itinerary in Catalonia and the Costa Brava

The perfect 8-day itinerary in Catalonia and the Costa Brava

The perfect 8-day itinerary in Catalonia and the Costa Brava

There’s no better time to travel by van than spring and autumn. The climate is starting to warm up, the days are mostly sunny and we no longer suffer from the cold of winter or the excessive heat of summer. I dedicated this long spring to the Iberian Peninsula, Spain and Portugal.

Generally, when you think of Spain, its main cities immediately come to mind: Madrid, Barcelona, ​​Seville and Valencia. They are all beautiful and very different from each other, but Spain is a bit like Italy. Region you go, wonders you find and it’s a shame to limit your trip only to the cities when the surroundings can be (perhaps) even better.

I therefore thought of writing travel itineraries for each region I visit because actually, in addition to the city, the country has so much more to offer and in 8 days you can visit some of the main places in the region.

Let’s start with Catalonia and the Costa Brava , which was also the first region I traveled when I arrived from France, but I imagine that you fly to Barcelona and therefore the following itinerary will start from one of the most beautiful cities in Spain , the capital of Catalonia which, if you have never visited, deserves its 3 days.

After traveling for a long time in France where the infrastructure for campers is exceptional and there is also a lot of freedom for wild camping, except on the French Riviera, I didn’t have any particular difficulties in Spain either. It is easy to find numerous rest areas, in many cases free . Not parking overlooking the sea, as I was used to in Greece or the Balkans, but comfortable with easy loading and unloading. Anyone who travels in a camper knows how stressful these things can become. Be careful when wild camping in this region as fines cost up to €200.

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Read also: 17 Best Places to Visit in Catalonia

Important things to know in order to follow this itinerary in Catalonia

This itinerary combines cities, coast, museums and also hiking opportunities, not too demanding, along one of the routes of the famous Camì de Ronda . In short, a bit of everything for a perfect circuit in seasons when you can spend time outside but it’s not yet hot enough to swim (although I’ve seen some daredevils in the water).

  • Book entrances in advance – It is now a trend that I have found practically everywhere but in particular in Barcelona (Gaudi’s houses, Parc Guell and the Sagrada Familia ) and Dalì’s palaces/museums in the Dalinian triangle must be booked in advance or you risk of not finding a place. In particular, in Barcelona, ​​tickets are no longer sold at the box office.
  • Where to sleep – Beyond the first few nights where you will sleep in Barcelona to follow this circuit you will change accommodation a couple of times. However, if you want to have a nice base and then move around every day I recommend Calella de Palafrugell . It is located in the middle of the places to visit and is, in my opinion, the prettiest village on the coast. The distances between the destinations are not very large and you can move easily with a car.
  • Book where to sleep in advance if you are traveling in high season – It is also recommended to book in advance for sleeping if you are traveling in high season. My trips are generally in low season or just starting and I have never had any particular problems but this region is very popular with locals and tourists so booking in advance is recommended.
  • Renting a car – To follow this itinerary I recommend booking a car. Find excellent prices on Rentalcars. This allows you maximum flexibility in your itinerary and would save you a lot of time. If you want to travel by public transport you may have to give up something. Alternatively you can consider day tours.-
  • If you are traveling by camper/van – While Wild Camping is difficult in this region I have found numerous free parking areas or some that are not particularly expensive. Respect the parking rules or the ban on spending the night because I have heard of many people who have been fined €200 in the morning. In my opinion the risk is not worth it. Be careful as always when parking in cities because there are thieves. On the Park4Night application you will find many comments about it.

Getting around by public transport
Unfortunately this itinerary is not feasible by public transport, especially if you have little time . In fact, the connections between the villages could take time and clearly what you can see in one day with a car could take 3 by public transport. For this reason I recommend renting a car or, alternatively, taking part in daily tours from Barcelona , which however have the limitation of not allowing you to sleep in the various villages, and some are really beautiful.

itinerary in Catalonia and the Costa Brava

Day 1 and 2 – Visit Barcelona

I have written a detailed itinerary on how to organize a visit to Barcelona in 3 days, with the itineraries you can follow independently. So for a detailed post I recommend reading this. Here I summarize the three days as I think they distribute the main neighborhoods of the city well. I also recommend downloading the free guide that I have prepared with the detailed itinerary and links to the maps to follow the itineraries independently.

