- Med, mountains and mediaeval hamlets
- Country life
- Golf, grapes and gastronomy
This northerly region in Catalonia has scenery to satisfy your every whim – city break (Girona), beach retreat (Costa Brava) or country weekend (La Bisbal).
Between Girona and the Mediterranean, in the southern shadow of the Pyrenees, lies Empordà – split into Alt (higher) and Baixa (lower) Empordà – a rolling countryscape in north-east Catalonia of vine- and sheep-dotted hillsides topped with mediaeval hamlets tickled by the Tramontane wind. Whether it’s the region’s rich history, the surfeit of superb Catalan restaurants (El Celler de Can Roca, El Bulli) or the gaggle of golf courses that draw you here, you’ll find yourself stylishly tucked away from the crowds on the Costa Brava, yet near enough when you fancy a jaunt to its sandy coves and cobalt waters.
The Dalí Triangle: it might sound like somewhere folk disappear mysteriously never to be seen again, but in fact it’s Empordà’s trio of attractions dedicated to the Catalan surrealist. Púbol Castle in La Pera was Dalí’s present to his wife Gala and is also where she’s buried. The House-Museum in Port Lligat is a set of fishing huts that Dalí converted into a workshop. In his birthplace, Figueres, is the painting- and installation-packed Theatre-Museum.
- Taxi Begur (+34 630 980895; www.taxibegur.com) on the Costa Brava speak English and can arrange pick-ups from Girona. Taxi Alex (+34 659 550550) operates out of Estartit day and night. In La Bisbal, there is a taxi stand on Plaça Francesc Macià.
- Tipping culture
- Small-change-shaped gestured are always appreciated, but tipping is not common Spanish practice.
- Siesta and fiesta
- No point trying to purchase pottery or buy up botifarra between 1pm and 6pm – even shopkeepers need a siesta.
- Packing tips
- A picnic blanket for alfresco tapas and toe-twiddling in the Catalan hills; a shoulder-shading wide-brimmed hat to counter the Costa Brava sunshine.
- Recommended reads
- It’d be rude not to thumb through Orwell’s Civil War account, Homage to Catalonia, while you’re on set. Delve into Dalí with his foundation’s An Illustrated Life. Pack anything by Josep Pla (if you can find a translation) for home-grown Catalan fiction.
- Empordà’s cuisine is characterised by the sea and by its mountains. In the mountain corner, we have botifarra sausages, Trinxat veggie fritters, delicious duck, a troop of ceps and chanterelle mushrooms and endive-like escarole leaves. Harvested from the Med, arròs negre combines squid with rice, and salted cod and sardines are fish favourites.
- Euro (€).
- Time zone
- GMT +1.
- Dialling codes
- Country code for Spain: +34. Girona area code: 972.
- Do go/don't go
- Like much of the Med, Empordà visitor numbers spike in July and August and the winters are mild but wet. Visit in May, June or September crowd- and cagoule-free warmth.
Don't go home without...
…some dried botifarra and a dresser’s-worth of rustic ceramics from La Bisbal.