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A view of Cadaqués. Photo: Andrea Rodés
A view of Cadaqués. Photo: Andrea Rodés

Cadaqués: The secret paradise of the Costa Brava

This beautiful Catalan fishing village was a favorite place for artists like Salvador Dalí, Pablo Picasso and Marcel Duchamp.

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Visiting the house museum where Salvador Dalí spent his Summers, enjoying some steamed mussels and a good baked fish on an outdoor terrace by the sea, trekking through one of the wildest natural areas of the Mediterranean coast to end up taking a dip in a cove of crystal clear waters, viewing the sunset from the Cap de Creus, the magical point where the Pyrenees flow into the sea...

Cadaqués, a small fishing town of white houses located at the bottom of a deep bay and surrounded by rugged hills, accessible by boat or a narrow winding winding road (it is more a than a two-hour drive from Barcelona), remains one of the best preserved tourist destinations on the Costa Brava today.

A favorite haunt of artists such as Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, John Cage, Richard Hamilton and Dieter Roth, among others, Cadaqués is still a little fishing village with hardly any car traffic or ugly apartment buildings in sight where everyone dreams of spending their vacations. 

The secret of its good preservation? Its limited hotel offerings, which prevents thousands of tourists from staying overnight in the small town and spoiling its charm. The lucky ones in Cadaqués are still the small colony of local inhabitants — mostly hotel and restaurant owners, or lifelong vacationers — mostly French and from Barcelona — who are lucky enough to have their second home there.

A perfect Summer day in Cadaqués can start with an early morning dip at one of its beaches, such as Platja de'n Ros, the only one with sand, or Llané Gran (wear rubber shoes to avoid pain on the stones) and then go for breakfast with a café con leche and a tortilla sandwich on the terrace of El Casino, the most popular bar in town, where the locals used to gather to play cards or dominoes after work.

After breakfast, temperature permitting, the visitor who likes to walk has several options: take a hike to the lighthouse of Cala Nin, enjoying the characteristic landscape of olive trees, green bushes and aromatic plants, as well as the song of cicadas and crickets, or venture a little further, to Cala Joncols, an enclosed bay of transparent waters that will refresh you after the difficult trek.

Back in Cadaqués, take a frugal lunch at a pizzeria in the center of the town before locking yourself in the hotel for a siesta, to avoid the hours of peak sunshine.

Around five o'clock, dare to go outside and to one of the nearest beaches for an afternoon swim. With salty hair and skin, head afterwards to the Dalí museum in Port Lligat, or enjoy a stroll through the steep alleys of the town center with an ice cream in hand.

As the sun begins to set, it's time to return to the hotel for a shower and get ready for the aperitif. Watching the sunset over the sea from the terrace of the Bar Boya or the Marítimo with an Aperol, a glass of local white wine or a cold beer in hand, listening to the cries of the children who refuse to get out of the water, is priceless.

The next step is to dine in the restaurant of your choice: fish, pasta, a steak, a good rice? There is something for everyone. But don't forget to make a reservation. 

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