This august, I went on a girly week end to Costa Brava with a minimum budget. At two weeks from the departure date, our project did not look promising but turned out to be an amazing and relaxing week end in Calella de Palafrugell.
Carpooling and bus trips to Calella de Palafrugell
The best way to visit the Costa Brava in my opinion is by car. Traveling by car is however very difficult when you don’t have 1) a car and 2) a driving license to drive it – which was our case.
We looked for our transportation options. The bus trip seemed quite long, around 3 hours and involved two bus changes. The train involved 3 changes (train and 2 buses). So, I checked my preferred way to go to the Costa Brava: Blablacar.
Blablacar is a platform that put in touch drivers (normal people like you and I – thankfully so far no psycho) and passengers for a fee, usually decent. Drivers ask for contributions towards the toll fees and petrol.
Drivers and passengers each have a rating given by previous drivers if you are a passenger and vice versa. Like this, future drivers/passengers can get a feel of whom they are dealing with before deciding to book. My rating says “outstanding: punctual, great conversation, friendly” – yep that is me 😊! I found a trip for 7 euros per passenger to Palamos for a 90mn ride. Not quite our destination but very close. I paid online.
From Palamos bus station, we took the bus to Palafrugell and from Palafrugell to Calella de Palafrugell. Bus fares from Palamos bus station to Palafrugell bus station is 1.70 Euros and from Palafrugell to Calella is around the same amount. The only downside of our trip was the wait at the station of Palafrugell (40mn). The rest of the trip was quite smooth.
I like blablacar because it is an easier, fun and faster way to get to the Costa Brava. It can also be cheaper than the bus and people are usually friendly making the drive enjoyable.
We were not too sure about what to expect in terms of accommodation. We organized our week end two weeks before departure. That was a very tight timing to find a good accommodation in busy Costa Brava with a low budget. It was our “last chance“ accommodation.
In the end, our cottage, Puig Gros, was located on the outskirt of Calella, 20mn away by foot from the town. It was a nice place with a rustic charm, a bit old fashioned. The property was huge: grounds and house. It had a good sized and clean swimming pool. Very basic furniture in the rooms and shared bathrooms. For me, it is fine to share a bathroom for a week-end, so I did not mind. Our stay was nice because we made it a nice stay.
We were not very impressed by the owner. On the check in day, he made a snide comment about how my name does not fit my nationality. Mmmh… Every evening, when we came back, the door of our room was open. Not sure why that was but it felt like a lack of privacy and respect.
On the last day, we asked to leave our luggage until we left town – baggage hold is a standard service in the hospitality business, paying or free. He told us to put our bags in his garage where anyone coming from the street could easily enter and snatch them. No room for our two small luggages in a safe corner of his empty 385 square meters house…Then he complained to the booking platform that we did not respect our check-out because our luggages where in his garage. Right…
That place was the driver of our decision to go to Calella. I won’t hold a grudge against the owner because thanks to our booking in his cottage we discovered Calella de Palafrugell. I won’t recommend his place though unless you don’t mind a grumpy and disagreeable host. There are plenty of apartments to rent in Calella. Just browse the web, they are not all on booking platforms.
Discovering Calella de Palafrugell
Calella de Palafrugell is a picturesque little town. A former fishing town, it has white houses with turquoise water, a few small coves and beaches.
On our arrival, we went for lunch to Els Golfus de Calella, a restaurant close to the Cala del Golfet. I had one burger and one caña (one small draft beer) for 16 euros. The burger was very thick with a strange texture but tasty. The personnel was very nice.
Then we went food shopping at the Spar: fruit, snacks, water, beer, wine…You know, survival items… I have also seen a supermarket inside the town.
After lunch and food shopping, we went to the Cala del Golfet, a dramatic cove landscape when watched from above the stairs. The cove was empty, so we could fully appreciate its beauty. We spent a couple of hours there with our drinks then went back. We used the swimming pool for a while during the evening. It was great. As our place was “far” from the town, we ate salads, drank beers and wine we bought earlier on, at the Spar, at the cottage.
