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Check out my ultimate Costa Brava road trip itinerary, to enjoy the top gems of Catalonia and explore the favorite region of Salvador Dali in Spain.

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About Costa Brava

Where is Costa Brava

Costa Brava is one of the most popular travel destinations in Spain, located on the northeastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula. It is a part of the Catalonia autonomous community.

The region is popular for its fishing villages, rocky cliffs, and crystal-clear waters. The most important city in the area is Girona. So, it makes a great starting point for any Costa Brava road trip.

Driving in Costa Brava

Driving in Spain for the first time? – You might find handy this Driving in Spain Guide, with Expert Videos, 360 Driving Tours and an On-The-Go PDF.

When to visit Costa Brava

Anytime. Costa Brava gets touristy during the summer months, but in winter it is still a popular winter-sun destination in Spain. My trip took place in February since I wanted to avoid the crowds of the peak season on the Mediterranean coast of Spain.

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Costa Brava road trip – a beautiful sunset in Empuriabrava

How much time to spend in Costa Brava

You can easily spend a few weeks in Costa Brava. This 5-day Costa Brava road trip itinerary does not cover all of the gems in the Catalonia region. However, it is great to see the most iconic sights and form the first impression of Costa Brava.

For a longer itinerary, you can combine this trip with my Epic 7 Days in the Pyrenees of Spain, a Weekend in Lleida, a weekend in Andorra, a Tarragona Road Trip, a Barcelona to Valencia Road Trip, a French Riviera Road Trip, and a Madrid to Barcelona Road Trip.

Where to stay in Costa Brava

For this 5-day Costa Brava road trip itinerary you can stay in Girona or pick any of the top Costa Brava hotels on the map below:

Our 5- day Costa Brava Road Trip

Day 1 – Girona

One day in Girona

While it was not my first time visiting Girona, we decided to spend the first day of this Costa Brava road trip exploring the city.

Girona is one of the most well-known places in Costa Brava, especially since it was turned into one of the Game of Thrones Filming Locations in Spain. This town is a unique architectural blend of different cultures – the Romans, the Moors, and the Jews. The Cathedral of Girona has elements of Romanesque, Gothic, and Baroque styles.

Girona´s most popular area is its Old Town, especially Rambla de la Libertad – a pedestrian street full of shops and cafes.

Unique Experiences to book in Girona:

Girona Catalonia Costa Brava Road Trip
Girona – a must-stop on any Costa Brava road trip

Day 2 – Gardens & Kayaking

Gardens of Costa Brava

On the second day of our Costa Brava road trip, we headed to Jardín Botánico Marimurtra and Jardines de Santa Clotilde, known as some of the most unique Spanish gardens.

Jardín Botánico Marimurtra is located in Blanes and offers gorgeous panoramic views of the Mediterranean. This place reminded me of one of my most romantic travel experiences around the world – the French Riviera Road trip. The plant collection of Jardín Botánico Marimurtra reaches 4,000 plant species. It was created by a German businessman, Carl Faust in 1924. You can book the entry ticket here.

Jardines de Santa Clotilde is another beautiful natural setting, recently featured in HBO´s Series House of the Dragon. It used to be a vineyard area, before its owner Marquis of Roviralta, hired a landscape gardener and architect to create 27 m2 of beautiful gardens. While the elevations were the main obstacle in the process, they’ve managed to implement a few beautiful optical effects – like, when you see the staircase from the bottom it reminds a waterfall made of plants.

Kayaking in Costa Brava

Costa Brava is one of the most unique destinations for Kayaking in Spain. Since our trip took place in February and we were on the road with the kids, we decided to leave this experience for future trips. But if are planning this Costa Brava road trip during another season, I highly recommend experiencing kayaking in Costa Brava.

Escola de Vela y Kayak Sant Pol is one of the top-rated Catalan companies offering the best water sports tours in the region since 1996. Their privileged location at the beach of Sant Feliu de Guixols gives access to some of the best calas and natural gems of Costa Brava.

The company organizes tours at Sant Pol Beach – Sea Caves Kayaking and Snorkeling Tour (check availability) and in the small town of Sant Feliu de Guíxols – Kayaking & Snorkeling Tour (check availability) and Morning Sea Kayak Tour (check availability).

Platja de Sant Pol in Sant Feliu de Guixols is also one of the most beautiful places to swim in Costa Brava. To avoid the crowds you can follow the coastal trail Cami de Ronda de S Agaro a Sa Conca to explore the beautiful calas (e.g. coves).

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The views of Costa Brava from Jardines de Santa Clotilde
costa brava road trip itinerary
Jardines de Santa Clotilde
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Escola de Vela y Kayak Sant Pol /Costa Brava is one of the most unique destinations for Kayaking in Spain

Day 3 – Begur, Pals & Peratallada

There is no Costa Brava road trip without exploring the cute local villages of Catalonia.

