The Costa Brava is the beautiful region of Spain that spans from Barcelona all the way up to the country’s northern border. While many people visit the main cities in the area, few ever venture out to explore the more wild and hidden parts of the region.
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For us, these hidden gems are primarily stunning beaches dotted along the coast in small towns or rural areas.
If you’re planning to spend time in Costa Brava, Spain, definitely visit Barcelona, Girona, and the other main draws of the region, but do make sure to leave some time to go out exploring the best beaches Costa Brava has to offer.
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The Hype about Beaches in Costa Brava, Spain
It’s no secret at all that Spain has some phenomenal beaches. However, most people’s minds will jump right to the southern part of the country or the Spanish islands. Many don’t know that just north of the crowded beaches of Barcelona and just south of the Pyrenees Mountains, there are tons of incredible places to swim in the sea and catch some rays. Some of these beaches are found in more developed areas, some in tiny seaside towns, and others in more rural and undeveloped areas.
Costa Brava, Spain is made up of three different provinces: Alt Empordà, Baix Empordà, and Selva. Between these three areas, there are more than 25 beautiful beaches to discover, as well as countless smaller ones. Since you likely won’t have time for all of them on your trip, here are our top ten.
The Top 13 Best Beaches, Costa Brava
1. Tossa de Mar
The tiny town of Tossa de Mar has a truly stunning beach. The beach is split into two sections, separated by lots of rocks on which buildings and a road have been built. The sand here is extremely soft, a stark contrast to the large rock formations on either side of the beach. The water is clear and deep, making it perfect for swimmers who want to get some exercise. There’s also a dive center nearby if you’re interested in getting deeper out in the ocean.
One of the nicest things about this beach is the boats and kayaks for rent. If you get tired of sitting still in the sun all day, try renting a boat and paddling around the cove. For a really special view of the beach, you can venture up the mountain to the south to visit the Tossa de Mar castle and museum.
2. Sant Feliu de Guixols
The town of Sant Feliu de Guixols is a gorgeous spot along the coast in Costa Brava that is a little more well-known than some of the others. The main beach in town is Platja De La Badia, and it is well worth a visit.
Protected by a large jetty full of docked boats, the beach has extremely calm waters and a mellow atmosphere. As a result, this beach is a big hit with families that have young children.
The beaches of Sant Feliu de Guixols are very close to the main town, so it’s easy to walk into town for lunch or to stroll around the area after you’ve left the beach for the day.
If you are on a mission to visit all the best beaches Costa Brava offers, don’t miss this one!
3. Platja d’Aro
Platja d’Aro is a beautiful beach that stretches along the length of a charming seaside town. The beach area is much more modern, but the old town, Castell-Platja d’Aro, is located a bit more inland.
This beach is definitely not a secret and is one of the more crowded options. Although it is beautiful, there are a number of high-rise hotels along the beachfront. These make it less appealing for those who like a natural escape. It is a popular spot for longer Costa Brava holidays, but still worth a visit if you are exploring Costa Brava beaches on a day trip.
4. Platja de Castell
This small beach is just to the north of the town of Palamós and is a hit with locals. Many tourists don’t know about this beach because of how secluded it is.
There are a number of guesthouses and cottages in the woods nearby. They are said to have hosted or belonged to many famous names over the years, Dalí included. You may want to explore the forest a bit to escape the sun and find some of these unique cottages.
Getting to Platja de Castell is a little trickier than some of the others on this list. You’ll either need to walk onto the beach via a trail from the south or drive in and pay a parking fee. If you’re visiting this beach, you’ll want to stay in Palamós overnight.
5. Platja de l’Illa Roja
Costa Brava, Spain has a lot of stunning beaches, but this one offers something unique. Platja de l’Illa Roja is known for its incredible red-coloured sand and large rock formations that make it feel like an otherworldly location. It’s an awesome beach to spend a day on because of how long it is.
Platja de l’Illa Roja is the southernmost part of this stretch of coastline. From there, you can take a long walk to the north and cross a number of other beautiful beaches along the way.
One thing you should know about this beach is that it is known as a nudist beach, so don’t be surprised if you come across some visitors that choose to bare it all.
6. Platja de la Gola del Ter
Up north from the Platja de l’Illa Roja is Platja de la Gola del Ter, a small section of a larger stretch of beach. What makes this section special is the river inlet that splits the beach in two at high tide, creating a cool place to wade and play in the water.
At low tide, you can walk across the big sandbar that forms and even set up your beach blanket there. This really is one of the best beaches Costa Brava has to offer.
7. Cala d’Aiguablava in Begur
This tiny little beach cove is a real hidden gem. Its size and out-of-the-way location make it less than popular among tourists, which is great for those very few that are in the know. The sand here is pure white and the water is calm and shallow, perfect for wading.
