Wild Coast Attractions Costa Brava
The most northerly stretch of the Spanish Mediterranean coast, the Costa Brava ("Wild Coast"), is one of the most popular holiday areas in Spain, favored particularly by visitors from northern Europe because of its accessibility.
Its reputation has suffered in recent years from the enormous development of hotels and tourist facilities which has ruined much of the coast and made the Costa Brava the very epitome of mass tourism. Away from the main tourist centers, however, the Costa Brava still offers visitors magnificent scenery, great works of art and good bathing. The much indented coast is rocky for most of the way, and on the cliff-fringed promontories cannot usually reached by car and is sometimes accessible only by boat. Between the promontories there are picturesque fishing villages and little towns with sandy beaches. Visitors who prefer to avoid the long drive along the coast road with its many bends can see the most beautiful places on the Costa Brava by following N II and the A 7 motorway (E 15), from which there are roads (usually of good quality) leading down to the coast.
Col de Balitres, Spain
Visitors entering Spain from France should take N 114 from Perpignan. This runs via Argelès-sur-Mer to the French frontier town of Cerbère, 49km/ 30mi from Perpignan, from which the road winds its way up to the Col de Balitres (173m/568ft), on the frontier, with beautiful views of the coast.
Beyond the French frontier another winding road runs down to Port-Bou, a fishing port and the Spanish frontier town. It has an important railroad station, since in view of the broader gauge of the Spanish railroad system passengers must usually change trains here or wait while their carriages are adjusted to the Spanish gauge.
Beyond Colera is Llansá, a little walled town, off the road to the right, with the Baroque church of San Vicente (Catalan Sant Vincenç) and a 15th Century defensive tower. There is a small beach by the harbor.
Puerto de la Selva - San Pedro de Roda (Sant Pere de Roda)
From Llansá the coast road continues, with extensive views, to Puerto de la Selva, charmingly situated at the foot of the Sierra de Roda. In the hills is the old Benedictine abbey of San Pedro de Roda, with a church going back to the 8th century; the Romanesque barrel vaulting is believed to be the oldest of the kind. The capitals have finely carved animals' heads and interlace ornament. Above the abbey is the Castillo de San Salvador, from which there are fine views. Puerto de la Selva has a seawater swimming pool and a boating marina.
At the next road junction beyond Puerto de la Selva the road on the left leads to Cadaqués (alt. 20m/65ft), a picturesque little town which in the early years of the 20th century drew many artists, including Max Ernst, Paul Eluard, André Breton and Salvador Dalí, who lived in nearby Port Lligat. The parish church (rebuilt in the 17th century) has a fine Baroque altar of 1727. The Museo Perrot-Moore has pictures of the 15th-17th centuries and works of the Modernist school. The curving bay, flanked by rugged cliffs, offers only limited scope for bathing.
Cabo de Creus (Cap de Creus)
Returning from Cadaqués to the road junction, we turn left and in another 12km/7.5mi turn left again into the road to Rosas, originally founded by the Greeks under the name of Rhode. At the west end of the town, within the walls of a former citadel, are the remains of a church belonging to an early Christian cemetery.
Castello de Ampurias, Spain
Ampuriabrava (Empúria Brava)
On the coast to the southeast of Castelló de Ampurias is the planned holiday settlement of Ampuriabrava, a well designed complex of holiday houses and apartments laid out round an artificial network of canals.
La Escala, Spain
From Castelló de Ampurias a secondary road runs south by way of San Pedro Pescador and the archeological site of Ampurias to the old fishing port of La Escala, attractively situated above the sea on a small promontory in the Golfo de Rosas. It is now a popular family holiday resort, with a beach of sand and pebbles.
Torroella de Montgri, Spain
From La Escala the road turns inland and runs south to join a secondary road coming from Gerona. This road runs via Ullá to Torroella de Montgrí (alt. 30m/100ft), situated on the Río Ter, a river with an abundant flow of water, amid wild coastal scenery. It has a fine Gothic church (15th C.) and a Renaissance mansion, the Palacio Solterra (Catalan Palau Solterra), which is now occupied by an art gallery.
On the coast to the east of Torroella de Montgrí is the not particularly beautiful resort of Estartit, which is part of the commune of Torroella.
From Torroella the road runs through level country (rice-fields) by way of Pals, an old-world little town picturesquely situated on the slopes of a hill, and Regencós to Bagur (Catalan Begur; alt. 220m/720ft), built round a castle situated on a cone-shaped crag, from which there are panoramic views.
Southwest of Bagur, reached either on the direct road or via Regencós, is the little town of Palafrugell (alt. 65m/215ft), which along with the adjoining resorts of Llafranch, Tamariu and Calella de Palafrugell constitutes one of the major tourist centers on the Costa Brava, with a series of fine beaches. Palafrugell itself has the Gothic church of San Martín, with a 17th century retablo, and remains of its old town walls.
Cabo de San Sebastian
From Palafrugell a road runs down to the picturesque Cabo de San Sebastián (4km/2.5mi), with the beautifully situated chapel of San Sebastián.
Cap Roig Botanic Garden
Cap Roig Botanic Garden was created by Col. and Madame de Woevodsky in 1924, they planted 40ha with pines, built a castle and laid out the garden. The achievement of the garden is the skillful weaving of exquisitely-designed terraces and exotic planting into the woodland framework.
Beyond Palafrugell the coast road joins C 255, coming from Gerona, which continues south to Palamós, finely situated on an outlying promontory of the Sierra de las Gabarras. This old fishing village, in which fish auctions are still held, is now also a popular holiday resort.
Playa de Aro, Spain
C 253 continues southwest from Palamós, a short distance from the coast, to San Antonio de Calonge (with the beautifully situated inland holiday resort of Calonge 2.5km/1.5mi off on the right) and Playa de Aro, a busy seaside resort comprehensively developed for tourism, with high-rise hotels lining the seafront promenade.
San Feliude Guixols, Spain
San Feliú de Guixols is a port town, attractively situated at the head of a bay. As the main center for the shipment of the cork produced in the surrounding area it is a port of call for ships of many nations, and it is also a very popular seaside resort with a good beach. In the town are the remains of a monastery built in the 13th century, with an iron entrance gate, the 11th century Porta Ferrada, and a defensive tower beside it. In the square, standing by itself, is a Baroque doorway. The Casa Berruguer contains a small museum with Iberian, Greek and Roman antiquities.
Tossa de Mar, Spain
From San Feliú de Guixols the coast road runs southwest, high up on the slopes of the Puig de Cadiretas (519m/1703ft), and continues, with an endless succession of bends and magnificent views, to Tossa de Mar, a popular seaside resort delightfully situated in a bay, with a good beach and a seafront promenade with beautiful views.
The upper town of Tossa de Mar, surrounded by medieval walls and towers, is protected as a national monument.
The Municipal Museum, in a restored medieval house, has a collection of modern art (including Marc Chagall), Roman mosaics and Stone Age implements.
On the west side of the crowded lower town are the scanty remains of a Roman settlement.