On the southernmost part of Costa Brava, in the region of Catalonia, lies one of Spain’s most beautiful seaside resorts: Tossa de Mar. This pretty little village with narrow cobbled lanes, quirky boutiques, and rustic restaurants stole our hearts right from the start.
Surrounded by green mountains, lush vegetation, gorges and beautiful coves, Tossa de Mar enjoys one of the most spectacular locations on the Costa Brava. This beautiful region with rocky coves, serene beaches, and tranquil villages deserves a top spot on any Europe bucket list.
A Brief History of Tossa de Mar
Tossa de Mar may be small, but it has a very interesting history. Although there is evidence of settlements in this area since the Neolithic period, the first mention of Tossa appeared only centuries later.
During the 12th century a small town called Vila Vella began developing around the Tossa Castle. When the town’s population started to grow, they began building battlements and towers to protect themselves from pirates and other invaders.
During the 15th and 16th centuries the town’s population increased even more and began extending outside the fortified village. At the time the inhabitants were mainly fishermen and farmers.
Over the years, as local industries started to expand, the town’s population began moving out looking for work in other parts of Catalonia. In the 19th and 20th centuries, as the villagers were moving out, artists and intellectuals began moving in, inspired by the charm of Tossa de Mar.
The town remained largely unchanged until the 1950s, when the movie Pandora and the Flying Dutchman starring made it famous.
Things to Do in Tossa de Mar, Costa Brava
Hike the Cala Llevadors Path
We discovered the beautiful path of Cala Llevadors totally by accident, but I’m glad we did. We were coming by car from Barcelona and decided to stop before reaching Tossa De Mar. After parking the car, we hiked up the hill on a dirt road, in order to get a better view of the coast.
The trail is absolutely spectacular, following the shore line all the way to Castillo de Tossa (the old fortress).
The path runs close to the cliffs offering some fantastic panoramic views of the deep blue sea from the sheer drops. The hike goes over the rugged hills, so there are constant climbs and descents which are at times difficult, but it pays off to do it.
The path starts at the cove of Llevador and passes by the the Island of Sa Muladera, the coves of Moltó, En Jeroni, Point of Cards and it finally ends at the beach of Codolar.
Stroll Around the Old Town
The main centre of tourist activity in Tossa de Mar is of course down at the seafront. This is where the old town of Vila Vella was and this where you’ll see the remains of the walls of medieval castle that once stood here.
Tossa is very proud of its fortified castle and walls which meander around the small village inside. You can walk up the castle right from the beach. You’ll walk past small houses with hanging geranium baskets, old ladies sewing in the sun by their front door, or villages chatting with their neighbors.
There are lovely cafes and fantastic seafood restaurants on the castle grounds you. Some of the walls of the castle are in ruins and there are gaps through which you can spot the tiny, secluded beaches around the castle.
Don’t Miss the Tossa de Mar Lighthouse
At the highest point of the wall in the Old Town you’ll find the Far de Tossa or the Tossa de Mar lighthouse. The Far de Tossa was built in 1917 and still stands at the top of Tossa’s Cape.
The building also houses a small museum featuring information about the lighthouse and its history.
Relax on the Beach
Tossa de Mar encompasses 14 kilometers (8 miles) of the Costa Brava beaches. The beaches in Tossa de Mar are among the most beautiful in the world: clean, with clear waters and fine golden sand. Also, if you have time for diving or snorkeling, the clear water and fantastic sea floor are a paradise for fish.
The main beach in town is Platja Gran or Big Beach. This is a great place for sunbathing, as you are surrounded by the stunning walls of the Old Town. Although it’s very crowded, it’s still nice to spend some time here.
Besides the main beach, there are many other small beaches and secluded coves worth checking out. One of the most beautiful ones is the Cola Pola, but it requires a little walk through the forest.
Stop by the Chapel of Our Lady of Socorro
While walking through the narrow cobblestone streets in the old town, we came came across the Chapel of Our Lady of Socorro. It’s a very small but well preserved old church right in the middle of the popular shopping area. But despite that, it was peaceful and relaxing place.
Except for the lovely golden alter, there is not much else to see inside. The church is not a monument that you should make a special trip to see, but if you are visiting the old town it’s worth stopping by.
I think the best view of the old fortress is from the sea. If you have more time in Tossa it’s worth renting a boat that can take you along the coast. I can only imagine how charming this place may look from the sea, especially at night when the lights are on.
Sample the Local Seafood
As you may expect, Tossa de Mar is not short of excellent seafood restaurants. One of the best things to do in town is sample some of the local specialties, like Paella.
Paella is a traditional Spanish dish made with shell fish and rice. The dish has different variations, but probably the best place to try it is on the coast of Costa Brava.
Getting to Tossa De Mar From Barcelona
Many tourists visit Tossa de Mar as a day trip from Barcelona, since it’s only 103 km away. Unfortunately, unless you have a car, there is no easy way to getting to Tossa De Mar from Barcelona.
The best way to reach the town is to take the metro line from Plaça Catalunya, in Barcelona. From there you can take the red metro line to the to the Arc de Triomph station and the bus station is right next door to it. You will find several buses there to take you to Tossa de Mar.