The small, cozy and picturesque town of Cadaqués is a snow-white former fishing village in the north of the Costa Brava. It is 170 km from Barcelona and 80 km from Girona.
Due to its geographical location, Cadaques remained isolated from the whole world almost to the end of the 19th century. That is why the small population of this city (about 3,000 people) still speaks a Catalan dialect that is not understood by many of the indigenous people of Spain.
Soon, Cadaques gained fame as the “Spanish Saint-Tropez”, where a rich and bohemian audience gathered for the summer.
Famous artists Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso lived in Cadaques and inspired people there for a long time. Garcia Lorca, Marcel Duchamp, the Duke of Windsor, Walt Disney, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Mick Jagger have also visited it for holidays.
Today, Cadaqués has lost its fame as a holiday place for the ultra wealthy. But nevertheless it is still a popular touristy Mediterranean town with well-kept white houses surrounded by green pine trees, a small church on the hill, bare mountains in the background and the blue sea in front.
We will not be as bold as Salvador Dalí, who called Cadaqués the most beautiful town in the world, but we will say that it is one of the most charming towns in Catalonia and that, of course, it should not be missed on a trip to this area.
What to See and Do in Cadaques
The bay at the southern foothills of the Cap de Creus where Cadaques lies is divided by many smaller bays and beaches. Swimming is possible here and many do swim at the beaches, but it is not really the aim of those who visit this place.
The attraction of Cadaques is its charming and laid back life. Those who visit this city come here to enjoy art, culture, music and good food.
Walking through its cobblestone streets is like going back 100 years in time. Despite the evident urban development, Cadaques still maintains that poise of beautiful Mediterranean fishing village.
And then of course there is spectacular nature – beautiful hidden coves, rocky beaches and the surrounding hills. Hiking through the fantastic Cap de Creus Natural Park or along the coastal paths of the emblematic Costa Brava will leave you feeling fulfilled.
Based on the numerous times we have visited this town, we leave you a selection of the best things to see and do in and around Cadaqués.
1. The Church of Santa Maria and its Viewpoint
Although your walk may not have a fixed course, you must walk up to the church of Santa María in the historic center.
It is definitely one of the top places to see in Cadaqués for two reasons – the church itself and its position at the top of the town.
The church’s perch makes it one of the best viewpoints in Cadaqués, giving views of the rest of the town, its bay and even the Cala Nans lighthouse.
This 16th-century Gothic-style temple has a sober white-painted exterior with a sundial and an interior that houses a beautiful main altarpiece, dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
You will usually find a street musician whose music makes this corner of Cadaqués even more magical.
2. Cadaques Old Town
The white of the typical whitewashed houses of a Mediterranean fishing village, the blue and green of its shutters and the purple of the bougainvillea.
These are the colors that will accompany you on your way through the narrow streets of the historic center of Cadaqués from the moment you pass under es Portal, the arch that marks the entrance to what was once the medieval walled town.
From the church you can walk through the cobbled streets of the old town such as the photogenic Carrer des Call – a lovely street to see in Cadaqués.
In addition to looking up, don’t forget the ground. Some of the streets in the old town, such as Call, still have typical Cadaqués paving called the rastell. Its stones, taken from the seashore, are arranged crosswise with respect to the street, sometimes adopting the shape of a herringbone, to facilitate gripping the ground and avoid skidding on steep ups and downs.
Other streets that you cannot miss are Santa María and Doctor Callís, which have some of the most original souvenir shops in the town, such as Colmado, from which you cannot leave without buying something.
Also, if you like art, we recommend you go up Calle Unió, which concentrates several galleries such as Sbarbaro, Iturria and Marges-U, although there are many more scattered throughout the town.
After spending some time touring this part of Cadaqués, you can go up Calle Palau to walk through the narrow streets with beautiful bougainvillea located around Calle Sant Antoni.
3. Beautiful Modernist Houses
After losing yourself for a few hours in the old town, you can go down to the Plaza des Portitxó located in Riba des Poal and presided over by the beautiful modernist house Casa Blaua or Casa de Don Octavio Serinyana, built at the beginning of the 20th century.
This house and other modernist buildings such as the Caritat Serinyana Public School (Sol de l’Engirol Street), the Federico and Víctor Rahola House (Frederic Rahola Square) and Pont House (Passeig Square), were built by Indian emigrants who made their fortune with their business in America and returned to their hometown.
By the way, Casa Blaua is for sale, if you have 22 million euros left over. In its vicinity, as in the historic center, there are quite a few art galleries, in case you are interested.
4. The Promenade and its Viewpoints
From Casa Blaua you can walk along the Riba des Poal Seafront Promenade bordering the small coves and enjoying the views of Cadaqués from different viewpoints. If it is summer you can cool off in its crystal clear waters which are perfect for snorkeling or diving.
Some great viewpoints are:
- Riba Pitxot, which offers a fantastic view of the town,
- Playa Gran (large beach), that has the sculpture of the famous Dalí,
- The terrace of the Casino is perfect for having a drink and soaking in views of the Mediterranean
Although our the viewpoint in Cadaqués is the Pujada des Pianc, which offers a postcard image, both day and night, of the sea full of fishing boats swaying to the beat of the waves and in the background the white houses of Cadaqués crowned by the Church of Santa Maria.