In the morning, we had a lovely cappuccino at Can Palet in town, in front of the beach. They also served breakfast. The Spanish tortilla was tasty, homemade and runny in the middle the way I like them. The service was slow but friendly. While you wait, you can people watch or read a book. Mine was called “The happiness project”. The book was about a woman’s steps to become happier. Some actions resonated as I took them myself like clutter clearing and writing a blog 😉. She seemed to have written more posts than me though, hehe.
After breakfast, we walked around the town of Calella. Very charming.
Camino de Ronda to Llafranc and boat trip
In the afternoon, we looked for a boat trip and headed to Llafranc. From Calella, it is 15mn walk on the “Camino de
Ronda”. The Camino de Ronda is a circular road along the Costa Brava. It was used to link the towns on the coast and to protect their ports from pirates. Today, it is a walking path that goes along breathtaking landscapes.
We booked a 2-hour tour with Serveis Nautics Llafranc for 21 euros each. While waiting for the tour, we had lunch at La Plaça. I had a moist and tender Iberian pork steak (12,8 euros). My friend had spaghetti with prawns (12 euros). Both dishes were simple and tasty. I would like a warmer mushroom sauce next time.
During the boat trip, we had a pleasant navigator. He seemed very passionate about the area. I like passionate people. Their whole face light up when they speak. He talked about the surroundings and skillfully navigated us inside narrow coves and caves. Indeed, we dropped anchor in a cove then went on a pneumatic boat to discover narrower coves and caves. We were split in two groups and while the other group was waiting for their turn, they had the possibility to snorkel (activity included in the price).
We did not stay long in Llafranc. It was bigger than Calella but much less charming in my opinion. One place of interest we did not have the time to explore is Llafranc’ s lighthouse with its panoramic views and historical interest.
Drinks, dinner and gardens in Calella
Back to Calella, we had a drink at the highest terrace in Calella, the 3 pins. The service was very slow. It is a good thing the terrace is great and the view nice to compensate. We dined at Tragamar de Calella on the sea front in Calella. Their menu is based on seafood and fish. I had sardines for 14.80 euros. We finished the night at Habana café’s terrace for a drink.
The next morning, I went to the Botanic garden of Cap Roig. It was 15mn away by foot from Cala del Golfet. Entrance is 7 euros. I was the first visitor on site. It felt good to wander around the romantic garden on my own for a while. Peace and tranquility, that was my experience of the first 30mn inside the garden.
On the ground, the main attractions for me were the castle, the 3 terraces, the views, the cactus garden with one cactus called “mother in law’s behind”. That made me laugh so much as I was thinking of all the stories and jokes about mother-in-laws that people share. There was also art from local and international artists displayed along the pathways and in the middle of the plants. In some ways it reminded me of City Park in New Orleans This garden was much bigger though, it featured many more plants and in its way was quite sophisticated and elegant.
The botanic garden hosts as well in the summer the music festival of Cap Roig. When I will have a driving license, I will come back and attend. After the visit, I headed to Cala del Golfet to join my friend. This time around, it was so crowded, one could barely move around. But the water was fresh and invigorating. We came back to Tragamar de Calella for lunch. This time, I tried their fish and chips (16 euros) with cava. They were crunchy and very well cooked but unfortunately over salted. Pity, it could have been an even greater dish.
A bus trip back to Barcelona
At the end of the afternoon, we booked a taxi to Palafrugell bus station. The taxi trip cost us 18 euros and lasted 10 minutes. We paid 18,50 euros each for the bus back to Barcelona. The bus trip was quite fast and without incidence. We came back safe, sound and relaxed at Barcelona – Arc de Triomf bus station. And that was the end of our week end in the Costa Brava.
Els Golfus de Calella, Carrer balears 1, El Golfet, 17210 Calella de Palafrugell, Girona
Cala del Golfet, follow the signs 😊
Can Palet, Carrer Calau 8, 17210 Calella de Palafrugell, Girona
Serveis Nautics Llafranc, Carrer Cypsela, 40, 17211 Llafranc, Girona
La Plaça, Plaça Promontori,2, 17211 Llafranc, Girona
3 pins, Calella de Palafrugell
Tragamar de Calella, Platja del Canadell s/n, 17210 Calella de Palafrugell
Habana Café, in the center of Calella de Palafrugell
Botanic garden of Cap Roig, Camí del Rus, s/n, 17210 Calella de Palafrugell, Girona