I hadn’t even heard of the Costa Brava when I signed up to live in Barcelona for six months.
I was a college student on a limited budget. I remember feeling unsure of whether I should go. What about the football games I’d miss, my boyfriend on another continent? (What a silly child I was — always book the ticket and just go.) Yet once I made the decision I began to tell everyone I knew about where I was going.
That summer I’d been working in the kitchen at the golf course near my parent’s house. The chef happened to be from Spain. I had forgotten this fact when I sputtered around asking for extra shifts (I’d need the money for Barcelona, after all.)
This chef called me into his office (uh oh.) What had I done wrong?
He reached into a wooden drawer full of pens. I panicked, thinking there would be no other reason to summon me out of the kitchen unless I was in trouble.
Instead I saw him begin to sketch what later resembled the coastline of Spain. “Oh, it’s Spain!” I shouted as I realized.
“This is not Spain, Anne. It is Catalunya. Very big difference,” he told me. I hadn’t even gotten there yet, and I already had so very much to learn.
“And this, this is a place that’s very dear to me. It’s a beautiful place just beside where I grew up.” He wrote letters next to the very rough drawing. T-o-s-s-a…
That’s what led me and ten other students on a bus, journeying out of the city and up to a beach town I hadn’t otherwise heard about. We spent the day in the sun, dancing the sardana with locals, eating fresh fish from the sea, climbing the small hill to see a small castle tower.
It took me nearly ten years to get back to that magical spot. When I headed back to Costa Brava some ten years later for work, I had changed in so many ways. To my delight, Tossa de Mar and its neighboring coastal paths and quiet villages…had not.
May it not take you as long to seek out this beautiful, peaceful, welcoming patch of our world as it took me.
The area is best known for resort towns like Lloret de Mar, but don’t stop exploring beyond there….
The Costa Brava Towns You Should Know About
Tossa de Mar
Calella de Palafrugell
Where to Stay in Costa Brava:
Hotel San Roc (Palafrugell)
Hotel Aiguablava (Begur)
Hotel Trias (Palamós)
Hotel Llevant (Llafranc)
Sant Pere del Bosc (Lloret de Mar)
Where to Eat in Costa Brava:
- Restaurant El Pedro (Pals)
- Restaurant Aiguablava (Begur)
- Finca Bell-loc (countryside near Palamós)
What To Do in Costa Brava:
- Cap Roig gardens
- The medieval town of Pals (a bit inland)
- Costa Brava from the water (boating!)
- Walk the Cami de Ronda (coastal paths)
- Beaches (located throughout)
Don’t miss these other more well-known Costa Brava towns, villages, and nearby cities:
Ready to plan a trip?
The Costa Brava tourism site is very helpful!
My friends (and Girona residents) have a great introduction the region on Only in Costa Brava.
And don’t leave without eating as much fresh Catalunyan food as possible.
This trip was supported in part by the Costa Brava/Girona tourism board. All opinions are strictly my own!