Type Cadaqués into Google and one of the first questions that comes up is ‘Is Cadaqués worth visiting?’. My answer is yes, 100%. And this Cadaqués travel guide will show you just why that is. Sun, sea and a spot of culture – Cadaqués in north-eastern Spain has plenty to offer, whether you like to hit the beach, take in an exhibition or spend a long, lazy lunch sampling the local cuisine. This guide takes in the best cultural hotspots, charming boutiques, fine dining restaurants and hidden gems off the beaten track.
I’m not so much of a beach person – I can enjoy a day or two lounging about, but any more and I start to get itchy feet. I’m not an active person either, but my brain needs a bit of mental stimulation – I love a place that’s rich in art and history. When I’m looking for the perfect summer holiday, I’m after a stylish city break with the right balance between relaxation and culture. Cadaqués has all that in spades. And so we discovered when we visited for a two week holiday with friends in August.
Situated in Catalonia, near the border with France, this fishing town overlooking the Mediterranean once seduced the likes of Picasso and Dali with its luminous light and broad sea vistas. Originally accessible only by sea, this picturesque, white-washed town has since retained its charm and relaxed, unpretentious nature. It’s mainly populated by (subtly) well-off visitors from nearby Barcelona and France – you’ll only hear a few Brits here and there, but they won’t be shouting loudly down the street.
The town has an island-like feel, surrounded by a backdrop of wild, rugged hills that rise and fall around the coastline to create a series of inlets and secluded creeks. Further away from the waterfront, cobbled streets climb up the hillside, bougainvilleas spilling out over old white buildings with bright green or blue shutters. I don’t think Cadaqués is so well known in the UK, compared to more popular destinations like Ibiza or Mallorca, but it really should be a place that’s on your radar. Just don’t all flock there at once…
Cadaqués travel guide
PLACES TO EAT AND DRINK
Cadaqués is one for the foodies – whether it’s traditional Catalan cuisine on a remote mountaintop or fine, contemporary tapas in an elegant restaurant. Being by the sea, expect a dominance of fresh fish and seafood. Wash it all down with a glass of cava!
SET – 8 Plaça des Portitxó – a chilled cafe/restaurant with a relaxed, cool vibe, located in a picturesque corner of the waterfront. It gets popular around breakfast and brunch time but the smoothie bowl and smoked salmon on toast are worth the wait
Es Fornet – 7 Plaça Frederic Rahola – pick up a few pastries from here for breakfast on the beach, the jamón sandwiches are pretty good too
JOIA – 1 Riba des Poal – easily the best ice cream shop in Cadaqués – all natural and organic – I think we paid a visit almost every day!
TALLA – 18 Riba Pitxot – a restaurant with the best sea views in town, serving elegant, gastronomic tapas with a contemporary twist
Compartir – s/n Riera de Sant Vicenç – possibly the best restaurant in Cadaqués, run by three alumni from experimental restaurant El Bulli. They’re also behind the two Michelin-starred restaurant Disfrutar in nearby Barcelona. Compartir means ‘to share’ so expect delicious small plates you’ll want to fight over
La Gritta – 9 c/ Pianc – a charming Italian restaurant popular with families with tables overlooking a small beach in Cadaques, which makes for the perfect spot to watch the sun set
Restaurant Cap de Creus – Paratge Cap de Creus – located on a remote hilltop in the national park that surrounds Cadaqués town, this traditional Catalan restaurant has the most spectacular views across the little creeks that wind their way around the coastline. It’s about a two hour walk from Cadaqués, or you can drive by car or get a short shuttle bus. Booking in advance is essential – you can’t get into the park with a car without a reservation.
From top to bottom above: a bar cafe on a boat in the waterfront, a small one-table pizzeria in the old town, SET. And below: Restaurant Cap de Creus, SET (again), La Gritta, TALLA.
