Family friendly Empuriabrava, Costa Brava

During August we rented a villa in Empuriabrava, on the Costa Brava.  We had already booked a cruise which would be leaving from Barcelona so we decided to look at places on the Costa Brava as they were close to the departure port.  Mr ATWWAH and I had both been to the Costa Brava before on a family holiday, pre-kids, to Tossa de Mar which is gorgeous and definitely worth considering if you are heading to the Costa Brava.

But, with our usual ‘we don’t like to go to the same place twice’ mentality we decided to try somewhere else and as I sat trawling through Owners Direct entries with not too much time to spare we came across a family friendly, 4 bed villa (Mr ATWWAH’s parents came too) in Empuriabrava.  I read enough to know that it was an upmarket destination which wasn’t too popular with Brits (although the lady we rented the villa from was English and had a few properties in the town), it’s a 90 minute drive from Barcelona airport (even closer from Girona),  it boasts a good beach for Master and Mini ATWWAH to play on and was close to other interesting places a couple of which claimed to be medieval towns.  Mr ATWWAH loves a medieval town almost as much as he loves a cathedral visit.

Empuriabrava is a pretty unique town as it is built on a series of canals.  It is the largest residential marina in Europe, and some argue the world. It definitely lived up to its upmarket destination tag, with amazing yachts and villas dotted around everywhere.  Lots of the villas had their own private moorings.   It has only been a place to visit in the last 40 years as it was actually built on a swamp and was the idea of property developers who were keen to cash in on the boom in Spanish tourism.

The town is a rectangle bordered by the rivers Salins to the north and the Muga to the south.  I blame the rivers for my poor mosquito ravaged arms and legs which were attacked on most days despite the Jungle Formula applications, even in the day.  The western boundary is the Figures/Roses road and the box is completed by the Mediterranean Sea which leaves Empuriabrava with a kilometre of sandy beach front with lovely views of Roses.  There is more beach either side of the rivers too.

The town feels very European and not full of British holidaymakers which I quite liked.  And unlike some Spanish towns there wasn’t a sign of an English pub or a traditional breakfast offer.  There were lots of families and they tended to be German or Dutch.  There were tons of restaurants with lots of different cuisines and they were all family friendly, the more popular ones didn’t tend to open until 7pm in the evening though which isn’t always ideal with very little ones.  I’ll add a blog post with some of our favourite places to eat in the area.

A ‘must do’ is hiring a boat to go and explore the canals for yourself and ogle the enormous villas.  I was planning on our retirement.  There are quite a few companies where you can hire a boat there and then to either navigate yourself or there were some tours.  We hired our own which I was a bit nervous about with Mini ATWWAH as he rarely sits still or does as he’s told, such is the joy of being 14 months old.  Luckily he nodded off about 10 minutes into the journey.

boat and villa

My idea of a retirement home


This one isn’t too shabby either

The boats you can hire don’t go particularly fast and there is a set route which they all tend to stick to with an easy to follow map.  There are markers everywhere for some of the canals which you can’t go down and warnings about not entering the Med.  Boat hire usually lasts about an hour.


The canals of Empuriabrava

Once I started to trust Mr ATWWAH’s maritime skills it was good fun.  And, Master ATWWAH loved his dad showing him what a ‘doughnut’ was in the larger expanses of water.  It was like being with a recently qualified over confident driver.


These poor fishermen were not happy with Mr ATWWAH’s engine revving….oops

There are other family friendly attractions in Empuriabrava too which I’ll talk about in future blog posts.  It’s definitely an attractive place to stay, although don’t expect lots of culture or history, this is a place remember where none of the buildings are older than 40 years old.  But nearby towns including Castello D’Empuries, Figures, Begur and Roses, will give you your culture fix, more on them in blog posts to come too.

Have you been to the Costa Brava?  Any family friendly tips and recommendations?  Feel free to post in the comments section, would love to hear about it.

If you liked this post, you might like:

Interesting places to visit in Lanzarote

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  1. I don’t really know this bit of Spain at all – the marina sounds lovely though. I think I would want someone else in charge of the boat as otherwise I’m sure I’d end up in the Med!

  2. Costa Brava is on my to-go list. I really hope to get there soon! #MondayEscapes

  3. I still haven’t been to Costa Brava! It looks so pretty 😀

    Thank you for joining #MondayEscapes

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