Day 1 – Parc Guell, Sagrada Familia, Riberia and Gothic Quarter

Here is the map to follow with the recommended places

Dedicate your first day in Barcelona to two of the city’s main attractions: Parc Guell and the Sagrada Familia . I remember that it is mandatory to book entrances in advance, even to Parc Guell (which has become paid) and ends at the Gothic Quarter.

Buses 24 and 92 stop at Carretera del Carmel-Park Güell right in front of the park entrance. The visit will take approximately 1 hour. From Park Guell. From the park you can walk for about 30 minutes and reach the Sagrada Familia or if you prefer public transport, but it doesn’t save much more time, you can take the metro (L3 and then L5) and dedicate the rest of the morning to the Sagrada Familia. The visit, the audio guide is included in the ticket, will take about 1 hour or more if you also climb the towers.

As with all the main attractions in Barcelona (but I could say in Spain since this also applies to the Alhambra in Granada or the Alcazar in Seville) it is mandatory to buy the ticket well in advance because you enter only with reservations at a specific time and tickets sell out even weeks in advance. The single ticket costs €26 (without the towers) and €36 with the towers.

itinerary in Catalonia and the Costa Brava

After visiting the Sagrada Familia I recommend walking (or you can take the L2 metro stop Tetuan) to the Arc de Trinfo, taking a walk in the Parque de al Citadela and from here you are practically in the Ribeira district , where the beautiful Santa Maria is located del Mar and the Picasso Museum and access route to the Gothic Quarter . In this barrio you should not miss the Barcelona Cathedral, Plaça del Rei , Pont del BisbePlaza San Felipe Neri and the El Call neighborhood. If you still have the desire or energy, I recommend visiting Palau Guell (an appetizer for Gaudi’s houses that you will visit tomorrow) or the Palua de la Musica Catalana , another exceptional example of Catalan modernism with perfect acoustics.

Sleeping in Barcelona
I recommend sleeping in one of the central neighborhoods such as the Raval or the Gothic Quarter , you will be close to public transport stops but, if you want to walk, you can reach almost all places of interest on foot. In Raval there is the beautiful and very particular Barcelò Raval , which also has a wonderful panoramic terrace, or the SERHS Rivoli Rambla hotel , in an excellent position near the bus and metro stops, a stone’s throw from the Rambla and with a beautiful panoramic terrace.

itinerary in Catalonia and the Costa Brava

Day 2 – Gaudi’s houses, Paseo de Gracias, El Raval, Barceloneta

Here is the map to follow with the recommended places

The second day in Barcelona begins with a visit to the two most important and beautiful Gaudi houses: La Pedrera and Casa Batlò . I recommend starting with La Pedrera, which is very large and has a wonderful terrace, and then visiting Casa Battlò because its interior is truly astonishing and dreamlike, the terrace which is more disappointing is small). If you are interested, I also recommend Casa Vicens which is the first one built by Gaudì and which I liked a lot (as well as having many fewer tourists).

To visit the houses it is mandatory to buy the ticket in advance, tickets are no longer sold at the box office. When buying tickets you must also choose the times, so don’t book for entrances that are too close but allow about 1 and a half hours between visits . They are also very close so you don’t have to walk too far. Each house will take approximately 1 hour.

After visiting Gaudi’s houses, stroll along Passeig de Gracia , the chicest and most elegant street in Barcelona. You will arrive at Placa de Catalunya and from here, walking along the Rambla, where you can stop by the Boqeuria market, you can discover the El Raval neighbourhood , once a neighborhood with a bad reputation and not very safe which today, despite being an immigrant neighbourhood, is safe and alternative as well as exceptional for nightlife.