Cadaqués travel guide
PLACES TO SHOP
Cadaqués is home to a whole host of pretty shops and charming boutiques selling local, artisanal goods. Just wonder around the old town and you’ll find gem after gem. There’s hardly any tacky, touristy shops, instead you’ll be struggling to fit all the handmade ceramics and straw basket bags into your suitcase. The town is known for its ribboned espadrilles which resident Dalí used to wear every day – you’ll be hard pressed not to come home with a pair.
Ceràmiques Joaquim Saló – 12 Plaça del Passeig – a treasure trove of handmade ceramics at fairly affordable prices, selling everything from traditional Catalan pottery to on-trend splatterware
Colmado – 12 Riba des Poal – you can’t miss this traditional red shop front, inside you’ll find rustic homewares and baskets galore
S’espardenya de Cadaqués – 16 Carrer del Dr. Callís – the place to get your espadrilles
Mo Cadaqués – 7 Plaça del Dr. Pont – a lovely mix of stylish fashion and homeware; the back room, filled with vases, candlesticks and pots, is particularly charming
Rosa Cadaqués – 6 Carrer Curós – a cute florist selling dried flowers and arrangements
Top to bottom: Rosa Cadaqués, S’espardenya de Cadaqués, Colmado, Mo Cadaqués
Cadaqués travel guide
THINGS TO DO
Cadaqués isn’t just a place to go to enjoy the sun and the sea. The beaches – somewhat grey and pebbly – aren’t what actually sells it. This creative, bohemian city has plenty of culture to offer away from the beach front, from small independent art galleries to Salvador Dalí’s remarkable home.
Salvador Dalí House – Port Lligat – Salvador Dalí’s house is a must-visit, even if you’re not a fan of his Surrealist work. It’s about a 20 minute walk away from Cadaqués in the nearby unspoilt, coastal village of Port Lligat. From a distance you can make out the giant white eggs on the roof. Dalí bought the small fisherman’s cottage in 1930 and, over the course of 40 years, transformed it into a unique, labyrinthine artist’s retreat. He lived there until 1982 when his wife Gala died.
A tour guides you around the cave-like spaces, while you’re free to explore the gardens and olive groves at your own time. A highlight is his atelier which has been left just as it was when he lived there, complete with an ingenious invention that could pulley a canvas between floors so that Dalí never had to stand up and reach too far to paint. The house, as you would expect, is full of unusual finds and unique objects – at the entrance you’re greeted by a giant polar bear and in the study, he had stuffed the white swans that used to wander around the grounds. In his bedroom, Dalí carefully positioned a mirror opposite his bed so he could see the sun rise every morning. Outside, the pièce de résistance is the flamboyant (and rather phallic-looking) pool and pink lipped sofa, where you can imagine him holding court in style.
Cadaqués Museum – 15 Carrer d’en Narcís Monturiol – a small museum dedicated to the town and its artistic history. When we visited there was a lovely exhibition of photographs of Dalí, which was the perfect stop after his house
Dalí Theatre and Museum – 5 Plaça Gala i Salvador Dalí, 17600 Figueres – if you have hired a car it might be worth venturing out of Cadaqués one day to this museum dedicated to Salvador Dalí in his home town of Figueres
Cadaqués travel guide
WHERE TO STAY
There’s plenty of Airbnbs (some with swimming pools further up the hill), otherwise have a look at laid-back beachfront Hotel Llane Petit. We discovered this hotel on the last day of the holiday – think neutral interiors, a relaxed bohemian aesthetic and beautiful sea views.
We flew to Cadaqués with Ryanair from London Stansted airport to Girona–Costa Brava airport. From there it’s about an hour and half drive away. You can either hire a car or get a bus from Girona to Figueres and then another bus from Figueres to Cadaqués.
I hope you enjoyed my Cadaqués travel guide. Let me know if you visit and have any tips of your own! See my other travel guides – including Copenhagen, Porto, Helsinki, Amsterdam, Puglia and Paris – here.