Villas in Costa Brava

Flaunting rugged coastlines perfect for watersports and enchanting seaside towns, Costa Brava is one of the most beautiful of Spain’s Costas. Plenty of tourism means you’ll be catered for with attractions, restaurants and bars while this charming region remains unspoiled. Away from the crowds, captivating coves invite diving, delightful stone villages are waiting to be discovered and hiking paths lead to breath-taking seascape views. It's an ideal location for families with small children and teenagers alike and the welcoming locals will make you feel right at home.

Why stay with us?

Style and character are everything at Oliver’s Travels, and our collection of handpicked villas in Costa Brava have this in spades.

We have destination experts who know the ins and outs of all our regions, picking villas that aren’t only unique, but also in the best locations. What's more, our villas are 100% family-friendly, and have the ‘wow’ factor.

Our helpful concierge team are on-hand to make your stay extra special. Whether you want a fully-stocked fridge, a local in-house chef to cook your meals, housekeeping or any other extra service – consider them your holiday genie, who will happily grant your wishes.

Read the Costa Brava Travel Guide

Why visit?

  • With Barcelona just over an hour away, Costa Brava is a great base for day trips to Catalonia’s cultural capital.
  • This region offers some outstanding beachfront restaurants with dazzling sea views.
  • Costa Brava is great for families, with lots of family-friendly beaches, fun activities and welcoming locals.
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Luxury Villas in Costa Brava: Our Top Picks

Overview

Why visit

Spain’s ‘wild coast’, the Costa Brava stretches from Blanes – 40 miles north of Barcelona – to the French border. While its beautiful beaches are firmly on the radar of travellers, step off the well-beaten path and you’ll stumble across untouched coves, wind-lashed headlands and quaint seaside towns. Hiking trails trace the contours of pink clifftops, while just offshore, some of Spain’s best diving sites can be found around Illes Medes.

The rugged coast gives way to hilly backcountry, sheltering hilltop medieval villages and the majestic Romanesque monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes. The culinary landscape is just as staggering, with no fewer than 17 Michelin-starred restaurants in this pocket of Spain. A trio of museums pays homage to Surrealist artist Dalí, whose imagination was stirred by the natural beauty of Cadaqués.

Food and drink

Catalan cuisine is known as mar i muntanya, or sea and mountain: a Mediterranean take on surf ‘n’ turf – chicken with lobster, for instance, or meat with snails. A more familiar option is paella, washed down with a glass of Empordà rosé, or fresh fish and seafood hauled in by fishermen that day.

A new generation of creative chefs are reimagining Catalan cuisine, from Mallorcan-style cacciucco (fish stew) to sea bream with onion confit – and scooping Michelin stars for their efforts. Food markets overflow with local goods; head to Palafrugell to rub shoulders with top chefs picking out plump tomatoes, seafood, fine cuts of meat and spices for their kitchens.

Cadaqués

What Oliver loves

Meaning ‘wild coast’ in Spanish, the Costa Brava is one of Europe’s most romantic stretches of coast, with pink cliffs crashing down to meet the glittering Mediterranean.

Best time to go

The Costa Brava is a year-round sunny destination on the whole, with only a small chance of brief springtime storms (February to April) and autumnal rains (October to November).


The best months to visit the Costa Brava are May, June or September, when the weather is warm but resorts aren’t as crowded as in July and August. Saying that, even if you do choose to visit in peak summer, you will always be able to visit secluded beaches with only your footprints in the sand.

Top tips

  • Tip around five per cent for taxis and restaurants, and €1 (80p) for hotel porters.
  • Hotels are booked up months in advance in summer, so a villa in Costa Brava may be a better idea to avoid crowded accommodation and sky-high prices.
  • Though locals understand Spanish, most speak Catalan as their first language.
  • Book ahead to visit Dalí’s seaside home in Portlligat, where his studio remains exactly as he left it when he upped sticks in 1982.

    Family friendly

    With fine sand beaches and a rich Catalan culture, the Costa Brava is one of the finest family-friendly destinations in Spain, if not Europe. Medieval villages and turreted castles stir young imaginations, while smugglers’ coves and ancient ruins add a layer of mystery.

    Costa Brava beach villas make coastal living a breeze even with the tiniest of tots, with convenient locations slashing journey times and car park fees. Little ones can play safely on the soft sands, while older kids can snorkel or swim in the clear waters. There’s also the chance to take scenic boat trips to untouched islands and kayak on calm shores. Beyond the beaches, adventures await in pine-carpeted mountains and ancient volcanoes – best explored by bike or on foot.

