We spent about 9 weeks on the Costa Brava in less than a year and explored, and were charmed by, many of the seaside towns. Our favorite was Calella de Palafrugell. It’s understated posh (meaning people who are there must have money but don’t flaunt it), small and so easy to navigate that even Brunette could kind of find her way around after 3 weeks, has nice restaurants, beautiful summer weather, fun shopping and a beach.
We were fortunate enough to have done a home exchange with a family who had a summer place in Calella De Palafrugell. The pluses were having lots of space, a deck we could sit on and see the Mediterranean, no lodging costs and a kitchen so we could save some money and time by not having to eat every meal in a restaurant.
The minuses were no wi-fi, no TV, sporadic hot water, no air conditioning and, as required by some EU treaty we have not yet read, no screens for the windows. What is it with the no screens thing in Europe?
Anyway, enough about our suffering. The point really is that this is a town that does not have a lot of hotels so renting an apartment might be a good move if you plan to spend more than a few days.
Barely 10 minutes from town are the Cap Roig Botanical Gardens. We have a recurring death wish which is evidenced by our always going on a long walk at noon in hot sun or, in this case, to gardens mid-afternoon on a stingingly hot day. Be smarter than we were (not too difficult) and wear a hat and sunscreen.
The gardens have lovely walks and sea views looking down over the beaches and the town of Calella de Palafrugell. They also host an annual summer outdoor music festival that runs from the beginning of July to mid-August. Check here to see the acts for 2014 and ticket prices.
Restaurants are not inexpensive and you need reservations in season. Much like many resort towns the better food is often not found along the seafront where you are paying for the view and the food is sort of thrown in as an after-thought. Contradicting that entirely, we had a fabulous dinner at Tragamar (best thin sliced calamari ever), memorable lunches twice at the Eden Roc Hotel which has a lip-licking prix fixe selection complete with a view from the hill overlooking the beach and Xabec, a tucked away gem in town (have the sole).
In the morning we would walk down the main drag into town and have the Heart Society recommended chocolate croissants and cappuccino.
You can easily, if you’re in even semi-OK shape, walk along a curving, seaside path from Calella De Palafrugell to Llfranc. It probably took us about 20 minutes to get from one place to the other. Llfranc is rumored to be the home to many of the wealthiest vacationers in Spain as well as the gelato destination of choice for two American travel-blogging sisters.
We merrily snorted gelat0 through our noses as we engaged in people watching. A disgusted man leaned out a window and told a woman off in language we desperately wished we could understand. She was unimpressed. Breasts, ranging from ho hum to vava boom and original issue to purchased, were in 3-D display on the beach. Little boys threw themselves off rocks into the sea and seemed to mostly survive.
Even though we’d been in Calella de Palafrugell for weeks we were somehow amazed to realize that we “already” had to leave and set off on the rest of our journey. It was time for one last walk down the hill for breakfast and then to pack our car and lurch away to our next destination – Valencia.
If you want a place to just enjoy or a base for exploring the Costa Brava you really can’t go wrong with Calella de Palafrugell.