Llafranc is a small beach community 80 miles from Barcelona. The town in the Costa Brava area of northern Spain gets very busy with Spanish and Catalan tourists during the month of August when all the locals go on their holidays. I think the best time to visit the area is April to June or September through October. If you prefer cool temperatures, January to March is a great time to visit as there are few tourists in the town. Although it is close to Barcelona, I wouldn’t recommend just a day trip there. You will enjoy it more if you spend at least two or three nights. While you are there, you will want to check out these 10 things to do in Llafranc.
Stroll Along the Seafront Promenade
The promenade in Llafranc has been completely revamped a couple of years ago. It is now an excellent space to enjoy the weather, beach, shops, and restaurants. Tom Sharp, an English writer, along with Ernest Hemingway and Salvador Dali, all enjoyed spending time along the promenade.
Continue to walk along the promenade to the north until you reach San Sebastià Lighthouse and Sa Guarda Mountain. If you walk south, you will walk on the “Camí de Ronda,” reaching Calella de Palafrugell. You will enjoy stunning views of the beaches and towns along your walk in both directions.
Visit the Botanical Garden of Cap Roig
The Botanical garden here is considered one of the most important botanical gardens in the Mediterranean. The beautiful gardens were created in 1927. More than 1,000 domestic plant species from the Mediterranean region are living here, including 15 feet tall cacti. The area combines art, history, landscape, and botany to produce a relaxing ecosystem spanning 42 acres.
San Sebastià Lighthouse and Sa Guarda Mountain
Towering above the 574-foot cliff above the sea, between Llafranc and Tamariu, is the San Sebastià Lighthouse. The 15th-century watchtower was built to protect the region from invaders and pirate attacks. Later, in the 19th-century, the lighthouse was built. It was a strategicposition for ships traveling in the sea, especially those that were going to Barcelona. Spend some time in the area enjoying the surrounding views to Calella de Palafrugell, Cap de Planes, Cap Roig, Forcats Point, Llafranc, and the bay.
Shop at the Local Markets
Just like all towns and cities throughout Spain, local markets are the best places to make your purchases. These markets have everything from fruits and vegetables, wine, meat, various bread, and some will have clothing and household items. There is a weekly market in the summertime. However, if you are there when it is not on, Palafrugell has a daily market open from 9 a.m. to 1.30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
Spend a day at Platja Llafranc
No trip to a coastal area is complete without spending some time at the beach. The Costa Brava area has the most beautiful beaches in Northern Spain; some say they are the nicest in all of Spain. If you want to be in the heart of the beach action, stay at Platja Llafranc. If you prefer beaches that are quieter and perhaps have no people, then pack a picnic and walk a short distance north or south of the center until you find your ideal spot. There are many beaches and coves along the pathways and trails next to the sea.
View Roman History in Spain
Often, we don’t think about the history of a place or the people that lived there. All of Spain has a very long history of sieges and being conquered. The Romans defeated the Iberians in 206 BC in present-day Seville. They moved north from that location and colonized the country for approximately 700 years. They remained until the 4th century AD. You can walk around to see the remains of the Roman archaeological civilization there today, including the church of Santa Rosa, a winery, and some homes.
Hike the Trails
The area is known for countless hiking trails connecting the small medieval towns, beaches, and inland hills towards the Pyrenees Mountains. You can pack a lunch and spend the day hiking. Alternately, you can hike to different towns and enjoy a drink and bite to each in each of them. If you don’t want to walk or want to see more, consider renting a bike.
Attend a Festival
The annual La Garoinada Festival is a great time to be in Llafranc. The name Garoinesis what they call the Sea Urchin; it comes from the Palafrugell dialect. If you like cooler temperatures and to travel off-season, with fewer tourists, then Llafranc is best to visit during the La Garoinada Festival. From mid-January until March the town, and surrounding area, celebrates the Sea Urchin. This is the best time to eat the sea delicacy as the season for them is very short. Many restaurants have unique dishes based on the purple spiky exoskeleton.
Other festivals throughout the year in the area include:
- Flowers and Violas Spring
- Fiesta Mayor de Calella – Calella Main Festival
- Cantada d’Havaneres de Calella de Palafrugell – Habanera Singing
- Cap Roig Garden Festival
- Fiesta Mayor de Palafrugell
- Fiesta Mayor de Llafranc
- Costa Brava Jazz Festival Palafrugell
Dine on a Seafront Terrace
There are several seafront terraces in Llafranc along the promenade. Many of them offer beautiful views of the sea. Find one you like, with sun or shade, and enjoy some delicious local Catalan cuisine. Esqueixada (salted cod salad with tomato and onion) is a popular Catalan dish. Escalivada (various grilled vegetables), and Calçot (specially cultivated onion, grilled and served as a “Calçotada”) are excellent dishes you should try. If you are like me and an early riser, or pick a day to be one, and enjoy the stunning sunrise with a coffee or a mimosa. You can always have a nap later in the day if you are tired.
These 10 things to do in Llafranc are just a few of the things you can do. There are also the nearby coastal towns of Calella de Palafrugell and Tamariu. If you have time, I also highly recommend visiting the medieval town of Girona.
Enjoy a day on the Water
Llafranc is a seafront town. Thus, it has many options available for water sports. A refreshing swim in the sea is always nice, especially on a hot summer day. You should also enjoy some time out on a boat. There are several options available for an afternoon at sea or a sunset cruise. If you want to get some exercise while on the water, rent kayaks, or paddleboards.
The piece 10 Things to do in Llafranc, Spain by Sally Pederson first appeared in International Living.