Among the places of interest in the neighborhood you will find the MACBA , the MACBA Contemporary Art Museum, the Center of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona, ​​the Opera Gran Teatro del Liceu, the Boqueria market, Palau Guell (which I recommend visiting) and the Rambla del Raval. While you are in the neighborhood, also look for Botero’s cat who, after much pilgrimage, found his home in a neighborhood square.

End the afternoon in Barceloneta , overlooking the sea. This neighborhood was originally inhabited by only a few fishermen and developed with the construction of the citadel by Felipe V in the area of ​​the current Parc de la Ciutadella, creating residential and working space for over 10,000 people.

Over the last century, with the decline of fishing, the neighborhood has increasingly regressed and decayed. On the occasion of the 1992 Olympic Games , many areas were renovated and restored, including a splendid beach promenade, making this neighborhood today very charming and pleasant especially on hot summer days.

Day 3 – Girona, Figueres and the Dali Museum night in Cadaques

We leave Barcelona and begin the tour of northern Catalonia. I recommend leaving early in the morning because you will drive a bit. The first stop will be Giron a. The city is not particularly large and its center can be visited in a couple of hours . It will take you approximately 1.5 hours by car to get to Girona. There is a large free car park (here on the map), where you can leave your car and visit the city on foot.


This picturesque city, with its medieval walls, winding streets and one of the best-preserved Jewish quarters in Europe, is a treasure trove of history and culture worth visiting. The visit will not take too long. Among the places not to be missed, be sure to visit these:

  1. Jewish Quarter (El Call): Girona’s Jewish quarter, “El Call”, has retained its medieval charm with narrow cobbled streets that take you back 500 years. For a deeper understanding, consider visiting the Jewish Museum located right within this neighborhood.
  2. The Medieval Walls: I recommend taking a walk along Girona’s Passeig de la Muralla, the remains of the ancient city walls, from where you can have exceptional views of the city and its surroundings.
  3. The Eiffel Bridge : Before the Eiffel Tower, Gustav Eiffel gave Girona the Pont de les Peixateries Velles , or Eiffel Bridge, which spans the Onyar River. It is the most recognizable bridge in the city, offering picturesque views and photo opportunities.
  4. The Onyar River : The Onyar River cuts through the center of Girona and is lined with colorful houses that are a symbol of the city’s landscape. Several bridges span the river, each offering unique perspectives and scenic views of these vibrant facades.
  5. The Cathedral of Girona : The imposing Cathedral of Girona is definitely worth a visit, I recommend reaching it by climbing the large staircase which you might recognize as one of the locations from Game of Thrones in the sixth season, when it was Braavos. In this regard, you can find more locations from the series in the city, especially in El Call.
  6. Plaça Independencia: This charming square is a perfect stop for a coffee or wine break while people watching.
itinerary in Catalonia and the Costa Brava

Figueres and the Dalì Theater Museum

After visiting Girona, drive for about 40 minutes and reach Figueres . The center of the town is nice, but nothing unmissable. What you must not miss is the Dalì Theater Museum, the Magna opera that Dalì wanted to build personally in his hometown. With the Port Lligat House and the Gala Dali Castle this museum is part of the Dali Triangle.

The Dalí Theater Museum is more than just a collection of works of art ; it is the manifestation of Dalí’s unique vision. Dalí designed the museum to be a stage for this world, ensuring that the most “extravagant and solid” works could have a permanence in the city where he was born.

I recommend booking entrance tickets well in advance , especially if you are traveling in high season because tickets sell out quickly. You can only enter with a booked ticket and at specific times. Last entry is at 4.30pm.

Every now and then

From Figueres drive for about 50 minutes and reach the beautiful Cadaque s where you will spend the night. You can visit the town the next day. The historic center is very small, but the location in the heart of the Cap de Creus National Park is truly exceptional and is the perfect base for the following day. This evening stroll and dine along the Cadaques seafront.

