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Costa Brava Living - blog area

Walks and other things

Walks on the Costa Brava - click for a larger version One of the joys of the Costa Brava is the variety of landscapes and we like to visit places and walk (a lot), particularly into and around the Gavarres. Sometimes we travel around on bike. In the summer, we swim and canoe.

These then are write ups of walks, hikes and activities that we've done since November 2012, with photos straight from the original walk or activity.

We like to make circular walks and our walks range in length from about 4km (an hour) to around 16km (four hours) - but probably about 2 1/2 hours on average - though if you want to reduce the length, there are usually shortcuts.

To find walks by location, click on the map, which goes to a full sized map with links to individual walks and visits. To our surprise, we were listed in the Sunday Times' Essential Costa Brava (Feb 2017).

The most visited walks are:

Cami de Ronda Calella de Palafrugell
14 Oct 2014

Calella de Palafrugell beach at Golfet Calella de Palafrugell's Cami de Ronda on the Costa Brava is a short classic holidaymaker's walk with views over Mediterranean and hidden rocky coves, but enough interest to still be delightful as a regular walk for locals in and out of season.

The walk is part of one of the earlier walks we did starting at Mont-ras, but this time we want to include just the Cami de Ronda part. Our starting point is at the beach of Golfet, the fourth (or so) of Calella de Palafrugell's beaches and the one most distant from the centre. Access to the beach and path is down steps from the upper road towards Cap Roig botanical gardens and is clearly sign-posted.

Calalla de Palafrugell Cala from Cami de Ronda The steps down actually get to the path about 100m along from Golfet, so to make a full route we first go to the beach of Golfet itself, empty now in October. The beach is grittier and pebblier than the other village beaches, but sits in a natural cove with cliffs behind. In summer it's the quiet beach to get away from the crowds. In October there are signs of work to stablise the cliffside as it's situation also means erosiion and natural forces at work.

Calella de Palafrugell Port Bo Houses and beach From Golfet the path passes past two large imposing isolated rocks before running into the first of a number of tunnels. The path is extremely well maintained and not a wild walk by any means, but as the path runs along the coast it still feels like an unspoilt walk.

Each bend brings a new rocky bay, or you can take in the views of the red stone cliffs that give Cap Roig its name. The path is popular as a walk and even in October there are sunbathers and people who look as if they have just come out of the sea taking a stroll.

Calella de Palafrugell rocks at Port Bo We pass a few more tunnels and out to see we get to see the small islands of Les Formigues (The Ants) marked by a low light house. The Formigues claim to fame was as the location of a naval battle between Catalans and the French in the 13th Century as part of the Aragonese Crusade when the King of Aragon was in dispute with the Pope. Now, in summer Calella de Palafrugell has a long distance swimming race to the Formigues and back - it's a long way 5-6km in total, so not to be tried without support and assistance.

Calella de Palafrugell beach at Canadell From the last long tunnel we get our first real view of Calella de Palafrugell in the autumn sunshine. The town is much much quieter than in summer and some places do close up, but the main restaurants by Port Bo tend to stay open year round. In October the bay is empty of the boats that normally moor here in the summer and the fine light makes it easy to take picture postcard type photographs.

The path curves up briefly to the road at the top, before cutting down more stairs into and then up and out of a small bay. We've now reached Hotel Sant Roc and the terrace restaurant that looks over the town where dinners are just finishing lunch.

Calella de Palafrugell townscape The path now turns into a promenade along the tops of the main beaches of Port Pelegri by Hotel Mediterrani. The warm day, even for October means there are still people on the beach even in the afternoon, though no-one actually swimming.

The promenade walk runs down to sea-level at the heart of the village by Port Bo and its beach. People are sitting on the boardwalk by the restaurants and enjoying the views out to sea and out across to the path we've just walked. We follow the boardwalk past the old fishing boats on the beach and the old mini-harbour in the rocks. The path then cuts through the houses and we emerge with a view of the beach of Canadell. with the modernista buildings above the beach and the views to the headland that connects to Llafranc.

Calella de Palafrugell view over town

For longer walk that includes this path see: Mont-ras to Calella de Palafrugell and Llafranc

For neighbouring walks see: Calella de Palafrugell/Cap Roig to Castell - classic wild Costa Brava - Far de Sant Sebastia (Llafranc) to Tamariu - Eulogy to the Ruta del Tren Petit (Palafrugell, Palamos, Mont-ras and Vall-llobrega) - Gardens of Cap Roig - Palafrugell

Walking route for Cami de Ronda in Calella de Palafrugell Costa Brava

Canapost to the medieval fair at Peratallada
09 Oct 2014

Peratallada view over the town In the first weekend in October, Peratallada - one of the prettiest villages on the Costa Brava - holds a medieval fair with stalls and troubadours and festivities. It is very popular, so rather than try to park at Peratallada, we decided to start from Canapost and take a walk through the woods.

We park in the centre of Canapost just opposite the old church. The village positively glows in the autumn sun with radiant golden stone houses. It's not far to Peratallada - about 2km on a straight path - but we're looking for a walk before the fair. We head out of the village on one of the apparently main roads and follow it until it merges with a river bed and then rough rocks that we need to climb out of to reach the track at the top.

Peratallada centre with castle The path takes us along the edge of woods with views towards the Gavarres to our left and not far from the Clots de Sant Julia - the very ancient coloured quarries. Our road though steadily leads away in the wrong direction for Peratallada and it's only when we past the discreet Deixalleria (village rubbish dump) with hundreds of seagulls roosting on its roof, that we find a left hand turn into the sandy woods and back in the direction of Peratallada.

