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.
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!
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.
Photo Gallery of the Costa Brava Countryside
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.
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