Costa Brava, The Best Roadtrip In Spain: A Foodie’s Guide to Exploring the Region

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For the purpose of this article, I am thrilled to collaborate with the Costa Brava Tourism Board to provide you a guide that focuses on the area’s culinary scene. I spent a week traveling by car around Costa Brava in the hopes of having the most memorable culinary adventures possible.

To begin, for those of you who may be curious, “what is Costa Brava?” and “where is it?” — The Costa Brava is a coastal area in Catalonia, which is situated in the northeastern portion of Spain. As I’m sure you all are aware by this point, Spain is one of my absolute favorite nations in the whole globe.

Another intriguing fact about the region, particularly for those who share a passion for cuisine, is that the Costa Brava boasts one of the greatest concentrations of chefs in Spain who have been awarded Michelin stars.

When I went to Catalonia, the people of Catalonia were debating whether or not they should break away from Spain and become their own nation, so it turned out to be a really exciting and eventful moment to be there.

This is not a political site, and I will be the first to say that I do not completely comprehend the conversations being had on both sides; as a result, I will not weigh in with an opinion on the matter. Nevertheless, I would say that it was all anybody spoke about, and I was happy that I could come at such a crucial and momentous time in the country’s history.

I had just finished off the Discover Syros press event when I boarded the plane in Athens that would take me to Barcelona. The weather was the first thing that really stood out to me. When I visited there in October, the weather was still bright and pleasant in Spain, in contrast to the Greek islands where summer had most certainly come to an end.

The Hertz counter was the first place I went. After all, you won’t be able to go on a road trip without a vehicle. The gentleman working behind the counter was a lot of fun to talk to since his favorite basketball team is the Oklahoma City Thunder, which is also the name of the city where I grew up. The result of our chat was that I was given an upgrade to this lovely Volvo SUV:

The automobile was really incredible, the cabin was above and beyond comfy, and it had such advanced technology that I had the impression that I was steering a spacecraft when I was driving it. As the journey progressed, I discovered that I was making up excuses to drive and often choosing the more circuitous route simply because I was having so much fun behind the wheel.

After leaving Barcelona, the first place I was going to stay was in the town of Blanes, so I set my course in that direction. As I drove along, I couldn’t help but stop and take pictures of the beautiful coastline and quaint little villages I saw along the route.

Soon after, I found myself at Blanes, often known as the “Gateway to Costa Brava.” As I searched for my accommodation, I saw that there were still people enjoying the beach, despite the fact that the temperature had reached 77 degrees in October!

I had reserved a room at the Hotel Horitzó for one night since I considered it to be in the ideal location, being within walking distance of everything I wanted to see and do in the city, including the main business district and the finest dining establishments. The room itself was spacious, spotless, and decorated in a contemporary style. There was also a spa on site, but I was regrettably unable to make use of it since I had not allowed myself sufficient time. Definitely the next time.

My accommodation in Blanes was touted as having a sea view, which contributed immensely to the overall pleasantness of my time there. As I stood on my balcony and looked down, I could see the following taking place below me:

After that, there was no question about it: I was going to the beach, even only for a few hours.

After lounging about at the beach for a while, I made the decision to go get some food. I noticed Sorrall, a restaurant close to my hotel that had a pre-determined lunch menu, when I was strolling back along the beach. I saw the fact that it was still lively and full of people at three in the afternoon as a positive indicator.

When the staff learned that I was from out of town, they immediately struck up conversations with me and were pleased. They took the time to thoroughly walk me through their menu and assisted me in making my choices. This particular set meal, like the vast majority of those offered in Spain, contained wine at the same cost as water or soda. Naturally, I went for the wine.

The price of the set meal was 16 euros, which is around $19 USD. To tell you the truth, I have encountered set lunches around Spain that are just as delicious or perhaps even better for less money. However, this one wasn’t awful at all, and I would gladly return due of the coastal setting and the pleasant workers.

I had dinner reservations at Sa Lola, a fusion and concept tapas restaurant, so I went back to my room at the hotel for a little nap (when in Spain…) before I left for the restaurant. This evening was one that I was really looking forward to since I had read a lot of reviews online and they all made the restaurant seem like it was fantastic.

I was making my way toward supper when I decided to stop and take in the view from a little hill that was located along the beach:

This depicts the allure of the town well, as it views out over the middle of the city.

