It’s been a few years since I spend a summer in Spain. Back then I was working in the seaside town of Calella on the Costa Brava and my job was to take care of teenagers who got let out of home for the first time by their parents and who wanted to experience all of the party scene, foam parties and free shots they could get.
But not enough, they also wanted to be entertained while they were curing their hangovers the next day on the beach. Thinking back now, I must’ve been crazy taking this job! Looking back it was certainly an experience!
This time I came to Costa Brava to attend TBEX, a large conference for travel bloggers, writers, new media content creators and travel industry professionals alike. The conference was held in the coastal town of Lloret de Mar, 70 km North of Barcelona.
The town actually thrives in thousand-year old history but is now rather well-know for a summer party destination and especially popular with young package tourists. And indeed, when walking the streets of Lloret you will spot many many clubs, bars and pubs and I can only imagine what the place is like in the hot summer months.
Nevertheless, coming here just before the high-season around April/May, the weather is already pleasant with 20 to 25 degrees in the daytime while you can use a jumper at night. I like this time of the year as it has a very comfortable Mediterranean climate and is perfect to explore the town and region without the sweating masses.
Arriving into Lloret de Mar wasn’t actually what it looked like in my mind. It was calm, hardly anyone in the street – ok, it was early afternoon and everyone was starting their Siesta.
The town certainly isn’t fancy but after walking around for a few days, looking beyond the main strip, tourists and high-rise apartment buildings, I discovered that Lloret de Mar is actually more than just beach, sunshine and drinks. The town has in fact a rich cultural and natural heritage, lovely walking trails and viewpoints. I was surprised!
Maybe, I am thinking, everyone just knew Lloret de Mar for all the wrong reasons in the first place?
The city’s administration today is actually trying to confront the party image the town has stuck to for years by actively promoting various activities including cultural events.
And while there is probably still some work to do to restore Llorets image, I have definitely found my favourite spots around town already.
You cannot miss this! The Santa Clotilde Gardens sit on a large cliff which make it a very breezy spot with some impressive views over the coastline.
The garden was designed in 1919 by landscape architect Nicolau Rubió i Tudurí and is characterized by the Italian Renaissance. The Nicolau has also worked on the creation and design of the Montjuic Gardens in Barcelona, another fantastic place to visit in the area!
My favourite spot at the Santa Clotilde Gardens is the large green staircase which is lined with marble sculptures of mermaids. Just beautiful!
The steep slopes and uneven relief of the park are set off by the perfectly cut hedges that form magnificent green architectural shapes and which make it a really interesting place to walk around and take in the views of the coast.
The gardens are a perfect place to visit in the afternoon when it’s too hot by the beach and you will find a breezy oasis of tranquility with incredible scenic points – again to my surprise!
A good spot to visit after you’ve seen the Santa Clotilde Garden.
There is a carpark at the top of the cliff and a small, pretty hermitage dating back to the 14th century to stop by before you take a short walk down the path surrounded by shady trees to reach the beach. Set between two big hills, the beach is well sheltered from wind and waves and is therefore constantly calm which makes it a good spot for snorkeling too.
If you are looking for another fantastic spot for snorkeling on the Costa Brava, check out Cap de Creus National Park.
It feels like a world way from Lloret de Mar main beach. The beach is smaller and the sand finer and there is a sort of feeling of exclusivity as you don’t have to spend the entire day towel to towel with strangers.
At Santa Cristina beach you also find Hotel Santa Marta set on the cliff overlooking the bay. The hotel is on the higher price end but offers value for money. The facilities include a pool, spa, restaurant and beach bar which make it easy to endure some time here.
I was lucky to attend the opening party of TBEX which happened right on Santa Cristina beach and the dinner buffet was overlooking the sand, just wonderful!
Of course everyone will come to the main beach of Lloret de Mar at some stage. And while the 1,5km long beach is nice to look at in the early morning it get’s crazy busy throughout the day, especially in summer. The sand is more grainy than on the other beaches around.
There are plenty of activities from waterskiing, kayaking to jet skiing and a lot of restaurants, cafés and kiosks selling anything from ice cream, beverages and more. It’s good to know that the beach get’s cleaned every day and you can rent beach chairs and umbrellas for shade.
I took a really cool catamaran trip from here with Catamaran Sensation which brought us to a beautiful secluded bay with super clear turquoise water north of Lloret de Mar called Cala Futadera, just outside of the town of Tossa de Mar.