Peratallade medieval fair The woods are quite open and the track curves and loops up among the trees with routes marked by yellow and red arrows - probably more for mountain bikers than walkers. We traverse the woods and find ourselves at the top of a small hill with Peratallade down below us. Even from the hill outside the village we can hear the troubadours playing the classic medieval sounding Catalan instruments.

We come down out of the woods and into the village. The car parks are pretty full so it's good we parked away and the village itself is full of stalls and people, at times causing quite a crush through the village streets. Peratallada is one of my favourite Costa Brava villages as it seems to be a place unchanged for hundreds of years like a medieval village in perfect preservation. With the fair and the stalls and decoration on the buildings and the sound of the musicians it's like walking on to a film set for Robin Hood. We also discover there are several groups of musicians - usually with one group playing, and the others taking a break in the bars.

Peratallada scented stall The stalls are mostly stalls of craft produce - so both handmade products like scented cushions, candles and wooden toys, but also traditional foods including cheeses, sausages (embotits) an of course wines from local vineyards.

The people not walking around the village and looking at the stalls are mostly installed in the many small restaurants and bars sitting out on the stone courtyards, or under archways or on the terraces.

We leave and continue back to Canapost, but taking the shorter more direct route out along the path that curves around by fields returning to an empty Canapost which looks as if it hasn't changed for centuries.

Neighbouring walks: Clots de Sant Julia (Vulpellac) - La Bisbal, Vulpellac, Castell d'Emporda, FontetaCanapost, Poblet Iberic and Ullastret - Palau-sator and Peratallada - Santa Susanna de Peralta and Sant Climent de Peralta

Walking route Canapost to Peratallada for the fair

Elne (France)
09 Oct 2014

Elne town with restaurant on the town walls Elne is a small cathedral town on the French side of the Catalan border close to Argeles sur Mer that used to be the capital of Roussillon part of Catalonia until this changed to Perpignan in about 1276. It's an old town with Roman foundations, apparently a stop-off for Hannibal on his way to attack Rome.

If you take the autoroute into France, there are the French tourist signs on the motorway advertising the cloisters at Elne as a place to visit. We didn't go in to see the cloisters, but we did visit the town on one of our periodic forays into France for shopping to pick up squash/cordials and other bits and bobs we struggle to find on the Spanish side of the border.

From the autoroute we take the first turn off at Le Boulou - our normal first line option for shopping - and follow the road along the plain at the bottom of the Abreres range of the Pyrenees in the direction of Argeles sur Mer.

Argeles is a seaside town built on the flat with campsites and low modern houses and apartment blocks in French pastel colours along the beach stretch.  It's very popular for camping and main UK camp operators rent tents. In the middle of summer it's also phenomenally popular with the French - seeming to be busier than parts of the Costa Brava with lots of family-type attractions and souvenir outlets, but with a very strong French vibe. The beach is long, flat and wide and very different to the bays and calas of the Costa Brava, and perhaps a little unattractive. But the French really sell their region with plenty of vineyards and wines, calls to eat the local oysters and mussels and celebrating and connecting inland attractions with the coast much better than the more low-key Costa-Brava-style.

Elne cathedral But for this visit we're going to Elne rather than Argeles - just 2-3km away. The cathedral stands on a hill above the plain and can be seen from far away. We park at the outskirts of Elne by an Intermarche and walk into the centre past the Casa de la Vila. In this area elements of Catalan mix with the French in signs and names and some road names have both a French and Catalan version on the signpost.

The current main town sits at the bottom of the hill and feels very French with houses with shutters and parades of taller houses (even down to the amount of dog-pooh in the middle of the pavement - a traditional French hazard). We've arrived at lunch-time - about 1.30 - but in contrast to Catalan villages that shut down in the afternoon, there are still people about in the town or taking a beer in the cafes, though the shops are closed.

There is a formal tourist itinerary marked on the signposts, but to be pefectly honest, the town is small enough that it's as easy just to explore a little.

The first place we go to is to walk up by the town walls - built with large pebble stones arranges in lines and in through what would have been one of the old town gates. We then continue up looping around to an open space at the back of the Cathedral at the top of the walls. The views are excellent, though there is haze in the day we can see the sea in the distance and the new apartment blocks by the coast, or look north and the city scape of Perpignan, or walking further round we can see the Pyrenees and the watchtowers on the peaks of the Abreres to the south.

The Cathedral is huge and there is access from the back into the cloister (which we didn't visit), but we walk around the wall top before ambling back through the old part of the town past what would have been the castle and on to the front of the Cathedral where a party of children are being told the history in Catalan (it's unusual to have school on a Saturday).

The town has several gates and a network of smaller streets with painted houses with a strong French feel - it's always a little surprising how strong the cultural differences are one side of a border to the other, even though the distances are quite close. But given Elne is quite small we feel we've seen as much as we want.

On the way back we stick to the N-road rather than take the motorway and drive through Le Perthus - an odd town that for parts of it has Spain on one side of the road and France on the other. We then call in on La Jonquera and visit one of the supermarkets. La Jonquera for the French is like Calais is to the English - a place to stock up on booze and cigarettes at the lower Spanish prices. The supermarket has masses of alcohol, but also sells other items in bulk. We've not been in before (since we're on the Spanish side), but because of the volumes, even for Spanish shoppers there are a few bargains.

