Extending north from Barcelona to the French border (the Costa Dorada goes south), the rocky Costa Brava comprises a number of small towns with delightful sandy coves and diminuitive beaches but with few huge stretches of sand. Although there are few untouched beaches here the Costa Brava still has a wilderness ambience in places.
If you'd like a beach close to the urban excitement of gorgeous Barcelona, Calella, south of Blanes, is a good choice especially for families. Calella's three main beaches, Platja Gran, Garbi and Les Roques are all sandy and sizeable.
If you are looking for watersports, especially scuba diving, inthe Costa Brava, try long and sandy Estartit beach, with Medes Islands Marine Reserve offshore, this is a popular Spanish destination for all-inclusive holiday packages including diving.
Resorts on the north east coast of Catalonia are relatively low key with various parks nearby including the Cap de Creus Natural Park and Marine Reserve.
The best sandy beaches include Canyelles Grosses (also known as Playa L' Almadrava) 3km out of town, and central Playa Punta, both with Blue Flag status.
Even if surrealism is not your cup of tea, visiting the wacky villa near beautiful Cadaques port that belonged to Salvador Dali (one of Spain's most famous artist who lived much of his life in this region) or his eccentric museum (Teatre-Museu) in Figueres, is a must.
L' Escala Beaches
Close to the French/Spanish border L'Escala's 8 km shoreline includes Greek and Romain ruins, anchovies galore and Spain's first no-smoking beach, Nova (though actually the ban cannot be enforced). L'Escala is near Figueres, where Salvador Dali Museum is located, as well as El Bulli in Roses, voted the world's best restaurant 3 years in a row.
Playa d' Aro, Costa Brava
Playa d' Aro
The stunning length of Playa de Aro, the Costa Brava's second largest resort after Lloret de Mar, is famed for its hectic nightlife as well as another big attraction, Aquadiver Waterworld. De Aro has a pretty beachfront centre with the main section, Playa Gran, stretching for 2km, ideal for families with excellent facilities including kid's playgrounds and plenty of watersports.
Playa de Lloret de Mar (picture at top of page)
As one of Mediterranean's most popular resorts, Lloret de Mar attracts many visitors and is especially popular for stag and hen parties. Attractions along its 7km of coastline and five beaches include two Blue Flag sections, Playa de Lloret and Fenals, with excellent facilities and a wide range of watersports. If you're looking for peace and quiet try small rocky coves of La Boadella and Canyelles,
Lloret de Mar is 105 kmls from Barcelona airport and within easy reach of Europe's biggest water park, an aquarium and the Universal Studios theme park.
A smaller beach between Blanes and Lloret de Mar.
© Katona Marcell
Playa de Blanes, Blanes
The 4km of coastline at Blanes offers well-equipped beaches with coarse golden sand and clean waters including an abundant stretch of sand at Platja S'Abanell, the Costa Brava's longest beach, and Blue Flagged Playa de Blanes, lying between Sa Palomera and Blanes Marina, with its lovely seafront promenade.
Due to its location just 60 km north of Barcelona airport, Blanes is popular with international tourists as well as local people but much quieter and more relaxing than its wild Spanish neighbour, Lloret de Mar.
Tossa de Mar beach
Cala Pola, Tossa de Mar
Located between Barcelona and Girona, the sandy cove of Cala Pola is a tiny gem with a picturesque setting, if only it was less crowded! Best avoided in high summer.
Although the area is well-served by public transport, getting to Cala Pola is a lot easier with your own transport.
The nearest airport is Spain's Girona, though you may get a better deal from Barcelona.
Playa de Mataro
5 km long Mataro Beach with Blue Flag status, fine golden sand and laid back atmosphere, is a great place to take a beach break from Barcelona sightseeing as Mataro is well connected by highways and public transportation to both Girona and Barcelona.
More Costa Brava information
Spain Beaches: Atlantic coast| Costa Dorada | Costa Blanca | Costa de la Luz | Costa del Sol