Empuriabrava is the largest residential marina in the world, an unusual town in Costa Brava, Spain. Its development started around the late 1970s when a group of visionaries dreamed of building large, comfortable, and luxurious houses throughout the town, with yachts moored at their doorsteps. Not far from the border of France, Empuriabrava has 24 kilometers of canals and around 5000 private jetties. And, it has also become an up-level tourist resort with waterways reminiscent of Venice.
If you have a holiday at the Vermillion Coast or Perpignan, France, you could make a day trip to this water town. We discovered Empuriabrava when we had a holiday near Collioure, a famous beach town on the Vermillion coast. To drive there, we followed a beautiful coastal route passing through many small fishing villages. It is also possible to make a day trip from Barcelona.
The town offers many activities for families and outdoor adventurers. Things to do in Empuriabrava are:
- Take an Eco Boat Trip through the canals
- Skydive (Parachuting)
- Relax on the Beaches in Empuriabrava
- Visit the Aiguamolls Natural Park
- Watch Butterfly in Park Empuriabrava
- Stroll around Castelló d’ Empuries
Take an Eco Boat Trip in Empuriabrava
We stopped at this town on the way to Cadaques. Many boat rentals are offering electric driven boats. By renting a boat at one of the companies in town, visitors can explore the canals and navigate through the town. The street names are on the banks of canals, where no pavements exist.
We boarded on an electric boat and toured around the canal. The rental company Eco Boats provided us a map of the local waterway. Their boats are in an elegant design and are ideal for many activities in an ecological way. Our boat can reach a speed of 6km/h, the maximum allowed by the marina. It took us gently along the canals without making any noise and of course without any contamination. To operate the boat is very easy, even our kid was able to do that.
We passed a small triangle lake and enjoyed the pleasant view of those luxury houses along the canals. These villas have terraces, balconies, and loggia, different sets of lounge furniture. Instead of cars, residents use their boats to go shopping.
When we approached the small lake, we saw the skydivers. The constant wind howls through the Bay of Roses, which makes Empuriabrava and the surrounding area the perfect location for kite-surfing and winds surfing. Therefore, Empuriabrava offers the most exhilarating skydiving opportunity. The friendly world-class instructors will teach the methods and safety procedures if you are a beginner.
Relax on the Beaches in Empuriabrava
Rubina Beach is an unspoiled paradise, the clean and shallow water, the soft sand, and the silent atmosphere will bring you every satisfaction. Besides, it has an area for kite-surfing as well.
Immersed in nature, the pristine beach Can Comes Beach offers 4km of sand dunes and lagoons for you to relax. It is not a commercialized beach but is a part of the Aiguamolls Natural Park. Therefore, if you want to spend a day there, please bring your own food and drinks, as there is no service in the area.
Visit the Aiguamolls Natural Park
If you spend a day on Can Comes Beach, it is also possible to hike in the park. Follow the sign-posted routes to learn more about the park and enjoy the nature. The Aiguamolls Natural Park is the second-largest wetland in Catalonia and has a large plant and bird diversity.
Watch Butterfly in Park Empuriabrava
Setup in tropical scenery, you will discover the fascinating world of butterflies, toucans, turtles, parrots, and many other exotic animals. You would probably spot the Attacus atlas, which is said to be the biggest butterfly in the world. Walking through the garden, direct contact with nature and animals is a nice experience for families with kids.
Stroll around Castelló d’ Empuries
If you have enough for the beach and outdoor activities, then take a trip through the centuries-old town Castelló d’ Empuries. It is home to well-preserved historical buildings.
The first building is Ecomuseum-Flour Mill, a three-storey building constructed around 1905 on the site of the original building. You can still see the original machinery, which is mainly made of wood.
The next building is the famous Basilica de Santa Maria, a perfect example of Gothic architecture. Its marble exterior, stained glass windows, alabaster main altarpiece, the Gothic belfry, and the Parish Museum visualize its history.
But if you a history lover, the Museum of Medieval History of Castelló d’Empúries is something for you. Located at the historical building of the Curia-Prison, the museum is one of the medieval spaces of the town.
Where to stay
Many holidaymakers spend weeks in this town. In the summer, it can host up to 80,000 visitors, while the regular residents are around 5,000. There are also many apartments and holiday homes in the town.
- Port Salins is in the centre of Empuriabrava Port, 100 metres from the beach. It and offers views over the Salins canals. Cap de Creus Natural Park is 7 km away. The charming, white-washed town of Cadaques is approximately 13 km away, where guests can visit Dali’s unique house.
- Maison canal Avec piscine Amarre 9m has the best location in the town. Featuring a seasonal outdoor swimming pool, a garden, and a terrace, the hotel also has free WiFi and pool views.
How to get there
There are four ways from Barcelona to Empuriabrava, either by train, by taxi, bus or car. Please find connections here. The easiest way to Empuriabrava from the French side is to rent a car and drive around this Spanish area.