See also: La Jonquera to Fort de Bellegarde (France)

Also in France close to the Costa Brava

White water rafting in Quillan (France) - Collioure (France) - Villefranche-de-Conflent and Mont-Louis (France)  - Perpignan - Ceret (France) - Andorra La Vella - La Jonquera to Fort de Bellegarde (France)

Parlava, Rupia and La Sala
09 Oct 2014

Parlava church Parlava is a small village on the main route between La Bisbal d'Emporda and Figueres prior to crossing the river Ter at Verges. As such it's a village that many people will pass through on their way to somewhere else. This is really a walk of three churches and the September day had a strong autumn mist, so it was not a good day for photographs.

It would be fair to say that Parlava is not a particularly noteworthy village. It has a church and a handful of old streets but nothing that really catches the eye. The walk though is relatively flat and links with Rupia and La Sala - an area we've walked before (Rupia and Foixa) coming at Rupia, which is more interesting, from a different direction.

Rupia church After visiting the village centre we follow the bike route out in the direction of Casavells which leads out into the fields. At this time of year, fields are being ploughed and the landscape is a mixture of earthy browns and khaki greens. As we're walking there are views to Castell d'Emporda but otherwise it is a simple flat walk.

At the first proper turning right we follow the track towards a pig farm - there are no signposts but it is obvious that it is going towards Rupia in the distance where we can see the church. The track turns into a lane by the farm and we simply follow it to the stream at the entrance to Rupia. There are children playing with sticks in the water and a small playground.

La Sala (Ultramort) church A quick visit of Rupia and we head out across the main road (which links Flaca to Torroella de Montgri). This is part of our early walk so we know we will find the strangely isolated church at La Sala along the road.

At the crossroads, we turn up past the La Sala church and can see that it seems to be linked or connected to a farm. There are a number of old and new farmhouses in the area some of which look quite luxurious. After the church we need to walk on the road, turning right up the hill to link back to Parlava. For a quiet back road there are more cars than we would expect, but this could just be the time of day.

And so back to Parlava along the main road - a walk of three churches, but not too much else.

See also: Verges, Tallada d'Emporda and Maranya - Colomers and Jafre - Vilopriu and Valldavia - Serra de Daro, Fonolleres, Sant Iscle d'Emporda - La Pera, Pubol and around - Parlava, Rupia and La Sala

Walking route Parlava, Rupia and La Sala

Bascara - horses, fords and lost
29 Sep 2014

Bacara Church Costa Brava If you take the old N II (pronounced as N-two) road between Figueres and Girona instead of the AP7, then you will pass through the village of Bascara just after crossing the Fluvia river. Strategically this would have been an important crossing point for the river particularly as the village stands above the river. However, if you pass through now it's easy to miss the older part of the town which is off to the side from the main road.

Older crossing points of major rivers are usually good for walking as there is normally a history to the town including a castle or tower, and a mix of geographic features, so following our visit to Sant Miquel de Flluvia, Bascara seemed to be the next interesting place along. Unfortunately we managed to get a little lost on private roads, so I've avoided putting the path we walked.

Remains of Bascara Castle To start with we park just off the main road in amongst the village itself by a playground. Bascara isn't that big and the older part consists of about 4-5 older streets leading off from a central square and street that can be reached from the main road via an old gateway. We explore a little - the area is pedestrianised and the older streets have houses with lots of plant pots outside.

At the far end away from the square we reach the church which stands in its own large placa unusually a little off the centre of the town. However opposite the church are the remains of the old castle - barely a tower standing and with no access to see more. The location of Bascara means that it has been under attack many times in its history. The last time when it was occupied by the French in 1808-9.

Bascara River Fluvia and AVE railway bridge The castle and church then have an open space to the town walls. The town stands about 20-30m above the river Fluvia below and, unlike the castle, the walls have been renovated.

We take a path through the walls down to the river bank below. To start with we head up river. The Fluvia is quite broad at this point with a weiring system controlling the water flow. The river passes underneath a new bridge for the AVE high speed train line to Figueres. And as we follow the very pleasant river path we see that the AVE line also passes over a horse race track and equestrian centre.

Horse riding is popular in the Costa Brava with a number of Gymkhanas and active riding schools and competitions all over (directly around us are 4-5 riding stables). However, until Bascara, we'd never seen a race track which was always something of a suprise given the number of holiday makers and its popularity in the UK and France (may be it's an opportunity for someone).

Bascara horse track and riding centre The track itself now runs under a high (50m or so bridge for the AVE train), and is sand-based rather than grass, and though there is a riding centre there are none of the stands or paddocks you'd see in the English courses. While we were there a showjumping gymkhana was taking place with children doing dressage.

Having seen the race course, we decided to turn back and go a little more downstream. We walked under the main bridge that carries the N-II and on a gravel track that headed into countryside before turning down towards the river. This was our crossing. However, the map hadn't shown that the crossing was actually a ford (quite a long broad one). The water wasn't deep (5-10cm) but we had to take our shoes and socks off to cross to the other side.

Bascara ford across the Fluvia On the opposite side we followed the river back upstream to the opposite side of the river to the horse riding. The walk wasn't special, but there was a dappled light through trees and an open gravel track. The map showed a path that curled round and then climbed back up to meet the N-II bridge which should take us back to town.  However, at the point we turned away from the river the track split and there was a Cami Particular sign. Unfortunately it wasn't very clear which of the two tracks it applied to. We assumed the path that went on along the river since there were further signs marking it as private.

