Cadaqués Spain Travel Guide
The dreamy, perfect town where Salvador Dalí spent his summer holidays; Cadaques, is filled with light, colour and sultry sea breezes. It’s interesting, but challenging location sets it apart from the more ordinary seaside towns, but this also means that a rental car is preferable. Cadaques is the kind of place that makes you feel like you’ve just discovered it! Once you arrive in Cadaqués, you should go and enjoy a drink, with Dalí, at the Es Maritim bar, where his life-size bronze statue can be found outside
Also a favourite of Picasso’s, the town has been developed with care, over the years, and most who come to visit, will find that they want to come back again. Cadaques is perched on the Cap de Creus Peninsula, around an hour and a quarter’s drive from the gorgeous city of Girona, and under an hour and a half to the French city of Perpignan. So in terms of access both of these cities are quite close, and of course, a bit further away, around a two hour drive, you’ll find the buzzing city of Barcelona.
A Magnet For Artists, Writers And All Who Love Beauty
The former fishing village has definitely done a good job of retaining its charm, as you’ll see when you visit. It has, and continues to be a magnet for artists, writers, celebrities and people who love the beauty of special places, that just make them feel good, by being there. Cadaques is part of the Dalí Triangle, as his family had a holiday home there, so it’s where you can visit the Salvador Dalí House-Museum. If you wish to learn more about the Dali Triangle, just click on Dalí Triangle.
It’s not difficult to understand why Cadaques has had such a deep, inspirational impact on Dalí, Picasso, Einstein, Lorca, Thoms Mann, Man Ray and countless others. Even off season, the drama of the sea, the wind and the birds is a show that I could happily watch for hours. During the sunny months, the sparkling sea shimmering in the sun, the sprawl of boats in the bay, and whitewashed buildings around it, are poetry in motion. Bougainvillea wraps itself around the houses and its perfume wafts through the air.
Have A Wonderful Wander Around
Cadaques has a population of around 3000 people, who rely predominantly on tourism as their main source of income. Trendy clothes shops, chic restaurants and art galleries and studios are dotted around the town. Wandering around the winding cobbled streets of the old town is a wonderful way to get to know it, as you can feel the history literally from the pavements. Where the old town is today, is where the medieval walled town used to be and the ancient pavement (rastell) was actually handmade using slate. The best preserved pavement can be found in El Call street. At the highest point of Cadaques’ Old Town you’ll find the important church of Santa Maria.
Contraband, Cuba And Cadaquesenc Catalan
Did you know that Cadaques has a history of running contraband? This is because of its proximity to the border with France, around 35 km away, and also its isolated situation. Also it has been said of its people that by the early 20th century, more of them had been to Cuba, than to their neighbouring town of Figueres. This is because in the early part of the 20th century, around one third of the inhabitants had emigrated or travelled to Cuba. Like some other villages and towns of the area, some of these Cadaquesencs did very well for themselves and returned back to Cadaques later, where they built large, ornate colonial homes.
As Cadaques is located in Catalonia, it may not surprise you to hear that a form of Catalan is spoken, but it may surprise you to realise that it’s different, in some ways to the majority of Catalan. The dialect in Cadaques is most similar with the dialect of Ibiza, and is called Cadaquesenc by the local people. Some of the words are very different!
(The above photo was kindly given to us by Triantafyllos Psaras, who along with Maria, can tailor weddings and villa holidays to some of the wonderful Greek islands – check out their reviews here)
Things To Do
Esglesia de Santa Maria – Church of Santa Maria Cadaques
The beautiful church of Santa Maria can be found at the highest point of the town, so not only can you appreciate the architectural beauty of the building, but also amazing views over the bay, the Cala Nans lighthouse and Es Cururucuc. Predominantly the style is late Gothic, however it houses an 18th century Baroque altarpiece, which is considered the most important of the region of Alt Emporda.
Standing somewhat austerely overlooking the town, the church is built on the same site where the older church was, that was destroyed by Barbarrossa, the Turkish pirate. Construction started around the mid 16th century, and its famous main altarpiece is 23 metres high, but there are also 9 smaller altarpieces. Its organ was made in 1691 by Josep Bosca, and is one of the oldest in Catalonia.
On the left there’s a side chapel that was painted by Salvador Dalí. The interior of the church can only be seen during mass times, which are Saturday at 19.00 and Sunday at 11.00, however you’ll need to double check these times, as they can change seasonally. The altarpiece can be seen from 10.30 to 12.45 and 16.00 to 16.45, from the outside.
Museo de Cadaqués – Cadaques Museum
Carrer Narcis Monturiol 15 – Find the Museum on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/MuseuDeCadaques
Located below Santa Maria Church, is the Museum of Cadaques which features displays which relate to Dalí, and sometimes other artists, such as Picasso, who spent time in the town. Also there are temporary exhibitions which showcase local artists.
Summer Hours from 24th June to mid September
Open every day (except Wednesday) from 10.00 to 20.00 – Wednesdays from 10.00 to 13.00 from 15.00 to 20.00
Spring April, May and up until 24th June
Monday to Saturday – from 10.30 to 13.30 and from 16.00pm to 19.00pm. Closed on Sundays.
Winter from mid September to December
Monday to Saturday (exc. Wednesday) – from 10.30 to 13.30 and from 15.30 to 18.30. Wednesday from 10:00 to 15.00. Closed on Sundays.
Portlligat, Cadaques – Dalí’s home workshop – the Dalí House Museum in Portlligat
Portlligat, Cadaqués 17488 – Phone: 972 251 015
Details of opening hours and ticket prices are here: http://www.salvador-dali.org/museus/portlligat/en_index.html
Originally the summer home of his family, this was where Dalí both lived and worked from 1930 until 1982, at which stage he started living at Púbol Castle after Gala’s death.