    The Catalans are extremely proud of their culture, from their cuisine and language to traditional dance and performance. Locals are warm and welcoming, especially to young children. If you don’t want to eat out in restaurants all the time, a villa in Costa Brava offers the option of cooking at home.

    There’s also no need to worry about bored tots as you travel around the Costa Brava; wherever you are, you’re rarely far from a good outdoor playground. Many seafront promenades have play areas and parks, while most restaurants have kids’ menus, though with the Catalan tapas-style food, you may not need them.

    Why it’s perfect for families

    For babies: The silky sands and crystal-clear waters are the perfect introduction for tots to the sea.

    For kids: Catalonia has a nuanced cultural heritage; engage young minds by watching castellers form spectacular human towers or catch a traditional sardana folk dance. Young ones also go free in many attractions and museums.

    For teens: Give colour to history textbooks by exploring smugglers’ coves and ancient ruins, or go on hiking and biking adventures among the mountains of the Montseny Massif and Cap de Creus, or the volcanic-sculpted landscape of La Garrotxa.

    Top tips

    • Bring the Greco-Roman ruins of the Empúries to life with a 3D tour at the Archaeological Museum of Catalonia.
    • Take older kids to Waterworld, just outside Lloret de Mar on the Carretera de Vidreres.
    • Hike the Cami de Ronda with a shorter family-friendly route.
    • Take an exhilarating glass-bottomed boat trip around the Medes islands.
    • Hop on board the Roses Express to trundle to the summit of the Cap de Creus nature park.

        Best beaches in Costa Blanca

        With elegantly manicured strands giving way to untamed stretches, the Costa Brava is home to more than its fair share of knockout beaches. The coast has some of the finest Blue Flag beaches in Europe, and not just sandy strips but also horseshoe bays and pine-fringed coves.

        The choice is between the beaches of the larger resorts, with their range of facilities, or the remoter and quieter villages. From Blanes up as far as Palamós, a string of tumbling beaches, lined by hotels and restaurants, are almost indistinguishable from one another. Further north, the apartment blocks begin to peter out, and the coastline becomes rugged and rockier before opening out into the Golf de Roses.

        Continue towards France and the beaches become smaller, the landscape more mountainous and the buildings low-slung and whitewashed. With hotel development restricted in the north of the Costa Brava, beach villas are often the only accommodation near secluded bays and coves.

        Cast adrift east of L’Estartit, a scattering of seven islands makes up the Medes archipelago. The pristine specks are protected as a nature reserve and are one of the best places in Spain for scuba diving.

        Oliver’s Hidden Gem

        Though the three-Michelin-starred El Bulli has closed, head east along the dirt path to stumble across La Pelosa, a wild sliver of eucalyptus-lined sand. Here, you’ll find gastronomic gem Restaurant La Pelosa, helmed by Juan Gomez Rodriguez. Book ahead, especially in July and August.

        La Pelosa

        Platja de Pals

        The white-sand beach at Pals is a locals’ favourite: cliffs plunge to high dunes that claw towards the shore. Out of season it is at its most tranquil, though even in summer you can usually grab a towel-sized patch of sand.

        Platja de Sant Pere Pescador

        Hugging the picturesque Golf de Roses, this dune-backed beach is set in a remote spot away from the crowds. Wild and windswept, it’s an excellent water-sports destination, particularly for kitesurfing, sailing and windsurfing.


        Cala Portaló

        Cala Portaló is tucked away in the Cap de Creus Natural Park, just north of Cadaqués. The sea funnels into the shallow cove, where cliffs shelter a small pebblestone beach. You may recognise the rocky landscapes from Dalí’s works.


        Cala Sa Sabolla

        Off the beaten trail, the secluded Sa Sabolla isn’t the easiest beach to get to – but it’s one of the finest. The shingle cove beach is reached by boat or via the soul-stirring Camí de Ronda, which offers sweeping sea views.

        Platja de Canadell

        Platja de Canadell, on the horseshoe bay of Llafranc, is a gravelly beach lined by pastel-toned 19th-century villas and jasmine-scented streets. The Camí de Ronda path meanders along the coast, winding around pine-clad rocks. Arrive early in summer.

