going local in Costa Brava – Spain

Lola loves Costa Brava

Cadaques - i love it!

Cadaques – i love it!

i’ll be honest, i think i’m more of a hotel travel girl than a house rental gal. having said that, there have been many occasions where it made more sense to rent a house. whether it was the economics of the situation or the options available, it was THE WAY to go. this definitely seems to be the case with Costa Brava, Spain as well.

while there are hotels in the various beach towns and medieval villages there are many amazing villa options to choose from and my guess is it’s also a more economical way to go for a longer stay, using the property as a home base from which to explore.


gorgeous Besalu

there are other brilliant benefits to staying in villa beyond economics. for me, number ONE is the fact that you are forced to have a more local experience and i think this is awesome! because you have a kitchen, you will have to go to the market or if you choose to not always cook then you will dine out amongst the townspeople. another option that i’ve had the good fortune to experience is bringing in local chefs to prepare meals. with a home stay, one is able to have all these options and i really recommend this combination if you have the opportunity.

during my Costa Brava tour i stayed at three different properties, in different towns and had three wonderful and different experiences! let me tell you more about them to give you a picture of what staying in a private home can be like with Charming Villas Catalonia.


Sa Costa

Sa Costa

Sa Costa is a gorgeous seaside villa i stayed in while visiting Cadaques, Spain. located right on the sea, Sa Costa has direct beach access and views across the water to the stunning small fishing village with just over 2,500 year round inhabitants. in the summertime the population can grow to upwards of 25,000.

photo 2-17

things found at Dali’s home turned museum

1 hour from Girona and 2 hours from Barcelona, Cadaques is in the middle of the Cap de Creus peninsula and has a famous history with many artists, most importantly Salvador Dali, whose home turned museum is nearby. another famous sight worth seeing is the unique 17th century sea-faring church, Santa Maria. i particularly enjoyed the sailors & ships mixed in with the traditional symbols of Christianity. as for local charms, having dinner in town at MOS and dancing with one of the owners was definitely a highlight.

Celler Martin Faixo

Celler Martin Faixo

AND the Mayor of Cadaques joined the dinner party during my final meal at the outstanding Compartir, started by 3 El Bulli veterans. (now closed, El Bulli was once the #1 restaurant in the world). other local treats were bringing private chef Lee Pennington to Sa Costa to cook dinner and a family lunch at the vineyard home of Celler Martin Faixo. two things i will never forget. Sa Costa has 6 beds & baths and can accommodate 12. this wonderfully appointed villa has floor to ceiling windows to take in the sea views, a private pool and its own sea pier for boating activities.

Sant Mori

Castell de Rocaberti

Castell de Rocaberti

Castell de Rocaberti is a 15th century castle located in the heart of the small Catalan village. the charming village of Sant Mori is halfway between Girona & Figueres, each about 20 minutes away. with its 15 bedrooms and 13 baths, Castell de Rocaberti can accommodate up to 30 guests and is truly ideal for a family reunion or professional retreat. over the years the Castle has welcomed royals such as Fernando the Catholic, who would marry Isabel and sponsor Christopher Columbus’ voyage where he discovered America. pretty amazing to be able to stay within the walls of such a historic place with all of today’s modern amenities.

my Girona

my Girona

daytrips from Sant Mori to Girona and Empuriabrava were easy for further exploration of these areas. in the Empuriabrava area you can find one of the largest marinas in the world, a medieval village complete with an impressive gothic church and prison, and a gorgeous wild life reserve, Aiguamolis, for the nature lovers out there. in Girona, known as the capital of Costa Brava, you’ll find a bigger bustling city that still has a medieval feel. things to see & do there include the ‘Old Town’ and Cathedral.

El Celler de Can Roca

El Celler de Can Roca

i was lucky enough to tour the now #1 restaurant in the world, El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, and have an outstanding lunch at La Calendula where the owner tailor-made a menu for the day. another local experience was the evening a chef was brought in to prepare paella and the castle owner remained and dined as well. i got to hear stories of his family and the castle that has been a part of their heritage since the 15th century. so fascinating and fun!


Sant Ferriol

Sant Ferriol

Sant Ferriol is an incredible 18th century farmhouse that has been lovingly restored and furnished with gorgeous country antiques. don’t misunderstand though, this is not a stuffy home – rather a very comfy one that you will wish to never leave. Sant Ferriol has all the modern amenities you could imagine with all the charm of a rustic farmhouse. sleeping up to 26, the villa has 12 beds and baths. i particularly loved the huge pool and pool house with its own cooking and eating area – perfect for outdoor entertaining. the natural outdoor surroundings make you feel miles away from things, yet it’s located 5 minutes from the lively medieval village of Besalu and 25 minutes from Girona.

calcots & paella - mmm

calcots & paella – mmm

during my quick day & a half at Sant Ferriol, some local things i was able to enjoy was the chance to go up in a hot air balloon with Vol de Coloms – very popular for this volcanic region of Costa Brava. sadly, it was too windy to actually take flight. while taking in the outdoor space at the villa, i was served a traditional meal of Calcots, which are a variety of large scallions that are absolutely delicious when charcoal grilled. in the evening another local chef, Jordi, from I cook It came to the house to make more Catalan specialties like fish soup & paella – YUM! the villa of Sant Ferriol has caretakers on property as well in their own annexed cottage. so wonderful to know someone is there to assist with any of your needs and spending time with them over dinner my last night was even more charming than the farmhouse.

i was the very fortunate invited guest of Charming Villas Catalonia and could not picture a better sampling of what they offer in homes and villa rentals. Charming Villas specializes in top quality rentals with a personal touch from start to finish and offers assistance in trip planning & arrangements as well. i will definitely rent with them in my future travels to Costa Brava, to be sure, as they are completely Lola Approved!



