From up above at the castle, it’s easy to see the beauty of Begur. This town with a colonial feel is the ideal day trip from the Costa Brava.
I’m going to be completely honest; I had never heard of the little town of Begur on Spain’s Costa Brava. I typed into Google the words “where to eat fideua, Costa Brava, Spain” and the first place that popped up was a restaurant in Begur. Of course, I wasn’t about to drive an hour out of our hotel in Empuriabrava just for a good fideua, because as much as we are foodies, there is only so far a good lunch will go.
A bit more investigation and I found out that Begur also boasted a castle from the 11th century that now serves as a fantastic look out where you can enjoy 360 degree views of the town. Add to the mix an historic center with eclectic houses dating back to the times of trade with Cuba, and I was convinced enough to start planning our route.
We arrived to Begur without much difficulty thanks to our GPS and followed the signs to the famous castle lookout point. Up the winding roads we went until we found a parking lot near the base of the castle. As we climbed up I couldn’t help but be charmed by the flowers and the old stones looking out over the town with blue skies and high winds. It very much felt like stepping back in time.
The castle itself is not in the best of shape, but when you consider that it’s over 1,000 years old, I guess you can forgive it some aesthetic touches. The castle was originally built when a feudal lord, Arnust de Begur needed a strategic position with a good view of his enemies approaching. Throughout history it changed hands many times, but today it brings visitors for the spectacular views all the way to the Mediterranean Sea, and the classic Spanish rooftops.
After visiting the castle, we made our way to the historic center which boasts interesting colonial style houses. It turns out that when the Spanish started trading with Cuba, there were a lot of people from this town that moved to Cuba, made their fortune, and then came back to build a home in Begur. The result are homes that look like they could have been plucked right out of colonial America, but they are in the hills of coastal Catalonia. Quite a contrast! The streets of the old town are gorgeous and every house seems to have some little unique detail, whether it be intricate ironwork on the windows, an interior garden or little colonial style courtyards filled with plants.
For lunch we decided to head down to the water in search of a delicious fideua. If you’ve never had the pleasure of eating fideua, it is a kind of cousin to paella made with thin noodles and every bit as delicious, if not more so! The place we settled on was just outside Begur at the Platja D’Aiguablava. We had to drive along a winding road down the hillside to get to the water, but once we arrived the view was breathtaking. The cove looked like it was a secret place that only locals knew about and we had stumbled upon it by pure luck.
The restaurant, Toc al Mar, has a huge terrace, which was good because we had brought our dog, Dino, along for the ride. Every table had a spectacular view of the blue green water and small beach. We sat down and ordered a cold beer, feeling pretty lucky to have found Begur on a whim. For a starter we ordered bread with tomato (typical in Catalonia), as well as escalivada with romesco sauce. Escalivada is basically a plate of grilled vegetables served with the typical romesco sauce, which is made from almonds and red peppers.
It was the perfect thing to nibble on as we took in our surroundings. Then came the main event: a seafood fideua with shrimp, squid, and mussels. The waitress later convinced us that we should share a dessert, and we opted for licorice flavored ice cream along with sugared nuts (garrapiñada, as they say in Spanish). It was the perfect meal to enjoy by the sea, and we really didn’t want it to end; but the skies were starting to turn grey so we decided it was time to head back.
If you are visiting Girona or the Costa Brava, we would absolutely recommend taking a day trip to Begur, and if you want to give yourselves a real treat, make sure to call Toc al Mar for a reservation. We had to push back our lunchtime because the place was booked solid until 3:30pm (which was fine for us because we visited on a lazy Sunday), but if you are on a tighter schedule, it’s good to keep in mind. All in all, a fantastic outing that only made us fall even more in love with another little corner of Catalonia.