At the end of April the water temperature is still freezing with about 15 degrees however I was tempted to jump in and would’ve definitely done so if it was a month or so later as the air and water temperatures are getting warmer.
Instead, I feasted on the BBQ and hung out in the mesh between the hulls of the catamaran and soaked up the sun.
Right in the center of town is this church built in Catalan Gothic style around 1509 to 1522. Later on more rooms and the side chapel was added gradually to what the church looks like today.
Wandering the streets of town you will certainly come across the church which is indeed very beautiful and is one of the distinctive landmarks of Lloret de Mar and worth a visit!
Thank you to Melissa from UnClogged in Amsterdam for the great shot!
Fenals Beach is the second largest beach in Lloret de Mar. 700 meters of sandy beach area which is nicely sheltered by a small hill from the wind and separated from the buzzing town center so it generally feels a little less crowded too. Of course you can do various watersports and boat activities such a paragliding or riding on a banana boat.
The beach promenade is lined with restaurants but fewer apartment buildings than the main beach. The sand here is grainy too – think of it as a great way for natural exfoliation!
You can find beach boxes to leave your belongings and valuables so you can enjoy your time on the beach without hassle which is especially valuable in the busy months of July and August. The photo below was taken at the end of April with hardly a soul seen on the beach!
From one of the backstreets of the beach, I took a Segway tour around the coastal paths. This was actually my first time riding a Segway and hell yeah, I enjoyed it a lot!! It is so much fun and not at all hard to balance as it basically does it all for you and you just have to lean with your weight in the right direction.
Definitely one of the hidden gems of Lloret de Mar which I would not have expected to find here! This atmospheric bar has magnificent views of the cliffs and ocean and is great for a relaxing drink around sunset.
Even in the afternoon is nicely shaded by the many palm trees around. There is however no food served and drinks tend to be more expensive than in the middle of town.
You can of course drive to the bar and park at the top, but the funner part is taking the rocky coastal path which starts at the end of the promenade of Llorets main beach.
I actually went Nordic walking on this path! Again, for my first time ever and I always thought this is only for grandmas but in fact it’s a really great full-body workout.
Make sure you stop by the monument of the fisherman’s wife as you will be able to enjoy some great views over the main beach.
Here you also find many love locks, a custom that has become popular in many cities around the world, where a couple fastens a lock marked with their initials and then throws the key into the water as a sign of their love for each other.
Continuing the coastal path from the Bar Cala Banys you can reach the Castle of Sant Joan. There are some good signposts explaining the history of the area while there are only a few ruins visible.
The real highlight is the view after climbing to the top of the castle. Here you can see all the way to the other towns on the Costa Brava and you will understand why the name translates to “Wild Coast” seeing all the cliffs and rugged landscape.
Cala Boadella is a charming little cove which can be reached from the Santa Clotilde Gardens walking down a steep hill. Reaching the bottom you will be rewarded with crystal-clear water and 250 meters of peacefulness.
The beach is rather unspoiled with a small restaurant serving a good lunch and drinks for fair prices. One end of the beach is used by naturist’s so be aware if you feel offended easily. The other side of the beach is often frequented by families.
I actually just found out, that this beach is also used as a film sets (well, that must mean something right?). For example Boadella beach was the setting for some scenes from the film “Sahara” starring the Spanish actress Penelope Cruz.
The cemetery here traces back to the indiano culture and provides an interesting perspective of funerary art of the time when it was built at the end of the 19th century.
Many individuals who had made their fortune in America and returned home had not only built luxurious houses but also sumptuous mausoleums to show off their wealth, also with the belief that they would carry on living well after their death.
The cemetery is certainly an interesting point to visit and easily accessibly be foot from the town centre.
I am sure there is a whole lot more to this town which is still waiting to be explored!
I surely will be back to the Costa Brava, probably still outside the high summer season as I am really not dying to share a spot at the beach with hangover teens but rather enjoy little oases at the time.
But that’s me, I just don’t like huge crowds of people. And even if you never want to visit the main beach, Lloret de Mar has outright some gems away from the center.
Thank you to Lloret Tourism to making all these discoveries possible.
All opinions expressed in this article are my own. I truly enjoyed my stay in Lloret de Mar and the Costa Brava respectively and can really recommend a visit to everyone!