Barcelona is a perfect city with a great climate and beautiful coasts. Renting a car and driving along the coast, hopping from village to village and enjoying the fine beaches, is a great way of getting to know the area for a break of a couple of days.
An hour-and-a-half drive from Barcelona, situated in the northern part of Catalonia, Llafranc is home to the rich and beautiful, with one of the best beaches on the Costa Brava. You will find amazing houses, great restaurants and gorgeous small shops specialising in chic clothing. One of Llafranc's attractions is Hotel Llafranc, established in 1958. It was very popular in the 1950s and '60s with international personalities like Dalí, Ernest Hemingway, Kirk Douglas, Rock Hudson and Sophia Loren.
Stay at charming 4-star boutique hotel El Far, a restored Medieval travellers' inn, built on a promontory above the charming bay of Llafranc. El Far is also known as having one of the best restaurants of the area. Have lunch at Casamar Hotel restaurant, a simple but cosy place with a menu featuring seafood.
2. Calella de Palafrugell
Just along the coast from Llafranc and connected by a 15-minute walk along a pine-scented cliff path with panoramic views. This historic fishing village dates back to over 650 years ago, with a mild Mediterranean climate, ideal for enjoying a day at the beach.
Stay at the resort's best hotel, Sant Roc Hotel, a family-owned business in an elevated seafront position. Have an informal bite at Tragamar, a trendy seaside restaurant famous for its rice dishes and paella.
In the heart of Costa Brava, the rocky cliffs of this village are absolutely breathtaking. Begur's old town is home to numerous Romanesque monuments. Begur boasts nature, some of the best restaurants on the coast and superb golf courses, making it an unbeatable place to visit.
Stay at Aiguaclara Boutique Hotel, a colonial-style mansion where the hospitality provides a home-from-home feel. Begur is famous for its excellent cuisine. Have a bite at Sa Rascassa, a small, cosy restaurant with excellent, contemporary Catalan food served in a romantic walled garden. Another good option is Galena Mas Comangau restaurant, a converted 19th-century farmhouse with delicious food and live jazz at the weekends.
Peralada is a small village in the north-eastern part of Catalonia. The period of greatest splendour for Peralada was during the Middle Ages, as can be seen in many buildings: the church of Sant Martí, the Sant Doménech Cloister, the Carmen church and monastery and the remains of the 14th-century walls. During the same century, the Counts of Rocabertí built the Peralada Castle which is now the village's treasure. Every summer the castle gardens provide the venue for the Castell de Peralada Music Festival with internationally-renowned musicians.
Stay at the 5-star Hotel Golf Peralada, game at Casino Castell de Peralada, and eat at Cal de Sacristá or Mollet de Peralada, two of the best restaurants in the area.
Sitges has a beautiful natural setting, located between the sea and the mountains. It is the most famous beachside town south of Barcelona, with crystal-clear water, and an old centre with many Gothic, Medieval and Renaissance buildings, along with some Modernist buildings providing an interesting contrast.
Visit the house-studio of painter Rusiñol, enjoy the Vintage Car Rally event, or the Catalonia International Film Festival that takes place every January.
All around, there are innumerable restaurants where you can sample local cuisine; we recommend El Cable for their tapas, and El Velero with its beautiful sea views and really good food.