After a brief stroll, I arrived at the restaurant, and as soon as I stepped inside, I was taken aback by how beautifully it was decorated. I was positioned on the outside patio, which included chandeliers as well as birdcages dangling from the ceiling.

At first, I was a little uncertain about the menu since several of the dishes, such as emulsions, foams, and other similar things, seemed extremely scientific. However, it turned out that these concerns were completely unfounded in the end.

A genuine high-end gourmet experience was had by me throughout my meal that I had at Sa Lola. After each meal, another intricately prepared dish was brought to the table. Every meal was prepared to the highest standard.

Some of the dishes that stood out to me the most were the (perfectly) grilled octopus, the Iberian pig ribs that fell off the bone, the foie gras that was coated in frozen white chocolate, and the dessert that was goat cheese ice cream with basil foam and tomatoes.

When in Blanes, foodies should not leave the island without dining at Sa Lola. The cuisine was wonderful, the service was kind and responsive, and every one of their wine pairings was spot on. However, you will need to make a reservation in advance by calling the restaurant, since it is regularly full.

After just spending one night in Blanes, I woke up the following morning feeling a little bit disappointed that I would have to go so soon. There is no question in my mind that I will go back to the city and spend further time there. Before continuing on to my next location, I stopped for a bite to eat at the hotel’s extensive breakfast buffet and helped myself to made-to-order omelettes, cured meats, cheeses, fresh fruit, and so on.

I was running a little ahead of time, so I decided to make a small detour to Monells, a medieval town that was on the route to the next location I needed to get to.

To tell you the truth, there isn’t much to see in Monells (and much less to do there), yet the hamlet was beautiful and quaint, along with all the other superlatives we use to describe places that are “little.” It may not be worth organizing a whole vacation around it, but if you ever find yourself with an extra hour or two to kill, I think you should pay it a visit.

In spite of the location’s relative seclusion, I was able to go to the little town of Llofriu and have lunch at another restaurant known as La Sala Gran. I found it remarkable that the establishment was packed with people in the middle of the day.

Another encouraging indicator was the fact that I seemed to be the lone visitor from outside the area. I went through the menu while seeing that every dish that was being brought out to the tables that were near me seemed to be of the highest quality. The restaurant was kind enough to put up a customized menu just for me, so I wouldn’t have to worry about deciding what to eat.

Even while I really enjoyed every single meal that was served, there were two that particularly stood out to me:

and without a doubt, my top pick:

I’m not sure, but I think they could have been the greatest mussels I’ve ever tasted. They were incredibly soft, bursting with the taste of smoked meat, and went well with a glass (or two) of a dry, crisp white wine. If it were simply for another dish of delicious mussels, I would go all the way back to Costa Brava.

The second place I went was Palamós, which is a port town that is well-known for its fishing industry. While there, I went to the fish market, auction, and museum.

I was educated on the local delicacy, which is known as red prawns. The prawns are well-known for the brilliant red color and deliciously firm flesh that they possess.

Prior to participating in an auction, I had the opportunity to see the sorting of the new catch.

Observing how the procedure is now mechanized, with bidders clutching electronic buzzers, was a unique experience. It has come to my attention that the majority of the bids are proprietors of seafood restaurants and retail outlets. The bins, which have been sorted using a variety of catches and have been thoroughly rated for quality, make their way down a conveyor belt that is equipped with TV monitors that are linked to the location where the bidding activity takes place.

It was everything quick and automatic, which was a radical departure from what I had anticipated at all.

After that, I went to the Museu de la Pesca (also known as the Fish Museum), which I expected to be a tourist trap but turned out to be rather intriguing instead. The fact that it placed such an emphasis on preservation really struck me. The many methods and tools that are used in the industry, as well as their evolution through time, were shown at the museum as well.

Palamós is well-known for its cuisine, particularly its well-known red shrimp due to the city’s convenient proximity to the ocean.

I decided to go on a brief tapas tour throughout the town, and when I was at Taverna El Galeó, I came upon a bacon tapas, which was something completely new to me.

After checking out of my hotel in Palamós, I made my way to Girona to check into the Hotel Carlemany, which was going to be my home for the next five days as I toured the surrounding region.

The Carlemany is a hotel with four stars that can be found in the middle of the commercial downtown of Girona. The hotel is located within easy walking distance of the city’s most popular shopping districts, dining districts, and historic districts. It made me glad that there was an H&M just across from the hotel, the staff at the front desk were polite and knowledgable, and the room was large enough to accommodate all of my belongings.

