Costa Brava/Catalonia Itinerary

Old Jul 26th, 2015, 06:04 PM
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Costa Brava/Catalonia Itinerary

Hello All, I have been reading a ton of trip reports and postings but still can't nail down an itinerary for our late September trip to Catalonia or more specifically the Costa Brava area of Spain. We plan on beginning and ending the trip in Barcelona.
We are 2 very active Canadian seniors, retired and visiting this area for 10 days, looking more for ambience and pleasant walks/hikes, bike rides etc., versus intense museum and gallery tours. We spent 3 weeks in Spain recently with 6 fabulous days in Barcelona and want to revisit the rural parts of the area. We are planning to rent a car and center some of the time around Girona, perhaps daytripping from there. We were going to chill out in Sitges for 2 nights before beginning the trip.
Main Questions:
1. We like slow travel, and where are the best towns to stop for 1-3 nights
2. The N11 seems like an interesting route, but is it viable to drive along it while seeing the sights/coast?
3. We thought of staying 4 -5 nights in Girona, is that too long?
There are lots of interesting looking places, we just don't know where to begin. The idea of mooching along the coast, stopping at the most interesting towns for a night or two, offers great appeal, but which ones?
Any and all ideas and suggestions would be MOST welcome!!!!!
Cheers
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Old Jul 26th, 2015, 08:48 PM
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kja
 
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The good news is that you don't have bad choices here, at least any of which I am aware!

"We thought of staying 4 -5 nights in Girona, is that too long?"

It really depends on you, your interests, and the amount of time you are willing to devote to day trips. For me, it would have been too much -- but it really is a personal choice! I thoroughly enjoyed Girona, and if you choose to make it a base, I'm sure you will find much to treasure there.

Have you seen my trip report? You might find some useful ideas there. For example, I was glad to spend nights in Cadaquez and Tossa del Mar. YMMV.

If you haven't already done so, I recommend that you consult a good guidebook or two (always a worthy investment, IME, but you can also check your local library), note the things that you most want to see and experience, check their opening hours, and mark them on a calendar. Block out your time for transportation, checking into / out of hotels, meals, etc. Then see where you stand.

And if in the area, I strongly recommend the glorious Jardins de Santa Clothilde in Lloret de Mar.

Hope that helps!
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Old Jul 26th, 2015, 10:36 PM
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I start with scenic drives:

The N11 north of Barcelona is mildly scenic up to Calella where it leaves the coast. A more beautiful drive is the smaller GI 682 from Lloret de Mar to Sant Feliu. In the middle is Tossa de Mar, a very picturesque town with a castle on a rock in the sea. If you are looking for a town to stop for a night, this is it.

4-5 nights in Girona would be a bit too much for my taste.

My personal tip:

I would stay at least two nights in Cadaques - a most beautiful white town on the sea. Cadaques is the base to drive to Cap de Creus - an incredibly scenic spot and the very heart of the Costa Brava ("wild coast"). Although you are not museum people, you should not miss Salvador Dali's eccentric villa in Port Lligat near Cadaques. On the Cap de Creus peninsula there are many tiny roads which are quite scenic. There is an old monastery (S. Pere de Rodes) and a little bit inland you find the Perelada winery (famous for sparkling wine) located in a castle.

North of Cadaques you might hop into France. Collioure on the coast is a beautiful town, and so is Ceret in a valley of the Pyrenees. For a bit of mountain taste, you might drive up Mont Canigou on one of the tiny roads.

For another Dali experience, you may visit the museum in Figueres.

Hence, an itinerary could look like this:

Day 1: starting from Barcelona, driving the N11 northwards, visiting Jardins de Santa Clothilde in Lloret and then the GI 682 to Tossa de Mar. In the afternoon, visiting Tossa. Overnight in Tossa.

Day 2: Continuing the scenic drive on GI 682, from there taking the fastest way on the motorway northwards to Cadaques with an optional stop in Figueres to visit the Dali museum (one hour). Overnight in Cadaques.

Day 3: From Cadaques, exploring Cap de Creus and peninsula (biking? - it's hilly there). Overnight in Cadaques.

Day 4: Another day in Cadaques (there is enough to do there). Overnight in Cadaques.

Day 5: Driving along the coast northwards to Collioure, Ceret and into the mountains. Overnight in Ceret. OR: At first driving over the motorway to Ceret, into the mountains, then to Collioure and staying overnight in Collioure.

Variation: spend two nights either in Ceret or Collioure (recommended).

Day 6 or 7: Driving to Girona and spending the remainder of your time in Girona.
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Old Jul 26th, 2015, 10:41 PM
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"Another day in Cadaques (there is enough to do there)." -- perhaps, but not enough for me. Traveller1959 has otherwise given you some great options.
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Old Jul 26th, 2015, 10:51 PM
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Oh, and if you plan on visiting the Teatro-Museo Dali in Figueres, you might want to allow at least 2 hours. When I was there this past May, the crowds were dense enough to force frequent blockages within the museum. YMMV.
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Old Jul 27th, 2015, 12:49 PM
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Thanks so much for the tips, I have read both of your trip reports and found them most helpful.
Another thought that I was considering, but forgot to ask, was the possibility of picking up a car in Girona (training from Barcelona/Sitges) and then travelling from there, eventually returning to that city?
Itinerary:
3 nights Sitges
2 nights Girona
2 nights Cadaques
2 nights Tossa
1 night Girona....training back to Barecelona for flight.
Any further thoughts, suggestions would be wonderful.
Also, I posted this request for info on the Europe board, should I have posted in the Spain forum?
Thanks again!
Cheers
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Old Jul 27th, 2015, 04:48 PM
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If possible, put all of your time in Girona together. No reason for an avoidable change of hotels!

I think your idea of picking up the rental car in Girona is excellent. You should be able to return there or at Barcelona's airport with at most a nominal charge for using different locations. (I picked up in Burgos, returned in Barcelona, and had no extra fee for doing so.)

"I posted this request for info on the Europe board, should I have posted in the Spain forum?"

You're good -- your post is on the Europe board and is tagged for Spain. All is as it should be!
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