The 200-Km coastline of the Costa Brava offers much more than a relaxing holiday stay. The range of proposals in terms of sights, entertainment, sport, culture and cuisine is endless if one knows how to seek out the hidden places, including historical landmarks such as the dolmens of the Albera range and medieval villages like Pals or Peratallada. As for the landscape, one can still be surprised by the beauty of the coves and cliffs of Begur, Palafrugell and the Sant Sebastià lighthouse, or by towns which have inspired artists and writers like Cadaqués, Tossa de Mar or Calella de Palafrugell. For those who seek contrasts, all one must do is compare the dynamic bustle of towns like Platja d'Aro, Roses, Empuriabrava, Lloret de Mar, L'Estartit or Sant Antoni de Calonge with the peace and calm of the marshes of the Aiguamolls de l'Empordà, the unique Banyoles lake - host of 2004 World Rowing Championship, the indomitable geology of Cap de Creus or natural parks, botanical gardens, museums, festivals, street markets and a cuisine that is acknowledged throughout Europe. A wide range of leisure and entertainment possibilities, make Costa Brava a destination, where everyone can find something to spark their interest. Among the various activities that can be practised all year round thanks to the mild Mediterranean weather, are: golf - with more than 10 golf courses, path-walking, mountain biking, hiking, rowing, parachuting, scuba diving, windsurf, kayaking, sailing...
Pirineu de Girona
For many, the Pyrenees are synonymous with skiing. But there's a lot more to admire and discover - the lay of the land in the Pirineu de Girona is complex, but there are still many areas and villages for people to visit! Many scenic areas of the Pirineu are located alongside villages and historic sites. It is not uncommon for a magnificent high-mountain lake and a Romanesque hermitage to coexist side by side. One can find medieval villages like Besalú or Santa Pau, or places that combine impressive crags with Romanesque ruins, such as Oix and Beget, enchanting valleys like Camprodon or charming peaks in Cerdanya and Núria. The flora and fauna feature unique local species, and the medieval spirit where the Catalonia of old originated can still be breathed. But heritage, peace and tranquillity are not all the Pirineau has to offer. Fans of physical activity can practise all kinds of mountain sports here: from trekking to hot air ballooning, from horse riding to more risky adventure sports.
Similarly, the conservation of natural areas like the Garrotxa Volcanic Area Natural Park or Cadí-Moixeró Natural Park has gone hand-in-hand with the restoration of all kinds of traditions, not only related to festivities, folklore or crafts, but also to cuisine and culture. Thus, museums, markets, music festivals and fairs are at everybody's fingertips; even more so now that improved roadways have made access to the Girona Pyrenees far easier, connecting the region via rapid transit with the large urban centres of Catalonia, Andorra, Southern France.
Strolling throughout Girona's lovely old town is walking through the legacy of two thousand years of history. The medieval walls - nowadays a promenade, the Arab baths, the Cathedral with its single nave, the outstanding example of Catalan gothic architecture, the majestic baroque style staircases, the old Jewish quarter, the labyrinth of stone and a network of tiny and narrow streets. Stretching along the river Onyar, the squares and the covered streets which used to house markets keep still the commercial tradition. The view of the houses along the riverbank is one of the most spectacular images of Girona. Girona is also a lively, modern city, with a wide choice of shops catering for all needs and tastes. There are cafés, bars and restaurants to try Catalan and international cuisine…and best of all: everything is within walking distance!
It has been written that cooking is scenery placed in a pot. Given the variety offered by our scenery, a matching diversity in our styles of cuisine is to be expected. This is indeed the case: our traditional meal, the so-called “surf & turf” consists of fish & seafood mixed with products from the land. We also are renowned for the quality of our meat, sausages, cold meats, garden produce, oils and many fish and seafood delicacies. All of these products and dishes go extremely well with the cavas and wines of the Empordà-Costa Brava appellation d'origine. Many of these products have achieved a well-deserved D.O.
Girona's cuisine is not limited to traditional fare (which indeed maintains its popularity as shown by the numerous culinary events held throughout the year). Our cuisine, like that found in other parts of Spain and Europe, has managed to adapt to new tastes and create highly innovative dishes, to the extent that the cuisine of our local chefs is recognised in the world's most prestigious food guides. Be that as it may, however, the balance between tradition and the fantasy of the new “chef-artists” has always been preserved. In Girona, cuisine merits a special chapter on any tourist's agenda.
The life and work of the Figueres-born artist are condensed into three emblematic spaces. In the Theatre-Museum, in Figueres, visitors can admire works such as Galarina, the Spectre of the Sex Appeal or Leda Atòmica; surrealist installations such as the Rainy Taxi or the Mae West room and Dalí's recurring obsessions, such as his Empurdanese roots or the figure of Gala, his wife and muse. The second space is the House-Museum in Portlligat, outside Cadaqués, a row of fishermen's huts that Dalí turned into his residence and workshop; the result is a labyrinthine structure with small spaces strung together and full of split levels, where the furniture and personal objects of the artist are conserved. Visits must be arranged in advance. The Triangle is completed by the Castle of Púbol, in the municipality of La Pera, in the Baix Empordà, which Dalí bought for Gala in fulfilment of his promise to make her the queen of a castle. In addition to the collection of works of art, visitors can see Gala's private rooms, her collection of haute couture dresses, the couple's Cadillac and the crypt where Gala is buried.