The best time to walk the promenade is at sunset when many tourists who do a day trip to Cadaqués have already left and you can enjoy the beautiful lighting of the town practically alone.
5. House Museum of Salvador Dali in Port Lligat
In Port Lligat Bay, there is a landmark of Cadaques that is part of the Dali Triangle in Spain. This is the house in which Salvador Dali lived in 1930-1982. Two other objects of the “triangle” are the theater-museum in Figueres and the castle in Pubol.
Dali’s house in Cadaques is as extraordinary and mysterious as its brilliant owner. You can recognize this house right away, and even from afar.
Two rather creepy looking metal heads stick out above the building. A huge stuffed bear with necklaces around his neck and a lamp in a wicker lampshade in the front paw is right at the entrance to the rear.
In the rooms and in the yard there are a lot of stuffed animals and birds – the artist had a strange affection for them.
There are many different creations of the brilliant surrealist, among them there are absolutely amazing pictures: if you look at them from one angle, you see one image, if you change the angle – it’s completely different.
The exhibits there are endless, but the tour is built so that in each room you can stay no more than 2-3 minutes.
There is no museum feeling in this museum, it feels more like a residential building. But this house causes different impressions in people: many have a state of euphoria, and some have dizziness and a headache.
The museum is closed on Mondays, although there are exceptions. Therefore check the official website before visiting.
Tickets must be booked in advance on the website or by phone, and collected at the box office before visiting.
No bags of any size are allowed into the house.
6. Wine Cellar Martín Faixo
If you are a fan of wine tourism, we recommend you to visit the Celler Martín Faixo farmhouse, a 14th-century building that was an old fortress of the Sant Pere de Rodas Benedictine monastery, which you find at the top of the winding route that leads from Rosas to Cadaqués.
It currently houses a family winery that since 2007 has been producing organic wine harvested by hand from the 16 hectares of vines that spread throughout the Cap de Creus natural park.
You also have the possibility of staying in this enclave surrounded by vineyards and from where you have beautiful views of the natural park and Cadaqués.
7. The Beaches of Cadaques and the Surrounding Coves
In Cadaqués and its surroundings there are no less than 26 beaches and 11 coves! At least, those are the ones that we have counted in the list of the tourist office.
The coastline here has a complex shape, as if it is cut into many small segments. Therefore, local beaches are small and picturesque.
You have from the urban beaches of Cadaqués to the coves of the Cap de Creus Natural Park such as La Playera cove and Culip cove.
7.1 Playa Grande
Playa Grande is Cadaques’ main beach, accessed only through the promenade. The coastal strip reaches a length of 200 m, a width of 20 m, and the beach itself has both pebbles and sand.
This is the best of the local beaches in terms of infrastructure, it is equipped with everything necessary for a relaxing beach trip – changing rooms, showers, toilet and rental sun loungers.
There are many bars, cafes and restaurants near Playa Grande, most of them are the most popular in Cadaqués.
There is a sailing center as well as a kayak rental shop. From here you can go on a boat cruise along the Costa Brava.
This beach is very crowded, especially in summers. It is very popular among families with children, because of the smooth entry into the water and a shallow depth off the coast.
7.2 Port Argel Beach
It is the closest beach to the Old Town and an extremely modest in size. In summers, the locals keep their boats here, which is why the space becomes even smaller, and this affects its cleanliness.
But if after a sightseeing trip in Cadaques you want a quick swim in the sea, then this place is quite suitable for such an occasion. The shore here is also pebbly and sandy and the descent into the water is quite convenient.
7.3 Playa es Llane-Gran and Playa es Llane-Petit
These beaches, located one after another, are the main alternatives to the city beaches. Gran, which means “large”, is 130 meters long and 12 meters wide. Petit, which means “small”, is indeed much smaller than its neighbor.
Both beach strips and the bottom near the shore are covered with flat pebbles. Entry into the water is smooth, but the depth increases faster than on the city beach. But the water here is always perfectly clear and clean.
There are locker rooms, showers and nearby parking for cars.
On Llane Gran, you can only go through the promenade, and already through it you can go on Llane Petit.
From Llane-Petit you can get to the island of Es Surtel via a small bridge. On the island, completely covered by unusually curved pine trees, there are no beaches, but you can dive into the sea from the low cliffs.
8. Hiking in Cadaqués and Cap de Creus National Park
After you have explored the city you can hike the routes around Cadaqués and the Cap de Creus National Park, another of the most spectacular places to visit in Catalonia.
These hikes take you through ancient trails with incredible views of landscapes of cliffs eroded by sea and wind.
8.1 Hike on the old road from Cadaques to the Cap de Creus lighthouse
The first is a route along the old way of Cadaqués to the Cap de Creus Lighthouse. Its about 15 kilometers and takes 5 or 6 hours depending on the stops you make.
If you want to swim in one of the coves you will pass through and/or eat at the Cap de Creus Lighthouse, you can spend a whole day.
