Road Trip from Barcelona to Costa Brava – A Surreal Journey

Costa Brava literally means wild or rough coast. This beautiful region of Spain has seduced many with its turquoise waters, sandy beaches,  abundant sunshine and delicious coastal cuisine. Famous artists like Salvador Dali and Picasso took refuge among the quaint fishing villages by the coast and were drawn by its surreal landscape. So, of course we decided to follow their footsteps, and venture out from the chaos of the city for a day to explore the quieter towns and villages of Costa Brava.

 Roadtrip to costa bravaDid someone say ROAD TRIP…..Yippieeee!!

I love the road, it’s my happy place. Zipping through winding coastal roads and olive groves, watching herds of sheep grazing in farms while feeling the cool Mediterranean breeze on my face… Ahhhh! Pure bliss. It’s definitely the best way to see the countryside. We never give up an opportunity for a road trip, it gives us a chance to get all crazy – sing Bollywood songs, catch up on gossip, and talk about serious stuff like the true meaning of life, aliens, magic, elves and fairies…you get the point.

Girona SpainThe charming old town of Girona – look at all those colors

We picked up our rental car first thing in the morning from Barcelona and hit the road making our way north to the province of Girona. The old town of Girona is a quaint historic medieval town with roman influences about 45 minutes from Barcelona. Girona reminds us of the sun drenched towns in Tuscany, Italy. It’s a good contrast from the fast pace of Barcelona as everything seems to be moving in slow motion here. We parked our car across the river separating the old town from the new and explored the town on foot.

girona spain cathedralThe Cathedral


The most striking feature in the old town is the gigantic Cathedral de Santa Maria perched on a hill, a steep climb of about 90 stairs will get you to the building. We spent some time exploring the winding cobbled stone streets, small cafes, and petite gardens. Indulged in some hot churros and made our way back to the car. This would be a great place to walk around in the evening and try some local restaurants. I don’t believe there’s much of a nightlife in this town, it’s a great romantic getaway for some quiet time away from the city with your special beau. I enjoyed the short time we spent there but it didn’t leave me wanting more.

costa brava Cadeques in the distance

We hit the road and were on our way to the white washed beach side village of Cadeques. The drive to Cadeques was over hills and through lush valleys. Narrow roads hugging cliffs and ocean views in the distance made for a dramatic drive. Locals in Barcelona told us that if you had time to visit only one town in Costa Brava make it Cadeques, and it did not disappoint. The stark contrast of the white buildings against the azure Mediterreanean sea is postcard perfect.

costa brava - cadequesOh! How I love you Cadeques

We spent the entire day loitering around this picturesque village, romanticizing what it must have been like when Dali and Picasso walked along the coastal paths, and sipped on delicious Spanish wine while creating their masterpieces.

roadtrip to costa brava

Relax by one of the sea-side cafes, indulge in some coastal cuisine and climb some trees 😛 This tree was too tempting to climb.

We drove up to Dali’s famous House Museum in Port Ligat a few minutes from the town center but skipped the museum as we were short on time. I had read about a lighthouse,  Cap de Creus, so we decided to go there to catch the sunset. We were pleasantly surprised to see a restaurant perched atop the cliff overlooking the sea and the lighthouse which made for glorious views and a perfect end to our day. We ordered some coffee and relaxed on the deck soaking in the view and the beautiful Mediterranean sunset.

sunset in Costa Brava - CadequesA beautiful sunset to end a beautiful day

Quick Tips:

  • Book rental car in advance – We used Sixt car rental located near Las Ramblas in Barcelona.
  • Driving time – Barcelona to Girona is about 45 minutes and Girona to Cadeques took us about 1 hour 15 minutes.
  • Don’t miss the lighthouse and plan on watching the sunset there.
  • If you have time, we highly recommend spending at least a night in Cadeques which will give you enough time to visit the Dali Museum in Figueres and explore some beach towns like Tossa de Mar on your way back to Barcelona. Of course you can do a day trip too if you’re adventurous like us, we took our own sweet time leaving from Cadeques and got back to Barcelona around 3 am. And, we had an early morning flight to catch 😛 we are a little crazy, Yes! But that’s what makes it exciting.

Hope we’ve succeeded in tempting you to visit the beautiful coast of Costa Brava. Need help planning a trip to Barcelona? Check out our post on “How to spend 4 days in Barcelona.

Send us some love – leave us a comment and don’t forget to spread the wanderlust by liking and sharing with your friends.

Adios Amigos and Happy Travels!


  1. Great read guys these towns look like a great place to visit. Will put it on the itinerary next time we go barcelona
    Cheers mark

  2. I landed in Girona, rented a car and started driving, boy this is the best place to drive around. I checked in at a hotel in an area which i dont seem to know. And tomorrow i might be going to either Begur or Cadaques.

  3. Hey just came across your blog today via Google…was searching for the fastest way from Barcelona to costa brava…and your blog comes up! nicely written article…quite helpful to me….I’m traveling to Spain next month …have around 5 days in Barcelona…so planning to visit Costa brava for a day or two…being a vegetarian don’t have much to look forward to food tours 😜😜.. But wanted to ask you something regarding car rental…how was your experience with the car rental company..have heard lot of bad experiences for car rental across Europe like people being over charged after they return…demanding more money for flimsy reasons like some scratch…secondly, as you guys said you came back to Barcelona around 3 it safe to drive on a highway that late? Also you suggest to book a car in advance…like how early? A week before? And lastly, how easy was it to find parking at various places…I’m planning to hire a car for a day and visit Lloret de Mar, girona and tossa de mar…thanks in advance!

    • Hey Jatin,

      Sorry for the late response, I missed your message 🙁 Overall we did not have any problems with car rental and driving was pretty safe but it’s always better to break the journey if your not comfortable driving at night which is a great way to see another little town near the coast. Hope you had a great trip!

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