Ok, I’ll be honest, when my friends asked me to join them for their family vacation in Begur, Spain, I had no idea where it was. But, that didn’t stop me from saying yes. Having visited Ibiza and Barcelona before, I knew Spain had no shortages of beaches, great food, and summering on any coastline was up my alley. Begur seemed to be a bit of a mystery to even locals themselves; when we were picking up our rental car in Barcelona, the staff didn’t even know where Begur was! Pinterest also lacked any real travel guides and must sees so, for once I was flying a bit blind.
Lesson #1 - Costa Brava; is a coastal region of Catalonia in northeastern Spain - it stretches 60km long from Blanes all the way to France and is peppered with the cutest towns along the way. That’s where you’ll find Begur, a small medievil town that is home to 4,000 people year round but reaches upwards of 40,000 people in summer! They must be into beaches and tapas too…
How to get there & get around
A car is a must - I know you might think cute small towns deserved to be explored on foot, but being right along the coast you’re facing a plethora of peaks and valleys and for your day excursions to all the beaches, wheels will be needed. We flew into Barcelona and picked up a vehicle there, and made it to Begur in about 1.5 hours.
Where to stay
We found accommodations on VRBO and lucked out at a villa just a few minutes walk from the town center! It made it easier to go back and forth throughout the day for either an Aperol Spritz by the pool or a siesta. I’ll say, the pool was a game changer and on the days where it was 35 degrees, it was the only way to survive. Coupled with outdoor dining and a perfect spot to read your book - the backyard was life goals for me.
Where to beach
There were no shortages of beaches to choose from but a few stuck out:
Platja de Sa Riera: The perfect amount of busy in my opinion. It offered enough of a crowd to create some ambiance but also didn’t require you do camp out a spot early in the day. Surrounded by stunning homes and little coves to explore - there was something for all ages including paddle boat rentals, umbrellas, tapas restaurants and a bar right on the beach. They even supplied full bottles of sunscreen for free!
Platja de l'Illa Roja: We hiked to this beach from Sa Riera, and I’m not exaggerating - we hiked up hill both ways - but it was well worth it. This was a longer beach than Sa Riera offered, so we enjoyed a bit more space and tackled (or got tackled!) some fun waves. Risk takers jumped off the surrounding cliffs; as for accident (bruise!) prone me, I watched nervously from afar.
Calella de Palafrugell: This town was about a 40 minute drive from Begur but was a cute spot to explore and grab lunch. It felt a bit more touristy than Begur as it had your standard beach and ocean flanked by restaurants and tapas bars. We ate at Calau - great pinxos, air conditioning and a million dollar view.
A few things to note for the beach - the sand is HOT. Like you’re walking on coals, char your feet hot. When the sand isn’t burning the soles of your feet you’re probably navigating through all the rocks. Bring an umbrella or 3 and set up shop for the day. Remember to keep re-applying sunscreen throughout the day, especially when you’re embracing the European ways and going nude - especially if your bottom hasn’t seen sunlight since you went nudie in your toddler backyard sprinkler days.
Where to eat & drink
El Jardi de Can Marc: After a random search online on Trip Advisor I came across this spot. Naturally getting a reservation before 8 was not a problem so it was a perfect place to end this magical trip. I don’t even know if I can show photos because nothing does it justice; the outdoor eating area was beautiful! Such a relaxed atmosphere with the bar outside, spacious seating and a view of the entire city. I couldn’t help but hope that they rent out this place for weddings because you would not need to add a thing. I made a reservation online so the sweet hostess purposely saved us the best spot (pre-planning sometimes pays off). Delicious tapas and great cocktails - a must visit!
Citric: This was the cutest bar we randomly stumbled upon one night and by stumbled upon I mean I saw a sign that said bar, twinkly lights and a lemon tree. I also assumed that they’d make a good marg and I was hankering for one. Run by two brothers this renovated house opened just last year and has the cutest vibe. I immediately wanted to invite everyone I knew and have an epic dance party. The service was great, cocktails were strong and they had a good selection of snacks. Awesome unique spot to check out on the unsuspecting side streets.
Other than a few meals out we were happy to cook at the villa and enjoy the house. There were no shortages of markets in town and groceries to shop for daily to get inspired. Basically anything that wasn’t too hot to cook inside and paired well with a local wine or spritz is what the villa served. Let’s be honest though, the Spain diet is basically charcuterie and gelato and I don’t think anyone was mad about it.
Another Lesson: Tipping is not expected and can often be met with a puzzled look. If you’re at a nicer restaurant you may leave 5-10% if it was exceptionally good.
Wine Tours: No shortage of vineyards in the Costa Brava region and a great way to spend an afternoon. Also cheap and cheerful with some costing 10-20 euro typically. We ended up at Mas Oller on a stiffling hot afternoon and the wine went down quickly. We ended up being the only ones there (maybe the heat put people off…), so it was our own private wine tour! The building dated back to the 1500s and you could actually still see the stone and branches used to build it. She was sturdy and provided much needed shade from the heat. We each left with a bottle and a buzz.
RENT A BOAT: This trip kick started my love of swimming again. I was lucky enough to spend Canada Day on a boat cruising the Mediterranean Sea and snorkeling for the first time! Surreal to say the least. The sea was so calm and peaceful. Seeing the coastline from a boat was amazing as we’d driven most of the roads and visited the beaches. The homes along the water too were incredible! As a kid I watched the movie Moon Spinners and it reminded me exactly of that setting; homes nestled into the cliffs hidden away from roads or beaches and little pocket coves to explore and perhaps hide out in. We hired a skipper for the day which was super relaxing and well worth it.
Pinterest should update their travel guides and put Begur as a must see. I’d definitely recommend visiting any part of the Costa Brava region but Begur will always hold a special place in my heart. Even though I fully embraced the Spanish look with my hoops and humid wavy hair, my Spanish pronunciation (probably due to some strong French and Italian accents creeping in) may need some work the next time I visit. And I sure hope there’s a next time.