If you’re British and longing for some last minute sunshine (especially with our almost non-existent Summer this year), you often need look no further than Spain to provide great hotels, safe beaches and all for a reasonable package price – in fact you could be jetting off tomorrow. But with that great opportunity comes a reputation that has been hard to shake off in many Spanish coastal towns – the “Brits abroad” stereotype.
Strips lined with bars, rows of cafes offering five euro English fry ups and drunk teenagers taking their first group holiday are what often fills the mind of travellers looking to avoid the ex-pat vibe and Costa Dorada suffers with this reputation as much as anywhere. But don’t let that put you off exploring this region in Spain – there are many reasons to visit Costa Dorada, and here are just five of them.
1. A top notch location
The Costa Dorada stretches for 200km in Catalonia, and is famed for its golden beaches (Costa Dorada literally means Golden Coast) and turquoise waters. Its location means you can have the best of all worlds with beaches, and mountains giving way to olive groves, vineyards and farmland meaning that if you hire a car you can whizz about along the coastline and experience a varied holiday off the main tourist towns.
Even better than its mix of landscapes is its proximity to Barcelona, arguably one of Spain’s most popular city break destinations, meaning you could easily combine a city and beach stay into one low cost holiday. In fact on my last trip to the area I took a coach trip from Cambrils to Barcelona for the day, and at just under 2 hours journey time I managed to visit the Sagrada Familia and see the Magic Fountain of Montjuïc show before heading back to my hotel.
2. Lots of charming villages and towns
The Costa Dorada is dotted with lots of villages and towns, mainly arranged around castles and fortresses and all have their own personality. Whilst many people know the area for Salou (a favourite destination for British tourists and where much of the regions nightlife is situated) you can avoid this entirely during your stay and instead head to one of the more authentic locations in the area.
Cambrils is set largely around the harbour and is known for its excellent seafood and fresh fish and definitely has a quieter, more laid back atmosphere of an evening. Torredembarra has a huge amount of medieval architectural influences and an impressive maritime history. El Perello has a more agricultural feel, with a busy market full of lively locals and its famous honey.
You could easily base yourself in one location, for example by staying in a villa and taking trips out to visit all the varied attractions that the Costa Dorada has to offer.Have you tried Spain's Golden Coast yet? There's more to the Costa Dorada than you think!Click To Tweet
3. Many opportunities for adrenaline junkies
This region is famed for Port Aventura, a huge theme park that attracts over 4 million visitors a year. The whole resort also includes a water park, hotel and the recently opened Ferrari Land, and even has its own train station that connects to both Barcelona and Salou.
A great place to visit for both families and coaster fiends alike, this vast attraction is split into lands such as Mediterranean, Far West, Mexico, China and Polynesia and has shows, food and rides that match each theme. At the time of writing a 1 day ticket is 49 Euros per adult, which is on par with many of our British theme parks (and having visited, I’d say is well worth the cost).
For the water babies among you, you can also visit Aquapolis which costs a rather more conservative 14.90 Euros if bought 9 or more days in advance. With a vast range of water slides rated from “High Excitement” to “Childrens”, you can flit between braving the Kamikaze slide or floating along the river rapids. Aquapolis also has Dolphin and Sea Lion shows, but if that isn’t your thing you’ll have plenty to keep you occupied on the water rides.
4. Unexpected Roman ruins
I’m a sucker for a good ruin, and if its Roman, all the better. Travel to the historic city of Tarragona, and you’ll find the Roman ruins of Tarraco just 10km from Salou. Tarraco is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the oldest Roman settlement on the Iberian peninsula and includes many of the stunning features of a Roman site, without having to go all the way to Italy.
At Tarraco, you can see a Roman amphitheatre, an aqueduct and Roman tomb known as Torre dels Escipions alongside other Roman features which have become entwined with locals and modern way of life. As it has remained inhabited, parts have been slowly dismantled up to the point of getting heritage status, but there is still plenty to see here if Roman history is your thing.
5. Excellent Cava tasting in the premier Cava region
If you like Cava and you like food, arranging a wine tour in Penedes is going to need to be high up your must-do list when you visit Costa Dorada. The Penedes is around 30 minutes from both Barcelona and Tarragona and gives you the opportunity to organise a number of wine tours across the neighbouring vineyards in the area. If you are feeling accomplished you can do your own research and plan your own set of wine tasting, or your can book on to specialist tours or indeed visit during the many events and festivals the region put on.
The Costa Dorada is a beautiful and varied location in Spain, and provides almost everything you could want from a Summer holiday. With its proximity to the UK there is no excuse not to visit Costa Dorada and give it a second look. Why not arrange a Cava fuelled, historical, sea-food laden experience not to forget?
*This post was written in collaboration with James Villas