Sun, sand, sangria.  The Costa Brava is famous (or infamous depending on your view) for all of these things thanks to the influx of mass tourism into coastal towns like Lloret de Mar.  Away from the crowds, however, is the quieter and rural Costa Brava countryside full of charming villages and friendly people.  Although fairly close to the major party towns, the countryside and the little towns of the Emporda region of the Costa Brava feel a world apart.

rural beauty on the Costa Brava countryside of Spain

Emporda is a historical region in the interior of Costa Brava which is full of  medieval architecture. The charming villages are postcard perfect.  Some of the places we visited were the castle-palace of the Bishop Prince of Girona in Bisbal, Gala Dali’s (wife of local hero Salvador) home in Pubol, the charming reconstructed town of Pals and the Iberian ruins of Ullastret dating from 400 B.C..  We didn’t get to it but there is a Dali museum in the town of Figueres.

Known as the Catalan Tuscany, Emporda’s landscape is dotted with rice fields, olive groves, apple groves, vineyards and medieval villages.  This area, nestled between the mountains and the sea, has historically been a fertile and rich land.  Unlike the Italian Tuscany though, Emporda is still off the mainstream tourist path. It’s very easy to escape city life and feel like you’ve settled into the Costa Brava countryside like a local.

You can really get into the bucolic ideal by renting a cottage or doing a farm stay.  Don’t worry, there are also charming boutique hotels if you prefer some luxury for your rustic getaway. For example, Castell d’Emporda is a restored Catalan castle which is now a boutique hotel.  El Moli de Siurana seems a hybrid of the boutique hotel/farmhouse option.  In any event, you will not be lacking for accommodation choices!

The Costa Brava Countryside

As you can see the towns are close to each other.  The best thing to do is to either drive or cycle from town to town.  When you are tired stop off for some simple but delicious cuisine.  Live like the locals on fresh bread, tomatoes, olive oil, aioli and, of course, wine.

The Costa Brava Countryside

Fresh bread which is perfect for an impromptu picnic.

The Costa Brava Countryside

Delicious aioli made with fresh garlic in a stone mortar which looks like it has had lots of use.

Photo Gallery of the Costa Brava Countryside

The Costa Brava Countryside

The bridge over the River Daro built in the early 17th century.

The Costa Brava Countryside

A an idyllic farmhouse stay with a private swimming pool.

costa brava countryside

The view from the turret of a castle.

The Costa Brava Countryside

Beautiful old stone work arches provide shade from the sun.

The Costa Brava Countryside

You almost feel like you have stepped back in time at these beautiful old medieval villages.

The Costa Brava Countryside

My burricleta served me well.

Costa Brava Countryside

Colorful flowers in an old bucket adds to the beauty of the aged stone.

The Costa Brava Countryside

Flowers piling out of a windowsill match the faded colours of the stone.

The Costa Brava Countryside

Every village no matter how small seemed to have a church.

The Costa Brava Countryside

A field of poppies – simply stunning. This reminded me completely of The Wizard of Oz.

The Costa Brava Countryside

Two paths diverged in a field. Which one would be an easier cycle ride??

Costa Brava Countryside

The Catalan flag flies proudly all over the Costa Brava.

The Costa Brava Countryside

I loved the colours of the buildings.

The Costa Brava Countryside

What the photo doesn’t show is that this lane was heavy with the scent of orange blossom.

The Costa Brava Countryside

There are ruins and castles dotted throughout the countryside perfect for active children to explore.

Costa Brava countryside

Many of the farmhouses have these towers where the family could hole up for safety in case of invading marauders.

Getting to the Costa Brava Countryside

The Costa Brava countryside is easily accessible.  Luckily, there are two airports that serve the area (Girona and Barcelona).  The Girona airport is served by many low-cost carriers including Ryanair.  We flew into Barcelona because it has more flight options.  For some of our trip, we had a car rental.  Alternatively, you can use an airport transfer service from either airport, such as Atlas Transfers.

Once you are settled into your accommodation, I would suggest you bike around the countryside.  If that sounds like too much excerise, there are burricletos (bicycles with engines) that will help you cruise the countryside with ease. Warning:  The countryside looks pretty flat from the car but not so flat when you are actually cycling it!!  For suggested itineraries, the Emporda tourism office has handy tour routes of its 250 kilometres of bike paths.

This post is linked up with Photo Friday, Travel Photo Thursday and Weekend Wanderlust.

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