Begur Spain Travel Guide
Definitely one of the Costa Brava’s little treasures, Begur, in Girona’s Baix Empordà, is around 50 minutes drive from the stunning city of Girona (50 km) or 90 minutes (131 km) from the ever-buzzing Barcelona. It’s within relatively easy reach of Ireland and the UK, with flights into either Girona or Barcelona.
The town is stylish, colourful, classy and packed with gastronomic delights, with beaches where you can enjoy unparalleled beauty and crystalline waters. You really don’t need to do much in Begur, just laze around in gorgeous coves like Sa Tuna and Aiguablava, and then get stressed out by having to decide which restaurant to choose for dinner.
Actually the beaches of Begur, especially the coves I’ve just mentioned, were voted in at no. 3 of the best beaches in Spain, in a survey of Skyscanner customers. Looking out at the Mediterranean, you can see the Medes Islands, which have been protected since 1983 by the Catalan government. These days, these 7 little islands, are growing in importance as a marine reserve, with varied marine biodiversity, including underwater caves.
Back on dry land, the charm and enveloping sense of history in Begur is overwhelming, with its striking medieval castle, which overlooks the old town, where you can see plenty of Indiano mansions. The old quarter is characterised by winding streets. Around town you’ll find lovely boutiques, culture, gastronomy and festivities: here we also bring you information on the main fiestas!
Begur Spain festivals are listed at the end of this feature
Begur's cultural links to Cuba
Begur has cultural links to Cuba, of all places, so you’ll immediately feel and see the colonial influence. During the 19th century, many Begurencs (people from Begur) emigrated from Begur to Cuba, which of course meant that those who did well for themselves came back and built these ostentatious, colonial style homes. Actually this relationship and the culture that surrounds it, is celebrated every September in the three day festival called the Fira d’Indians.
As if the initial impact of Begur isn’t enough, as you explore further, you'll love the endless little charms around. The stylish yet unusual combination of the old huts of the fishermen, where you can smell the pine trees, the layout of the narrow streets where history seems to flow as it is impossibly not to feel it felt in Begur’s generous helping of historical monuments.
Begur for water babies and art lovers
For the water babies, it’s a great spot for diving, and there are a few dive centres to be found in the area. For art lovers, Salvador Gala Dalí Castle House is around 30 km away in Púbol, and in Figueres (58 km) you can visit the Dalí Museum - here you can discover more about the Dali Triangle. A bit further away in Céret, is the Museum of Modern Art (Musée d’Art Moderne) where you can see the works of Matisse and Picasso.
Another gorgeous Costa Brava town, Palafrugell, is only 7 km away, where apart from seeing the town and its lovely beaches, you can also go to the colourful Sunday morning market, or the daily market. Palafrugell also has quite a few good deli shops, plus Lidl and Carrefour, so it can be a good place to get stocked up, for those of you who are planning to rent an apartment or villa.
Begur in The Guardian & The Telegraph Newspapers
The Guardian journalist, Laura Dixon, describes Begur as a “chichi little town” …”with a spread of fantastic restaurants and boutique hotels offering a stylish Spanish beach holiday.” Eddi Fiegel, writing for The Telegraph, lists Begur as one of the top 10 attractions in the whole of the Costa Brava,
Begur things to do
Esclanyà Romanesque Town
Structured around the Church of Sant Esteve d’Esclanya (Saint Stephen of Esclanya), which is mentioned in documents around the year 1280, this Romanesque town of Esclanyà, is a very interesting, quiet town that forms part of the municipality of Begur.
It was actually owned by Senyor de Cruilles until sometimes during the Middle Ages. The castle dates to the 14th century, and today the economy is mainly based on vine and olive production, with tile manufacturing being the predominant industrial activity.
There are a number of houses worth seeing that were built by wealthy people from Begur (Begurencs) who had made their money after emigrating, and then returned home to Begur.
Casa Bonaventura Caner Bataller
In 1866 this house was built by Bonaventura Caner Bataller, who had made his money in the cork industry, after emigrating to Cuba in 1845. You’ll see stone pilasters on the ground and upper floors, in this neo-classical style colonial home.
The house was built for Pere Pont Puig, who returned in 1889 to Begur, from Puerto Rico, to where he had emigrated and made money from commerce.
The Carreras brothers, Pere Pi and Josep, emigrated to Cuba where they made money from a grocery store, which also expanded into an import/export business. This house has a common feature of returning emigrants, which is the south facing garden.
