About 35 kilometers south of the French border, Cadaqués is one of the prettiest seaside Spanish towns on the Costa Brava of the Mediterranean. This former sleeping fishing town is now a tourist resort and is only reachable via a long, winding road through the mountains of Cap de Creus. It is relatively unspoiled and therefore protected from mass tourism.
Whitewashed houses, sun-kissing beaches, rugged coast, and sea breezes feature the charms of this coastal town. The incredible landscape backed by the Cap de Creus Natural Park sets it apart from the more ordinary seaside towns. Besides, cultural events around the year make Cadaques good to visit any time of the year.
The unique location of Cadaqués enables you to discover other neighboring places, such as Roses and Castelló d’Empuries which is a large residential marina.
Lost in the maze of the narrow streets
The old town is also a pedestrian zone. We went there by car and parked in the car park at the entrance of the village. Then, we made our way up to the Barri Vell (Old Town) and let ourselves lost in the maze of the narrow streets.
The narrow streets paved with rustic stones and the white-washed houses make up the old town. Most streets of Cadaqués are quite steep. In the early time, the steep streets functioned to disorient the pirates. The colourful flowers climb up the white walls, and the sweet-scented smell wafts through the air. Many traditional houses have Costa Brava’s iconic blue on white, especially the houses on the seafront.
Wandering around the back streets in the old town, I felt so tranquil, even though I knew there were many tourists around at the same time. Trendy clothes shops, chic craft shops, and other boutique shops spread among the old town. I could easily spend hours in those shops and find some stylish summer dresses for me. But as our family booked a boat trip, which started somewhere near the promenade, we headed straight to the beach.
Stroll around the promenade
Passing through the old town, I saw the shimmering Mediterranean. The sea was jewel-blue, and the waves were rippling gently. Beaches at the Bay of Cadaqués consist mostly of pebbles, rocks, and sand. The primary beach of Cadaqués, Platja Gran y Esportal, consists only of large gravel. These beaches don’t really attract families with small children. Therefore, the beaches are less crowded than elsewhere along the coast.
In the early 20th century, around one-third of the inhabitants had emigrated or traveled to America or Cuba, where they had achieved financial success. Some of them returned to Cadaques later, where they built large, ornate colonial homes. Along the promenade, some large buildings owned by them are outstanding.
Take a boat tour to explore the Cap de Creus
The best way to explore the stunning coastal landscape and the Cap de Creus in a short time is to join a boat tour. Our boat tour started from the bay of Cadaqués and headed toward the Lighthouse of Cap de Creus. During the first part of the journey, we discovered islands, such as the islands Massa Oros and Encalladora.
Along the way, we saw lots of inlets at the foothills of the Cap de Creus, most with pleasant small beaches which can be reached either on foot or only by boat. Our tour sailed to Hell’s cave, Fredosa Creek, Jugadora Creek, where we could picture the lighthouse Cap de Creus. Then, our boat stopped at the hidden creek Cala Bona, where we had 15 minutes to swim in the sea.
On the way back, we reached the sheltered bay of Port Lligat, where you could see the white House-Museum Salvador Dali. Continued sailing into the bay of Cadaques, we enjoyed the postcard views of Cadaques coastlines, including the Church of St. Mary. In the heart of this lovely fishing town, the church stands out against the views of the town.
Taste the Catalan food
Restaurants and bars line up along the promenade. They offer some of the local specialties using unusual combinations of products from the sea and the land. I ordered a three-course dinner in the Restaurant L’Hostal. My starter was Tuna Salad and Codfish. The fish was so fresh, and the sauce was undefinable but delicious! The price for such a menu is below 20 Euro.
The restaurant is frequent by locals. While we were waiting for the order, several guests arrived. Without seeing the menu, they ordered their food and drinks. Other locals got their food and drinks without even telling the waiters. There was a kind of tacit understanding among them.
Not only the locals but also Dali was a frequent guest of the restaurant. Everywhere in the restaurant, I could see the logo designed by Dali. On the wall, there are pictures and posters related to Dali as well.
Get to know Dali’s World
It was Salvador Dalí who gave Cadaqués international fame. He spent quite a long time in Cadaqués during his childhood. Dali liked the place so much that later he had his own home in the neighbouring village Port Lligat. His former home is today’s House-Museum Salvador Dali. There is even a sculpture of him on the beach. In my opinion, it doesn’t fit the surrounding scene nicely, but it reflects his strong influence on the town.
Cadaques Museum is a place for works from different artists who were inspired by the town of Cadaques. However, the highlight standing out among all the exhibitions is the Salvador Dali exhibition, including his biography and artworks. It is a must-see for art lovers and an essential Cadaqués experience.
Join the cultural events in Cadaqués
On January 1st, the first event of the year starts. People from all over the world come to join the Rising Sun Festival. The festival takes place around the Cabo de Creus lighthouse, the easternmost point of the Iberian Peninsula. There, people will welcome the first sunrise of the year.
February’s event is, of course, the Carnival. The Indian Fair in May dedicates to all the villagers who sailed to America. The Cadaqués International Music Festival in August offers a wide range of concerts. Please take a look at Cadaques’ website for the details of those events.
Where to stay
By all means, you would not get bored to spend the entire holiday there. To explore this beautiful town and discover its charm, reserve your holiday home in Cadaques as early as possible. There are many hotels or apartments at different price ranges, for example:
As mentioned above, if you had a holiday in Roses, you could take the tour from Roses to explore the spectacular Costa Brava while enjoying the pleasure of sailing on a beautiful day. But if you add some money, you could extend the tour and have a nice lunch on board.
For the holidaymakers from Barcelona, it is also possible to Learn about Dalí and the towns where he lived and worked on a day trip from Barcelona. The Salvador Dalí Tour from Barcelona starts from the lobby of your hotel.
How to get to Cadaqués
Take the train to Figueres and then walk out of the train station to the bus station. Buy a bus ticket for the “Sarfa bus” to Cadaqués. See schedules and buy tickets here.
You could rent a car in Perpignan or Girona and follow Google Maps or any other GPS service to reach Cadaqués. It takes around an hour and 15-minutes to drive from Girona and 90-minutes to drive from Perpignan. The buzzing city of Barcelona is around two hours of drive.