As you can imagine, this is the place where the man himself and his life are most tangible. It’s really fascinating, and you can feel that it has been lived in and is not just a museum. As you go to the different rooms of the house, you can get a real sense of how Dalí developed his ideas in different ways, in different locations.
Although you will have reserved your ticket beforehand, you do need to arrive at least 30 minutes before your visit is due to commence, to pick up your ticket. The visiting process is tightly organised, as small groups of up to 8 people are let in every ten minutes. So if you don’t pick up your ticket, at least 30 minutes before, you will lose it and it can be sold to someone else. You need to give yourself plenty of time for the journey, because of this and also as the road is wavy, and of course gets very busy in the height of the season. Even out of the main season, the 40km trip from Figueres to Portlligat, Cadaques, can take around an hour. Once you go in, the visit itself takes around 50 minutes to an hour. So you need to be careful if you are en route to Cadaques, be sure to give yourself extra time.
If you are planning to do the full Dalí Triangle, then be sure to check out The Dali Triangle-Making The Most Out Of Your Trip by clicking on Dali Triangle.
Cadaques Modernist Buildings
Cadaques also has some fine examples of modernist architecture, here are some of the best known:
Casa Don Octavi Serinyana … or just known as Sa Casa Blaua – The Blue House
Located at the seafront at Riba des Poal, this blue Modernist house was designed by Salvador Sellés I Baró in the early 20th century around 1913-1915.
Built in 1915, this state school modernist building is on Sol de l’Engirol Street, and was donated by Serinyana family.
Torre del Colom
Also from the early 20th century period, this modernist house is situated at Victor Rahola Avenue. The original tower or castle was destroyed at the time of the Segadors War.
Rahola House (Casa) is another Modernist building, that you can see at 6 Frederic Rahola Square.
You may not want to leave the beautiful town of Cadaques, but just in case you do here are a few suggestions of days out.
Cap de Creus Natural Park-7km
You’ve seen the distance of 7km, but be warned it’s around a 25 minute journey, but it’s totally worth it! Don’t miss it, it has a wonderful wild beauty. More information here.
Roses – 17km
Heading south the town of Roses is 17km, around a 25 minute drive away from Cadaques. Please note that if you wish you could go to Roses firstly, then head to Castello d’Empuries and Empuriabrava and finally down to the Greco-Roman ruins at Empuries. To learn more about Roses go to our Roses Travel Guide.
Castello d’Empuries – Empuriabrava – 25km
I’ve put these together as they are very close by to each other. The drive takes a bit over half an hour, and between the two, you have a very interesting mix. If you haven’t heard of Empuriabrava before, it’s Europe’s largest residential marina. Find more information here.
Aiguamolls de l’Emporda Natural Park-25km
This is the second largest of Catalonia’s wetlands, and it takes around half an hour to arrive there. Read about this natural park here.
Empuries Greco-Roman Ruins-40km
This is also worth a trip, as the ruins are both historical (obviously!) but are right by the sea. The journey should take around 50 minutes. Check out the photos and information here.
The Dali Triangle – 40km to 60km
The road in and out of Cadaques does make trips that seem less, because of the amounts of kilometres, a certain amount longer! However if you are a Dalí fan, you are already in one of the towns of the Dalí Triangle. The other two are Figueres and Pubol. Figueres is 40km and Pubol is around 60km from Cadaques. To find out more go to the Dalí Triangle.
Cadaques Carnival – Before Lent Each Year – 2015 approx. 11th February, dates TBC
Carnival is huge in Catalonia. In the case of Cadaques, the local people get very involved. There’s fancy dress, fun, partying and a lovely float parade. If you’re curious about the tradition of Carnival in Catalonia, click here. You can read a bit more about the Cadaques Carnival here.
If you can manage to plan your trip to coincide with one of the Cadaques fiestas, it will definitely give an extra dimension to your holiday. Here are some ideas.
Cadaques Sunrise Gathering – 1st January
This is a wonderful way to welcome in the New Year. In a spectacular setting, at the Cap de Creus Lighthouse, people meet each year to greet the sunrise. Read more about the wonderful Cadaques Sunrise Gathering!
Cadaques San Sebastian Fiesta – 20th January
The Saint Sebastian fiesta happens in a number of places in Catalonia and around Spain. This is first and foremost a religious celebration to honour the saint. A procession goes to the hermitage, then there’s mass and afterwards Sardana dancing and lunch. For more information about this fiesta click here.
Cadaques Indianos Fair – Early June – dates TBC
There are numerous places, both in the Costa Brava as well as elsewhere, where some of the locals had to emigrate to make ends meet. This fair celebrates that heritage, of those who emigrated to the Americas. In Cadaques, and other towns, there were a number of these immigrants who came back quite rich and successful. Click on Cadaques Indianos Fair to read more.
Cadaques Festival of Virgin Carmen – 16th July
The Virgin Carmen is the protector of fishermen and seafaring folk. This is a beautiful festival, where the boats go out to sea, all lit up and night. It’s rather magical. Find out more here.
Cadaques International Music Festival- early August, dates TBC
A very popular music festival that will be running 44 years in 2015, the Cadaques International Music Festival features music from all genres. Read more about the Cadaques International Music Festival.
Cadaques Main Summer Festival – around 11th September
This festival coincides with the National Day of Catalonia, which is the 11th September. It runs for a week, and has lots of fun and partying, plus a quirky dolls race! Read more here.
The weekly street market of Cadaques takes place on a Monday, and runs from around 8.30am until lunchtime. You can find it in the Riera de San Viçenc.