The Cama-Martí family came back and built this house in 1870, having made their fortune in Havana. The porch still frescoes which represent the Americas romantic landscapes. On the front door grille, you’ll see JC – which doesn’t stand for Jesus Christ, but instead for Josep Cama (Rovira) who was the first owner of this property.
Casa de la Vila
In 1902 this house was built, and there are a number of floral Indians aesthetic elements.
Other Colonial Homes To See Include:
- Casa de Josep Forment
- Casa del senyor Puig
- Casa Josep Pi Carreras
- Casa Paco Font
- Casa Pere Cortada Sabater
- Casa Pere Roger
- Casa Ramon Silvestre Darder
- Casa Térmens
- Casa Vicenç Ferrer Bataller
- Casino Cultural
On the initiative of returning Begurencs from the West Indies, the Casino Cultural was built in 1870. It merged the town’s two existing older casinos, and it’s an immense building, with stone exterior walls. It’s name is Casino dels Senyors, whcih is basically the Gentlemen’s Casino.
The shoreline of Begur is overlooked by pines and cliffs, and is one of exceptional beauty. Even in the Costa Brava, where there is no shortage of beautiful coves and beaches, you may be a little overwhelmed. Going from north to south, here are the pretty sandy coves and beaches of Begur:
Platja Del Raco
This beach is right on the border with Pals, and from here you will have great views of the Medes islands. It is also within walking distance to Sam Riera Beach, going along a pleasant pretty coastal trail.
Continuing towards the South East, you will find the Ila Roja Cove, which is not only a nudist beach, but one that is internationally famous. The name of this beach originates because it is dominated by a red still rocky island. There you can enjoy clear waters, fine sand, in a cove that normally doesn’t get too crowded.
Platja de sa Riera
This is one of the biggest beaches of Begur, which is superbly located and sheltered by the Cove that lies to its right hand side. You can get to the beach by going along the coastal trail, and when you get there you will see that it is divided in two. It’s divided by a stream, called sa Riera, which the beach is named after. Although there is plenty to do for visitors, the beach and surrounding area has still retained its traditional character.
This is a small cove with a little quay for boats, and this has a special feeling of tranquillity. Being naturally protected, it has preserved its ancient beauty and has the most remarkable crystalline waters.
Sa Tuna Cove
This cove is especially secluded, and really difficult to get to, which means that for those who do manage to get there, it tends to hold some kind of undiscovered and unexpected treat. Possibly more suited to those who like this type of challenge, and would then appreciate the romance of the most wonderful bathing in pure, transparent waters.
You’ll find this beach just at the foot of Begur Cave, and the name of the beach translates from Catalan into – deep beach. This is because it is indeed deep-set, and you need to walk down around 100 steps to access it. So again not one for the fainthearted, but definitely worth the trip. The waters have the most amazing green turquoise shades, and it has the feeling of been untouched and somehow primitive. This is one of the most tranquil places around this area of the coast. Of course the flipside of this is that there are not tourist services here, although sometimes in the height of the summer there is a small stall.
Going further south you will reach the area, which it is said was the original spot to be called the Costa Brava. These are three coves which although sand is not so fine, they are good spots for sunbathing. Also a good place for diving, in waters which are really clear.
Going further south again, you will finally come to the last reach of the Begur boundaries. Another privileged place, with beautiful crystalline waters and fine sand – it seems almost virgin, with little around it in terms of civilisation.
Begur Castle is mentioned in documentation in the early 11th century, and Arnust de Begur was the first feudal lord that we know of. However remains of Iberian civilisation have also been discovered on this mountain.
Since its existence, the Castle has gone through three distinctive major periods of destruction:
1. The Catalan Civil War in 1468
2. The raids in 1694 led by the French duke of Noailles
3. And finally in 1810 during the War of Independence – the castle underwent its final bout of destruction in the Napoleanic Wars.
In 1607 the castle’s owners sold the rights to the town. During the 20th century restoration work was undertaken, and this means that what you see today has had delicate work done to it. This work has also enabled people with limited mobility and wheelchairs to visit the castle.
