Cadaqués is one of the prettiest seaside Spanish towns on the Costa Brava of the Mediterranean, about 35 kilometres south of the French border. This former sleeping fishing is now a tourist resort. The town 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, sea breezes are all the features 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 old town is also a pedestrian zone. We went there by car, 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 myself lost in the maze of the narrow streets.
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 are quite steep. The steep streets were originally laid to disorient the pirates. The colourful flowers climb up the white walls and the sweet-scented smell wafts through the air. Most traditional houses have Costa Brava’s iconic blue on white, especially the houses next to 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 chic summer dresses for me. 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, I saw the shimmering Mediterranean. The sea was jewel-blue and the waves were rippling gently. Beaches at Bay of Cadaqués consist mostly of pebbles, rocks, and sand. The primary beach of Cadaqués, Platja Gran y Esportal, consists only of large pebbles. 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 made 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
To Join a boat tour is the best way to explore the stunning coastal landscape and the Cap de Creus in short time. The boat tour starts from the bay of Cadaqués and heads 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, Cadaqués fishermen refuge where you could see the white House-Museum Salvador Dali. Continued sailing into the bay of Cadaques, we enjoyed the postcard views of Cadaques coast, including the Church of St. Mary. In the heart of this lovely fishing town, the church most stands out in the views of the town.
Taste the Catalan food
Along the promenade line up the restaurants and bars. I could find some of the specialties of the county. Some dishes show 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.
On the second day, we ate in a restaurant which is frequent mainly 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. The service persons knew exactly what they would order. We ordered some delicious tapas as our lunch.
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 home is today’s House-Museum Salvador Dali. There is even a sculpture of him on the beach. In my opinion, it doesn’t really fit the surrounding scene, but it reflects his strong influence of the town.
The Restaurant L’Hostal was frequent by Dali as well. 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.
Cadaques Museum is a place for all kinds of works from different artists, who were inspired by the town of Cadaques in different ways. However, the highlights standing out among all the exhibitions is the Salvador Dali exhibition, including his biography and his works. 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 sunrise gathering takes place around the Cabo de Creus lighthouse which the easternmost point of the Iberian Peninsula. There, people will welcome the first sunrise of the year.
Carnival in February is, of course, the event of the month. 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 mean, 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.
The middle-level apartment Apartamento Poal-Cadaques offers accommodations with free WiFi, air conditioning and a restaurant. The property has city and mountain views. Each room features one bedroom, two bathrooms, a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, a dining area, a fully equipped kitchen, and a balcony with sea views.
The budget level accommodation Carpe Diem Cadaqués features an outdoor swimming pool and a picturesque garden with olive and almond trees. The closest beach is just a short stroll from this holiday property. Each apartment comes equipped with a sunny terrace, a well-equipped kitchen, and a cable TV ideal for a break with friends or family.
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. If you add some money, you could extend the tour and have a nice lunch on board. You can reserve this tour Catamaran Cruise to Cap de Creus wiht Lunch online.
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.
The tour passes through the idyllic landscapes of Costa Brava. It includes the visit of Figueres, a small town near the French border, the birthplace of Salvador Dalí. You will also visit the Dali Museum, designed by Dali himself on the ruins of an old municipal theatre. Then, follow the footsteps of the artist to Cadaqués, which features spectacular views of white houses, the sea, and the capricious forms of the mountainous terrain.
How to get to Cadaqués
By Train and Bus
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.
Whether you’re staying in Perpigna or Girona, I’d definitely suggest renting a car and simply following Google Maps or any other GPS service.
It takes around an hour and 15-minutes to drive from Girona, and 90-minutes to drive from the French city of Perpignan. The buzzing city of Barcelona is around two hours of drive.
Besides, the special location of Cadaqués enables you to discover other neighbouring places. To the south of Cap de Creus is Roses, which preserves remains of its ancient citadel and Castelló d’Empuries which is a large residential marina.
Related post: Empuriabrava, an Unusual Town Along the Costa Brava