Let’s get lost on Costa Daurada

Let’s get lost in Catalonia! The 10 most beautiful villages of Costa Daurada – part III.


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Let’s get lost on Costa Daurada this time! In the first two episodes of the Let’s get lost in Catalonia series, we have already reviewed 20 beautiful inland villages in Catalonia. You can take a look here if you missed them.

Of course, the list doesn’t end here, as Catalonia has even more things to offer. This time we guide you to the amazingly beautiful golden sandy coast of Costa Daurada. The villages are in order from the North to the South, so let’s continue the virtual discovery now, and let’s get lost in Catalonia, on Costa Daurada again & again!

1. Calafell

This historical town situated atop a hill, 1.5 kilometres from its coastal counterparts, Segur and Calafell Beach. The area is a popular holiday destination, set between Tarragona and Barcelona, around 47 kilometres from Reus Airport and 60 kilometres from Barcelona Airport.

Calafell is an ideal destination for those wishing to combine a beach holiday, with a chance to explore the Costa Daurada and some of the wonderful old Roman and medieval towns in the area, including Calafell itself. The beach of Calafell is a lovely five-kilometer stretch of golden sand. Awarded the European blue flag for cleanliness, the beach stretches from the Segur Yacht Club to L’Estany Beach.

The Castle of Calafell is offering magnificent views over the plains of the old village of Calafell and its church. You can reach this hilltop castle by walking up along narrow streets built completely out of rocks and stones. The castle is officially called the Santa Creu Castle and is a medieval fortified complex, whose records date back to 1037. It was completed in the 12th century during the reconquest and repopulation of the territory against the Moors. The castle underwent various transformations and had different uses over time, changing from being a Hispanic border castle into a Gothic style residential palace owned by different noble families. Years later, the site became a cemetery, a use that continued until 1938, and from 1982, the Patronato-Fundación del Castillo de Calafell promoted its archaeological excavation and restoration in order to open it to the public.

2. Coma-ruga

Comarruga, or Coma-Ruga in its native Catalan, is situated along the charming coast but it’s originally part of the town of El Vendrell. Until 1946 it even made part of the former municipality, called Sant Vicenç de Calders, also part of the town. The beach of Coma-ruga can be found about 6 kilometers from the town of El Vendrell.

Coma-ruga offers a perfect environment for families and couples looking for a relaxing holiday, but with lots of leisure pursuits to hand. There are plenty of bars, restaurants, and shops on hand to satisfy your needs, and the beach and coastline are perfect for all types of water sports.

In 1887 the train station of Sant Vicenç de Calders was built within the lands of Coma-ruga. During the 20th century, this train station became one of the most important railway intersections in Catalonia. Due to this reason, a small neighborhood developed around it, mostly of railway workers and its families. “During the Spanish Civil War, this station was attacked several times by the fascist army of General Franco. Thanks to the collaboration of Italian airplanes (hydroplanes) during the Christmas holidays of 1938 (between the 25th and the 29th), Coma-ruga was heavily bombed causing dozens of casualties.”

The urban development of Coma-ruga started in the year 1920, and later in the 1960s and 1970s already became an important tourist destination.

One of the neighborhoods of Comarruga is called Sant Salvador, where the summer house of the worldwide famous Pau Casals can be found. Pau Casals was one of the 20th century’s greatest cellists, internationally recognized as one of the finest performers and orchestra conductors of his times. He was born in El Vendrell in 1876, and he showed great sensitivity to music from childhood. At the age of twenty-three, he started out on his professional career and performed in the world’s most famous concert halls.  As a performer, he made innovative changes in the way of playing the cello, introducing new technical and expressive possibilities.  The outcome of the Spanish Civil War obliged him to go into exile, settling first in Prades (France) and later in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The building of the museum, Villa Casals built along the seaside promenade of Sant Salvador, Coma-Ruga, in El Vendrell. The villa was originally his summer house, but Pau Casals lived here until 1939, when he was forced to go into exile, never to return again. As he said: “This house is the expression and synthesis of my life as a Catalan and an artist“. In addition to his extraordinary career as a musician, Pau Casals was always a defender of peace and freedom. His numerous benefit concerts, his commitment to humanitarian actions, and his various speeches at the United Nations characterized him clearly as a man of peace. Pau Casals died in 1973 at the age of ninety-six in San Juan, Puerto Rico. His remains now rest in the cemetery of El Vendrell.