Hotel Restaurant Aiguaclara – Fet amb love
Featured in The Daily Telegraph, the Mail on Sunday, and heaps of other media, as well as being a TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice 2016 Winner, the Hotel Restaurant Aiguaclara is a restored Indiano colonial style mansion. The owners, Clara and Joan, had a dream to turn their lives around and renovate this 1866 mansion into the charming boutique hotel that you can see today. They left Barcelona in 2000 with their children, and not only did they realise their dream but made a massive success out of it.
Stamped on the website photos, is a little love heart, alongside the phrase – “Fet amb love” – which combines the Catalan words, fet amb- made with – love. Perhaps this is one of the main ingredients for the hotel’s success? You know that feeling of eating food that is made with love, think of the film – Like Water For Chocolate. Let’s face it, real hospitality can’t be faked. Of course people can be extremely professional and polite, but hospitality that really comes from the heart is a different thing altogether.
The Indianos of Begur
The mansion was originally built in 1866 by an “Indiano” Bonaventura Caner Bataller. The Indianos of Begur were those who left to seek their fortune in Cuba between 1830 and 1850. Those who succeeded, returned to their beloved hometown, where they built beautiful colonial-style houses. You can still see his initials above the hotel entrance, on the stone lintel – B.C.B.
Feel like a guest in someone’s home
This couple have had hundreds upon hundreds of rave reviews, because of their sincere hospitality. Guests feel as if they are a guest in someone’s home, rather than in an “establishment.”
And once again the stamp of “Fet amb love” rings true, when you see the way the mansion has been lovingly restored. The hotel is full of atmosphere and charm, stylish yet quirky, but warm and cosy. It strikes a balance perfectly between an inviting ambience and stunning architecture. Expect an old world feeling with all the mod cons you could need. TV channels are available in English, German, French and Dutch.
In 2015 TripAdvisor welcomed the Hotel Aiguaclara to their Hall of Fame. This award is only granted to those establishments which have been awarded the Certificate of Excellence for 5 years in a row.
The hotel is ideally located in Begur town centre, with its own car parking available.
Discover more on their website: Hotel Restaurant Aiguaclara Begur
Ctra. d’Esclanyà, Km2, Begur 17255 – Phone: 972 623 201
This camping opens from 1st April until 26th September. It’s located 2km from the coast, in the heart of the Costa Brava, surrounded by forest, and the staff like to try to go the extra mile for families. It’s in a peaceful location, close to the village of Begur, making it perfect for those who like some tranquility, but yet being able to visit livelier spots and beaches.
There are 317 pitches, which are been adapted to the surroundings of the forest, which means some pitches will have more shade than other pitches. The site has two good sized swimming pools, a restaurant snack bar, an excellent supermarket, and children’s playgrounds.
During the season there is a kids club, and an orchard where your children can learn about growing vegetables. In the months of July and August, workshops with clowns are organised twice each week. Children can also get involved with the ducks and chickens, collecting their eggs and feeding them.
Further information can be found on the website of Camping Begur
Camping El Maset
Ctra. Platja, Begur 17255 – Phone: 972623 023
Open from 1st May until 27th September, this is a family run camping, with sea views in pretty woodland surroundings. Open since 1961, it’s only 300 metres away from the lovely Sa Riera beach. For those of you who like to spend time in your birthday suits, the naturist beach called Illa Roja is only 400 metres away.
The site has 107 pitches, but please note that only 20 of these are large enough for motor homes and caravans. The entrance to the site is a little steep, which means that accessing the caravan pitches can be a little challenging. Don’t worry too much about this, because help is normally on hand.
Even though this is a smaller site, you can expect a level of service on a par with that of the larger, better sites. There is also a nice, relaxed restaurant, where the food is very good.
This campsite has been featured in a couple of Alan Rogers books, the latest editions at the time of writing of these in English are:
– The best campsites in Spain and Portugal 2015
– The big selection-the best campsites in Europe 2015
Check out further details on the Camping El Maset website
Begur Weekly Market
Every Wednesday morning til around lunch time you can find the weekly market in Begur. This has more stalls in the summer season.
Begur Spain water activities
In a place with such spectacular waters, which are crystal clear and stunning from the coast, it won’t surprise you to know that there are a few companies offering diving expeditions. These dive centres also offer short training courses. This is a wonderful opportunity to discover the magical world under the sea, off the shores of this privileged location. Additionally you can hire sailing craft in Begur, which is of course another fantastic way to explore the beauty that just spreads from the coastline here.
Begur dive centres:
Diving Costa Brava