That evening, the hotel was gracious enough to accommodate me by providing supper at their restaurant, which is called Indigo. The chef had put up a delectable special meal, and he accompanied each item with a different gin and tonic drink.

To be honest, I’m not the biggest gin drinker. Although I’ll order it if someone else is paying or if we’ve used up all of the vodka, it’s never been my drink of choice in the first place. Nevertheless, I tried to have an open mind since several of the combinations seemed quite exciting to me.

Everything about the meal was delicious, and I even liked most of the cocktails that were paired with it.

The appetizer of grilled octopus with peppers served over potatoes and a grilled scallop that was coupled with a Japanese gin and sake mix served with yuzu tonic was my favorite dish of the meal.

After a morning free of obligations, which I mostly used to recuperate after the previous night’s over consumption of gin cocktails, I made my way to the quaint little hamlet of Pals for lunch at Es Portal.

The Es Portal Hotel, which bills itself as a “gastro-boutique hotel,” is home to the eatery in question. I was given a brief tour of the property, and it has quickly risen to the top of my list of places that I’d want to visit again since it is smart, stylish, and refined without being too fussy. Wow, that’s some serious stuff.

The restaurant told me that the chef had advised that I check out the tasting menu, which was another way in which the tough decision of what to eat had been made easier for me. I didn’t need to be persuaded in any way.

It pains me to single out a single restaurant, but I have to say that the meal I had at Es Portal was easily the greatest one I had throughout my whole stay in Costa Brava.

Every meal was prepared to perfection.

The monkfish served atop seaweed was one of my favorite meals.

as well as the beef cheek prepared sous vide, which had the ideal texture and was bursting with flavor.

Even though I often say that I’m not a big fan of desserts, Es Portal brought out this tiramisu that I couldn’t resist finishing:

It had a soft texture and a flavor reminiscent of chocolate and coffee. The waiter was gracious enough to bring out (another) glass of red wine, which went really well with it.

After that, I went to have a look about in Peratallada. It was a wonderful experience for me to be there at their yearly medieval fair. The name of this little town, which has the feel of a hamlet, literally translates to “carved stone.” It is only appropriate that the majority of the town’s structures were built with stone that was cut from the same moat that still surrounds a portion of the town.

The corridors are constructed out of stone, and it seemed like the whole of the village had gathered together for the celebrations on this particular evening.

The proprietor of Cireret was kind enough to extend an invitation to me to her recently established cafe so that I may try a variety of regional foods and goods.

The business is being run by a woman who has a lot of enthusiasm and love for it. While she was explaining the notion and pouring a glass of the local wine she recommended, her excitement was palpable and it truly shone through.

She delivered a plate of local charcuterie as well as a sandwich that she had created with sausage and her award-winning aioli, all while enthusiastically pouring additional glasses of wine that she believed went best with each meal.

Her excitement was so contagious that I was even persuaded to try something completely new: a sandwich made with pig’s feet and pear chutney.

It was really rather enjoyable for me! It was the first time that I had ever had pig’s feet, but little did I realize that this would not be the last time that I would have them while I was on this tour.

After spending the night in Girona, I got up early the next morning to participate in a walking culinary tour of the city that was offered by Girona Food Tours.

If you’ve been following my website, you probably already know that I’m a great advocate of going on walking food tours. In my opinion, they are one of the most effective methods to get familiar with a place. While indulging in some of the most delicious specialties of the region, you are given the opportunity to become more knowledgeable about its rich history. In my perspective, all parties will come out ahead.

This tour was much like the others. I was introduced to Marc, the proprietor, and he led me on a tour of the city while pointing out intriguing details that I may have missed otherwise. Marc is not a native of the region, but he has lived there for such a long time that he is now considered a local.

We walked from establishment to establishment, wandering about the city and sampling foods along the way, including xuixo, which is a well-known morning pastry in Catalonia:

The tour lived up to my expectations. Not only did I get a deeper familiarity with Girona, but also with Catalonia as a whole thanks to this experience. I, too, left the restaurant satiated and quite satisfied.

To read a complete review of my walking food tour of Girona click here

That evening, I went to Divinum for dinner, where I indulged in the restaurant’s signature 11-course tasting menu. It was satisfactory– in fact, it was rather satisfactory. Nevertheless, it served as a consolation award in any case. My heart’s desire was to get a table at the exclusive El Celler de Can Roca restaurant for supper.

