An insider’s guide to the Costa Dorada
Laura Brasó, our former Spanish campsite specialist and Barcelona native, gives us the lowdown on some of her favourite places in the Costa Dorada and shares her insider tips on making the most of this region.
What’s your favourite campsite?
In the Costa Dorada, Playa Bara has an amazing pool complex, Tamarit Park is located right on the beach, next to a gorgeous Castle and Cambrils Park has first-class facilities and a very cool accommodation type: the Hawaiian-style Aloha Bungalows.
In the Costa Dorada, Tarragona is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a must-see, as is the medieval walled town of Montblanc with the nearby Cistercian monastery of Poblet (founded in 1151). The Ebro Delta Natural Park is a protected wetland reserve that’s comparable to the Camargue in France. And of course, there’s PortAventura theme park.
What about for couples?
Couples have the advantage of being able to do more in one day which makes this area fantastic for a short break. Also, they can travel in low season when the region is at its most peaceful, authentic, romantic – and cheapest!
Barcelona is easily reachable both by car and public transport from all our campsites. The old town and other tourist attractions are much easier to explore outside the busy months of July and August. The famous Sónar International festival is a good excuse to visit during low season; it takes place from the 18th June and is a festival of music, creativity and technology.
Any other festivals?
On the evening of 23 June, spectacular fireworks take place all along Spain’s Mediterranean coast in celebration of the summer solstice. Known as the “Revetlla de Sant Joan”, it’s a huge event in Catalonia and hundreds of parties are organised every year, with the best one’s taking place right on the beach.
Earlier in the year, on St George’s Day (23 April), Catalonia celebrates its own version of St Valentine’s Day. Sweethearts, loved ones and respected ones exchange roses and books. Thousands of red roses and makeshift bookstalls are set up for the occasion throughout the region.
Every year close to the end of September Barcelona holds its largest street party, La Mercè Festival.
Dining under the stars
It really is magic enjoying delicious food and wine under the stars with the moon reflecting on the sea and the waves crashing on the shore with their soothing rhythm. The restaurant at Tamarit Park is excellent for this.
A few key dishes to try are botifarra amb mongetes (pork sausage with white beans), bacallà amb samfaina (cod with white vegetable accompaniment), esqueixada (salted cod salad with tomato and onion), crème Catalana (dessert made with egg yolks, milk and sugar) and músic (another dessert consisting of toasted almonds, hazelnuts and dried figs served with muscat wine). You should also try to eat bread the way the locals do. Toast it; rub a clove of garlic on it, then half a tomato, and finally season with virgin olive oil and a pinch of salt for a perfect slice of pa amb tomàquet.
What type of holidaymaker do you think Spain holds the most appeal for?
Spain is a great destination for anyone wanting to enjoy the Mediterranean culture, be it with family, alone or as a couple. The beach will form a huge part of any holiday here, but there is so much more to the country than this.
The weather is usually wonderful but on those rare gloomy days, you could visit a museum, go on a bus tour of Barcelona or visit the many indoor shopping centres around the region.
Without any doubt, one of the many traditional specialities; exported versions never really taste the same! Anchovies, cured cheese, olives, olive oil, honey, cured cold meats, wine and cava (a Catalan type of Champagne) can all be purchased from any local farmers market.
Best way to get there?
The campsites in the Costa Dorada are all within half an hour’s drive from Reus airport or an hour’s drive from Barcelona airport.
Sum up the region in five words
Authentic, historic, Mediterranean, lively and charming