Not sure, but wanting to make a loop, we followed the track past rough fields as the track curved under a small rise. At the end of the track where we thought we could continue, the track came to an end and we found ourselves following a path that took us into the farm lands and barns that sat on top of the rise, slowly feeling more like we were in the wrong place. We could have turned back, but it would have meant a walk all the way back to the ford and knowing the buildings would have an exit at some point we pressed on. Luckily we didn't run into anyone but it was a rare occasion when we've felt we were walking somewhere we shouldn't be.  Unfortunately the maps don't distinguish between public and private roads but generally the walking in Catalonia is open and relaxed and all tracks can be walked - even if you end up on a bit of a wrong track it tends to be a short connection between two paths usually because we've approached the path from the back rather than from the road.

We did eventually find our way out (and it was private) and found the N-II bridge over the Fluvia back into Bascara, though the N-II is a busy road so walking the bridge wasn't too pleasant (the ford on the other hand was a lot of fun).

Nearby: Serinya and Illa del Fluvia - Banyoles lakeside walk - Sant Miquel de Fluvia - Cervia de Ter - Waterfall at Les Escaules (Boadella) - Canet d'Adri - Celra, Juia and the Castle of Palagret

Lloret's Platja de Boadella, Platja de Santa Cristina and The Fence
19 Sep 2014

Platja de Boadella Lloret de Mar Lloret de Mar is the Costa Brava party town, but even for walkers it has it's attractions.

Aside from the main beach and neighbouring Platja de Fenals, there is also the quieter discrete (and naturist) beach of Platja de Boadella, and next door again the grander beach of Platja de Santa Cristina.

However, last year we walked the GR92 coastal route from Blanes, past Lloret de Mar and on to Tossa de Mar we noted how the G92 seemed to miss out these beaches.

So we return, to find out what options there are to link these areas. And as we discover though Boadella is reached easily and there are signs for the GR92 close to the beach, Santa Cristina has been entirely fenced in and there are no options other than to follow the road for the GR92.

It is still possible to go in to the Santa Cristina area for the hermitage and the beach, but access is only through the access road (or via the hotel).

All the way along the Boadella side is a long fence that reaches down to the cliffs above Santa Cristina beach.

So while the two beaches (Santa Cristina includes one larger and one smaller beach Treumal) in the fenced in area are beautiful, the lack of a coast route access is very disappointing, made more so by the fact that the Santa Cristina area is run by the Lloret council.

It is an area used for festivals and is very well maintained and the beaches themselves feel quite private and privileged, so maybe it's not all bad.

Santa Cristina beach Lloret de Mar To reach the beaches we start just in among the new flats and apartment blocks of the Fenals area of Lloret de Mar.

Most holidaymakers will go to Fenals beach - the quieter of the two main Lloret beaches.

We're heading for Boadella and to get there you pass around the Jardins of Santa Clotilde and into the woods at the side.

There are a number of tracks that then take you down to Boadella beach. This is definitively a nudist beach with plenty of naturists particularly among the rocky coves to the right and to the left of the main sand beach.

Boadella has a chiringuito on the sand, but facilities are relatively simple compared to the more dynamic Lloret beaches.

From Platja de Boadella we follow the marked tracks that point to Santa Cristina - these are marked as GR92 but on our walk from Blanes we didn't quite get as close to the beach.

The tracks climb into the woods above the beach and we really want to try to keep to the coast, but in front of us we run into The Fence. This is a large and long fence covered with a matting that runs all the way from the cliff edge closest to the sea, up to the road.

There is no way past or through the fence for walkers, and just the occasional tantalising glimpse of the beach and hermitage on the other side.

Santa Cristina Platja de Treumal Lloret de Mar So our GR92 route was right and there is no linking path other than by road. We follow the road around - there are a couple of access points into the Santa Cristina area but these are private. The first is just access to apartments, the second access for hotel guests only to take them down to the hotel on Santa Cristina beach.

So we are stuck following the road around the outside to the main entrance where we can walk down through the car park (entry is free for walkers, or €6.50 a day for car parking).

The gardens and hermitage, with its tiled dome, are beautiful and very well taken care of, with the restricted access making the whole area feel quite exclusive.

The hermitage itself is a large decorated church built in the 18th Century built from money collected among the people of Lloret. Santa Cristina hermitage and gardens therefore hold a special place in the hearts of the local population and is the location for festivals and traditions.

The Fence separating Santa Cristina area from GR92 At the bottom of the gardens, we reach the beaches - there are two separated by a small rocky outcrop and along the paths there are copies of famous paintings made of the beaches and area.

The smaller of the two beaches (Treumal) is separated from the larger main beach by a rocky headland with a sheltered corner tucked under the rocks.

We walk along the beach which is quiet and reserved.

The grounds of the hotel extend down to the edge of the sand and there is a largish bar and restaurant area.

On the far side of the beach, there are rocks at the bottom of the cliffs and it is possible to scramble around.

For the sake of discovery we tried to see if we could get all the way to Boadella over the rocks, but the way is blocked by a couple of impassable bays.

It would probably be possible to swim across the final bays, but it's not a practical option for walkers. So the only option was to head out the way we came, effectively retracing our steps.

The beaches and area of Santa Cristina is beautiful, but it remains a pity that it remains a diversion from the GR92.

