The Costa Brava is a stunning coastal region in Catalonia just north of Barcelona and stretches right up to the border with France where the Pyrenees mountains meet the Mediterranean Sea. Costa Brava means ‘rugged coast’, a reference to the spectacular cliffs and hundreds of coves that line the coast. Though famed for its beaches and generous dollops of sunshine, the Costa Brava is not only about sun, sea and sand. The region is a treasure trove of cultural, gastronomic and natural gems. A great way to discover everything that the Costa Brava has to offer is to follow the scenic coastal trails or the Camins de Ronda. These trails wind around the coast past sleepy villages, hidden coves and picturesque towns, where one can enjoy the natural scenery, discover age-old traditions and indulge in fantastic cuisine.
Walking the Camins de Ronda
The Costa Brava coastal trails are a series of paths, built by fishermen and the police force who patrolled the coast on the lookout for smugglers, that extend over 200 kilometers. Certain sections of the old trails disappeared due to coastal development in the 20th century but many parts have been lovingly restored, providing visitors a unique means to explore the coast, its little coves and quaint fishing villages. There are many trails to choose from, offering visitors a choice of easy hour-long walks or week-long hikes. Some of the trails can be done as a circular route whilst others can be combined with public transportation.
One of the most scenic sections of the Camins de Ronda is the path that winds down the coast from Begur to Calella de Palafrugell. You can opt to hike certain sections of the trail (the level of difficulty varies for each section) or the entire trail if you’re feeling adventurous. The trail is clearly marked and easy to find. The path takes hikers past some of the most stunning scenery along the Costa Brava. You’ll pass gorgeous pine groves, flowering shrubs, small fishing villages, stately villas, historic watchtowers, secluded coves and pristine beaches – you’re never far away from a fabulous vista of the rugged coastline and the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean. The trail connects some of my favourite villages in this area including Llafranc, Tamariu and Calella de Palafrugell. These villages are great spots to start and end a walking itinerary along the Camins de Ronda as there’s a good choice of accommodation options and a wide selection of excellent restaurants.
The Camins de Ronda is one of Europe’s great hiking trails and one of the most accessible. The varying lengths and levels of difficulty provide visitors with ample options for a leisurely stroll or a gruelling hike. The best thing is: it’s more than just a scenic trail. The natural scenery is captivating but the lovely villages, the hospitable locals and the amazing food will steal your heart for sure!
Recommended hotels along the Camins de Ronda
Hotel Aigua Blava
One of the most charming hotels along the Camins de Ronda is the Hotel Aigua Blava in the Begur township. This four-star family-run hotel, located on a forested hillside, consists of a main building and adjacent villas. Many of the spacious rooms have terraces which face the sea or the lovely pine trees.
Hotel Aigua Blava is a great place for a tranquil holiday – there’s a beautiful pool and several nearby coves to lounge at – and to explore the trails of the Camins de Ronda. One of the trails passes right by the hotel’s doorstep. The hotel staff also assist guests wishing to hike the Camins de Ronda by making forward reservations at hotels in the villages along the trail and by transporting guests’ luggage to the next stop. So all guests have to do is put on their walking shoes, pack a small bag and hit the trails! Oh, and don’t miss a romantic dinner at Hotel Aigua Blava. The food (contemporary Catalan cuisine) is superb and the views of the gorgeous trees and the sea are unforgettable.
El Far Hotel & Restaurant
El Far is a name that’s synonymous with the historic Sant Sebastiá lighthouse that for centuries guided ships along the Costa Brava. The adjacent inn was a favourite among the locals who came here to enjoy the sea breeze, the majestic views and a glass or two of vino. Spectacularly situated high above the seaside town of Llafranc, on a bluff overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, the refurbished inn now houses the El Far Hotel-Restaurant and is a gorgeous spot for fine Catalan cuisine and unforgettable views.
Hotel BlauMar Llafranc
Also located in Llafranc, the Hotel BlauMar Llafranc has beautiful rooms with stunning sea views, a sizeable pool and is only a few minutes walk from the beach, cafés and restaurants.
Perched on the slopes of a hill overlooking Llafranc and the stunning cove, Casamar Hotel & Restaurant is a beautiful family-owned hotel, with bright rooms and gorgeous views. The hotel is also home to Casamar Restaurant which boasts a Michelin star.
Hotel Sant Roc
Situated on a hill-top with glorious views of Calella de Palafrugell, Hotel Sant Roc is a charming hotel with a terrific restaurant. You can even opt to stay in the Tower Room (which I did) and the views from there are absolutely breathtaking! The hotel is in a secluded neighbourhood yet just a few minutes walk away from the picturesque village and beaches.
Looking for an incredible foodie experience, read the ultimate Euro food trip.
How to get to Costa Brava
Costa Brava is located less than a two-hour drive north of Barcelona. Barcelona Airport is the most popular option for those flying in though Girona also has (seasonal) flight connections to various cities in Europe. From both airports, I recommend hiring a car to explore the region. You can also take the train from Barcelona to Girona or Figueres and utilise local buses from there to reach the coast.