3. Roda de Berà

Roda de Berà has a very special place in our heart since Besides the Obvious is based here for almost a year. During this time, and especially during the pandemic we had a lot of time to discover this picturesque village, and by now we know almost every corner of it.

The village is situated on the coast and the ancient roman Via Augusta ran through the municipality, and a triumphal arch – Arc de Berà – survived in the middle of the present N-340 coast road. This monument is part of the Archaeological Ensemble of Tarraco, which was added to UNESCO‘s list of World Heritage Sites in 2000. Its name derives from the count Berà. It is a triumphal arch with a single opening consisting of a central body on a podium, decorated with fluted pilasters crowned by Corinthian capitals. The monument was built as a result of the will of Lucius Licinius Sura and it was erected in the reign of Augustus, around 13 BCE. It is thought it was dedicated to Augustus or to his genius, and that it marked the limit of the district of Tarraco.

Besides the rich historical heritage, the outstanding panorama, and the countless golden sandy beaches, the village also gives home to El Roc de Sant Gaietà. This eclectic neighborhood was built on the rocks between 1964 and 1976. The initiative came from the developer Gaietà Bori Tallada and the builder José María Fortuny Rodríguez. The main idea was to build a fishing village on the rocks. Inside, we can find, among others, the Luis Del Olmo radio museum, the Roca Foradada, as well as different areas of the Mediterranean and Spanish geography complemented with buildings of different styles, such as Gothic, Renaissance, Mozarabic, Romanesque and Mudejar, the typical Sevillian and Andalusian patio, and the architectural style from northern Spain also represents.

4. Creixell

Creixell may not be as popular as other cities in Spain, but don’t let that fool you. Creixell is a smaller but beautiful upcoming tourist destination that is worth to visit. You will be surprised by some of the unique things to do and places you can explore at this hidden destination. You can definitely plan a few hours of a side trip here while traveling to Barcelona or Tarragona. You might wish to revisit it someday again, to take a break and relax at Creixell.

Not to mention its castle and the spectacular views from there. The Castell de Creixell is located on the very top of Creixell village. We can find the first documentations about the castle from 1173 when Ponç de Rajadell and his wife sold the castle of Montornès to the community of Santes Creus. The construction of the castle probably dates from 1190 when the bishop of Barcelona, Ramon de Castellvell, granted the Charter of Population to the town of Creixell. From 1277, the lordship of Creixell belonged to the prior of the monastery of Sant Pere de Casserres in the region of Osona. In 1572 the priory of Casserres was secularised and its assets were transferred to the Jesuit College of Bethlehem in Barcelona. In 1767 and due to the expulsion of the Jesuits, the town and castle passed into the hands of the crown, and then Salvador de Marc de Reus who ruled the lordship of Creixell until the abolition of lordly rights in the nineteenth century.

5. Altafulla

Altafulla is mainly known because of its beaches. Costa Daurada itself is famous for the sandy coastline and lovely beaches, but this territory is much more than that. And besides their amazing and not that much-spoiled beaches, there are a lot of interesting spots among its historical villages and towns. Altafulla is a very good example of that. Altafulla has three main neighborhoods: Altafulla Centre, Altafulla Beach, and Brisas de mar, a neighborhood in the north part of the town, along Torredembarra to La Riera de Gaiá road.

Altafulla Centre – where most of the local inhabitants live – is quite unknown for massive tourism (fortunately). But anyhow it is a heritage treasure. The origin of the town is medieval and its castle – even remodelled – is a good testimony of that time. Altafulla Castle, unfortunately, is private property and visits to its inner part are not allowed. Even though you can admire it from many points due to its hugeness as a part of the town’s skyline.

Read our complete article about Altafulla here.

6. Salou

The town of Salou is located approximately 10 km from both Tarragona and Reus, and 112 km from Barcelona.

Salou was founded by the Greeks in the 6th century, and this coastal town was a notable commercial port during the medieval and modern ages. Throughout the 20th century, Salou became an important European tourist attraction.

Aside from its string of beaches interrupted by rocky coves, and its landscaped promenade, one of its main attractions is the PortAventura resort. It includes luxury four-star accommodation, two theme parks (PortAventura Park and Ferrari Land), the PortAventura Caribe Aquatic Park, a convention ,center and an RV park.