Walking route Lloret de Mar Fenals to Boadella and Santa Cristina

See also: Cala de Sant Francesc (Blanes) - Blanes, Lloret de Mar, Tossa de Mar by GR92 - Tossa de Mar to Cala Llorell - Swimming and beach at Fenals, Lloret de Mar

Sant Miquel de Fluvia
19 Sep 2014

Sant Miquel de Fluvia church The village of Sant Miquel de Fluvia is tucked away between Figueres and Girona, not directly on a main road to anywhere in particular, but on the river Fluvia and also on the train line. It's an area of low rolling hills that rise gently above the plain of Alt Emporda, and an area we don't know very well.

The aim of this walk visit was simply to see what the area was like and to see a village we've not visited before. Our walking route is therefore unlikely to be the best or most picturesque, but gave us a feel for the area.

We park just off the main road through the village on the Carrer de Forn Roma, not far from the Embotits (sausage) factory. We decide to head for the distinctive 11th Century Romanic church that we could see as we drove in with it's square tower set with open window spaces.

The street though has a hidden secret. Just off the footpath in what at first seems to be a font (or even a bus shelter) is a Roman Kiln or Oven. The entrance is actually below street level and it's very dark to see very much at all.

River Fluvia at Sant Miquel de Fluvia We continue along the street and arrive at the church and main old village centre. There is a collection of old farm-house type buildings, the traditional terraced streets and the church standing grandly above them all. Around the side of the church are excavations though we can't tell what for.

Before visiting the village though we cut out through an archway towards a spring font in the hill nearby, close to the old safreig (communal area for washing clothes), and seeing a walk through the woods we head down and out towards where we think the Fluvia river is.

Eventually though we reach a road and turn back towards the village, before spotting a sign pointing to the river. This takes us right down to the waters edge. We're in early September and the river is clear and fast flowing and it would be very tempting to take a dip. It certainly looks like the area is used by swimmers or paddlers.

We try to follow the river along a marked footpath through the grass that has been cut recently, but it ends in a dead end and rather than retreat the way we came we force through to a path at the bottom of a fenced field and then up past a farm to the road where we re-enter the old village from the other direction.

The village has the classic ring of houses for protection and a main street that is never straight. Apparently the curving of the streets was defensive - if you were being pursued the curves mean that the pursuers can't see all the way along the street making it easier for someone to slip out of view and escape.

We leave the old village and arrive back at the road through, heading to the right. We could go towards the neighbouring hamlet of Sant Tomas de Fluvia, but instead continue up along the new estate of houses on the hill. Though the countryside is rolling with some views to the distance it's not so pretty and the landscape feels a little unkempt.

Leaving the new houses we attempt to follow a marked footpath, only to lose the trail when we meet a ploughed field with no obvious direction to go in. So we cut across the rough fields with extremely sticky grasses clinging to our heels.

We find where the path would be for the return trip and walk past the fields and the edge of the woods. Where the path meets the road again, we make a short diversion to see a small tumble-down chapel next to what looks like an old gun emplacement. The chapel looks abandoned but just outside the door is a small bottle with a virgin.

We head down back to town. Around us is a another modern estate that falls away to the train line to our right. We had expected more given the presence of the station and the river and though the older part is pretty, and the Fluvia left us itching to go for a dip, the remaining parts of the village were not particular noteworthy.

Nearby: Banyoles lakeside walk - Bascara - horses, fords and lost - Waterfall at Les Escaules (Boadella) - Palol de Revardit to La Mota - Serinya and Illa del Fluvia - Cervia de Ter - Canet d'Adri - Celra, Juia and the Castle of Palagret - Sant Pere Pescador river Fluvia

Walking route around Sant Miquel de Fluvia

Swimming and beach at L'Estartit
12 Sep 2014

lEstartit view to the beach from the port wall L'Estartit is popular holiday town just beyond Torroella de Montgri under the hills of Montgri and the main access point to the Isles Medes, reputatedly one of the best diving and sub-aqua areas on the Mediterranean.

L'Estartit itself has a large port and older fishing area linked to the old town with shops and restuarants, and next to the port a long and very broad beach backed by modern hotels and apartments.

The area is popular with the British both for camping and package holidays particularly for families, and has a handful of British bars - something that is now quite rare in the mid and north parts of the Costa Brava.

The beach itself stretches from the port wall all the way along to Gola de Ter (about 4-5km) and then down to Platja de Pals with sunbathers spread along to the limits of the town - but with enough space that it doesn't feel crowded.

At the main L'Estartit end the beach is very broad - 60-70 metres wide with enough space for parking at the back of the beach.

lEstartit beach Costa Brava The sand is fine and soft, perfect for sand castles or beach sports, and the bay shelves gently out to sea making this an excellent beach for small children.

The shallow water also means that the water is warmer at the earlier and later parts of the season - there is no problem swimming in September.

The bay itself is all sand with a sand bank about 30m out shallow enough for standing when we were there (sand banks move so this may change), however the sandy bottom means there are relatively few fish visible.

Swimmers who like to explore will find the swimming a little dull, though it is easily possible to swim long distances.

Facilities at the beach

As would be expected the beach is monitored by lifeguards. Pedalos, canoes and other water craft can be hired as can loungers and umbrellas. Showers can be found at the back of the beach by the car park.

There are three or four chiringuitos or beach bars on the beach itself, but not so much on the street directly behind which is mainly hotels and apartments.