For this itinerary, we have picked Begur, Pals, and Peratallada. But there are way more cute Spanish villages you can cover on a longer itinerary – Tossa del Mar, Calella de Palafrugell, Tamariu, Palamos, and L’Escala.

While the 3rd day of our Costa Brava road trip was rainy and windy, I still enjoyed it. The highlight for me was Peratallada. Its unique castle was built between the 11th and the 14th century and currently houses a luxury hotel & restaurant.

Begur and Pals were also great, but since it started to rain I could not enjoy both small towns fully. So, hope to return soon during the sunnier season.

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Visiting Peratallada during our Costa Brava road trip
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Medieval streets of Peratallada

Day 4 – Figueres & Besalu

Visiting the famous Dali Museum in Figueres

One of the biggest inspirations to plan this Costa Brava road trip was visiting the Dali Museum in Figueres. While it is not a child-focused museum, the extravagant designs and surrealist paintings felt inspiring even for my little ones.

Actually, there are 3 main spots related to the famous Spanish painter in the area – Salvador Dali Theatre Museum in Figueres, Salvador Dalí House Museum near Cadaques, and Gala Dalí Castle & Museum in Pubol. However, to visit the first two you need at least half of the day for each (a previous booking is also recommended since both locations are very touristy). So, since we wanted to see Besalu as well, we have only managed to visit the Salvador Dali Theatre Museum in Figueres.

In the afternoon, we headed to Besalu, known as one of the most beautiful medieval towns in Spain. It is such a picture-perfect place, full of cobblestone streets and historic buildings. The most impressive sight of Besalu is its Viejo Bridge, built in the 11th century.

Top experiences to book in Figueres:

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Salvador Dali Theatre Museum in Figueres
top medieval towns in spain besalu
Besalu is known as one of the most beautiful medieval towns in Spain
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Salvador Dali Theatre Museum in Figueres: check out the top Dali Photobooks in this post

Day 5 – Cadaques & Empuriabrava

Another place I was extremely excited to visit during this Costa Brava road trip was Cadaques – one of the most iconic small towns in Spain (globally famous as Salvador Dali’s beloved hometown). Full of white-washed houses and hidden in a trendy Costa Brava bay, this pretty town reminded me of Mojacar and the Greek islands like Mykonos or Santorini.

Since we visited Cadaques in February, the town felt quite empty and half of the restaurants were closed. However, I have enjoyed the landscape anyway. Rumor has it that during the summer months, Cadaques is difficult to find parking spots (so, if visiting in summer – go earlier in the morning or book a tour).

You can also visit the House Museum of Dali near Cadaques, but we only drove from towards Cap de Creus.

Cap De Creus is known for some of the most beautiful epic cliffs in Spain. Located near Cadaques, the Cap de Creus nature reserve was the first natural park in Catalonia to cover both sea and land in 1998.  Within the nature reserve, you can find lots of hiking trails and unique natural settings, like Cova de S´Infern, Cala CulipCala Cullero, and Pla de Tudela.

In the afternoon, we headed to Empuriabrava, often called “the Venice of Spain”. It is the largest residential marina in Europe full of canals, boats, and luxury villas. The most popular thing to do in the area is to rent a boat and explore the canals (we picked the eco-friendly electric boat rental with no boat license required).

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Cadaques – one of the most iconic small towns in Spain
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Cap de Creus, known for some of the most beautiful cliffs in Spain
empuriabrava places to visit in catalonia
Empuriabrava is often called “the Venice of Spain”

An Important thing to know about driving in Costa Brava

Let me warn you that not only is Costa Brava one of the most touristy places in Spain, it is one of the worst places when it comes to pickpocketers and scams on the road. Do not sleep inside your car at night along the highway and ignore if someone tries to stop you on the road (unless it´s police).

Here´s a popular scam on the highway from Girona to Figueres – La Jonqura – France. The robbers pass you with their car while making signs that something is wrong with one of your wheels. While you stop to check it out, one of them entertains you and his partner steals your handbags. They specifically look for non-local cars (knowing that tourists do not speak Spanish and usually have cash). Unfortunately, friends of mine were recently robbed like this. So, I went with them to the police office to discover that it was a frequent scam.

The police officers are after this criminal group. However, the problem is that the robbers are not Spaniards and use cars rented in France. So, by the moment the victims call the police, they have already crossed the border to another country and are outside of reach.

Costa Brava is a beautiful destination, 100% worth visiting. However, knowing about the current scams and taking extra precautions might help you avoid unnecessary problems and enjoy this Costa Brava road trip to the fullest.

Top Beaches in Costa Brava

If you are planning this Costa Brava road trip in summer, check out these top beaches of the region:

  • Cala Sant Francesc in Blanes (also known as Cala Bona)
  • Platja Santa Cristina in Lloret de Mar 
  • Platja Mar Menuda in Tossa de Mar
  • Platja de Sant Pol in St.Feliu de Guixols
  • Palafrugell beach
  • Cala Montgo, located between L’Estartit and L’Escala

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costa brava road trip 5 days

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