costa Brava is perhaps best described as a shimmering paradise with a Bohemian twist. Artists Picasso and Dalí were known to hang around several of Costa Brava’s most charming villages, including Cadaqués and Figueres.
Costa Brava has a comfortable and balmy Mediterranean climate, making any time a good time to visit. But it’s best to come in the summer to enjoy average temperatures of 77°F. Try coming in June or September to avoid the height of the tourist season and the crowds that come with it.
The simplest way to get to Costa Brava is by flying into Girona-Costa Brava Airport. From there, rent a car, hail a taxi or take the bus to arrive in Girona within a half hour. It’s also easy to travel to most of the region’s beaches, villages and towns by train.
STAY: Hotel Mas Lazuli
Hotel Mas Lazuli is a hotel in Costa Brava that’s been converted from a country house into a luxurious four-star resort. Situated halfway between Figueres and Cadaqués, Hotel Mas Lazuli provides guests with astounding views of the nearby Bay of Rosas. Spend the day sunbathing in the bay or checking out Dalí’s old stomping grounds in the nearby towns. Mas Lazuli is also less than an hour away from Girona-Costa Brava Airport, and getting here is as easy as taking a ride across the Spanish countryside. This hotel was the home of Catalan monks in the 11th century, and it retains the provincial charm of the convent’s original architecture. The centerpiece is the salt-water swimming pool, which looks out onto the surrounding olive groves.
Hotel Mas Lazuli offers numerous rooms and suites with a balcony or terrace, giving guests impeccable views of the olive groves or the bay. The rooms’ accents and furnishings are white and minimalist by design so that they don’t take away from the area’s natural beauty. Rooms at Hotel Mas Lazuli cost between $240-$620 USD per night and are most expensive in the summer. Make any vacation more extravagant by planning an on-site spa day: start with an anti-stress massage and finish with a hyaluronic acid treatment to feel refreshed and ready to hit the beach. And don’t forget to check out Mas Lazuli’s in-house restaurant, which specializes in making traditional Catalonian dishes. Visit Hotel Mas Lazuli’s Instagram to see how other travelers are enjoying their getaways, and if you’re ready for an amazing trip, then make a reservation today.
Address: Ctra. de Roses, s/n, 17494 Pau, Girona, Spain
Phone: +34 872-22-22-20
Ever since it first opened in 2012, Compartir has been cooking up some of the most inventive dishes in Costa Brava. This semi-traditional Spanish restaurant is located in Cadaqués, and it’s the brainchild of Oriol Castro, Mateu Casañas and Eduard Xatruch, all of whom formerly worked at the legendary elBulli. They specialize in serving appetizer-like tapas that are meant to be shared, hence why the name Compartir—which is Spanish for share—is so appropriate. The food itself fuses classic Spanish influences with a decidedly modern flair. Even the critics are convinced it’s amazing and have named Compartir a Michelin-recommended restaurant. Try out their mussels in Béarnaise sauce, roasted quail with sweet mashed potatoes or anchovies with mushrooms, honey and truffles. Vegetarians can try the pickled tomatoes with lemon and cream of Parmigiano-Reggiano or the asparagus with miso and black olives. Dishes can cost anywhere between $5-$40 USD each. Even the décor is a draw to Compartir as the restaurant was built in a 300-year-old villa! The furnishings are simple and elegant, featuring comfortable seating and a spacious open courtyard. Definitely make a reservation ahead of time to guarantee a table. Follow Compartir on Instagram.
Address: Riera de Sant Vicenç, s/n, 17488 Cadaqués, Girona, Spain
Phone: +34 972-25-84-82
EAT: La Parrilla
Restaurante La Parrilla is an incredibly popular restaurant in Lloret de Mar, one of the most picturesque coastal cities in Costa Brava. This low-key eatery is known for its inexpensive food and big portions, making it perfect for ravenous travelers on a budget. La Parrilla is run by the husband and wife team of Juan and Carmen, who work hard to make the best paella in Lloret Del Mar. The restaurant’s décor is as casual as be, but it’s never lacking in provincial Spanish charm. And the food is plentiful and delicious: go for the paella, which comes highly recommended and feeds two people. The steak is also a popular option, and the sonsos fritos (fried fish) is said to be the best. Most menu items cost between $5-$18 USD, and it’s common for a two-person dinner to cost less than $30. Brush up on your Spanish, and call Carmen to make a reservation beforehand.
Address: Carrer de Santa Llúcia, 13, 17310 Lloret de Mar, Girona, Spain
Phone: +34 972-36-96-36
SEE: Dalí House
The Salvador Dalí House, or the Portlligat Museum-House, was once Salvador Dalí’s home and studio, but is now an art museum dedicated to his work. Found in the coastal town of Cadaqués, this is where Dalí lived for five decades and also where he worked until his wife Gala’s death in 1982. The Dalí House is well-worth the trip and could even be considered Dalí’s most dynamic piece of art. It began as a simple fishing hut and transformed over the years to fit the artist’s needs. The final design is remarkably labyrinthine and is marked by hidden passageways, winding corridors and off-kilter windows, with tons of personal knick-knacks located throughout. Dalí House is a true surrealist masterpiece that gives visitors a special glimpse into the life of one the world’s most famous artists. Entrance to the museum is $12 per person, but be aware that they can only let in eight people at once. But don’t worry about it too much—just make a reservation online to go at your preferred time.
Address: Platja Portlligat, s/n, 17488 Cadaqués, Girona, Spain
Phone: +34 972-25-10-15