The main town centre is a little way away from the beach behind the port and in among the streets of the hotel/apartment blocks.

Sand quality

The sand is excellent - fine and slightly powdery sand all along the main beach with no stones or grit.


This is really a family orientated beach. The bay shelves gently into the water (it's at its gentlest closest to the port wall) deepens and then has a sand bar some 20-30 metres out from the shore which is shallow enough to stand on.

The bay has a sandy bottom and though there are fish (and the occasional reedy weed) it is not particularly interesting for snorkelling. However, for snorkelling and seeing fish there are boat trips to the Isles Medes.


Parking is easy at the back of the beach, or in the back streets of the town all of which are free parking.

Closer to the old heart of L'Estartit there are fewer spaces so parking closer to or on the beach is generally the easiest option.

Walks and exploring

The beach stretch can be walked down to the Gola de Ter where natural Aiguamolls (sea marshes) can be found behind the beach.

In winter, without sunbathers around, this is a good beach area for walking dogs. In addition, the Ter can be followed back to Torroella - see Torroella de Montgri to Gola de Ter

To the north, the paths run into the Montgri hills which can be quite wild and deserted and lead to a couple of very isolated bays: see L'Estartit to Cala Pedrosa and Cala Ferriol

Next beaches

South to Gola de Ter where the beach meets the mouth of the river Ter - North to Cala Montgo (L'Escala)

Swimming and beach at Llafranc
04 Aug 2014

Beach at Llafranc Costa Brava Llafranc is probably the prettiest of all the beach-side villages on the Costa Brava with a perfect-sized golden-sanded beach backed by chic upmarket restaurants and hotels that look straight over the bay. To the right, looking out to sea, are rocks and the headland that leads to Calella de Palafrugell (about 20 minute stroll). To the left are fishing boats and a small marina underneath the hill that leads up to the lighthouse above the village. In many ways it's the picture perfect seaside location, small and discrete retaining its original fishing village charm.

Llafranc beach Costa Brava from left side The downside is that during the height of summer, Llafranc can become busy and crowded with a towel on almost every square metre of the beach and with parking almost deliberately limited, it can be hard to find get access unless you're in Llafranc itself, willing to walk or starting out early in the morning. Fortunately this only really applies for the four-five weeks of the end of July and August. June and early July are just perfect, and by the first week of September the crowds have melted away leaving more knowledgeable travellers and locals to enjoy the beach and swimming.

The beach itself is sandy - a little gritty towards the rocks to the right, but finer without being powder soft, in the centre and to the left before the fishing boats. For snorkelling the rocky areas to the right are best - you may even get lucky and spot an octopus even in the August height of summer. The rest of the bay is quite deep and sandy - it deepens relatively quickly after the first 2-3m and is clear for swimming, though the bay always feels a little shorter than it looks as swimming to the left hand side is limited by the channel for boat access to the marina.

Facilities at the beach

Llafranc beach promenade The beach is backed by a promenade and restaurants and hotels where the well-heeled sit taking coffee or wine looking over the sunbathers and out to sea. Given how good the location is, not surprisingly, the bars have a tendency to be a little on the expensive side. Llafranc has one Michelin starred restaurant for foodies. There are a handful of small boutiques and shops and then hotels and villas dotted around the village.

On the beach, lifeguards are on duty and canoes can be rented to the left side of the beach just before the fishing boats. As with most beaches, there are beach showers with fresh water for washing off sea water (soap is not allowed).

Sand quality

The sand is gritty towards the right, but finer elsewhere and a beautiful golden colour.


Llafranc beach rocky side The beach shelves quite quickly and the bay itself is quite deep - mostly of sand except for the rockier areas. Despite the sandy bottom, it's still possible to see fish, but obviously for snorkelling there is much more to see to the right hand side. For long distance swimmers the bay feels quite short, but off the peak season we have seen people swimming laps out by the marker buoys that separate the swimming area from the moored boats further out.


Parking is complicated. In the peak of the season spaces are difficult to find and quite limited. There are two main parking areas - both of which get full quickly. Firstly is just off the road from Calella de Palafrugell under trees to the right as the road runs down towards the village centre. Secondly, there is parking off the back road to Llafranc past the Llafranc Tennis Club that can be found as a right hand turn from the road between Palafrugell and Tamariu. The back road fills with cars parked on the side of the road all the way to the school vacation house about 10-15 minutes walk from the beach. For this reason coming early in the morning, or just coming later in the evening is advised.

Walks and exploring

Llafranc is a very easy 20 minute stroll around the headland to reach Calella de Palafrugell. In the other direction, are routes to Tamariu or into Palafrugell. To get to Tamariu you need to get to the lighthouse (Far de Sant Sebastia) which is a properly steep walk up from the beach, but with great views from the top, followed by a good hike across the cliffs and up and down into the bays. Mont-ras to Calella de Palafrugell and Llafranc - Far de Sant Sebastia (Llafranc) to Tamariu

Next beaches

South to Calella de Palafrugell - North to Tamariu

Swimming and beaches at Sant Marti d'Empuries (L'Escala)
27 Jul 2014

Beaches and bays at Sant Marti dEmpuries Between L'Escala and Sant Marti d'Empuries are a series of open sandy bays separated by small low rocky outcrops.

The beaches have very soft sand and shelve gently into the bays with views across the Bay of Roses to Cap de Creus and Roses town itself.