Where to sleep in Cadaques
This first night I recommend sleeping in Cadaques . You can choose whether to sleep in the historic centre, but you have to leave your car in the paid car park ( €18 per day) or you can choose to sleep just outside, but the center can be reached on foot, so you won’t have parking problems. I recommend staying just outside, you can reach everything on foot without problems. The Hotel Sol Ixent is perfect because it is located between Cadaques and Port Lligat and also has a comfortable swimming pool (if you travel in summer) or, but at least two nights are necessary, I really like the Wecamp , a very nice glamping site (with rooms in safari tents, like the tented camps in Tanzania!) and this too in an exceptional position to visit both Cadaques and Port Lligat (on foot).

Day 4 – Cadaques, Port Ligat (Casa di Dali), Pubol

Today we remain in the Cap de Crus national park . Start with a visit to Cadaques. it is a small but very pleasant village. The center can be visited in a very short time. Start from the church of Santa Maria on the hill to have a nice visit of the city and the sea and continue through the small alleys of the historic center until you reach the sea.

If you want to do a trekking route, long but not particularly demanding, this is the perfect starting point. The goal is to reach Port Lligat , where you can visit Dali’s house and walk to the lighthouse. The walk will take approximately 4 hours (round trip). The most beautiful part of the walk is the one that takes you to the lighthouse and from there to the beautiful Cala Jugadora (if it is summer maybe you want to go for a swim).

Whale and dolphin watching
From May to November whales pass along the coasts of Cadaques, so if you have never done a tour of this type you might want to try your luck right here. The boat ride lasts about 3 hours and must be booked in advance because there are a maximum of 10 people on board. Remember that sightings are never guaranteed.

Port Ligat – Dali’s house

Port Lligat can be easily reached on foot from Cadaques, but if you don’t want to walk near the bay there is a large car park, where many campers usually park. If you can’t find a place you can park along the street.

Port Lligat is a microscopic fishing village on a beautiful bay where Salvador Dali’s house is located. Personally, this of Dalì’s three places is my favorite. As with the Museum, here too you must book entry well in advance . Entry is limited to small groups only and tickets sell out quickly.

The first part of the visit to the house is done with a guide , while the exteriors can be visited independently. After visiting Dalì’s house, if you want, you can take a nice boat ride which you can book directly at the pier in front of the house. 

After visiting Dali’s House, walk along the walking route to the Far de Cap Creus . it’s a stunning walk and will take around 1.5 hours (one way). The route is well signposted and you walk close to the sea between coves and nature.

After hiking, return to Cadaques and drive to Pubol, the starting point for the next day’s visits.

itinerary in Catalonia and the Costa Brava

Giorno 5 – Castello Gala Dalì, Peratallada, Pals, Calella de Palafrugell

Today we return to the hinterland and discover some of the most beautiful villages in Catalonia. Start with the last of Dalì’s places and then return for the night to the seaside in the most beautiful village in Catalonia, in my opinion: Calella di Palafrugell.

Pubolo and the Gala Dalì Castle

Dalì’s triangle ends with this castle. Unlike the Dali Museum and Dali’s house, the castle becomes more sober, but there is no shortage of the artist’s surrealist features, because it was a gift from Dali to his wife Gala. It seems that they had stipulated a contract that obligated the artist to make an official request to her wife in case I wanted to go and visit her.

The castle is located in the very small village of Pubol, which is literally a stone square with a couple of streets, very cute but very small. The visit will take approximately 30/40 minutes.

Entrance to Dali Castle costs between €9 and €12 per adult (changes depending on the season).
The castle opens at 10 in the morning . It is not as crowded as the other two places in Dalì and when I went it was not necessary to book in advance, but perhaps in high season things could change, I recommend keeping an eye on the availability calendar and deciding for yourself whether to buy in advance or not . 

cut off

We continue to discover the beautiful villages of Catalonia. This is one of my favourites. Perarallada has been declared a historical-artistic and cultural center of national interest, and is renowned for its extraordinary medieval architecture.


