The Costa Brava is a beautifully rugged region of Catalonia in northeast Spain. It stretches along 124 miles of Spain’s Mediterranean coast from the French border down as far as Blanes, which is around 40 miles from Barcelona. I’ve visited the area as a guest of the Costa Brava Tourist Board, first on a BritMums parent blogger trip with my daughter, and then with my family.
My family and I stayed in Platja D’Aro which, along with several other resorts, has been awarded the Catalan tourist board’s Family Tourist Destination seal, in recognition of their high quality family offering. The region is an excellent destination for a family trip, and you definitely won’t run out of things to do there. Here’s my pick of some of the great things to do with kids in the Costa Brava.
The creation of human towers is a particular Catalan tradition, and is incredible to see. We saw a human tower group rehearsing on the steps of Girona cathedral and it was hard to watch, but amazing. You can find out what it was like in my post Human towers in Girona.
If you’re feeling adventurous, head for Parc Aventura, just along the coast from Sant Feliu de Guixols. We braved the high ropes and zip wires when we were there, but the park also offers paintballing, canyoning, caving, climbing and archery.
Find our more in my post about our trip to Parc Aventura.
The Windoor wind tunnel in Empuriabrava is one of the top places in Europe for skydiving. The wind tunnel is used by professional skydivers for training and is also open to visitors, including children. My daughter and I loved our experience of skydiving there.
Palamós is the Costa Brava’s main fishing port, and its excellent fish museum offers a fascinating Fish Tour, which we went on. We stood on the quayside as fisherman unloaded their catch, then watched the fish auction, popped in to the fish market and ended up in a fish cooking class upstairs. Find out more in my post about the fish tour and cooking class in Palamós.
Visit local food and wine producers
The Costa Brava produces some excellent food and wine, and many producers open their doors to visitors. Besides our cooking experience at the Fish Museum (above) we helped to make pumpkin jam at Les Eroles farmhouse and toured the historic Masia Can Molla vineyard.
Artist Salvador Dalí spent most of his life on the Costa Brava. The largest collection of his work in the world is on display in Figueres at the Dalí Theatre Museum, and I went there with my daughter on our blogger trip. It’s definitely a child-friendly museum, and the kids were engaged by the exhibits. You can also visit the artist’s house and studio in Port Lligat. Read more about our visit in my post Dalí and the Costa Brava.
I loved exploring Girona. We were there for just a day, but it’s definitely somewhere which I’d like to go back to (possibly without kids). The city has a pedestrianised medieval centre, a wedding cake cathedral, some stern defensive walls, a bridge designed by Eiffel, an ancient Jewish quarter which has been absorbed into its fabric, and lots of welcoming bars and quirky corners. Girona is now a set-jetting destination, as it was used for filming Game of Thrones last year (I still haven’t watched GoT, apart from a poor parenting experience in Dubrovnik).
Take a boat trip to enjoy the rugged coastline. We went on a sunny catamaran cruise from Roses along the coast of the Cap de Creus nature reserve – a third of the Costa Brava is a protected nature reserve where no building is allowed. When we dropped anchor in a sheltered bay, the crew cooked up paella for lunch for everybody. Find out more in my post on Cap de Creus by catamaran.
The Camí de Ronda is a coastal path which goes along 43 kms of the Costa Brava from Sant Feliu de Guixols to Begur. My husband and I walked a small part of it early one sunny morning from our hotel, and it was beautiful. It was very easy walking and would be fine with kids, although not with buggies. There’s also a 143 km circular route which takes in the coastal path and goes inland to Girona.
Blogger Nadine Hill and her family were staying in the Costa Brava at the same time as us, and they had a great time on a segway tour one day. You can read all about it on Nadine’s website, JuggleMum.
This sounds perfect if you want to explore by bike but your kids are to small to keep up with you. Blogger Marianne Weekes enjoyed a family excursion on the Costa Brava on electric bikes. You can find out how it went on Marianne’s website Mari’s World.
A day at a water park is something which my whole family enjoys, at the same time, and together – an increasingly rare occurrence as the kids get older. The water parks were closed when we visited in October, but there was one near our hotel which we’d definitely check out if we were there in summer: Aqua Diver. There are also two other water parks in the region, Aqua Brava and Water World. More details here.
Go to Bésalu
Bésalu is a handsome medieval walled town in the hills around 30 minutes drive from Girona. It’s a great place to just wander and see what you can see. When we visited we went to see a twelfth century Jewish bathhouse and also Micromundi, a museum with astonishing miniature creations which are so teeny tiny that you have to view them with a magnifying glass.
Blue Flag beaches
The Costa Brava has some of Europe’s best Blue Flag beaches, so you can be sure that you’ll find a clean and safe place there for your kids to swim and play. (The internationally-recognised Blue Flag scheme tells you that a beach meets stringent environmental and safety criteria.)
The Costa Brava isn’t just the coast – it also encompasses the foothills of the Pyrenees. Vall de Nuria snow park is a mountain playground in the Costa Brava which the whole family can enjoy. Blogger Kirstie Pelling went there with her family on a winter trip. You can read their review on their blog The Family Adventure Project.
There are fascinating festivals throughout the year in this part of Catalonia. There’s Carnival in February, Easter is a big deal, local Saints days are celebrated, there’s a flower festival in Girona in May, and many more. If you’re going, check the local tourist board website to see what’s coming up.
If your kids enjoy shopping (my daughter does) Espai Gironès is a designer shopping outlet on the outskirts of Girona which offers brands such as Mango, Zara, Kiko and Biba. There are also local markets throughout the area – check with tourist information for details.
It’s easy to get the Costa Brava from the UK, with direct flights to both Girona and Barcelona airports from London and from regional airports. When we visited in October we flew from London Gatwick to Barcelona, then picked up a hire car at the airport to drive to our hotel on the coast.
More on the Costa Brava
Over to you
Have you been to the Costa Brava? Is it somewhere that you’d like to go? Let me know if you have any questions about this post, and I’ll do my best to answer you.