Filed under costa brava, spain, travel

17 Responses to going local in Costa Brava – Spain

  1. I absolutely prefer apartment/house/villa stays to hotels just because it seems that most times it gets me in the neighborhoods more than the areas where visitors are “supposed” to stay with hotels. I never use the kitchens in an apartment, though. I want to eat out at fabulous local restaurants.
    Lance recently posted…Finding Fantastic Travel in the ‘Little Destinations’My Profile

  2. I adored this trip and my favorite house was the first one. I’d love to lounge by that pool this summer and walk the beaches of Cadaques. Love that place!
    Leah Travels recently posted…48 Hours in London: Tradition with a TwistMy Profile

  3. I am a huge fan of the villa stay – I think it is a European thing! Maybe also an Australian thing as I often rent a villa for a week down under as well! For a weekend, I am cool with a hotel, but with extended periods on the road, there is something nice about having the space of home and a kitchen! We almost always eat breakfast in – my travel partner loves to grocery shop and I love to visit the local market, so cooking is always involved! Love to play with new ingredients! Have not yet been to Costa Brava (shock horror – after reading all of your posts about the region, I don’t understand how I haven’t been – Must.Be.Rectified!!!), but you have presented some amazing properties! Love it! Always good to get the insider track on travel tips!
    Anita Mac recently posted…Gear Review: The HoboRoll by Gobi GearMy Profile

  4. that fireplace in sant mori! i want it!
    the lazy travelers recently posted…style spotter: marina bay sands hotel, singaporeMy Profile

  5. By any chance someone can send me this box with Cadac wine bottles? 🙂
    And Dali alone was a reason of my trip to Costa Brava, not mentioning all the lovely cities out there.
    Marysia @ My Travel Affairs recently posted…Friday Lens Affair #22My Profile

  6. Costa Brava, Spain looks like an awesome place with so much to offer. The apartment rental looks like a great home base for exploring the region.
    Traveling Ted recently posted…A Red River Gorge zipline tour adventureMy Profile

  7. That rug in the Cadaques picture! GIVE ME.

    Looks like you had an incredible time and lived it up. Take me with you next time!
    Tawny of Captain and Clark recently posted…Life lessons from rock climbingMy Profile

  8. I’ve never stayed in an apartment, only ones of friends, but I can definitely see the benefit of traveling this way. Love the photos – looks like it was fun!
    Erin – The World Wanderer recently posted…Music Monday: Make it Rain.My Profile

  9. a market visit is a must really on any place where the food is such a HUGE part of the travel experience… and it seems life in Costa Brava is one of those adventures…

    all your posts about spain are really making me want to return there, yes return to europe… i typed it.

    stay adventurous, Craig
    Craig Zabransky recently posted…Wide Awake Thanks to the Northern LightsMy Profile

  10. Cadaqués has been in my mind since I saw Dali’s paintings of it, part of his earliest work. Did you get to see any of these paintings in his museum there? I shall visit some day to see what inspired him!
    Raul (@ilivetotravel) recently posted…Camping and Dining under the Stars in the Wadi RumMy Profile

  11. A possible second title for this post COULD be “going Loca in Costa Brava”… just saying.
    Raul (@ilivetotravel) recently posted…Camping and Dining under the Stars in the Wadi RumMy Profile

  12. Oh wow those villas look beautiful! 🙂

  13. Ever since I’ve seen your posts about Dali I’ve wanted to check out his museum. Also, I recently discovered he designed the psychedelic packaging on Chupa Chup lollipops. A man of many talents indeed!
    Fiona recently posted…Britain’s Original Rock and Roll Isle: Eel Pie IslandMy Profile

  14. As you said, there is a time and place for everything – and nowadays renting a house does not mean compromising on anything. They can be so fab! And loved the places you stayed at on this epic trip!
    @mrsoaroundworld recently posted…A lovely weekend in Lyon, FranceMy Profile

  15. I love staying in Villas too! I’m a huge fan of cooking so the kitchen is great. It’s crazy….I never knew how many amazing places there were in Spain to visit until I actually moved here. I’ve visited just 10 Spanish cities so far and realized that I have barely scratched the surface.
    Auston recently posted…The One Thing You Must Do When In MadridMy Profile

  16. Good information, whenever I travel with my family, I have 2 small children, always rent an apartment or house is much cheaper and gives you more freedom, especially when you have small children, cook your own food and there is much more extensively than in a hotel .

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