Living the High Life in Cadaqués, Spain
Leah Walker April 4, 2013

There’s one road in and one road out of Cadaqués, Spain, and that’s exactly how the locals like it. Once only accessible by sea, this former fishing village now has a two-lane road that snakes through the mountainous Cap de Creus National Park, one of Catalonia’s largest protected areas. Cadaqués isn’t easy to get to, but I find that most great places are aren’t.

Costa Brava Catalonia

After about a two-hour drive from Barcelona, I arrived into Cadaqués. Located just south of the French border where the Pyrenees mountains run into the Mediterranean Sea, this charming town in Costa Brava was a favorite of Salvador Dali.

The minute I descended down the mountain into Cadaqués, I could see why Dali was so taken with the village. Even in the off-season with many of the water-front restaurants, bars, and hotels closed, I knew that in the summer it was a vibrant, yet relaxing place to visit. It was decided; I would return.

Cadaques Spain

Driving along the seaside road through the town, I turned my attention to the Mediterranean. It was a far cry from the glass-like turquoise waters I envisioned. Instead, the sea appeared choppy and white. Tramuntana, the name the locals have given the forceful winds coming off the Pyrenees, were to blame.

During the winter and into the late spring, these winds cause havoc in Cadaqués. In fact, Costa Brava {wild coast in Spanish} got it’s name from Tramuntana. Growing up on the plains of West Texas, I eschewed the 50 mile per hour winds that blew red dirt and tumbleweeds, but here locals embrace them. Tramuntana is cleansing they say. I wasn’t sure if I should admire them for that attitude or instead think them crazy.

Costa Brava Catalonia

Just a short walk from town, tucked down a private dirt road, was where I’d rest my head while in Cadaqués. Sprawling. Seaside. Spectacular. These were the adjectives that immediately came to mind as I walked through the gates and up the stone stairs to the front door. Thanks to Charming Villas Catalonia, this was mine, at least for three nights. Instead of rushing to claim my bedroom, I took off around the side of the house for a better look of the view.

Costa Brava Spain

Despite the howling wind, I stood at the edge of the laid-rock barrier with mouth agape. Small and large boats moved back and forth in the bay. Cadaqués and its beautiful white buildings rose up out of the sea and into the mountain. I faintly made out the church at the town’s highest point. The sky was overcast, but I could imagine spending many hours sitting on the rock bench watching the sun cast a golden glow as it falls behind the mountains.

Costa Brava Catalonia

The Tramuntana blew a familiar scent my way. I turned my attention away from the view of Cadaqués in order to find the source. A thick row of rosemary-type bushes encircled much of the house and momentarily blocked the view of the uniquely-shaped swimming pool. It was far too cold for a dip, but I could totally see myself doing a cannonball come summer.

Costa Brava Swimming Pool

I couldn’t imagine a better place to be than sitting outside with the beauty and sound of the sea to enjoy, but there was the house, dubbed Sa Costa, to explore. With its burnt orange floor tiles and palate of whites, the interior of the house was fabulously decorated, but did nothing to compete with the real star: Costa Brava.

Costa Brava Villa

Two sides of the house were floor-to-ceiling glass that framed Cadaqués and the Mediterranean. Doors opened up to a wrap-around, covered patio, complete with tables and seating. Into the kitchen I went to find a nice bottle of Spanish red; I was going to sit on that porch and drink in the view as well as the wine. To hell with Tramuntana; a little wind never hurt anyone.

Costa Brava Villa

Leah Costa Brava

Under that porch in a wicker chair I sat swilling Catalan wine and eating Spanish ham, olives, and cheese. I’m not sure how long I was there, but it was long enough to finish a bottle and open another. Somehow the warm red wine kept me from feeling the effects of the frigid wind blowing off the sea. I had nowhere to go and nothing to do. This was a foreign feeling for me, but I embraced it and was rewarded with a faint rainbow as well as a sunset.

Cadaques Rainbow

The sunset was just as I’d imagined it to be… Brilliant! In that moment, I understood why Dali loved Cadaqués. I felt fortunate to be introduced and looked forward to knowing her better. I had two more days with Cadaqués and I would relish them both.

Costa Brava Sunset

I was an invited guest of Charming Villas Catalonia, however the opinions expressed here are truly my own. In no way was I swayed by the multi-million dollar estate, the ever-present salty sea air of Cadaqués, or the unlimited supply of Spanish wine and ham.

Charming Villas Catalonia specializes in the rental of high-quality homes and villas in Catalonia, Spain. They are located in Besalu, and as locals, they are able to share first-hand knowledge of Catalonia with their clients.

