The region of Costa Brava is teeming with unique cultural attractions.
Starting with the incredible ancient history and ruins of the region, stretching into medieval times with pristine examples of Romanesque art and fantastic architecture still intact.
The cultural experiences available range from museums and art galleries, to pottery and handicraft workshops, to sea side restaurants and delicious Costa Brava “marisc” (seafood). From the Salvador Dalí house & museum to local wine & produce delivered directly to your table, the cultural side of Costa Brava awaits.
Here is our cultural guide for the Costa Brava in Spain:
Sant Pol Campground in Sant Feliu de Guíxols
Our cultural journey of Costa Brava begins at the Sant Pol campground in Sant Feliu de Guíxols. This is not the style of camping you may expect.
We stayed in amazing circular apartment style buildings comfortably sleeping four and perfect for families. This unique circular accommodation is right on site in the Sant Pol campground close to the restaurant, pool, reception and small shop all conveniently located to provide the maximum service quality while camping in Costa Brava.
Sant Pol was the perfect place to start our trip.
Girona City and Cultural Capital
From Sant Pol campground we drove into the city of Girona, the cultural capital of the Costa Brava region.
Girona is an urban center and can be easily accessed by its international airport or high speed train connections from Barcelona and Madrid. The city has a population of roughly 100 thousand and plays host to many festivals and events throughout the year.
It is bustling with cafes and restaurants, and is home to an impressive medieval old town as well as Jewish quarter. Upon our arrival we met up with a local guide and went on a walking tour through the city.
Girona has gained international attention for being one of the filming sites of the massively popular Game of Thrones series. The old town especially has daily GOT (Game of Thrones) tours that run through all of the sites seen in the series. It is very popular and many people travel to Girona just for this reason. I bet that once there though they are pleasantly surprised by all the other cultural attractions the city has to offer.
Our walking tour of the city included the German Gardens, many parts of the old town, and some fantastic views over the city from the top of the old walls. We also gained a better understanding of the history and importance of the cities’ location being at the confluence of the rivers Ter, Onyar, Galligants, and Güell.
Overall it was a fantastic introduction to the cultural vibrancy of the Costa Brava region.
Incredible Handicrafts and Interactive Creative Tourism Experience
From Girona city we drove into the country side of Costa Brava to the town of La Bisbal d’Empordà. La Bisbal d’Empordà is famous for handmade pottery manufacturing and upon arrival we were treated to a workshop in the factory of Ceràmiques Yuma.
The Yuma ceramics factory is a wonderful location to participate in this cultural handicraft. We were greeted by Francesc, the master potter, who introduced us to his studio and workshop. We also got the opportunity to partake in making some of our very own pottery.
The experience in La Bisbal d’Empordà is a unique chance to meet locals and immerse yourself in a creative and fun cultural activity. The pottery making in Ceràmiques Yuma is a special art and a great example of shaping local ingredients into a fantastic finished product and something to be proud of. The pottery and ceramics handicraft is an important cultural heritage, and current day tradition within Costa Brava. We highly suggest you sign up for one of the workshops during your visit.
From La Bisbal d’Empordà we drove further into the surrounding countryside to meet up with the team at Burricleta as part of our Activities adventure in the region.
Mediaeval Villages & Biking Adventures Through History
The plan with Burricleta was to go on an E-Bike adventure to the nearby mediaeval town of Peratallada. As seen in the Travel Dudes Costa Brava Activities article linked above, Peratallada has a history dating back well over one thousand years. The town is a historic masterpiece and was literally carved from the stone it sits upon. The fortified Peratallada is a maze of wonderfully restored and still somewhat raw middle-aged houses. It is a cultural gem of the Empordà region.
The cultural significance of Peratallada is in the history of the village and at its core is the (still to this day) privately owned castle at Plaça Major, as well as the 13th century Romanesque church dedicated to saint Stephen. The town hosts everything from mediaeval festivals and handicraft workshops to boutique hotels and wonderful shops. You can find craft beer, cute cafes, delicious restaurants and overall a bustling tourist economy.
Peratallada is the perfect medieval village and a great example of Costa Brava’s culture heritage.
Salvador Dalí – All Things Strange & Wonderful
From the medieval villages and countryside of Empordà we drove north to the wonderful seaside town of Cadaqués, home of Salvador Dalí.
Salvador Dalí was a famous painter and artist throughout the 20th century who resided for the better part of his life in the Costa Brava region. The main museum hosting a large array of some of his best works is located in Figueres, however, on this day, we were on route to another Salvador Dalí museum in the region his remote home near the coastal town of Cadaqués.
The Salvador Dalí home is a magnificent look into the private life of the famed painter. Actually located in Portlligat (just 5min drive from Cadaqués) the home is a strange mix of many different rooms joined together by narrow corridors and hallways.
The home was Dalí’s only stable residence where he lived and worked alongside his wife Gala for the better part of 50 years. In 1930 Dalí bought the original structure which likely resembled a small fisherman’s cottage. As an artist he immediately fell in love with the surrounding landscapes, the light, the remote and rugged coastline, and for the next 40 years (at least) he continued to build upon his fisherman’s cottage growing the structure into the strange piece of art installation it is today.
This quirky structure has been added upon and renovated continuously throughout the decades, and as Dalí’s life evolved so did his house. As we learned at the museum, Dalí would buy the other nearby cottages and one by one integrate them into his house, every new ‘room’ a new cell of his life. Thus all of the rooms are starkly different and have an incredible uniqueness to them all.
The guided tour of the home-museum is very popular and fills up fast (only 8 people allowed in every half hour, likely due to space requirements) so be sure to book your ticket in advance. It was a wonderful look into the life of Salvador Dalí and his eccentric and narcissistic influences.
We highly recommend the tour of the house next time you visit Costa Brava.
Cultural Cuisine in Sant Feliu de Guíxols
From Dalí’s house we then drove south to the small seaside village of Sant Feliu de Guíxols. There, right at the harbour, is an absolutely delicious seafood restaurant called Sa Marinada. Now even though it’s not covered in this video, be sure to check out the Costa Brava Gastronomy video and article for more on the wide array of amazing dining experiences the region has to offer.
Sa Marinada itself serves up unique seafood dishes matched with the perfect local wines and all in an incredible location along the coast. As you all know food and wine is an integral part of all European culture and the Costa Brava is no different.
The specialties in Costa Brava are definitely seafood and wine with locally grown varietal grapes such as Syrah, Garnacha, Cabernet Sauvignon, Picapoll and Malvasía. At the Sa Marinada restaurant specifically the dishes are based on the Mediterranean diet, inspired by traditional recipes with a modern touch. They are always using fresh and local ingredients to provide a fantastic culinary experience.
Cultural Conclusion – What a Trip!!!
Although we only got a small taste of the local food and wine it was absolutely delicious and goes to show that the Costa Brava has a strong and vibrant culture around it’s culinary dining experiences.
There is so much on offer that it may seem a little overwhelming at first, but focus on what it is you want to taste and discover and go from there. We also highly suggest to try the local cuisine if you’re in the area.
Overall the cultural activities and attractions within Costa Brava are fantastic. There is so much to see, learn, discover, and share. From the amazing history to the art and architecture, to the food and wine, landscapes and handicrafts. We only scratched the surface in this video & article, but we have also been able to provide quality insights on how to spend your time exploring the Costa Brava region and all of the cultural experiences on offer.
Travel tip shared by Greg Snell for Travel Dudes.