Barcelona is a pretty amazing city. But one of the best things about living in Barcelona is being able to venture OUT of the city from time to time and explore the magnificent coastline.
Costa Brava is a region on the coast of Catalonia in northern Spain. It’s well known for its beautiful beaches and rugged landscape (hence the name: Costa Brava. “Brava,” as it relates to geology, means “rugged” or “rough” in Spanish).
There is so much to see and do in Costa Brava…If you can, I suggest renting a car and spending at least a week exploring the coastline (something which I have yet to do myself).
But if you don’t have much time or just want to get out of Barcelona for a day, there are some quick and easy day trips that you can take too. Yesterday, I did one of them.
I spent the day in Tossa de Mar and Lloret de Mar, two towns a 20-minute drive away from one another.
How to Get to Lloret de Mar and Tossa de Mar
To get there, I took the bus from Barcelona with a friend. Our trip was organized through her language school, which made things easy. But there are a lot of busses running from Barcelona Nord station, which run pretty much every hour.
You could also catch a ride with someone via BlaBlaCar (where you can share rides with drivers headed where you’re going and pay for a share of the gasoline). It’s often cheaper and faster than public transportation. I’ve used this several times (in France and Brazil) and had only positive experiences.
The bus from Barcelona to Tossa de Mar takes about an hour and a half without traffic. But we went on a Saturday morning (leaving at 10:30AM) and ran into a bit of traffic towards the end of our trip. So the whole trip ended up taking about two hours.
What to do in Tossa de Mar
We spent the afternoon exploring the town of Tossa de Mar, a walled-off medieval town and ancient fisherman’s village that incredibly charming albeit completely overrun with tourists.
The narrow, cobblestoned streets are lined with little shops and restaurants, leading up to a massive 12th-century castle that sits atop a hill overlooking the adjacent beach and coastline.
Lots of photo-ops. While there, you’ll definitely want to check out the neighboring beaches. My friend and I hopped on a boat (from the main beach), which cost 10 euros round trip. It took about 40 minutes to get to the beach and 30 minutes back.
We did a bit of sightseeing on the way there, stopping in caves on the way:
And then, we arrived at our destination…
Super crowded…but beats Barcelona beaches by a landslide. We stayed there for about an hour before heading back to the main beach at Tossa de Mar.
Shortly after, we hopped on the bus to our next destination: Lloret de Mar.
What to see in Lloret de Mar
I gotta admit: I had high expectations about this place and was a bit disappointed overall. Lloret de Mar is known for its nightlife, so there are some trashy-looking discotecas all along the main strip. And the main beach is so overcrowded that there is barely anywhere to sit. My first impressions? Not so impressed.
But THEN we walked down a path (off the main beach) that led us to the other side of the hill. And the difference was like night and day. It was calm and peaceful. And just look at that view…
We walked down that path for a few minutes and then stumbled upon a multilevel outdoor and indoor bar/restaurant that overlooked the surrounding coastline.
Do yourself a favor, and end the day with a pitcher of sangria at this place…
Bottom line? If you’re in Barcelona during the warmer months, def pay a visit to both of these places (especially Tossa De Mar). It’s a super easy day trip from the city, and the beaches are 100x times better than Barcelona beaches.
Have you been to Lloret de Mar or Tossa De Mar? What did you think?