My toes dig in to the grainy sand as I look at the ever-changing blue and green of the Spanish Mediterranean after my evening swim. Azure, turquoise, transparent emerald and foamy white flow together just before the waves break on the shore. The beach stretches on to my right, the rocks of Costa Brava are clearly visible to my left – some small, some big. You can tell the sun is getting ready to set, but it will be a while before the evening turns dark. I breathe in the smell of sea salt and realize the only thing filling my mind and heart is the water in front of me. Welcome to Lloret de Mar.
Lloret de Mar is located some 70 km from Barcelona and 34 km from Girona. Direct flights to both destinations are available from many European cities. So far I’ve flown to Barcelona and proceeded to catch a bus to Lloret. Advance purchase of tickets online is strongly advisable! Lloret is a popular tourist destination even in these times of economic uncertainty and your nerves will thank you when you are standing in line to the bus with a ticket firmly clutched in your hand. Don’t worry if the next available departure time is an hour or two after you arrive. Barcelona Airport is large and you might walk through it quite a bit before you reach the bus terminal. Once there, time will pass quickly while observing other tourists and fantasizing about the beach in Lloret as the summer breeze toys with your hair. The bus drive takes about two hours and includes passing through the streets of Barcelona and a great view of the city harbour.
I love discovering coastal towns. There are quite a few with “de Mar” in their names lining Costa del Maresme and Costa Brava. Lloret de Mar is definitely one of my favourites. Located on the northeast corner of the Iberian Peninsula in Catalonia, Lloret boasts five main beaches and an impressive seven kilometers of coastline. Long beach walks? You got it. Lloret Beach alone, one of the primary magnets for visitors, is 1,5 km long. A spot on the sand is always easy to find. This beach also provides a small adventure when entering and leaving the water – the shoreline slopes towards the sea and is steeper in some areas. This is good for working on those leg muscles, but can be a little tricky if you’re climbing out on a day when the waves are bigger. So take care.
If you walk further in either the direction of the castle clearly visible in one of Lloret’s cliffs or in the opposite one, you will see a number of coves and smaller beaches also fit for swimming. Some of the coves are rockier than others and it’s normal to encounter tourists pondering whether to approach or not. But these corners of Lloret make for fantastic picture-taking, and a sandy beach will definitely come your way. What’s noticeable is how clean the beaches are and the same applies to Lloret.
Speaking of That Castle…
This is a local landmark and a postcard view in Lloret that few can resist. I have been to this town several times and every year I snap a picture. Construction on D’En Plaja Castle began in 1935 and finished in the 1940s. It blends in seamlessly with the surrounding landscape, looking for all the world as if it emerged straight from the rocks it stands on. According to local information, initial controversy accompanied the project (as is often the case with new construction). Thankfully moods shifted, as the result of the work by Girona architect Isidor Bosch turned in to one of Lloret’s most irresitible attractions. The castle itself is actually a private building, which you realize thanks to a polite sign as soon as you try to find a way in. But the walk along it and beyond on the cliff path is one of the loveliest in Lloret, with breath-taking views of the local pieces of Costa Brava from above.
Lloret has a special quality. Even if it becomes familiar to you, after visiting it several times, you still want to go there and take the pictures you’ve already taken. The sea never looks the same. The light plays differently. The wind stirring up the water makes you feel giddily happy and there must be a better angle to catch the way the sunlight sparkles on the waves.
The beach, of course, makes up the main past-time and it’s glorious to live with just a few summer outfits for a while. Your only accessories are sunglasses and a sunhat (and sunscreen). Everything is a walk away. Days melt in to each other and it starts feeling like this will go on forever.
But there is one day to remember: Tuesday, when Lloret’s weekly market takes place from 9:00 to 13:30. Tip – start in the morning, as it’s not as hot, and walk to the very end. The last section overflows with fruit and vegetables from Fruites Peris and it’s absolutely possible to walk away with several bags for less than 4 euros. Biting in to a juicy peach afterwards is a special kind of moment. Everything seems to taste better with sea air surrounding you.
Shopping in Lloret is an enjoyable experience, especially in the Carrer de Venècia. Avoid the shops with no signs and salesmen shouting “Looky, looky” in various languages. Closer to the middle of the street is where the interesting ones start. If you want to look at the local souvenir fare, there are several similar, but not completely the same, shops recognizable by their long spaces and sparkling trays of pretty costume jewelry. For clothes check out the Rosy boutique. For shoes my absolute favourite is Vives Shoes. This is the place to go to if you are missing a pair of shoes for your vacation…or just want to look at shoes. Wearable heels, a satisfying selection of sandals and flip-flops, low sneakers, colourful flats. Affordable, but not cheaply made, these shoes will be good to your feet.
Carrer de Venècia changes to Carrer de la Vila, and right at the end of it is one the most inviting bakeries in Lloret de Mar – Pastisseria Can Carbó. The airy space makes for pleasant scrutinizing and subsequent choosing of a fresh treat. Lloret generally has the snacks everybody loves conveniently sold every few feet, just when you start thinking about it. Any gelateria is worth a stop. I was asked in one of them if I wanted chocolate sauce in my cone – hell yeah! Best stracciatella and pistachio ice cream combo ever.
Right opposite the bakery is another local landmark – Sant Romà’s Parish Church. The more recent modernist meets the older Byzantine in this building originally built in the 16th century. Immediately visible thanks to its colourful roof, it’s an arresting combination of different architectural styles. The shaded square in front of it is a nice spot to relax between walking. Just to the right of the church is the Carrer de Sant Pere, a street with slightly quirkier and partly more upscale shops. Drop by Mata Hari if you’re looking for funny souvenirs to bring back.
Some More Words on Food
My favourite place to eat is the Pizzeria Safari on Av. Joan Llaverias. I first spotted this restaurant years ago and stopped to look at the clear and inviting menu. No one bothered me as I did so – an extremely important and often overlooked detail in attracting guests. Then I stepped in and a friendly waiter immediately appeared. An awning above the nicely spaced tables provides both shade and lets in air. The multilingual menu includes not only pizza, but a solid mix of Spanish, Italian and other European cuisine. The conclusion is simple: everything tastes delicious, always. The portions are just right, the atmosphere is family-like and comfortable. And it’s good to the vacation budget. But what really sets this place apart is the service – a mix of discreet and attentive, as well as recognizing guests who come there year after year. I found myself wishing very hard that the restaurant would continue to do well in the coming years. It’s a part of Lloret de Mar for me.
Jardins de Santa Clotilde
This is a very special place in Lloret that takes you to another small world as soon as you step in it. Located a short bus ride away from the town center, the gardens were designed in 1919. A romantic story frames its history – Clotilde was the wife of the owner, the Marquis of Roviralta. She died young and the gardens are named after her. It’s a place of beauty, as well as an example of stylish and harmonious landscaping that, once again, fits in the local backdrop.
After all of the above I walk to my favourite beach, pick a spot and again let the view of the sea fill me up. Welcome to Lloret de Mar.