In the surrounding area, there is a castle that you can visit as well as a number of scenic hiking trails, most of them leading to stunning lookout points. There are also places to camp nearby.
8. Cala del Senyor Ramon
Somewhere in between Sant Feliu de Guíxols and Tossa de Mar, you’ll find Cala del Senyor Ramon, a lovely and less crowded beach, compared with its neighbours. This beach is very rural and secluded and you can only access it by car. The ride there is stunning, through mountains and around many hairpin turns.
The beach itself sits in front of some high rocky cliffs speckled with trees. On a good day, you just might get this beach all to yourself, but in the heat of European summer, it’ll be filled with vacationers.
9. Cala Montgó
A bit further north near the town of L’Escala, you’ll find Cala Montgó, a lovely little cove beach surrounded by rock formations and a hill with small resorts and guest houses overlooking the sea. Although it is a resort town and a popular place for typical Costa Brava holidays, the beach is fairly mellow due to its small size and how enclosed it is.
Nearby to the beach, there are also places to rent kayaks and hammocks. In addition, consider visiting the Parc Natural del Montgrí just to the north.
Llafranc is our personal favourite beach in all of Costa Brava. With crystal clear waters and beautiful, charming houses that line the beach, the atmosphere here is something special.
There are few tourists here, and although it’s not the most secluded beach, it usually sees just the right amount of people to make it feel simultaneously fun and relaxing.
This is another beach area that was frequented by artists of the 20th century, and the pop of colour and style that can be seen in town makes this evident. If you tire of sitting on the beach, you can visit the nearby archaeological ruins, the botanical gardens, or natural parks
11. Santa Cristina
This calm, secluded, soft sand beach doesn’t get as many visitors as other beaches in Costa Brava region, but it’s absolutely lovely. Santa Cristina runs along a secluded cove that’s protected by a cliff and pine trees. That’s why the water is generally calm and you won’t have to wrestle against the wind.
There are plenty of amenities, including sun loungers and umbrellas for rent, restaurants, and a beach bar. If you’re staying in Lloret de Mar, Santa Cristina is a wonderful hidden gem for a quiet day away from the tourist crowds.
12. Sa Caleta
A little over 2 kilometres from Lloret de Mar, there’s a wonderfully picturesque cove called Sa Caleta. It’s right next to the main, large beach of Lloret de Mar. So, you can walk from one to the other but there are quite a few steps down into the cove. There is a castle overlooking the beach and dramatic rock formations all around the cove.
The beach has both sand and rock outcrops, so it’s a bit rougher than other beaches in Lloret de Mar. It’s still worth a visit, if just for the views. The water is clear turquoise, with lots of sea life you can see! If you plan on getting in the water, bring a snorkel-you won’t regret it.
13. Cap de Creus
Cap de Creus isn’t just a beach, it’s a national park in the northern part of the Costa Brava region. This national park is located on a peninsula in the north part of Costa Brava. So, this wild coast deserves at least a full day of exploration. Cap de Creus is full of coves for swimming and is probably one of the best spots for snorkeling because of its protected status.
There are some beautiful trails for hiking along the dramatic cliffs over the sea. Additionally, through the park’s interior, the trails are covered with meadows and old forests. There is even a winery in the middle of the park, and castle ruins you can hike to.
Where to Stay in Costa Brava
Hotel Casamar is a lovely family run hotel perched on a hill overlooking Llafranc beach and the scenic village. Its location can’t be beat – you’re within walking distance to the beach, restaurants, and the old town.
Hotel Maritim offers direct access to the clean, sandy beach in the Bay of Roses, and is a 10-minute walk from the town centre. This is the perfect place to stay if you plan on visiting Cap de Creus Natural Park. Also, it’s only a 20-minute drive from the hotel.
Lloret de Mar
The 15th Boutique Hotel is close to the beaches, but away from the crowds that come to this popular resort town. It’s in the town centre, and within walking distance of the D’en Plaja Castle, the Santa Clotilde Gardens, plus plenty of restaurants and shops.
Hotel Vostra Llar is a charming boutique hotel located in the town centre and just a few minutes walk from the beach. The hotel restaurant is especially good, offering traditional Catalan dishes and plenty of vegan options. If you reserve in advance, you can get a room with a terrace surrounded by the hotel’s gorgeous onside garden.
When to Visit the Best Beaches, Costa Brava
The Costa Brava sees lovely, sunny weather all year round, but if you want to enjoy some extra warm rays, make sure to come during the summer. You’ll meet more tourists in the high season. But, since many of these Costa Brava beaches are not widely known, you’ll likely run into mostly Spanish tourists.
While some Costa Brava beaches do outshine others, you really can’t go wrong with any of the beaches in this part of Spain. You could easily work your way up or down the coastline, hopping from one beach to another and never lose interest. However, if you don’t have the time for that, we hope this guide will help you decide which of the best beaches Costa Brava boasts is the best fit for you.