        Platja de Tamariu

        Lined by tamarind trees, Platja de Tamariu is a pretty beach where fishermen still haul their boats onto the sand from the cove and deliver their day-fresh catch to the seafood restaurants that line the shore.


        Things to do

        More than an idyllic beach getaway, the Costa Brava has an unexpected arts and culture scene, along with a wealth of outdoor adventures and natural wonders.

        From the unusual – human towers, or castells – to the traditional, such as sardana folk dance performances, Catalans are proud to share their culture with visitors.

        The creative set has long been inspired by the region, with the likes of Matisse and Picasso revelling in the light and colours of the coastline. Follow the art trail and discover Dalí’s studio and works with a visit to the three museums dedicated to the quirky Surrealist artist.

        Elsewhere, explore remote villages and hidden bays, discover ancient ruins and Roman mosaics, and gawk at incredible Benedictine monasteries. For action, head to the Golf de Roses for windsurfing or Sant Pere Pescador for sailing, or go scuba diving among the untouched nature reserve of Illes Medes.


        Ampurias

        Try castell

        Keep your eyes peeled for a castell, an emblematic Catalan climbing spectacle involving groups of people balancing on one other to form a human tower. Groups practice, often on Sunday mornings, all over the Costa Brava.

        Take a road trip

        Take a road trip along the coastline, twisting along hairpin roads and pausing at small fishing villages. A highlight is the corniche road between Tossa de Mar and Sant Feliu de Guixols, where tiny, near-inaccessible bays are squeezed between the larger resorts.

        Do some watersports

        The Mediterranean is a vast adventure playground: windsurf on the Golf de Roses, sail off Sant Pere Pescador, or scuba dive around the Medes archipelago.

        See the ancient ruins

        Explore the ruins of Ampurias, the former Greek town of Emporion. Founded in the 6th-century BC, it grew into a thriving trading centre, and is located near an ancient Roman city built during the Punic Wars. Afterwards, wander along the coastal path to the old village of Sant Marti d’Empuries where the Greeks first landed.

        Visit the monastery

        Visit the astonishing Benedictine monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes, poised above the harbour of El Port de la Selva. It dates back to the 10th century though the monks continued to add to the design up until they left in the 18th century.  

        Salvador Dalí

        The eccentric artist Salvador Dalí was inspired by the beauty of Cadaqués. His home studio in Portlligat is open to the public, along with the castle in Púbol that he bought his wife, Gala. The main collection of his work, though, is displayed at the Theatre Museum in Figueras, where Dalí was born.

        Oliver's Hidden Gem

        The Catalans have a rich heritage and one of the ways to appreciate their culture is to watch the displays of sardana, a traditional dance involving a circle of hand-holding dancers. Many villages hold open-air performances throughout the summer, and the town of Olot hosts a sardana festival.

        Olot

        Towns and villages

        Though Costa Brava is best known for its beach towns, the region is also scattered with some of the finest hilltop medieval villages in Spain, tangled with cobbled streets and plazas.

        The south is dominated by large resorts, lined with apartments and bars, while the north is lesser developed and more wild and untamed. Hotels give way to rented fishermen’s houses; restaurants turn into local seafood haunts; package tour groups become independent travellers.

        The walled and moated medieval village of Peratallada has a web of streets lined with vine-cloaked stone houses, while the light-draped plaza of hilltop Begur is a perfect spot to watch the sunset. A picturesque coastal walk connects Begur to the former fishing village of Tamariu and exclusive enclave of Llafranc.

        The beauty of Cadaqués has long inspired artists such as Matisse, Picasso and, most famously, Dalí, while the whitewashed buildings of Calella de Palafrugell hook around a boat-sprinkled bay. Hugging the romantic Golf de Roses, canal-laced Empuriabrava and neighbouring Roses are set against a backdrop of the mountainous Cap de Creus natural park.

        To really get under the skin of the Costa Brava, villas offer a chance to stay in remote villages and towns that are wonderfully free from mass development.

        Oliver’s Hidden Gem

        Golden-stoned buildings, cloaked in creepers and punctuated by heavy wooden doors, cluster along the steep streets of Pals. Honeyed arches frame the hidden corners of this medieval village, whose crowning glory is the tumbledown castle and its thick ramparts. 

        Pals

        Llafranc

        The exclusive Llafranc has a slender bay edged by honey-coloured sand. Pine-strewn outcrops frame the beach, which is a quiet, tranquil spot except in peak summer. A scenic coastal walk connects Llafranc to Begur and Tamariu.


