Empuriabrava, an Unusual Town Along the Costa Brava

Empuriabrava is the largest residential marina in the world, an unusual town along the Costa Brava. The development started around the late 1970s when a group of visionaries dreamed of building large, comfortable, luxurious houses throughout the town, with yachts moored at their doorsteps. Not far from the border of France, the town has now 24 kilometers of canals and around 5000 private jetties.  And, it has also become an up-level tourist resort with canals reminiscent of Venice.

If you have a holiday at the Vermillion Coast or Perpignan, France, this could be a day trip destination. The driving time from Collioure to Empuriabrava is around one hour. It is a beautiful coastal driving route passing through many small fishing villages. It is also possible to have a day trip to Empuriabrava from Barcelona.

Related post: Collioure, a Charming French Fishing Village near the Spanish Border

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.

Things to do in Empuriabrava

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

Or, you can make a day trip to one of the Spanish towns, such as Cadaqués, which is only 24 kilometres away from Empuriabrava.

Related post: Cadaqués, Things to Do in Costa Brava Seaside Town

Take an Eco Boat Trip

We boarded on an electric boat and toured around the canal. The rental company Eco Boats provided us a map of the local waterway.  The boats are in an elegant design and are ideal for many activities in an ecological way. The 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. The round tour also passed a small triangle lake and took exactly one hour. It was quite a pleasant view of those luxury houses along the canals. These villas have terraces, balconies, and loggia, all with different sets of lounge furniture. Instead of cars, residents use their boats to go shopping.

Empuriabrava, Spain

Skydive (Parachuting)

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. If you’re just a beginner, Empuriabrava’s friendly world-class instructors will guide you. You learn about the methods and safety procedures, and also have a chance to do a tandem jump. The experienced jumpers can expand their knowledge even further here.

If you book the Skydive Costa Brava, you will look down at stunning views of mountain tops and pristine beaches, something very spectacular. Do you want to fly like a bird and float like a cloud? Then please book Skydive Costa Brava.

Are you still afraid of skydive? Never mind, you can join this Helicopter Ride to view the town and Costa Brava from the sky.  It also passes Carrer de Figueres, Castelló d’Empúries, and Girona. The departure point is Empuriabrava.

Canal scene in Empuriabrava, Spain
Apartments around the small lake along the canal tour, Empuriabrava, Spain

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 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. 

Rubina beach in Empuriabrava, Spain (source)

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. It was created on the site of the Molí del Mig, one of the three mills of the medieval town of Castelló d’Empúries. The three-storey building was constructed around 1905 on the site of the original building. One can still see the original machinery, which is mainly made of wood.


The next building is the famous Basilica de Santa Maria. The marble exterior, stained glass windows, alabaster main altarpiece, the Gothic belfry, and the Parish Museum lead you to its history. The building is  the perfect example of Gothic architecture.

Address: Plaça Mossen Cinto Verdaguer, 17486 Castellón de Ampurias, Girona, Spain

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.

Address: Carrer de la Presó, 6, 17486 Castelló d’Empúries, Girona, Spain

Ecomuseum-Flour Mill, Castelló d’ Empuries, Spain (source)
Basilica de Santa Maria, Castelló d’ Empuries, Spain (source)

Suggested tours

The Spanish coastal town Roses is only a few kilometres away. The tour Catamaran Cruise Cap Norfeu – Cadaqués starts from Roses. Departing from the dock of the Ginjolers in the center of Roses, sail along the beautiful coast between Roses and Cadaqués with its solitary coves lined with pine trees and cliffs, until you reach Cap Norfeau. Anchor in Racó de l’Home cove, where you can stop for a pleasant swim in the crystal clear waters.

Or, take the tour Sailing Catamaran Cruise to Medes Islands. The tour starts from Roses, sails along the Bay of Roses and the spectacular Costa Brava to the Medes Islands. While surrounding the spectacular islands, you can also enjoy the views of the village of Estartit and the Montgrí massif. Stop at Cala Montgó or Illa Pedrosa, for more or less 2 hours, where you can swim and sunbathe. Meanwhile, the crew will serve a delicious barbecue meal prepared on board.


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. The good thing is that there are also many quality apartments and holiday homes in the town.

Port Salins is in the centre of Empuriabrava Port, this hotel is 100 metres from the beach and offers views over the Salins canals. It features a wellness area, a rooftop hot tub, and pool. Rooms are decorated in blue tones and most come with a balcony. Besides, they include air conditioning, satellite TV, and a private bathroom with a glass wall.

Cap de Creus Natural Park is 7 km away and provides an ideal area for hiking. The charming, white-washed town of Cadaques is approximately 13 km away and guests can visit Dali’s unique house.

Port Salins (source)

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. This villa offers air-conditioned accommodation with a balcony.

Maison canal avec piscine Amarre 9m (source)

How to get there

Get to Empuriabrava from Barcelona, there are 4 ways, either by train, by taxi, bus or car. Please find connections here.

Get to Empuriabrava from the French side, the easiest way is to rent a car and drive around this Spanish area. Rentalcars.com has many offers from different merchants. Please take a look and find a suitable one here.





  1. If I had known that Empuriabrava was only a day trip away from Barcelona, I would’ve done it when I was there a couple of months ago. What a lovely day trip it would’ve made, relaxing on the beaches, visiting the fishing villages nearly, or even visiting the Castelló d’ Empuries.

  2. I guess Empuriabrava is an example of what a vision came true. When I came to the picture of the Basilica, I was thinking, please don’t tell me that they also built a basilica that looks like from hundred years ago. Thankfully it’s not. This place really gives the luxurious holiday for its visitors.

  3. I went to Costa Brava a few years ago for a TBEX meeting, in Lloret de Mar. I absolutely loved Catalonia and promised myself to return someday. I didn’t get as far as Empuriabrava, but I remember visiting some very beautiful coastal towns like Tossa de Mar.

  4. I think a lot of beach towns can look pretty run down by tourists, but Empuriabrava looks so upscale and beautiful. I love the variety of activities there are to do too, so you’re not just laying out all day. Cruising around by boat there would be a lot of fun I imagine, and I would love to skydive there as well!

  5. I hoping to head to the south of France next year and I really didn’t know about this place. Thanks for introducing this to me. I’m definitely adding this to my itinerary.
    Street names at the end of the canals? Indeed as you say, the whole thing is like a lesser-known Venice. Good to know we can operate our own boats and its easy as well. I’ve been wanting to do skydiving since ages. Let’s see if I can do it here in Southern France.

  6. Nice to see somewhere a little more unusual – not that I don’t love Barcelona, but there’s also so much more to see. I do think I’m too wussy for skydiving (although it’s incredibly exciting) but a helicopter ride would be ace. And then I’d go find out just how big the Attacus atlas is in Park Empuriabrava 🙂

  7. I have never heard of Empuriabrava but it sure looks really nice! I would definitely take an Eco Boat Tour as well. I like to see places for a different view.

  8. Well, this is the first time I heard about Empuriabrava but going on an eco boat trip and a visit to the Butterfly Park is really nice.

    Would definitely love to visit in the future. Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful experience.

  9. I love the idea of taking an Eco Boat tour. I love being able to get out onto the water and view a city/town from a different perspective. And I love that they have the street names on the banks of the canals. Clever. The Basilica de Santa Maria in Castelló d’ Empuries looks amazing. I love to check out the architecture of churches!

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