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Costa Brava is one of the best-known tourist regions in Spain. Its geography spams from Blanes and into the border with France in Portbou. It borders the Costa Vermella to the north and the Costa del Maresme in the south.
Like any coastal region, the shoreline is present with a rugged landscape surrounded by steep mountains, all of which gives the place a classic cost feature.
Now the question is: when did Costa Brava start to develop in terms of tourism? It all began really around 1930 when the place went into demand by tourists. But it was not until the 60s when the region experienced its first significant growth, with real estate ventures running in parallel with the local fishing industry and the farming activity from northeast Spain.
Before the arrival of tourism, the local towns were characterized by a succession of tiny houses chained between narrow streets. Undoubtedly, such picturesque villages, nestled in the natural beauty of the place, aroused the interest of artists and writers. Such iconic artists like Marc Chagall, Salvador Dalí and Pablo Picasso, to name a few, are forever now a part of the essence and history of the Costa Brava.
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By 1965, the tourist development in Costa Brava boomed and turned this fantastic destination into a region of international fame. The good thing is that the original essence of the place has remained practically unchanged to this day.
Now, similarly, you might be wondering when did golf disembark on Costa Brava. The founding club, Costa Brava Golf Club, dates back to 1962 and marks the historical date when our beloved and legendary Scottish game landed in this region. The original layout of the course was designed by Hamilton Stutt, which later suffered multiple and successive renovations and extensions by the Spaniards Jorge Soler Peix and Eugenio Aguado, expanding into 27 holes.
In other words, the creation of the Costa Brava Golf Club marked the beginning of the golf fever in this region. More than 10 clubs and resorts currently satisfy the demand of golfers from Catalonia and players worldwide. They venture into these latitudes eager to face the thrill and challenge of its undulating fairways that meander between centuries-old trees surrounded by the striking presence of the nearby mountains and the sea.
That said, gastronomy also occupies an important place for all those who visit the region. Since the old days, the towns and cities of Costa Brava have been fishing, making it one of their main activities. The same thing happens with the local wine production. Costa Brava has a fantastic microclimate in the Empordà, thanks to its privileged location set right between the Pyrenees and the Mediterranean Sea. This allows for the elaboration of delicious wines, which pair superbly with the most delicious dishes.
And this is where an undeniable fact arises: in recent decades, Costa Brava (especially in the outskirts of Girona) has become a world-class gastronomic centre. In the north, in Cabo de Creus, it is enough to reference the presence of the world-famous restaurant “El Bulli”, run by acclaimed local chef Ferrán Adriá. And this is a clear example of how this area has established itself as a solid reference for the critics.
A little history of the place: “El Bulli” was created back in 1962 by a German couple. It achieved its first Michelin star under the management of Jean-Louis Neichel in 1981. The presence of Ferran Adrià in the restaurant’s kitchen from 1984 produced a radical change and, since then, the road has been full of international recognitions about this exclusive place. Its innovative gastronomy led it to be voted the best restaurant in the world for several years. As if that were not enough, Time magazine listed Adrià as one of the hundred most influential people in the world.
This region produces fertile, fresh and top-quality products: horticulture, agriculture and viticulture, and livestock and fishing were the perfect background for launching this gastronomic explosion.
Sadly, “El Bulli” closed its doors back in 2011. Still, Ferran Adrià paved the way for many other gastronomic ventures. Today, there are hundreds of first-class restaurants on the Costa Brava, where golfers and visitors can enjoy unique dishes from the local culinary movement that stands supreme to this day.
The general characteristic of the dishes is found in the combination of products. Black rice paired with seafood and meat, fish Suquet, chicken with lobster, the famous Blanes prawns, and sea urchins are some of the varieties found in many of the strategical locations in the region.
How to get to Costa Brava? Clearly, you quickly reach the place by sea, land and air. Girona – Costa Brava’s International Airport is centrally located and receives flights from many main cities in Europe, most low-cost airlines. There is also the possibility of connecting via Barcelona International Airport. In 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic, the traffic at this airport had exceeded 52,000,000 passengers per year.
Another good alternative to get there is through the Perpignan airport, located in France and closer to the border with Spain. Or by using the AVE, the Spanish high-speed train.
Costa Brava has a large area that comprises the Catalan regions of Alto Ampurdán, Bajo Ampurdán and La Selva, within the province of Girona. The best plan for those who arrive by plane is to rent a car. With a well-organized program and depending on the available time, you can get to know the top golf courses in the region in one week.
The PGA Catalunya has two golf courses: the Stadium Course and the Tour Course. The Stadium Course (par 72, 7,333 yards) is considered one of the best in Europe. It is even part of the best 100 courses in the world and currently ranks first in Spain.
Since it opened back in 1998, this course has hosted countless competitions from the European Tour, Challenge Tour, and European Senior Tour. The layout was a collaborative design by Angel Gallardo, Neil Coles and David Williams.
It is a golf masterpiece. Completed after 10 long years of planning, its wide fairways with indescribable panoramic views will leave those who come to this site for the first time breathless. Lush vegetation and endless undulations make each hole unique. The greens are simply superb, with sways typical of the most competitive courses and well protected by bunkers. Large numbers of lakes also give the countryside a fantastic seasonal feel to make it unique.
Something similar happens with its younger sister course, Tour Course (par 72, 6,704 Yards). It is shorter and more open than the Stadium Course. However, trees come into play more often than not and are vital in every shot. In any case, the presence of water hazards forces golfers to be constantly on alert. This course was, of course, also designed by Angel Gallardo, Neil Coles and David Williams.
Along with its golf courses, the complex also offers a luxurious 5-star hotel (Hotel Camiral), facilities for children’s entertainment, and a variety of dining options. Alternative activities also available are cycling, hiking or horse riding in the surrounding forests and mountains. There is also the possibility of staying in other hotels or renting stunning houses during your stay.
This fantastic golf course opened in 1990 and was once considered the “best European golf course” by the European Society of Golf Courses Architects. It was designed by the Spaniard Ramón Espinosa in 1990. With a par 72 and 6,800 yards long, it is one of the few golf courses of the Costa Brava that allows players to view the sea and the mountains, with the “Les Gavarres” massif in the near distance.
In Peralada, get ready to live and experience “much more than golf”, as the club’s motto prays. Its 18 holes, with a noble and winding design, challenge even the most experienced players.
Whimsical lakes and bunkers mark this par-72 6,701-yard course, which features undulating greens that will require all your attention. One of the emblematic holes of the course is Par-3 No. 5, featuring an island green. Again and again, it puts every golfer’s game to the test.
The club is home to the European Tour School and the International European Seniors. It also has the TorreMirona Hotel Relais, one of the most beautiful in Costa Brava. It is located 42 kilometres from Girona.
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