Leah Walker

Leah's a luxury travel and food writer who has as many stories as she does shoes. She documents her experiences whether that's in the lap of luxury or riding through a swamp in an airboat. Leah freelances and has contributor/editor roles with The Daily Meal, The Daily Basics, Bonjour Paris, France Today, Luxe Beat Magazine, Four Seasons Magazine, Forbes Travel Guide, and is a travel ambassador for Atout France USA. Leah's thrilled to call Paris home after being awarded the coveted three-year Compétences & Talents visa from France, though her talents don't extend to speaking French. Yet.

34 Comments

  1. delicious like everything that is Costa Brava. i loved Cadaques more than anywhere else i’ve been yet in Costa Brava. it’s kinda hard to top after that villa and the meals & the view!

    1. You are absolutely right, Lola. You and I’ve been very fortunate to have been treated like queens throughout Catalonia. It’s hard not to love that part of the world.

  2. I truly don’ know how you weren’t at all swayed by the salty air of Cadaques. I know I woud be. (-:

    Made it to Figueres but the weather was miserable on theonly day I could go to Cadaques during my Catalonia trip last November. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    1. Even in the most miserable of weather, Cadaques is worth the trip. At times the wind felt like a thousand knives cutting through me, but I’d do it again in a heartbeat. You must get there, Richard!

    1. Oh, I did walk along the coast and it was awesome. In fact, it’s one of the few times I wanted to tear myself away from the villa. Why leave when you have everything right at your fingertips?

  3. Great photos! I love the whole of the Cap de Creus. I’ve never actually stayed in Cadaques, although visited a few times, but I’ know Port de la Selva VERY well and some of the dive sites in the area are unbelievable.

    1. I bet there are some wonderful dive sites around there and perhaps some sunken ships. 🙂 I guess I better get my diving license before I return.

  4. It sounds absolutely delightful Leah! I fell in love with Spain so many years ago, but have yet to experience Costa Brava! Sounds so ruggedly beautiful…I think I would never want to leave! Think it is soon time for me to make a Spain bucket list…and Costa Brava will be at the top!

    1. Strangely enough, I’ve been to Spain three times in less than a year and the only place I’ve been is Catalonia and Costa Brava. Perhaps we can trade Spanish secrets. I’m game if you are.

    1. Hey…don’t forget the ham. I can see it now, you and me sitting in front of those windows surrounded by ham and wine. That’s what’s up!

  5. Dali painted great views of Cadaques in his earlier days before he got more whimsical. The paintings are very beautiful and make one want to see the real place! Glad you got to see it.

    1. Whimsical is certainly one way to describe Dali’s later works. But, yes, I can see why he was inspired to not only paint, but live there. It’s a wonderful part of the world.

    1. Hosted Villas really showcased wonderful parts of Costa Brava. They also REALLY made me want to return, preferably in the summer. I’m smelling another Spanish adventure.

    1. I’m just the opposite. I’ve been all over Costa Brava, but not the rest of Spain. We can trade advice.

  6. Hello Leah! I’ve just seen your blog post about Cadaqués, and I really like it! I’m from Catalonia and towns of Costa Brava are my favourite but Cadaqués is definitely more special! I also wrote about this place and it would be great if you could take a look 😀 my blog is http://behindthetravel.com thank you! 🙂

    Have a beautiful day

    1. I have to say that I did enjoy Cadaques immensely. I really want to return in the summer when I can enjoy the water a bit more. Thanks for sharing your blog. I’ll be sure to check it out.

  7. Cadaques is definitely one of the most beautiful spots I have ever seen! I have been lucky enough to live here for the last 15 years – and it doesn´t get boring ever! There are great places to dive … You are right, Cadaques is great even with the worst weather!

  8. Wonderful site. We will be traveling by bus from Barcelona and staying in an apartment in the central part of the city. Is there a taxi service or something to get us from the bus station to the apartment. We could not find the bus station. Do you know where it is?

  9. Been to the rocky coast many times and always loved it. Last time was with a visit to the Dali museum and then a stay in Cadaques. Could permanently live there as I love the cosy feel of the village and the people. Just a different culture and mentality. Complete families going to restaurants and while the older folks enjoy the after dinner talk the kids go play around the city square. It wasn’t until midnight that they were leaving. Nobody in a rush to get the kids to bed “in time for school”, probably because they’ve learned that they will just sleep twice as hard after all the fun they had. They just know how to live.

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