Discovering Costa Brava: Tossa de Mar
- 2023 update: now you can get some of my best travel photos in digital form to have them as prints in your home (or phone wallpapers)! Check out the selection on my Etsy Shop!
You guys remember I asked on my instagram which village from Costa Brava you recommend as the prettiest. Most voted were by far Cadaqués (edit: we got to visit it in the meantime!) and Tossa de Mar, so naturally I had to add them to my to-go list.
While I’m here living in Barcelona I made it a quest to discover as much from famous Costa Brava as possible. This turned out to be quite a challenge if you don’t have a car at your disposal and have to rely on public transportation. The trip has to be planned very well in advance, especially if you’re short on time and want to make the best of it.
We had just one full day available, so this time we picked Tossa de Mar, which is closer to Barcelona.
How to get to Tossa de Mar from Barcelona
I read a ton of articles on the best ways to get from Barcelona to Tossa de Mar by public transportation and what worked best for us was to take the train from Barcelona to Blanes and then take the bus from Blanes to Tossa de Mar. Blanes is the last train station from Barcelona onwards by the coast, so this is why we had to switch transportation there. If you happen to decide to remain longer in Blanes, I wrote an article about it (and its amazing botanical garden!) here.
You’ll probably find on the internet that there’s a combined ticket which includes both train and bus. We tried every vending machine in the biggest train stations in Barcelona without any luck, only to find out that you can buy them only from the ticket info points in Placa Catalunya station and only with cash. At the time of writing this article, the price is the same as buying the train and bus separately, so I suggest not bother with the combined ticket if it makes you waste time.
So how do you go about it?
First, check the timetables and stations in advance here. Arrive with enough spare time at the station to buy tickets and find the right train track. If you want to do it in a single day as we did, start your trip as early as possible, as it takes you around 2 hours total one-way (we left Barcelona at around 8:30-9 am).
The train station in Blanes is a bit far from the center, but the bus to Tossa de Mar is right outside and you can buy the ticket directly from the driver. Easy-peasy!
While the first part of the trip covered by train takes you right by the seaside, the scenery changes in the second section. The bus takes you uphill and downhill on a winding road offering gorgeous views of the abrupt shore and seaside in the distance. Beautiful mediterranean villas are scattered all around up the hills and all in all, the trip is very enjoyable.
On your way, the bus makes a pit stop in Lloret de Mar, another (more touristic) Costa Brava village known for its beaches.
Important! Don’t forget to check when is the last train leaving Blanes and what bus you should take from Tossa de Mar to make it to the Blanes train station in time! Timetables can change depending on season and if you don’t arrive on time, the last bus of the day might be already packed!
But is Tossa de Mar worth it?
Ooohhh, hell yeah!
Tossa de Mar is absolutely enchanting! It’s a small city with lovely, photogenic streets (no, seriously – see the photos below!).
The medieval old town flaunts its steep, narrow, cobbled streets and stone houses, some of them covered in greenery all over, and great views over the rocky coastline.
Despite various interventions along the centuries, the fortress walls and its towers are well-preserved and worth taking a walk along them, as this is the only remaining example medieval town on the Costa Brava coast (you can as well see the remnants of a Gothic church).
The old town extended beyond its walls into a newer area, which features a different type of architecture. It’s more like the usual Spanish villages you might be used to see from the Southern parts (it reminded me a lot of cities like Ronda and Granada, or even Barcelona’s neighbour Sitges) with light coloured buildings (many “white-washed” too), decorated streets and alleys with greenery pots.
Definitely worth taking a stroll through both parts of Tossa de Mar to enjoy their variety and contrasts.
We actually started our day quickly visiting the newer area, then went to the old town where we stopped for a much needed coffee. Energised, we did a circuit of the medieval walls, a hike uphills by the shore and then went on to see what the beaches had to offer. We returned in the medieval area right in time to catch the last hours of lunch.
You can also take the hiking route up the hills if you’re in for more stunning views of the sea and the coastline.
For beach lovers, my favourite spot was definitely the small bay hugged by the rocks, but there’s also a large beach area with all sorts of offers for fun sea activities and lockers to store your valuable stuff.
Don’t forget your snorkeling equipment! We forgot it home and regretted after seeing all the other people having so much fun and boasting about what they saw underwater…
Where to eat?
There are many options and it would have been a pain in the butt to choose one for our lunch hadn’t we bumped into La Lluna, a small restaurant with a cute terrace in the medieval area. We stopped here for coffee when we arrived in the morning and we happily returned in the afternoon for their delicious tapas and refreshing tinto de verano.
During lunch, clouds gathered up quickly and showered us with a rain while we were enjoying our drinks. Once it passed, we spent the rest of the day discovering cute hidden alleys up the hills of the old town, until it was time to take the bus back to Barcelona.