Behind the beaches are a series of dunes and cypressa woods with a few houses, the Hostal d'Empuries hotel and then large archeological site of the Ruins of Empuries.

Parking is relatively easy (though paid for during summer) and there is a long wooden path than links the beaches and headlands along the coast.

Though it lacks the dramatic cliffs and rocks of the more southern Costa Brava, the quality of the sand, the clear water and the linked bays, beaches and small islets put this in among the top beaches for the Costa Brava.

Sea view from beach at Sant Marti dEmpuries In practice there are a series of four bays to choose from giving a lot of places to choose.

The beach closest to L'Escala is the least interesting looking, but the bays that start with the Hostal d'Empuries (the only commercial outlet until Sant Marti d'Empuries village), up to Sant Marti are all delightful linked by spits of sandy beach and rocks at each end.

The most northerly beach also has the remains of the Greek port wall separating part of the beach from the sea.

The area is popular, particularly with French visitors, but as there is only the one hotel nearby and the beach area in total is quite large even in July, the beach didn't feel over-crowded.

Facilities at the beach

Beach by the Hostal dEmpuries The beach is in front of the ruins of Empuries (an abandoned Roman and Greek town now in ruins) with easy car access and parking in amongst the trees at the back.

The only commercial establishment is the Hotel d'Empuries behind the second beach which also has food and a bar. The village of Sant Marti d'Empuries is also full of bars and restaurants.

On the beach, umbrellas and loungers can be hired (the natural 'palm' type of umbrellas) and there are facilities for hiring longboards and pedalos.

The dunes behind the beach are a protected area and add shelter from behind. Lifeguards monitor each area.

Sand quality

Beach by the ancient greek port wall of Empuries The sand is some of the finest on the Costa Brava being smooth and fine both on the beaches and into the water - perfect for sand castles or playing beach sports (if there's enough space).

Around the edges of each beach are rockier areas and, in one place islets that can be reached by wading out.


The beaches are all gradual into the water, which with the smooth sand, makes them excellent for small children.

Swimmers can swim across the bays and around the headlands allowing for long-distance swims.

The bays are mainly sandy, but interspersed by some rockier areas and in the rockier areas there are fish which makes them good for snorkelling. The small islets also give something to swim to.

The occasional rocks mean that some care is needed in shallower areas so as not to bump.

The water was very clear, but the open nature of the bays means there's the possibility of flotsam accumulating at one end of a beach blown by the wind.


Parking can by accessed by following the signs for Ruines d'Empuries. There are a number of paid-for municipal parking areas under the trees.

Alternatively park closer to L'Escala and then take the very pleasant stroll up to the beaches.

Walks and exploring

The beach stroll is recommended in all seasons, as is a visit to Empuries itself (Empuries Greek and Roman remains). For a longer walk we have: Escala, St Marti d'Empuries and beyond

Next beaches

South to L'Escala, Riells (L'Escala) and Cala Montgo (L'Escala) - North to Sant Pere Pescador

Swimming and beach at Sant Pol (S'Agaro)
24 Jul 2014

Beach at Sant Pol looking from sAgaro estate path Sant Pol is a long sand crescent beach between Sant Feliu and the luxury estate of S'Agaro. The beach opens up onto a natural bay and was one of the earliest beaches for tourism in the 1910s and 1920s when people came to take the waters rather than for the sun and sand, and Sant Pol still retains beach huts - the only beach on the Costa Brava like this. Perhaps because it was discovered in the early part of the 20th century, the beach and promenade area has been relatively protected and retains an authentic charm with modernista buildings directly behind the beach and any hotels that can be seen further back giving the whole area a relaxed charm.

The beach itself is quite long - about one kilometre from end to end with a wide bay - and all sand of a rough light grit. The area to the right looking out to see is rocky and the best area for snorkelling and seeing fish, and links to a series of rocky coves and bays all along the side, so of which are only accessible from the water. These right hand rocks are also have places used for jumping and diving into the crystal clear blue water below.

Behind the beach, in addition to the modernista buildings (one or two are now restaurants) are a number of discrete bars and restaurants, a large childrens play area, protected wild dunes and the Sant Pol Sailing and Kayaking school. From the beach it's possible to hire canoes, pedalos and we saw speed boats for water skiing and banana-tubes.

Sant Pol beach with bay and boating activities The water in the centre shelves quickly, but there is a sand bank just off shore where it's possible for adults to stand (I'd expect this sand bank may move or shift). The water was crystal clear when we were there, with boats including a very large 50m+ motor boat moored in the bay out beyond the swimming area.

Facilities at the beach

Behind the beach are a number of bars and cafes and behind these the small shopping/village area of S'Agaro/Sant Pol. The main hotels are all a little way back from the beach over looking the bay. There are lifeguards at the beach, a promenade and road and an older beach side centre/restaurant situated close to the beach huts mentioned above. The beach is quite active for water sports with sailing, catamarans, canoes, pedalos and even motor boats for water skiing at the S'Agaro end of the beach. For canoeists, the rocky bays to the right (looking out to sea) are areas to explore. There is at least one volleyball court on the beach and a childrens play area in the back

Sand quality

The sand is golden light grit almost across the whole beach. Not too bad underfoot and fine for sunbathing, but a little coarse for sand castles.


From the centre of the beach, the shore shelves quickly (it may be more gentle at the two sides) but then had a sand bank about 20m out that was shallow enough for adults to stand on. It's possible to swim long distance both left and right and out to the further limits of the swimming area. The bay is sandy at the bottom and so not so good for snorkelling except towards the rockier parts to the right. These rocky bays are excellent for exploratory swimming and extend all around the headland.


