Regardless if you’re traveling from Barcelona or Perpignan, the biggest cities on Costa Brava aren’t far away. In a couple of hours, you can reach the picture-perfect area by car. One of the biggest issues for tourists is with local attractions, but there are plenty to consider even outside remote areas.
Costa Brava cities are generally small. Municipalities and villages of up to 10,000 people are the norms in the area. But there are larger cities to visit and to stay in as well. Here are the biggest municipalities you can’t miss while visiting Costa Brava.
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With a population of over 100,000 people, Girona is the biggest Costa Brava city. You can walk up the steps at the famous Girona Cathedral and continue your touristic journey down the Onyar River. Occasionally, you will bump into Game of Thrones groups of fans as the city was features in the 6th season of the popular TV series. However, you will need to walk high up the medieval walls of the city for the best views and photo locations.
The birthplace of Salvador Dali is in Figueres, a city with 46,000 inhabitants. While in the region, you can’t miss the Teatro Museo Dali. The Toy Museum of Catalonia is also here and it’s worth visiting for traveling families. La Rambla de Figueres is where you need to head out to find local shops and it may be a good alternative to the crowded La Ramble in Barcelona.
3. Lloret de Mar
Only 75km from Barcelona, Lloret de Mar is known for its picture-perfect beaches. Over 39,000 people call it home and it’s no wonder since it hosts some of the cleanest beaches in the region. Lloret beach is right within city limits and you can reach it from the city center by foot.
Among all the different things you can do in Lloret de Mar, its worth checking out Rally Costa Brava. This event host several important stages of the rally and it brings all types of classic and modern fast cars to the Costa Brava from around the country.
Blanes is a city of 38,000 inhabitants with plenty to offer. A perfect first stop in the town is at its Botanical Garden. You’ll find more than 4,000 plant species here which are mostly native to the Catalan area.
The city is also known as ‘The Gateway to Costa Brava’ as many tourist find accommodation here when visiting the Spanish region. If you’re in Blanes during the summer, you can also see one of the biggest fireworks displays in Europe during the Concurs de Focs d’Artifici festival.
Right in the provence of Girona, you can find Palafrugell, a coastal city with 22.800 inhabitants. It is one of the area’s towns for both Spanish and international tourists. Apart from its location on the coast, it also attracts visitors due to its Medieval architecture. Once fortified, the city still looks charming with its narrow streets and historic architecture.
Traveling to Palafrugell is not complicated either. You can link it to other towns to visit on your Costa Brava tour. Local buses operate frequently between Palafrugell and neighbouring cities.
6. Sant Feliu de Guíxols
The city with a population of over 20,000 is a must-see Costa Brava municipality if you love history and culture. It was named after a local martyred saint and today, it hosts a unique monastery right in the middle of the city.
If you like to see local architecture that is well preserved and which is mostly overlooked by Spain’s tourists you can also stop by Casino la Constancia built in 1888 by General Guitart. Theatre and music is also celebrated in the town. It even host the growing international festival of The Porta Ferrada.
With a population of 19,000, Roses has an interesting and highly debated history. Many believe it was founded by Greek colonists from Rhodes. The town was popular for fishing but it also faced a lot of adversity in history, especially from North Africa.
As a result, locals build large fortifications as defense systems. Some of these fortifications survived to this day and they can be visited when you’re in the city. Castell de la Trinitat is the most popular fortification you can visit in Roses. It sits high above the city streets and it also offers excellent views over the Gulf of Roses.
The city of Palamos has a population of over 17,000. Sailing and windsurfing is what it’s all about in Palamos. On a regular day, you can see hundreds of small motorized boats in Palamos and it can be a spectacle just look at them and taking a few quick photos.
If you’re a fan of clear blue waters, Palamos is also the place to be. Its large by Costa Brava standards but not as large as some of the biggest cities on this list which makes it a bit more relaxed and tourist-free.
Seen as a commuting town for those working in Girona, Banyoles is a city with a population of 17,500 people. Lake Banyoles is its most popular attraction as it even hosted the rowing stage of the 1992 Olympic Games.
If you like surfing or kayaking, it might just be the only city in Costa Brava you need to visit. Once there, you can even speak English with fellow travelers as there are plenty of international rowers training on the lake for months in a row.
10. Castell-Platja d’Aro
With a population of just over 10,000 people, the city is located in the middle of the Costa Brava region. It’s best to rent a car to reach the small municipality as its only 80km away from Barcelona.
It was founded as a fishing village. But today, it’s the area where many Catalans prefer to spend their weekends. Plaja d’Aro is one of the popular spots for travelers. Since its small, the city is also walkable and you don’t need to drive once you arrive. You can even check out local restaurants and cafes simply by walking around the main street.
Overview of the top 10 biggest cities on the costa brava
|3||Lloret de Mar||39,000|
|6||Sant Feliu de Guíxols||20,000|