“The PortAventura Park’s main attractions are the Dragon Khan, a massive B&M mega-looper; Furius Baco, which is one of the fastest roller coasters in Europe; and Hurakan Condor, a tall falling-tower ride which is 100 meters tall. In 2012 a new roller coaster called Shambhala opened adjacent to the Dragon Khan. The park also has a grand multi-media show, called the Fiesta Aventura, every night between the end of June and the end of August which features fireworks, fountains, and parade floats. Ferrari Land, with the highest and fastest vertical accelerator in Europe, opened in 2017, and will also include the world’s first Ferrari hotel.

7. Cambrils

Cambrils is often thought of, first and foremost, as a beach town. However, there is so much more to Cambrils than just its beach. About 1 km inland from the port area of Cambrils you will find Cambrils’ old town. The area is steeped in history and is rich with things to see and do. The port area itself also offers a wide range of interesting sights that could keep you occupied for a day or two during your trip.

Indeed, the local life mainly revolves around the harbor. The area attracts visitors for its golden, sandy beaches, the abundance of fabulous seafood restaurants, and its close proximity to the Port Aventura theme park. Cambrils is easy to reach from the international airports of Reus, just 12 km away, and Barcelona about a one-hour drive away.

Located by the sea there is a signal tower, known as the Telégrafo de l’Esquirol, which in times gone by was used to establish communication with other parts of the coast by means of flags and lights. Besides that, we can also find here the Torre del Port watchtower from the seventeenth-century that was used to defend the settlement against pirate attack (a fact that’s sure to keep the attention of the kids!). It sits at the very heart of the port area and is used as a gallery for temporary exhibitions. The exhibitions are generally related to maritime history.

8. Riviera, Mont-roig del Camp

Mont-roig del Camp is a town and municipality in the comarca of Baix Camp. It is in the middle of its comarca, between the Serra de Colldejou and the Mediterranean. It includes two populated places: the historic town of Mont-roig del Camp in the interior, whose economy revolves around the cultivation of nuts and olives, and the beach resort of Miami Platja on the coast.

The municipality has a long coastline, with campsites and a few hotels, informally distributed over the districts of Riviera, Pins de Miramar, and Miami Platja, as well as round the Platja de Rifà (Rifà beach), close to the district of Les Pobles.

Notable buildings include the “new” parish church, that of Sant Miquel, built in Gothic and Renaissance style between 1574 and 1610. High above the town on a very eroded outcrop of rock stands the sanctuary of Our Lady of the Rock with the Sant Ramon chapel. The painter Joan Miró spent long periods at the family property of Mas d’en Miró, in the Les Pobles district, from 1911 onwards. It was a frequent subject in his early paintings, such as The Farm (1920-21) and The Tilled Field (1923-24).

9. L’Ametlla de Mar

L’Ametlla de Mar also called la Cala (“the bay” or “the beach”), is a municipality within the comarca of Baix Ebre.

The port area of Ametlla has a large fleet of fishing boats which fish using various methods, such as trawling, and also has the principal fleet of tuna fishing boats in Catalonia. The port has a sailing club with 225 berths. Overall we can say that fishing continues to be one of the principal activities of the town.

L’Ametlla de Mar’s coastline is 16 km long and is made up of 30 bays and beaches where everyone can find something to their liking. Some of the beaches have fine, white sand whilst others are pebbly. They are surrounded by pine trees and have crystal-clear water due to the abundance of Posidonia found here. L’Ametlla de Mar, which has been awarded 5 blue flags for its beaches and one for the Marina, is the second municipality in Catalonia to have been awarded so many flags.

One of the things that gives l’Ametlla de Mar its stamp of identity is its seafood cuisine. A lot of restaurants serve typical, regional dishes made with the fish and shellfish caught by the local fishing fleet. The catch is auctioned in the fishermen’s co-operative every afternoon.

10. Les Cases d’Alcanar

Les Cases de Alcanar, known as “Les Cases” is located on the Alcanar coast, 4 km from the village of Alcanar. Les Cases de Alcanar is one of the most charming fishing villages on the entire Mediterranean coast, its appearance as an authentic fishing village marked by a maritime facade that preserves the old fishermen’s houses, together with the port, its marina, and fishing port, give it a really unique, authentic and special charm.

Unlike the rest of the Catalan fishing ports, Les Cases de Alcanar was built with the effort of the sailors, who had to face the investment and building costs, since the construction of a new port was not authorized by the municipality given the proximity to other important fishing ports.

Dear Traveller, hope you liked the latest article from Besides the Obvious! If you would not like to miss any of our travel stories, destination ideas, vacation plans, holiday inspirations, do not forget to subscribe here!

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