Just a two and a half hour drive from Barcelona lies one of the most beautiful places in Spain, an old fishing village by the sea with enough charm to sweep you off your feet in a severe and almost unexpected way.
Cadaqués sits tucked away at the tip of the Costa Brava, just south of the French border, in between mountains and the sea. There’s only one road leading to the tiny town, swirling its way through the Cap de Creus National Park, one hairpin turn after death-defying cliffside drop at a time. It’s farther away than most places on the Costa Brava, but those who choose to wander past the high-rise resorts and package holiday destinations will be rewarded with breathtaking views, delicious food, kind people and a soul-stirring sense of peace that’s worth every inch of those extra miles.
Even though the road to Cadaqués is a long and winding one, it’s actually not difficult to get there from Barcelona or any of the cities along the Costa Brava. From Barcelona, if you don’t want to rent a car, take the Moventis bus from the airport or Barcelona Estacio del Nord directly to Cadaqués for under 30 euros one way. Then sit back and enjoy the stunning ride!
Where to Stay
There are plenty of options for every budget. I went the more affordable route with Hotel Ubaldo. While the rooms are quite simple, they are very clean and most have a balcony—a must if you ask me! Plus it’s close to the bus station making it much easier to navigate to with luggage on the teeny, tiny, winding cobblestone streets.
Things to do in Cadaqués
Get lost in the charm
Just start walking along the labyrinth of streets and you’re likely to get lost in the right direction. Between the whitewashed facades, Mediterranean style tile roofs, splashes of blue, flowers overflowing from every angle, sparkling sea views and friendly felines, I found myself sighing with happiness at every corner.
Channel your inner artist
Walking around, you’ll likely spot groups of painters perched by the sea or walking the back streets, happily filling their canvases with the inspiration that surrounds them. If you’re more of an art admirer than an art maker, there are plenty of galleries and boutiques just waiting to be discovered. With beauty and light that dreams are made of, it’s no wonder Cadaqués is such an art-centered town.
Visit Salvador Dali’s home
Speaking of artists, Salvador Dali lived in Port Lligat, a tiny village just up the road from the main center of Cadaqués, from 1930 to 1982. You can visit the home turned museum for 11 euros. It’s well worth the money and the beautiful hike to get there, to get a glimpse into the weird, whimsical world he lived in…and not just in his paintings. The house is full of eccentricities that will leave you amused and slightly baffled at the same time.
Wine and dine
Just up the road in Roses, chef Ferran Adrià and his molecular gastronomy techniques turned his restaurant, elBulli, into what many called the best in the world. elBulli closed its doors in 2011, however, some of Ferran’s proteges have set up shop right in Cadaqués with Compartir. I didn’t eat there, but if you’re a foodie, don’t miss this spot. If vino’s more your thing, try Enoteca MF, a tapas bar with local wines.
Hike the Cap de Creus
The Cap de Creus National Park is essentially a hiking path along the peninsula of Cadaqués with enough cliffs and coastline views to turn you into the heart eyes emoji. Put on your boots, pack a lunch (and perhaps a bottle of wine) and make your way to the Cap de Creus lighthouse for stunning views worth the trek.
Sit back and enjoy life
Seriously! There’s not much else you need to do to enjoy Cadaqués to the fullest, except actually enjoy it. The vibe is sophisticated but not arrogant, relaxed but not boring, vibrant but not exhausting. It’s a place to simply be. People here, whether locals or visitors, are living their best life and it’s a contagious feeling that you’ll remember long after you’ve said goodbye to this little village by the sea.
Whether you’re looking for a city break from Barcelona, a solo retreat getaway or a nature-filled family vacation with more authenticity and fewer crowds, Cadaqués is one of the best places to go in Spain. And while it’s still popular, it’s lesser known than much of the Costa Brava making it an underrated hidden gem you won’t want to miss. Will you put Cadaqués on your bucket list?
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