At the beginning of May, I spent a few days in Lloret de Mar, a seaside town in the Costa Brava area of Spain. Located about an hour north of Barcelona, the area is a popular tourist destination during the summer months. We were there before the summer rush, but the weather was still warm enough to swim in the hotel pool. It was a bit too chilly for the kids to go into the ocean, but that didn't stop us from hanging out on the beach.
The beach isn't exactly a soft sand beach, but is sandy with pebbles. It's much softer than the beaches in the south of France, but still a bit pebbly. The waves at the main beach in Lloret aren't too high, but the swell is quite strong and the water gets deep quickly, so it's better for older children than it is for young ones. Still, the beach area is clean and the water is beautiful, and I was a bit disappointed that it was still too chilly to go in.
During the summer months, Lloret de Mar is a popular tourist town, frequented by Spanish, French, English, and Russian tourists for the most part. It was common to see signs in Catalan first, followed by Spanish, then Russian or English. The town itself has quite a bit of history, with most of the more charming historical sites, such as the St. Clothilde gardens, a bit on the outskirts of the busier part of town. There is a local bus network that is perfect for heading out to see all the sights on day trips around town. Since I was there for a conference, I stuck close to the main part of town, but I would love to go back to explore the countryside.
Still, exploring the streets of the old town was pretty interesting in its own right. This colourful church stands out from the buildings around it, presiding over a bustling square where cafes provide the perfect view of this masterpiece. Another detail I absolutely loved about Lloret de mar were the tiles used everywhere. Most buildings in the old part of town had tiles with pictures painted on them depicting scenes from daily life in the town. Since my father used lay tiles for a living, I'm always interested in tilework and mosaics.
The winding backstreets of the pedestrian part of town are home to tapas bars and restaurants, bakeries and cafes, and little shops. We spent a whole afternoon just poking around town, checking out the little stores and taking photos of anything that interested us. The old part of Lloret is not very big, so it can be walked in an hour or two, but add in a leisurely lunch or some people watching at a cafe and it's easy to pass a few hours without even noticing. It's also a bit of a break from the main drag of the town, which is pretty much a giant tourist trap of bars and cheap eateries. The historical part of Lloret manages to remain charming, and you can escape the college aged crowd that tends to favour the more modern, main drag.
The food in this part of Spain has a rich history, and there are several gastronomical routes in the surrounding areas that are perfect for the traveler interested in learning more about the artisanal wines and cheeses of the region, as well as the incredible meat, seafood, and even vegetarian dishes that make the food from this area so incredible. I am not a huge seafood lover, but I found the fish so fresh and prepared in such simple but gorgeous dishes that I couldn't resist. There are many great, authentic tapas and Catalan restaurants in town, most of them not directly on the main street that runs down to the beach.
The more modern part of town has a lot for tourists to do if they are looking to get out at night. The nightclubs cater to a bit of a younger crowd, but there are bars and a casino that are great for a night out. For teens, there is a big arcade, as well as opportunities to participate in outdoor activities, including some water sports. The week we were there the town was holding a Happy Food Truck festival, with some of the cutest food trucks I've ever seen. There was even a gluten free one!
I highly recommend taking a boat ride down the coast, where the true beauty of the region can be appreciated from the water. The name Costa Brava translates to "Angry Coast" in English, and it's possible to see the rocky coastline that dominates much of the shore, along with the lush vegetation and incredible views. Some of my favourite photos from the area come from the sunset boat cruise that I took courtesy of the conference I was attending. The colours and textures of the rocks, the varying shades of blue of the sea and sky, and they ruggedness of the coastline were breathtaking.
I only spent a few days in this beautiful town, but it made an impact. This particular region of Spain is so naturally beautiful that it was hard to leave without feeling that there was so much more left to explore.