Not only is this restaurant considered to be the greatest in all of Girona, but it has also been hailed as the best in the whole globe on several occasions. OVERALL IN THE WORLD I was aware from the beginning that I wouldn’t be able to acquire a reservation for this trip since it was planned so hastily.

A helpful hint: reservations may be made at El Celler de Can Roca beginning eleven months in advance. When you are organizing your vacation, you should make your reservation as soon as possible so that you do not miss out on the opportunity.

The tourist department of Costa Brava had organized a full day’s worth of tastings for me the next day, and I couldn’t wait to get started. A visit to Masetplana, a vineyard and olive oil mill that has been producing high-quality goods continuously since 1826, was the first item on the itinerary. The residence known as Masetplana may be found in the quaint community of Garriguella. If you don’t keep your eyes open, you may not see the settlement.

During our tour of the factory, I got an education on how wine and olive oil are made, as well as the evolution of the procedures that have been used over the years. They only produce around 16,000 bottles of wine each year, thus their output is regarded to be on the low end. Since they are a family-owned company, this is not surprising. The majority of the bottles are sold in the city of Girona as well as in Barcelona. The majority of the grapes produced by the vineyard are sold to other vineyards since the quantity produced is sufficient to fill 400,000 bottles of wine.

In addition, Masetplana uses more than one million kilograms worth of olives every year in the production of their premium olive oils.

They are able to place a significant amount of emphasis on quality since they maintain a production level that is relatively modest.

The tastings come at the end of the trip, and they are everyone’s favorite part.

When you taste one of Masetplana’s goods, it quickly becomes clear that the company is more than simply a company; rather, it is a heritage.

If you are going on a road trip, Masetplana would be a perfect place to stop so that you can stock up on wines and olive oils to take with you when you get back home.

Following that, a visit to the El Parral Agrobodega in Capmany for some lunch. El Parral is a cooperative that displays the finest things that the area has to offer.

To begin, as soon as I had taken a seat, the kind waiter brought me a glass of vermouth that had been drawn from from one of the barrels that adorned the rear wall.

While I was sipping, he prepared a charcuterie board for me and poured me glasses of many of his favorite wines to go with it. They were as follows:

This is my vision of the ideal lunch, regardless of how much I like elaborate brunches, dinners with tasting courses, picky foods, and other comparable experiences. If you give me some bread, some local meats and cheeses, many glasses of wine, and a little bit of time, I’ll be in my happy place.

This simple meal truly was amazing, and it did a fantastic job of showcasing the local products that are available in the area. As you go across the neighborhood, you shouldn’t forget to schedule a lunch break at this restaurant.

Before I departed, I went to the vineyard next door to the agrobodega to investigate the origin of one of the wines that I had consumed over lunch. I was curious about how the wine had been prepared.

Another winery that is owned and operated by a family is the Arché Pagès Wine Cellar. When I visited the property, the current owner gave me on a tour, and while we were there, we came upon his father checking on the grapes in the vineyard.

I had a wonderful day seeing the plant as well as the surrounding fields, and we were even given the opportunity to sample wines from many barrels that were still in the process of aging:

According to the proprietor, Archè Pagès has been cultivating grapes since 1894 and now produces something in the neighborhood of 70,000 bottles of wine annually.

Their wines, particularly the reds, which were my favorites, impressed me with their level of complexity.

The next morning, which would be my last in the city, I awoke with real regret that I would soon be leaving the region. I found that I couldn’t stop thinking about Costa Brava. ((With all of these incredible delicacies and beverages, is there really anybody who is surprised?))

I finished packing my things and set off in the direction of Barcelona, where I needed to drop off the rental vehicle and check in for my flight.

Because it was a late flight, I had the whole afternoon free to make my way back to the airport at a leisurely pace. There was one more stop on the itinerary for me to make, and that was a trip to the Mas Vida Winery in Cistella.

I had some problem locating Mas Vida due to its location on the outside of the city; nevertheless, once I did, I discovered that it was well worth the effort.

Mas Vida is another another vineyard and olive oil mill that has been in the same family for several generations and is focused on producing high-quality goods despite its tiny output. (I feel like we’re seeing a trend here!)

This time I was able to speak with Adriana, the store’s owner. It was the first time that I had ever been to a winery that was owned by a woman, and I thought that it was pretty cool. She went on to tell me that the company had been her father’s passion project in the beginning, but that it has now evolved into another legacy business that she is just as enthusiastic about.

