Cadaques is possibly the prettiest town on the Costa Brava, and certainly among the most beautiful places in Spain. Sitting in a rocky bay and surrounded by the hills of the Cap de Creus natural park, this old fishing town has attracted artists (including Picasso and Matisse) with its unusually brilliant light and spectacular setting for over a century, although is possibly best known as the home of Salvador Dalí.
Once you’ve navigated the road that winds steeply down into the town, this is a wonderful place to spend a few days relaxing, exploring the rocky coastline and enjoying the town’s numerous seaside bars and restaurants of an evening.
How to get there
Things to see
Whether consciously or unconsciously, you will almost certainly end up at the Salvador Dalí statue on your first sortie into the old town, where it occupies a spot in almost the very centre of the Cadaques. This sober piece of art sums up how the townspeople must have felt about this eccentric, yet famous artist who spent so many years living just around the bay. The bronze is sober and oddly formal and, other than the moustache, offers no trace of the surrealism and playfulness which defined Dalí’s work.
The main town beach is here, and is fringed by a couple of lovely chiringuitos (beach bars) – we particularly liked Cadaques classic Maritim for a quiet sundowner. In summer, boat trips run from the seafront just to the South of the Dalí statue – some offer the chance to swim from the boat, so pack your snorkel.
Just inland, the oldest part of town is an attractive tangle of narrow streets lined with bars and boutiques. This area dates back to the Medieval period, and remnants of the town walls are still visible. Here you will also find the old church Santa Maria de Cadaques, which was reputedly once destroyed by the Turkish pirate Redbeard when he attacked Cadaques in 1543.
Also in the old town, the Museo de Cadaques stages some great temporary exhibitions, often featuring Dalí and the friends who came to stay with him at Portlligat – check listings to see what’s on.
One of the most pleasant things about Cadaques is taking the time to stroll around the whitewashed streets and around the bay to take in the lovely views back towards the little white town. As you walk, keep your eyes peeled for some of Cadaques’ famous modernist architecture.
If you’re interested in Dalí’s life and work, it’s well worth making the trip to nearby Portlligat, where the Casa-Museu Salvador Dalí makes a fascinating visit.
Eating and drinking
The Casino – in a modernist building on the sea front – is a local favourite and packed on Friday and Saturday nights. Mornings tend to be quieter, and they make a mean pa amb tomaquet (tomato bread).
Other places to try include Mut (for thoughtful tapas), Boia Nit (for tapas, cocktails and sea views) and Casa Anita (a Cadaques stalwart with great fish options).
For something a little later, La Frontera (on C/Miquel Rosset) is has a dreamy garden bar, regular live music and serves enormous combinados.