There is marked blue-bay parking all around the roads which does require payment. A little beyond this is street parking more into the estates towards Platja d'Aro. We didn't have a problem finding a space in July, but it may be busier in August.

Walks and exploring

The coast walk Platja d'Aro and S'Agaro around S'Agaro is a very pretty walk/stroll on a broad well-maintained estate path, with rocky bays for snorkelling (walking access only) - non-residents can't take cars into S'Agaro. The path to the right Platja Sant Pol to Sant Feliu de Guixols along the rocks and round to Sant Feliu de Guixols is also recommended.

Next beaches

South to Sant Feliu de Guixols - North to Sa Conca, S'Agaro

Swimming and beach at Montgo (L'Escala)
16 Jul 2014

Beach at Mongo Montgo is one of the four beach areas of L'Escala and is a long sandy stretch in a half moon bay surrounded by cliffs on one side and modern houses and villas on the other on the hill below the tower of Montgo.

The area is some way away from the main centre of L'Escala but there are seasonal bars, shops and restaurants on and around the beach and a large campsite area meaning that it does become relatively busy during the summer season.

The beach is broad with fine sand, though there are pebbles in amongst the sand towards the back. Looking out to sea along the left hand side, the coast is rocky underneath the villas above with a path that reaches to the bay entrance.

On the right hand side, a path (which is rough underfoot) runs over the top of the cliffs to unspoilt hills on the far side of the bay with caves in amongst the cliffs.

When we were visiting there were long-distance swimmers with safety floats swimming the cliff side of the bay which is part of a bigger swimming club which also organises long distance swims (4-6km) along the Costa Brava during the summer.

The beach itself by the water has good sand and shelves gently into the water making it very suitable for children and the building of sand castles. On a July weekend it was popular - parking nearby was relatively full - but not too busy. We saw many French and Dutch people at the beach.

Rocky side of bay in Montgo lEscala For swimming the bay has very clear water to a sandy bottom with good opportunities to swimming a reasonable distance either along the side or across the bay.

We saw fish in the sandier areas - shoals of anchovies which is appropriate for L'Escala - and there are more closer to the rocks.

Facilities at the beach

The beach is backed by a small summer community with a supermarket, wine store and a variety of souvenir shops.

Directly behind the beach are many discrete bars and restaurants looking over the bay without feeling built up or over developed. And directly behind these is a large campground and then the estate of villas on the hill so it feels developed without being spoilt.

On the beach is a Chiringuito and it is possible to hire pedalos (which a long slide), canoes and stand-up paddle-boards.

Sand quality

The sand is fine particularly close to the water where we saw lots of sand castles.

At the back the sand has rounded pebbles in it - not enough to be stony, but enough to make it unsuitable for football or beach volleyball.


The bay has a gentle slope so would be good for children. We found the water to be a little chillier than we were expecting in July, but the area to the right side of the bay seemed warmer, but this may just have been the day we were visiting.

There are good opportunities for long distance swimming and as mentioned we saw what looked like an official swimming club practising sea-swimming along the right hand of the bay underneath the cliffs. (See which is the open water swimming club)

For snorkling, most of the main bay is sandy so not so good for fish. The rocks to the left and right would be better, but we didn't explore too much.


There is parking behind the beach and along the roads, particularly by the campsites.

We struggled to find parking spaces close to the beach on a July Weekend, but had no problem with a 5 minute walk from the roads further back.

Walks and exploring

It's possible to walk into L'Escala along the coast and by the port or to walk across the clifftops into the Montgri Massif.

The walk to L'Escala/Riells is quite far and if you take the road is just a town walk. See: L'Escala Riells to sea cliffs and viewpoint of Montgo

Next beaches

South to L'Estartit - North to Swimming and beaches at L'Escala, L'Escala town and to Sant Marti d'Empuries

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17 Feb 2014 19:46
What a great blog. I am planning a walking holiday in the region and wonder if you can recommend the best walking maps, like UK ordnance survey ones.

I shall be reading more of your walks over the coming days as we plan.

Many thanks
24 Feb 2014 17:25
Glad you're enjoying it. We have recommendations for maps in our 'Advice and FAQ' section
13 Jul 2017 12:46
Sorry I missed the comment, so I hope it's not too late - use the contact box if you'd like to send a message. For the coast, the GR92 is best and if you have driver you can just take it piece by piece. For hikers, around Cap de Creus is great, though it can be dry and hard walking in summer. For us, the stretch between Palamos and Palafrugell and on to Begur is the prettiest part of the whole Costa Brava and really good for walking. I'd probably also take the walk up and over Montgri, possibly starting at Pals, or L'Estartit to L'Escala. And though you said you prefer the coast, don't overlook inland routes as there are some wonderful villages and countryside out towards Girona, La Bisbal, or Olot.
Sven-Gunnar Furmark
24 May 2017 11:43

My name is Sven Furmark. I am from Sweden. I plan to go to Costa Brava with some friends (totally about 10 people) for hiking for one week (5 walking days). We are experienced hikers and we usually walk 4-6 hours per day. We prefer to walk along the coast as much as possible. We plan to rent a house and travel to each days hiking with a bus & driver which we plan to book for the whole week. Which five hikes would you recommend for us.

Warm Regards
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