Ideal short break in Cadaqués, Spain

Thursday, 25 August 2011 1:46 PM

Easily accessible and just the perfect size for a weekend break, Cadaqués is a small charming town in north-eastern Spain. The town sits on the Cap de Creus Peninsular, jutting out into the Mediterranean, where the Pyrenees meet the sea. It lies just south of the French boarder and is about a two and a half hour journey from Barcelona.

The town is remote, surrounded by rugged hills, jagged cliffs and the azure waters of the Mediterranean. It feels a million miles away from any big city, whitewashed cottages sit on the mountainsides and steep, narrow cobblestone streets wind their way down towards the sea. White foamy waves crash against jagged rocks and small inlets are serene and calm.

The landscape is wild, yet sophisticated, small fishing boats bob alongside luxurious yachts in the bay and quaint galleries and cafes are backed by a craggy mountain landscape. The town is popular with French tourists and a few day-trippers from Barcelona, as well as being a playground for the rich who have come to enjoy an afternoon here away from their yachts.

The town is popular with artists and many have come here to set up small studios, crafts shops and galleries. Artists have been attracted here like nails to a magnet, not only because of the stunning and wild scenery, but because one of the town’s most famous former residents – Salvador Dalí.

Cadaqués is the place where Dalí decided to set up his summer house and he spent many summers here painting the area’s beautiful landscapes as well as living here full time for a while. Cadaqués is in fact the only place where Dalí had a fixed abode. The town of Cadaqués inspired many of Dalí’s most famous paintings and about the town, Dalí said, “I have spent a delightful summer as always, in the perfect and dreamy town of Cadaqués. There, alongside the Latin sea, I have been quenched by light and colour.”

Like Dalí himself, his summer house is an eccentric, odd and quirky building. Giant white eggs sit atop the Spanish style turrets and a big sofa in the shape of a pair of pink pouty lips sits outside, backed by some pictures of car tyres. The house is located in the tiny village of Portlligat right next to Cadaqués and within easy walking distance. If you want to visit the house though, you will need to book in advance, so plan ahead. You can book online at the Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí.

Besides the obvious art attractions there are the natural attractions too. There are beautiful paths across the Cap de Creus Natural Park, where you can go hiking across the hilltops to visit and swim in small secluded bays. If you are feeling adventurous you can even hike out to the lighthouse at Cap de Creus point and enjoy a drink or seafood meal at the restaurant there.

There are also kayaks for rent along the Cadaqués beach, which you can take out to explore hidden coves, inlets and bays. The water is so clear here that it looks like glass, revealing the marine life below.

If flying into Barcelona you can get to Cadaqués by taking a train from Passeig de Gràcia to Figueres and from there, a bus through the mountains to Cadaqués. If stopping at Figueres, check out the brilliant Dalí Theatre Museum there before you continue. Alternatively, you can take a bus directly to Cadaqués from Barcelona’s Estació de Nord. If flying into Girona, you’re already half way there, just get the bus to nearby Figueres and change there.

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