Costa Brava is one of the most beloved coasts in Europe, offering a stunning backdrop of rugged coastlines, crystal clear waters, and idyllic beach towns. We just love coming here to enjoy the sun and dip in the Mediterranean. However, if this is your first time in Costa Brava you’ll need some pointers. We’ve compiled this list of our favorite beach towns in Costa Brava to help you choose your next vacation spot.
Costa Brava literally means wild coast. It’s named like that as the coastline is constantly interrupted by rocky mountain sections creating some highly separated areas. Luckily it’s not all rocks. There are plenty of beach towns in Costa Brava and we are bringing you the créme de la créme.
Now, before we begin: what is considered a nice beach town for us? A good beach town should be accessible, have a relaxing atmosphere, and offer some other entertainment opportunities apart from the beach. Of course, it should also have a big beach.
1. Lloret de Mar
If someone asked me: ‘Hey, I’m a regular kind of traveler. I don’t have any special requirements I just want to spend some time on the beach and do some sightseeing on some days. Which town should I go for in Costa Brava?’. I’d tell them: Go to Lloret de Mar.
Lloret de Mar is an ideal place for most travelers. It checks out many boxes that you would expect from a nice beach town on the Mediterranean.
First of all, it’s highly accessible. Whether you are flying into Girona or Barcelona there are direct bus routes that will take you to Lloret de Mar quickly. And this works the other way around! So, if you are looking for some day trips then you can use the local bus station to explore nearby towns. Girona is a very nice trip and you simply can’t skip Barcelona.
There are also tons of hotels from cheap to expensive. Tons of restaurants from seafood to local favorites and a very lively nightlife scene. That is without mentioning the extensive coastline. The beach in Lloret de Mar is huge but it actually fills up during summer.
Everything is within walking distance, in fact, most of the town’s inner streets are pedestrianized. This makes going to the beach easy and convenient.
There are also some downsides. It’s one of the most popular cities in Costa Brava. Yep, the epic beach and the lovely atmosphere are appealing to travelers. So it gets crowded. Before and after the season is fine but the high season is very crowded. Some people will definitely dislike it.
It’s also not the most car-friendly city center. If you want to rent a car and have a place to park it then Lloret de Mar might not be for you.
2. Tossa de Mar
Tossa de Mar is like a compact version of Lloret de Mar. It’s smaller with more of a small-town feel. The town does get its fair share of tourism though so it never really feels that small.
Tossa de Mar is quite unique as it’s nestled inside a small valley within the rocky coastline. It makes for dramatic scenery and it makes the whole town feel isolated from the rest of the region.
The local beach is big enough to accommodate tourists during the summer period but it gets a bit busy. It’s still pretty accessible from Barcelona, in fact, you will most likely take the same bus as you would take to get to Lloret de Mar.
One of the highlights of this quaint little town is the local fortress. It’s built on the hillside overlooking the beach and the city. The impressive structure is visible from almost anywhere on the beach making this beach town in Costa Brava have one of the best sceneries. Well, if not the best, definitely one of the most historic dramatic.
To show you how Tossa de Mar and Lloret de Mar are connected we have to tell you this: there is even a coastal hiking path that will take you between the cities. It’s an awesome hiking adventure but beware of the summer sun as it does take a few hours to complete.
Cadaqués is the town where even the famed Pablo Picasso lived one summer. It’s a beautiful whitewashed fishing town towards the north of the Costa Brava. Even though tourists have started discovering the beauty of Cadaqués, the town has managed to savor its historic charm.
Cadaqués is quite special among the beach towns in Costa Brava that we’ve selected. It does not have a traditional big beach. It has a bigger kind of beach which the locals named Platja Gran meaning Grand Beach but it’s not as grand as some others on the list. Plus this big beach in town is a pebbly one.
There are however other small beaches scattered on the coast which are these unexpected, cool, and sandy beaches nestled between the buildings.
We love Cadaqués because the whitewashed town manages to stay under the radar. It doesn’t get nearly as crowded as the other Costa Brava beach towns, although, you do have to admit having a pebbly beach as your main beach is a turn-off for many.
However, if you don’t mind this, then Cadaqués will offer a charming atmosphere, superb nights at the local seafood restaurant, and countless opportunities to explore. Check out our guide on the best things to do in Cadaqués for even more info on the town.
As far as public transport goes, there is a direct bus from Barcelona. However, this very same bus also stops at another great town just south of Cadaqués…
… and this town is called Roses. With a name like that, we could absolutely not miss this amazing coastal town from the list. All right, we are kidding, if the town was not great we would not have included it.
Roses is a well-known destination for beachgoers. The huge local beach has fine yellow sand and amazing views over the Mediterranean sea. If you want to spend most of your time in the water during your Costa Brava vacation then you should seriously consider Roses.
Of course, as it is with many places along the coast, this started out as a sleepy fishing town as well. However, with the natural beach, it has quickly become a local favorite and then a tourist paradise.
Luckily, Roses offers even more than just simple swimming. It’s close to Cadaqués so you can quickly jump over to see it and it has a nice bus station with a direct connection to cities like Barcelona, Girona, and Figueres.
5. Sant Antoni de Calonge
Another superb resort town on Costa Brava is Sant Antoni de Calonge. It has quite a special beach as this town is the only one along this coast to have wave breakers. This makes the beach extremely popular among families as the sandy beach is safer for kids.
It has a small pedestrianized area but other than that the city is also pretty accessible by car. This is one of our favorite recommendations for beach towns if you are planning to rent a car. Of course, if you book a hotel with a garage it doesn’t matter which town you visit. But if you want street parking you got a good chance in Sant Antoni de Calonge. Just make sure to check about the situation with your hotel in advance.
But even if you’re not planning on renting, the town is easily accessible from both Barcelona and Girona. It’s one of the larger towns on the coast and has a surprisingly local feel. We absolutely loved Sant Antoni de Calonge and can recommend it as a good choice if you’re staying on the coast of the Costa Brava.
As a bonus, the neighboring town of Palamos is also a very popular pick. Although we did not include it on our list you should not exclude it as it’s another good place to stay.
6. Sa Riera
Sa Riera is a truly tiny town on the coast. It’s got a small beach and some hotels overlooking the coast. It’s the best choice for a beach town if you want to avoid most of the crowds. Of course, the big hotel still attracts guests but it never gets as crowded as it would in Lloret de Mar.
Both the downside and the attractiveness of this town come from the location. It’s situated on the hilltops. This makes the views pretty but also makes walking around town hard. We recommend that you rent a car if you are considering Sa Riera.
7. Calella de Palafrugell
Somehow there is this beach town in Costa Brava that has managed to stay true to its fishing roots and protect its old-world charm. Most travelers fall in love with the small winding streets of Calella de Palafrugell accompanied by its authentic Spanish buildings overlooking the sea.
The beaches are a treat in this town but if you want to look further than that you must try the seafood here. It’s a place that’s long been known for excellent seafood that is always fresh out of the water.
If you are lucky enough you may even catch the market in the morning and have a chance to check out what the locals produce and maybe even buy something.