Costa Brava isn’t named the Brave Coast for nothing! The rugged coastline here is pocketed with relaxing little beach towns, sandy coves and rocky cliff faces. The Camino de Ronda coastal trail spans over 200 km (125 miles) through beautiful beach towns that shouldn’t be missed like Tossa de Mar and Calella de Palafrugell.
I try to find the time to head out of the city and over to Costa Brava whenever the weather’s nice. Even in winter, there’s always a new restaurant to try or a hidden beach to explore.
The Trail: Camino de Ronda
Along the main trail there are smaller dirt trails, which branch off towards the ocean down to little rocky coves, fishing spots and small beaches. The trail is generally well marked with signs and maps posted along the way to guide you. It’s important to note that there are many variations of the route. Along the way different bike paths and trails connect to the Camino de Ronda and wander inland before usually meeting back up later. If you’re planning more than just a day hike, make sure to map out your route ahead of time. The most common journey follows a combination of the CdR (usually marked in blue on maps and signs) and theGR-92 (typically red and white stripes).
Although the path meanders along the cliff face, many parts of the trail are flat and not extremely challenging. There are a few stairs and areas that cross over the beach, but overall I would rate this an intermediate level hike just based on the distance. The experience is more about swimming at secluded beaches, exploring the towns, sampling the local food, and taking in the spectacular views, rather than the hike itself.
The entire route from Tossa De Mar near the beginning of Costa Brava to the French border town of Portbou takes roughly 20 days to complete. Of course it can be much longer or shorter depending on how much you want to explore along the way. If time is an issue, it’s best to do a few different day hikes instead of rushing to complete the entire trail. I wrote an informative article explaining all about the best sections of the Camino de Ronda for day hikes.
When to go
Costa Brava is the most crowded in summer, especially in August when locals have vacation and prices are at its highest. If you end up visiting during high season, make sure to go swimming before you get close to any of the main towns. Traffic begins to build up along the trail and beaches are more likely to be crowded the closer you get to town.
For a more pleasant experience, plan a trip in the shoulder season during late spring or early fall. The heat won’t be as intense and there will be less tourists clogging up the trail.
Costa Brava is famous for its crystal clear water and marine activities. Make sure to bring along your mask and snorkel, swim suit, and a quick-dry towel so you can take a dip whenever you feel the urge or begin to overheat. Sunscreen and a hat are also an absolute must in the warmer months. Regular running shoes are fine for day hikes, but real hiking boots should be used if completing the full route.
A few sections of the trail do not have access to potable water so make sure to plan accordingly. The beach towns will usually have a public fountain and shops to buy water, though keep in mind that everything will be closed during siesta (2 pm to 4:30 pm).
If you decide to carry camping gear, there are hundreds of beautiful beachfront campgrounds right along the trail. I’d highly recommend camping in Costa Brava to save some money while making your way along the route.
What to eat
Don’t forget to take a nice long break along the way to enjoy a beer and the local cuisine. My favorite refreshing drink is clara, beer with lemon soda, sometimes called shandy. Clara pairs perfectly with a paella or fresh grilled Mediterranean seafood. When in Costa Brava, don’t forget to try the local specialty gambas de Palamos, red juicy shrimp from the town of Palamos. L’Escala is famous for their award-winning anchovies. The town even has a museum dedicated to the fish where you can learn about the village’s unique heritage.
Once you get near France, don’t miss the famous Taps de Cadaqués. These moist sponge cakes in the shape of corks are from the spectacular coastal town of Cadaqués. You’ll have to order them ahead of time since they often sellout by mid morning. Another popular place to eat is Restaurante Cap de Creus located next to the lighthouse. They serve Indian food and have an amazing outdoor patio area with sweeping views over the ocean.
Are you planning to hike the Camino de Ronda? Leave your questions below and check out my article about the beach towns in Costa Brava that shouldn’t be missed.