Itineraries for Your Trip to Costa Brava

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3 Days in Costa Brava for First Timers

Curated by Lydia SchrandtLydia Schrandt is a writer, editor, and award-winning photographer currently based in Houston. She’s a contributor for USA TODAY 10Best and serves as the first chair of the Editors Council of the Society of American Travel Writers. Her work has appeared in Draft, Time Out Beijing, Travel+, USA TODAY, San Francisco Chronicle, and others.

Thanks to its sandy beaches, quaint villages, and dramatic cliffs, the Costa Brava—or Rugged Coast—is one of Spain’s most popular holiday spots. Here are some ideas for how to spend three days on this scenic stretch of Spanish coast.

Day 1

One of the best ways to experience the Costa Brava is to drive along the shore—but you don’t need your own car to do it. Private tours come with your own dedicated driver and allow you to explore the region at your own pace, without having to focus on navigation. Itineraries are typically customizable and let you choose between exploring the ruins of Empuries, lazing on the beach in Calella de Palafrugell, climbing a medieval tower in Tossa de Mar, or sampling Catalan seafood in Palamós. 

Those who’d rather explore independently can get to the coastal towns of Llafranc, Begur, and Blanesby by regional train. End your day in lively Lloret de Mar for an evening of bar hopping.

Day 2

Costa Brava is Dali country, which makes it a mecca for fans of surrealist art: to the north lies Cadaqués, a seaside resort where Dalí and his friends would come to unwind. Púbol is home to the incredible Gala Dalí Castle, a medieval castle that the artist converted into a flamboyantly romantic shrine to his wife; and the Dalí Theatre-Museum in Figueres—the self-declared ‘largest surrealistic object in the world’—has to be experienced to be believed. Many tours of the so-called Dali Triangle cover 2-3 sites.

 End your day Catalan-style, with a late night dinner of local cuisine. Depending on where you’re staying, take a food tour to find the best bites.

Day 3

The seashore isn’t all the Costa Brava has going for it. Use your third day to see a different side of Catalonia on one of the following day trips. For the spiritually-inclined, Montserrat is unmissable. Perched majestically on a holy mountain, this Benedictine monastery is famous for its black Madonna (La Moreneta) and the exquisite wine made by its monks. Girona features one of the best preserved medieval districts in Spain, which is dotted with museums, Gothic churches, and top-notch cuisine. 

No matter where you choose to spend your final day, plan for a quiet dinner near your hotel tonight in preparation for your departure.

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