Platja de Lloret de Mar, Costa Brava. Photo by Paatrykk.
Best Costa Brava beaches
Extending north from Barcelona – and including 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 also some big names with seriously big beaches. 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.
Barceloneta beach sculpture, Barcelona
Barcelona city encompasses over four kilometres of coastline, home to a handful of decent urban beaches coated with comfortable beige sand and good facilities including lifeguards, toilets and of course plenty of bars and restaurants.
Near the city centre and just a few hundred metres from the end of La Rambla are the large, busy strands of Barceloneta and Sant Sebastià, while further north are the Blue Flag beaches of Nova Icària and El Bogatell, in addition to Mar Bella, Nova Mar Bella and Llevant.
Platja de Pals
A beach between Blanes and Lloret de Mar, typical of the smaller, more characterful strands found on the Costa Brava. Photo by Katona Marcell.
Pals beach is an unusually long stretch of sand on a coast that specialises in rocky little coves. Pals is about 3kms long and offers a range of facilities including the usual rentals, bars and cafés and board surfing gear as winds can be surprisingly fresh. Pals beach works well for families.
Get there via Pals village, 40kms east of Girona, then another three miles to the spacious Pals parking lot.
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 atPlatja S’Abanell, the Costa Brava’s longest beach, and Blue FlaggedPlaya 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.
If you are looking for watersports, especially scuba diving, in the 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.
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.
Tossa de Mar castle and beach. Photo by Josemanuel.
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 the wacky Salvador Dali Museum is situated.
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.