If you only have half a day to do this route, we recommend leaving at dawn and arrive early at the Cap de Creus lighthouse, thus avoiding the hottest hours and making the most of the first hours of the day.
You will start the route through the Cap de Creus national park by going up to the upper part of Cadaqués, passing by the Sant Baldiri chapel and its cemetery, and then going down to Port Lligat, where you can visit Salvador Dalí’s house 15 minutes away from the port on foot.
Once you leave Port Lligat behind, you will climb a slope again to take the old road to Cadaqués and follow the route towards the Cap de Creus Lighthouse.
All the points are well signposted but it is worth carrying Google Maps or a map on your mobile, since 99% of the route will have cell coverage and it can serve as a guide.
Another thing to keep in mind is the coves hidden among the vegetation and cliffs that will surprise you. So keep an eye out for them to not miss them.
The path here is not hard, but it is not flat either, so it is best to take it easy if you are not in good physical shape. And, above all, it is advisable to bring water, since you won’t be able to buy it until you reach Cap de Creus lighthouse.
Before reaching the lighthouse and if the weather is good, you can take a refreshing swim in Cala Jugadora, considered one of the best beaches on the Costa Brava.
Once at the Cap de Creus lighthouse, it is the ideal time to have a drink on one of its terraces, with spectacular views, although you can also follow the route for another 10 minutes until you reach the end of the cliffs of the natural park.
From this point it is time to go back to Cadaqués either by the way you came or choose to travel the road that is much flatter and has less difficulty. We can assure you that this walking route is one of the best things to do in Girona.
8.2 Hike from Cadaqués to the Cala Nans lighthouse
Another hiking route is the one that reaches the lighthouse of Cala Nans, in the opposite direction to that of Cap de Creus. This route is less demanding than the first, but no less spectacular.
The first section of the climb is the hardest, but when you reach the highest point, you will be rewarded with incredible views of Cadaqués.
This path of about 5 kms will take you approximately 3 hours (round trip) with stops. It is located among the best coastal paths of the Costa Brava and runs above the cliffs that border the sea until it reaches the lighthouse of Cala Nans.
Along the path you will find several hidden coves between the cliffs such as Cala Sa Sabolla, a wild beach, which can be carefully accessed from the Camino de Ronda itself or by boat from the sea.
Once you arrive at the lighthouse, all you have to do is enjoy the views. The return journey to Cadaqués is again full of incredible landscapes. This part of the path near the lighthouse runs along a fairly steep cliff, so if you don’t like heights, you might have to muster up some courage to walk through.
Where to Eat in Cadaques
Our favorite for modern cuisine made with top quality products, are the Talla restaurant and the Compartir restaurant.
Keep in mind that in both it is almost essential to reserve a table several days in advance since they are two of the best known in town.
If you are looking for more traditional cuisine, you can opt for Es Balconet and book a table on one of its two charming little balconies, with one table each, surrounded by bougainvillea, which are the perfect tables for a romantic meal.
How to get to Cadaques
1. By car
You must bear in mind that Cadaqués is especially known for its geographical isolation, within the Cap de Creus Nature Park.
While other towns on the Costa Brava are easily accessible from highways or roads that make driving pleasant, to get to Cadaqués you have to overcome a good number of curves from the neighboring town of Roses. And this in addition to enduring a few kilometers in a traffic line, especially during the high season from June to September.
Once you arrive in Cadaqués, we recommend that you leave your car in the parking lot at the entrance. If this is full, opt for the one located next to the Hermitage of San Baldiri, although this is in the upper part and you will have to walk up and down a steep slope.
Keep in mind that the car parks in the center of the town are small and it is difficult to find a space, especially in high season.
If you prefer to not worry about the car, you can leave it in the large car parks in the neighboring town of Roses and take one of the boats that leave the port area every day and take you in the heart of Cadaqués.
Another more comfortable option is to book this tour from Girona.
2. By Bus
The most convenient, simple and inexpensive way to get to Cadaqués is by bus.
There are direct buy rides from Estacio de Nord Station, located near Arc de Triomf Metro Station. Sarfa buses depart at 8:00, 10:15, 12:15, 16:00 and 21:00 hours. Travel time to Cadaques is 2 hours 45 minutes.
A ticket costs 25€, you can buy it at the box office or online at the Estacio de Nord website.
The same buses pick up passengers at the airport at both terminals. From the Barcelona airport it takes 3 hours 30 minutes to get to Cadaqués. Tickets cost about 27€.
3. By Train
There are no direct train connections from Barcelona to Cadaqués. You can only get as far as Figueres, and from there you need to travel to Cadaques by bus.
It is most convenient to catch a train to Figueres at Barcelona Sants Central Station. Electric trains run at intervals of 30 minutes, from 6:00 to 21:55. Travel time is around 1 hour 40 minutes. Tickets cost 16 €, and tickets for some connections only are sold online. Others are sold exclusively at the ticket counter in the station.
Next to the railway station in Figueres, there is a bus station. From there bus No. 12 leaves for Cadaqués. Departure takes place every 3 hours, the trip lasts 50 minutes. Tickets cost around 4.5 €.