A short distance from Perarallada there is another small village with a wonderful historic centre: Pals. Don’t be fooled at the entrance to the town because the historic center is beautiful. it is famous for its fascinating medieval architecture and spectacular panoramic views of the surrounding area. The ancient center of the village is located on a small hill (the climb is not particularly tiring) and is characterized by a labyrinth of narrow, paved streets, stone houses and buildings of great historical and architectural value.

Among the most important monuments are the Torre delle Ore , a medieval watchtower offering a panoramic view of the region, and the Church of Sant Pere , an 11th-century Romanesque church with an impressive bell tower.

itinerary in Catalonia and the Costa Brava

Calella de Palafrugell

From Pals you return to the sea and head to the most beautiful town in the region (in my opinion): Calella de Palafrugell, a delightful seaside village from where I recommend following some trekking circuits along sections of the larger Camì de Ronda. Here you spend the night and prepare for the following day.

Giorno 6 – Calella de Palafrugell – Hiking on the Camì de Ronda

Calella de Palafrugell is an old fishing village located on the rocky coast of the Costa Brava, between the natural park of Castell and Cap Roig to the north, and Llafranc, another tourist center on the coast, to the south. The village overlooks a beautiful bay and the small centre, with white houses and small alleys, is incredibly pleasant. The village is characterized by its historic charm and natural beauty, with a series of coves and a number of traditional two-storey fishermen’s houses with tiled roofs. Calella de Palafrugell, despite today being a well-known tourist centre, has managed to maintain the unique atmosphere of the Costa Brava villages before the arrival of mass tourism.

During the summer, the village hosts the famous Cap Roig Festival in the Cap Roig botanical garden, the Ciclo de Conciertos de Verano in the Sant Pere church and the popular Havaneras festival on Port Bo beach.

What is the Camin de Ronda?

The Camí de Ronda is a hiking trail along the Costa Brava, which extends for approximately 43 kilometers from Sant Feliu de Guíxols to Begur. This route, known as the linear circuit , can be done in two days and offers spectacular views of coves, beaches and breathtaking viewpoints along the coast. The path passes through fishing villages, hidden beaches and coves with crystal clear waters.

There is also a longer route of 140 kilometres, which starts and ends inland in Girona, and takes 8 days to complete. This route offers an opportunity for more experienced hikers to explore mountainous landscapes, forests, heavenly beaches and medieval villages along the way.

However, if you don’t want to follow long multi-day circuits, you can follow short routes, such as those I recommend from Calella de Palafrugell which are simple and not particularly demanding walks but which run alongside wonderful stretches of coast.

Day 7 – Return to Barcelona along the coast stopping at Tossa del Mar and some of the most popular beaches on the Costa Brava

Time to start returning to Barcelona by driving along the coast. On the way stop at Tossa del Mar, whose ancient old town is located on a hill overlooking the sea. The history of Tossa del Mar is thousands of years old, so much so that prehistoric, Roman and medieval remains are preserved here. Take a walk in the historic center, make sure you don’t miss Villa Amettler, a prestigious Roman residence still with beautiful mosaics, the old town inside the medieval walls, the Chapel of Nostra Signora del Soccorso and the Torre de Can Magì.

The city is also famous for its charming beaches, including Playa Gran, and for its local cuisine, with typical fish dishes. If it is summer and you want to go for a swim before returning to the city, I recommend going to: Cala Boadella, Cala Traumal and Cala Bona .

Day 8 – End of the trip

We have reached the end of the journey. If you have an evening flight and therefore have a full day in Barcelona, ​​I recommend reaching Montjuïc hill from Placa de Espana. From here you will have one of the most beautiful views of the city and, if you are interested in museums, you can visit the Miró Foundation and the National Art Museum of Catalonia . To return to the city, take the Montjuïc cable car which will take you to Barceloneta.

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