With child-friendly beaches, near-perfect weather and moreish food – Costa Brava is the ideal family holiday outside peak season. In fact, Oliver’s Travels Marketing Manager, Maria spent the May half-term discovering the Costa Brava with her family. She’s given us the lowdown on the best things to do in Costa Brava, when to go and where to stay. Happy reading & try not to get too much wanderlust.
Costa Brava Holidays
I was initially wary of a holiday to Costa Brava – with four adults and four toddlers in our group (aged between one-four) you can probably guess that the adult to toddler ratio was simply too tight. And is it just me or do toddlers feel exponentially like a handful the bigger the group they come in?
But we braved it out, packed our suitcases and left for Barcelona which is only a one hour drive away from Costa Brava. You can also fly to Girona which makes a shorter drive for the kids to endure. But we chose Barcelona because it has more flight times to plan around.
Once you hit the roads, you’ll see how smooth they are. It’s a dream for kids and adults alike that suffer from travel sickness. I’d recommend taking the coastal highway (instead of the inland one) as it’s still not too windy and the views are breathtaking.
I’ve road tripped the Costa Brava before, but with kids, I always think it’s best to stay in one place. Since having kids, my love of road trips went from heaven to hell no!
For this holiday, we stayed in a villa near Palafrugell (see the bottom of this post for details). The location was a 15-minute drive to various beaches so I would plant base here. We chose a villa because it made our dynamic easier. Freedom for chaos, meals on our own disorganised terms and privacy from judging looks.
Typically, you might be inclined to stay by the beach. But we quickly noted that it wasn’t necessary. Especially as car hire is essential anyway. Staying inland instead of the popular beach villages is more affordable, and yet you can still enjoy the same beaches and views a mere car journey away.
Beaches for days
In short – they’re all pretty ace. Especially for families, as there are little to no waves. Also, the tiny pebble beaches make the whole experience very clean and comfortable. I love sandy beaches as much as the next person, but no cleaning sand from your kids every 10 minutes changes everything! The majority of beaches also have a lot of amenities around. The shops and restaurants literary border the beach, so even the emergency toilet request from your toddler are sorted within a couple of minutes.
Things to do in Costa Brava
We spent our time mainly in Tamariu and Calella de Palafrugell and both were spectacular hubs.
Tamariu is just charming in every sense. The small village of quaint white little houses feels like you are far away from the hustle and bustle. We had dinner in the most delicious restaurant, Es Dofi. Seated on the terrace, overlooking the sea and the dramatic coastline, with a glass of white in hand – it felt like paradise.
And then there’s Calella de Palafrugell, a much bigger town, connected to Llafranc, so there are a lot of small beaches to explore. The cobbled streets, shops and delicious restaurants along the coastline means you can spend more than a day there.
As in pretty much the whole of Spain, the food is consistently delightful – so feel free to explore any of the restaurants as none of them feels like a tourist trap. These authentic Spanish restaurants serve the most glorious and fresh seafood – gambas, calamares, navajas and oh the delicious rice “Arroz Caldoso” will leave you wanting to go back just for the food!
Costa Brava is more than its beaches. I strongly recommend visiting some of the inland towns which are just picture perfect. Peratallada, known for its beautiful old stone buildings, rutted stone streets and passageways, and Begur, famous for its cobbled streets, boutique shops and proximity to some of the most prestigious calas.
And last but not least, the people are extra friendly everywhere. As a mum I know there are a lot of places where a simple look can let you know that kids are not welcome, but across the Costa Brava kids are not just welcome, they are very well received.
The best time of year to go
Based on my experience, I think it makes a cracking destination for May half-term. Or if you haven’t started the school madness, anytime in June. The temperature is just right and you avoid the manic summer crowds. One stand-out of our holiday was being able to pick any spot on the beach without worrying about space, crowded chiringuitos and parking. Parking is very limited so if you don’t want to spend hours sunbathing just your arm, I can’t emphasise May and June enough!
Of course, the sea can be quite cold, but it makes for a fun experience as well! Braving the cold waves all together was another highlight of the trip.
My 5 quick golden tips
☀️ Choose your accommodation around Calella. It doesn’t necessarily need to be near the beach, but always a bonus.
☀️ For best family beaches visit Calella de Palafrugell, Llafranc and Tamariu (they are 15min away from each other).
☀️ The best inland towns to visit are Peratallada and Begur. If you love village hopping, we’ve got the lowdown on the most beautiful towns and villages in Costa Brava.
☀️ Avoid August!
☀️ The fishing port of Palamós is the place to head for fresh seafood.
Where to stay in Costa Brava
We stayed in Villa Terracotta – and what a villa at that. Ideal for kids of all ages, it has everything you need for a perfect family holiday. There’s a brilliantly spacious communal area with lots of space to run and lounge around, an open kitchen and an abundance of indoor and outdoor games (including trampoline and ping pong). It’s impossible to sing its praises. The outside area was the perfect playground for our little ones. But what was especially great about Villa Terracotta is that all the rooms look out over the pool, so you feel a lot safer having a view of the pool from all angles. Overall the architecture is quite interesting, unique and as the name suggests – terracotta! Plus, the location was simply perfect, nestled in a quiet area, totally private with flourishing vegetation all around. Like I mentioned earlier, it’s just 15-minutes away to the beach, so I couldn’t recommend it enough.
** For more great choices check out the top 10 villas in Costa Brava **
Colombian through and through, Maria has a passion for travelling, dancing (her hips don’t lie) and discovering new foods. She’s been with Oliver’s Travels since the very beginning, so if there’s anyone that knows the company inside out, it’s her.
If you’d like to get in touch with Maria please use the details below:
T: +44 (0)800 133 7999 | E: firstname.lastname@example.org