When I arrived, there was a warm greeting and a delightful surprise waiting for me:

After grabbing some glasses, we set out to tour the grounds of the vineyard, and Adriana filled me in on the manufacturing process as we went. The gradual transition of the vineyard into an organically run enterprise has received a significant amount of focus and attention.

Following our inspection of the plants and our tasting of grapes picked directly from the vines, we went back inside to crack open some bottles.

To complement the wines, the wonderful hostess Adriana had arranged for a regional herb cheese to be created by one of her neighbors as well as a freshly prepared paté that was covered in goose fat.

When you are making plans to visit Costa Brava, you should most certainly include a stop at Mas Vida on your itinerary. Not only did you get to experience a day that was perfect in every way (excellent weather, excellent food, and excellent wines), but you also got to spend time out on the vineyard and learn about the process.

Speaking of the passage of time, as I was leaving Mas Vida, I realized that the moment had come for me to go visit the Salvador Dali Museum in Figueres, which is something I’ve always wanted to do. Although it was a little out of the way, I had the time to do it.

Even though I’ve been to Spain quite a few times, I’ve never gone to the Salvador Dali Museum in spite of the fact that he has always been one of my all-time favorite painters. On this trip, I was planning to do things differently.

Even before I went inside, I was fascinated by the museum for a number of reasons:

As soon as you entered, the museum far beyond any and all expectations. Even though I didn’t have time to take a tour with a guide, it was a great experience to just stroll around and gaze at his paintings from different periods of his life.

But his work that was hanging on the walls wasn’t the only thing that was so beautiful — have a look at this ceiling:

As I was leaving the museum, Adriana from Mas Vida suggested that I have lunch at Bocam, a restaurant that was located nearby the museum and was highly rated by Adriana. If you ever find yourself in the area, you should definitely check out Bocam. The restaurant had a sophisticated atmosphere yet was within my price range, so I thought the value was excellent.

This was the second time on this trip that I had pig’s feet, and this time I had them as part of a unique spin on the classic surf and turf dish, which consisted of grilled octopus and pig’s feet.

I would never have thought to combine these proteins in one meal, but not only did it turn out delicious, but it also turned out to be a successful combination. I really loved this dish. 10 out of 10, if you have the opportunity, you should definitely go to Bocam.

I made my way back to Barcelona, returned the rental vehicle, and checked in for my flight, certain that I would visit Costa Brava again in the future to learn more about its culture and landscape. This one-week introduction was more than enough to convince me that I need to see more.

What part of my visit to Costa Brava looked best to you? Have you ever visited the region yourself? Let me know in  the comments section below!

Disclaimer: I would like to thank the Costa Brava Tourism Department for hosting me for much of my trip during my visit. All opinions remain my own, as usual. 


Is it worth going to Costa Brava?

One of the most breathtaking and wild-looking coasts you’ll ever come across is the Costa Brava, which is located in the Catalonia area of Spain. It’s possible you haven’t heard of this spot, but if you’ve ever looked at photographs of beaches in Spain, there’s a good chance you’ve seen it before. It’s a beach located in the province of Girona in the Catalan region.

What is Costa Brava known for?

The beautiful length of Catalonian coastline known as the Costa Brava can be found running all the way from the border with France in the north to the town of Blanes in the south. This scenic area of Spain attracts a large number of tourists because to its abundance of craggy coves, ancient towns, sandy beaches, vineyards, and works by Salvador Dal.

How do I spend a day in Costa Brava?

During a day trip to Costa Brava, you may, amongst other things, check out the town’s beach, go to some of the museums, and sample some of the local seafood. A day excursion to the Costa Brava would take you anything from 12 to 16 hours to complete. La Fabrica and Far Nomo are two of the most highly recommended restaurants in the Costa Brava area.

How many days do you need in Costa Brava?

The majority of tourists will find that seven to nine days is the ideal amount of time for a well-paced vacation to Spain that includes visits to both Barcelona and the Costa Brava. If you don’t mind moving quickly from place to place, you may see the most important sights in only five or six days.

How do you get around Costa Brava?

When you get to Costa Brava, the best way to see the countryside is by renting a vehicle since there are a lot of beaches and hiking regions that aren’t served by public transportation. Car rentals may be found in all three of these cities (Barcelona, Girona, and Figueres), in addition to a good number of the villages that are located along the coast. You also have the option of booking private tours and transportation, if that better suits your needs.