        Blanes

        The first town on the Costa Brava is quieter than tourist-bloated neighbour Lloret de Mar. Despite modern trappings, Blanes still has a charming Catalan village vibe, with a local farmers’ market and colourful fishing boats.

        Golf de Roses

        Surrounded by the Cap de Creus mountains, Roses is a relaxed town with a cove-bitten coastline and walled 11th-century citadel. Neighbouring Empuriabrava is an upmarket town laced with canals and a sleepy beach.


        Girona

        The colourful city of Girona hugs the banks of the River Onyar. The boutique-lined lanes of the Old Town wrap around a grand Gothic cathedral, while the maze-like Call is one of the best-preserved Jewish quarters in Western Europe.

        Lloret de Mar

        The largest resort on the Costa Brava, Lloret del Mar is a hedonist haven with a lively after-hours scene. In peak season, the beach is hidden beneath a sea of bronzed bodies, with a few waterside bars catering to the crowds.

        Peratallada

        Within its old city walls, the moated medieval village of Peratallada has a tangle of twisting streets lined with bougainvillea-draped stone buildings. Climb the cobblestone alleys up to the castle, built between the 11th and 14th centuries.

        Calella de Palafrugell

        Brightly coloured doors and window frames punctuate the whitewashed facades of Calella de Palafrugell, which hooks around a small bay. Fishing boats dot the shore of the small but perfectly formed beaches

        Tamariu

        To the south of Begur, Tamariu hugs a rocky stretch of coast where boats bob in the bay. This authentic Spanish village is a quiet spot where locals and visitors gather over plates of fresh seafood on the waterfront. It’s an ideal base for families.

        Cadaqués

        The whitewashed buildings and windswept beaches of Cadaqués wrap around a small bay. Steep streets climb the hillside to the grand church of Església de Santa María. Cadaqués has long lured painters such as Matisse, Picasso and Dalí.

        Getting there and around

        Many visitors to Costa Brava fly into Barcelona airport, which is connected to the UK by several airlines. Iberia flies from Heathrow and Birmingham; British Airways departs from Heathrow, Gatwick and Birmingham; easyJet serves Luton and Liverpool; and Go flies from Stansted.

        A mainline train network connects Barcelona and Paris, stopping at Girona, Figueras, Llanaca and Portbou, or local trains leave from Barcelona’s Sants station and travel along the coast to Blanes, before looping inland to Macanet.

        If you’re hiring a car, the E15 motorway connects Barcelona with Girona and if you’re road-tripping around Europe, it continues on to the French town of Perpignan.

        You can access some resorts on the Costa Brava by bus, but journeys can be long with stops at all the small towns in between larger resorts. Many of the tiny villages and remote coves are not accessible by public transport, so a hire car is essential for exploring.

        If you want to avoid the lengthy bus journey from Barcelona, it’s possible to fly into Girona airport; the city is a great base for a few days before heading to the Costa Brava. Ryanair offers the most choice, with flights from 16 UK and Irish airports, while Jet2 connects nine UK airports and Thomson Airways serves Birmingham, Bristol, Gatwick and Manchester.

        You can also take the Eurostar from London St Pancras to Lyons and if you set off early, you’ll be in Girona by evening.


        Getting around by bus

        Sarfa, which operates jointly with Moventis, is the main bus operator on and around the Costa Brava.

        Getting around by boat

        Crucetours operates a daily boat service connecting coastal resorts from Calella, just south of Blanes, all the way to Palamós. This can be an efficient way to get around the Costa Brava, particularly in peak season when traffic is at its worst and car parks are often full.

        For a scenic way to travel on the water, several resorts offer short trips to nearby beaches and villages on glass-bottomed boats.

        Getting around by car

        If you want to get under the skin of the Costa Brava, and discover its hidden nooks, you’re best off hiring a car. Hire centres are located at Barcelona and Girona airports.


        Top tips

        • Iberia offers good off-season deals, such as two-for-one flight tickets.
        • Glass-bottomed boat trips are more interesting at the northern end of Costa Brava, where the seascape is more diverse.
        • In the peak season, the narrow roads of the smaller villages quickly get jammed, so one of the Costa Brava beach villas can be a sensible option.
        • If you tackle the 14-mile stroll from Palamos to Begur along the Camí de Ronda, hop back on bus #23 to save your legs.

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