The Costa Brava is a coastal region of northeastern Spain, consisting of Alt Empordà, Baix Empordà and Selva, in the province of Girona, Catalonia. The Costa Brava stretches from Blanes, 60 kilometres northeast of Barcelona, to the French border. In the 1950s, the Costa Brava was identified by the Spanish government and local entrepreneurs as being suitable for substantial development as a holiday destination, mainly for package holiday tourists from Northern Europe and especially the United Kingdom and France. The combination of a very good summer climate, nature, excellent beaches and a favourable foreign exchange rate, which made Spain a relatively inexpensive tourist destination, was exploited by the construction of large numbers of hotels and apartments in such seaside resorts as Blanes, Tossa de Mar and Lloret de Mar. Tourism rapidly took over from fishing as the principal business of the area.
The province of Girona is within Catalonia, it covers an area of 5,885 square kilometres and is situated in the extreme northeast part of the Iberian Peninsula, between 41°40′ and 42°30′ latitude and 5°27′ and 7° longitude east. The western border is a broken line that separates it from the province of Barcelona. The coastal strip is its eastern border, which extends along 158 linear kilometres or 256 kilometres of the intricate profile of the Costa Brava.
The Generalitat de Catalunya defines the Costa Brava as the coastal region that stretches from the Franco-Spanish border to the mouth of the River Tordera, marking the border of the provinces of Girona and Barcelona. Portbou is the closest town to the border while its Blanes marks its southernmost point. The Costa Brava Girona Tourism Board, a body of the tourism industry of the Province of Girona, promotes the brand name Costa Brava as an area of 5,885 square kilometres. By this definition, Costa Brava includes the coastal comarques of Alt Empordà, Baix Empordà, Selva and the inland comarques of Pla de l'Estany and Gironès.
Pablo Casals, Manuel de Falla and Isaac Albéniz are some of the great figures who have left their mark on the Costa Brava. However, one of the first music festival organisers was Josep Ensesa, who opened the doors and gardens of Senya Blanca, his house in S'Agaró, to music lovers in 1956 with a series of concerts christened the International Music Festival. The success of this festival led other Costa Brava towns to host similar events and nowadays almost all the towns on the Costa Brava hold annual musical events.
Music forms part of the character of many towns and of the several events held by them over the course of the year. However, it is in the summer when emblematic venues such as gardens, covered squares, cloisters, monasteries or waterside venues host internationally renowned musical and cultural events. These summer events showcase all kinds of music, including classical music, pop and rock, havaneres (colonial sea shanties) and Catalan sardana music.
But there are a number of festivals in Costa Brava that stand out above the rest in terms of their history, originality or colour. These include the procession Dansa de la Mort (Dance of Death) in Verges on Maundy Thursday and the Dance of Death, with characters donning skeleton outfits dancing in the streets, the living Way of the Cross in Sant Hilari Sacalm, the floral carpet festival in Arbúcies, the Hobby Horse dance in Sant Feliu de Pallerols, the Ball del Cornut and La Plantada de l'Arbre (The Planting of the Tree) of May in Cornellà del Terri, not to mention the major music festivals, some of them internationally renowned, such as Peralada Castle, Cap Roig Garden Festival in Calella de Palafrugell and Torroella de Montgrí festivals, which draw world-class performers, as well as opera and contemporary music figures.
The climate of Costa Brava is typically Mediterranean, mild and temperate, characterised by hot, dry summers and moderately cold winters. The annual average temperature ranges from 7 to 28 °C, while the highest temperatures are recorded in the months of July and August.
Costa Brava's main airport is Girona-Costa Brava airport. Ryanair operate flights to the airport from several destinations in Europe and Morocco all year. Other airlines include Thomas Cook Airlines, Thomson Airways and transavia.com (all seasonal). Alternatively, you can fly into Barcelona-El Prat airport. Airport shuttles operate between Girona-Costa Brava airport and the majority of the resort cities, Barcelona and Girona city centre.
If you want to explore a lot of the coastal cities then renting a car is your best option. There is regular bus service between the towns but nothing compares driving along and stopping where you like.
The Costa Brava region has some renowned restaurants, including Miramar in Llançà with 2 Michelin stars, and la Llar in Empuriabrava and Els Brancs in Roses with one star each.
You can also find plenty of touristic restaurants with seafood and paella and traditional restaurants with Catalan cuisine in all the towns and cities.
Any coastal town or city in the Costa Brava have almost a bar near the beach to relax and take a drink.
Lloret de Mar is well known because of it's discos and nightlife, but you can take a drink quietly on many bars near to the beach.
There is a Denomination of Origin for wine called, DO Empordà that encompasses most of the Costa Brava region and in the last 15-20 years, the wines have increased greatly in quality to the point of being quite recommendable.
All the cities and towns in the Costa Brava have camping areas and hotels for tourist accommodation.
One of the biggest areas for those arriving by caravan is between Sant Pere Pescador and L'Escala which during the summer has more Dutch and British license plates than Spanish.
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