In the far north of Catalonia, the coastal town of Cadaqués is the ideal destination for anyone looking for nature, art and a change of pace. Only reachable via a notoriously windy road (motion sickness sufferers beware!), Cadaqués has managed to largely avoid the overdevelopment seen in many other communities along the Costa Brava. That’s not to say it completely avoids crowds, especially in summer. One reason for its popularity is that Salvador Dalí was born in nearby Figueres and from a young age visited Cadaqués with his family; between 1930 and 1982, he lived in Portlligat, a seaside village a short walk from the centre of town, and his self-built house there is now a museum. The museum is set in the Cap de Creus natural park, an area of outstanding natural beauty, where it’s worth exploring the local beaches and coves (boat trips, snorkelling and diving are all popular) and taking a walk along the rugged, largely unspoiled coastline. Back in town, visit the Santa Maria church, shop for local crafts and jewellery, and sample the local speciality, small sponge cakes in the shape of corks called ‘taps’ that are often devoured soaked in alcohol.
EAT: Set up by three disciples of world-famous Catalan chef Ferran Adrià, Compartir specialises in modern and traditional Mediterranean dishes to enjoy with others ('compartir' means 'to share' in Catalan). Located in a renovated 18th-century building that has an outdoor space for al fresco dining when the weather allows, this isn’t the cheapest place in town but is definitely one of the most memorable.
DRINK: In Catalan a 'casino' isn’t necessarily a place where you go to gamble, but rather a cultural and civic centre, a meeting place where people come together to chat, play and, more often than not, have a drink and a bite to eat. El Casino in Cadaqués lives up to this classic description with the added bonus of a seafront location that includes a large terrace.
DO: As you’re in the heart of Dalí country, it’s definitely worth a stop before or after your visit to Cadaqués in the artist’s home town of Figueres, where you’ll find his Theatre-Museum. A fantastic ode to his life and work, the space was created by Dalí himself and is where he chose to house his final remains.
STAY: The Hotel Boutique Horta d'en Rahola is a tastefully decorated, stylish place to stay in the heart of Cadaqués. Sparklingly white walls, wooden furniture and numerous fish motifs fit perfectly with the local aesthetic, while an outdoor pool, terrace with extensive foliage, and home-made cakes for breakfast add to the relaxing, welcoming vibe.
If you do just one thing... Describing the Salvador Dalí House-Museum in Portlligat, Catalan writer Josep Pla was sure of one thing: 'I don't believe that there is anything, in this country or in most other countries, like it.' Designed by the artist as a house for himself and his wife Gala, it features numerous small rooms and a fabulously original decor made up of objects that Dalí collected. The large eggs that stand atop the buildings symbolise the house’s 'intrauterine nature'. Apparently. And now you doubtless feel the need to check it out, just make sure you book your ticket in advance.