Calella de Palafrugell; a seaside jewel on the Costa Brava in Spain

 

Section of beach in Calella de Palafrugell, Spain

We spent about 9 weeks, 4 of them in Calella de Palafrugell, on the Costa Brava in less than a year. We 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. It  has charming restaurants with good food, 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.

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.

Cap Roig Botanical Gardens, Costa Brava, Spain

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 when they announce the acts and ticket prices for 2015,

Calella de Palafrugell at night

Restaurants are not inexpensive and you need reservations in season. As in 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. (Defibrillators extra.)

Breakfast in Calella de Palafrugell

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.

Walk from beach in Calella de Palafrugell to Llfranc,

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.

boy jumping off rock into ocean on the Costa Brava in Spain

At least he wasn’t smoking a cigarette while he did it!

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.

The road into Calella de Palafrugell, Spain

The main way into town in Calella de Palafrugell – be careful if you’re a driving or walking – amazing automotive feats abound!

 

Comments

  1. says

    You really were fortunate to have not only done a home exchange but in such a lovely town. We have fond memories of staying in that area many years ago when the children still wanted to travel with us and we all had such a great time and yes the walk between Calella De Palafrugell and Llfranc is a delight.

    Cheers

    Brian

    • says

      I want to try the HomeExchange50plus site! I think that might help with not having so many people who want to bring small children to stay at my place. It isn’t suitable for them and I say that in the listing but everyone writes to say that their children are the exception and they get very testy about it! We were not only fortunate to get this place but the same couple also threw their home in Madrid into the deal for a few days at the end! Thanks for stopping by.

    • says

      Oh we do too! The more you travel the more you want to travel and there’s goes my retirement money! Oh well – better to have fun than spend it on a nursing home someday!

  2. says

    Calella de Palafrugell looks lovely — that restaurant night scene is especially inviting ( especially with calamari on the menu) . We spent some time in Nerja on the coast of Spain but I’ll have to check a map to see if it’s at all nearby

    • says

      We used HomeExchange. Do a search on my site on “home exchange” and you’ll see some things I wished I’d known first! I’d do it again though but I’d be a little smarter (or so I think).

  3. says

    that is the good life in Spain, not so crazy busy like the Costa Del Sol, need to spend more time there next time I’m in Spain.

    • says

      It’s so much nicer than the Costa del Sol – not all built up with condos. Twenty years ago I love the Costa del Sol but the last time I was there I had no interest in ever returning.

  4. says

    “A disgusted man leaned out a window and told a woman off in language we desperately wished we could understand.”

    This cracks me up because it is exactly what I would be thinking in the same situation. :)

  5. says

    Calella de Palafrugell looks beautiful. I enjoyed reading about your experience. My sister has done several home exchanges in Europe. Last summer I joined her in Barcelona. It is a great way to arrange accommodations.

    • says

      The internet issue was a massive bummer as I was doing marketing consulting at the time and had reassured my client many times that I would be reachable on email and I wasn’t. But if I can try to forget about that it was a fabulous place!

  6. says

    To answer a question asked above, Nerja is a town on the Costa del Sol south of Granada. On our first trip together, my husband and I visited Spain in 1981 and Nerja was on our itinerary. I suspect it has changed in the last 33 years. (Damn, we are old). We still need to visit the Costa Brava. (The sea looks so blue in your photo.) We’ve only been to Barcelona.

  7. says

    Happy memories of travelling to Spain with my family as a child –
    Laughed at the photo of the boy jumping off the rock – he may not be smoking but I’m not sure whether you’ve caught the other one relieving himself LOL

  8. says

    I enjoyed your photos of Calella de Palafrugell. My sister has done several home exchanges. Last summer I joined here in Barcelona. It’s a wonderful way to travel.

    • says

      Thanks for stopping by and I’m glad you enjoyed the article! I need to get organized on planning a home exchange for next summer – time sure gets away from me!

  9. says

    I absolutely love home exchange. Sounds like you had a few “downsides” on the housing side, but the location looks absolutely charming and gorgeous. Excellent and informative post. I would certainly add this to my travel list. Thanks!

    • says

      We had a few downsides to be sure but on the plus side we got to know a wonderful family – the ones we exchanged with – so in the end I don’t regret if but learned a lot about doing future home exchanges!

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