Two years ago we happened upon Costa Brava, what we then termed the unknown culinary tourism corner of Europe. To be completely honest, we knew nothing about Costa Brava at the time. The only thing we knew was that the tourism board worked with bloggers, and for us, at that time, it was enough. Since then, we’ve spent enough time in Costa Brava that we decided to move to Girona! A lot of our decision was based on the food and wine, and some of the most unforgettable experiences in Costa Brava!
What surprised me during this most recent visit was how many luxury experiences in Costa Brava there really are. I knew about the incredible gastronomy offerings, but we found so much more to experience during this last visit.
Check out more tips in our Ultimate Spain Food Guide – How To Travel in Spain
Following the Michelin Star Trail
One of the main reasons why we keep returning to Costa Brava is because of its food! Costa Brava is home to 14 Michelin Star restaurants. Now, this might not seem like a lot in comparison to Paris, New York, or Tokyo. But, when you consider the size of Costa Brava, and that its largest city is home to only about 100,000 people, it’s incredible.
If you love food, and high gastronomy, then one of the most unforgettable experiences in Costa Brava is to follow the Michelin Star trail of restaurants that are sprinkled through the region. The Girona Teritori d’Estrelles, or Girona Land of Stars, is the perfect way to spend a holiday in Costa Brava. Eating. Is there any other way?
Check out our Ultimate Guide to Girona Restaurants
Dining at El Celler Can Roca
At least one of the restaurants on the Michelin Star Trail requires planning ahead, WAY ahead. We dipped our toe into the world that is El Celler Can Roca during our first visit to Costa Brava 2 years ago, just around the same time as they took home the award for number one restaurant in the world. At the time, it was just a little nibble on the patio and a tour of the kitchen and wine cellar. We also met all three Roca brothers. It was memorable, but not the full-on experience.
We recently remedied that problem. And, it was simply one of the best meals I’ve ever had. Each bite had me questioning what I was eating and how they got it that way. The entire experience, including their mega tasting menu, along with wine pairings, totals €600 for two people but was well worth it. The thing is, plan ahead. We managed to call in a few favors from the Tourism Board to land a day-of reservation. Otherwise, it’s best to plan at least 6 (or more) months in advance.
Rent a Luxury Apartment
There are some very nice hotel experiences in the Costa Brava, particularly along the coast. But, this is a land where apartment and villa rentals are the norm. We’ve enjoyed some amazing luxury villas with a company called Corredor Mato, including a cliff top villa with views over the sea. I just wish we had about 10 friends who could have enjoyed the villa with us.
While staying in Girona, though, we also rented a luxury apartment directly from the owner, rather through a rental company. Our apartment, named Alemanys 5, after its address, was easily one of the nicest apartments we’ve ever rented. Set inside a gorgeously renovated 15th Century house in the old part of Girona, just behind the Girona Cathedral, it was a magical two weeks. By staying in a luxury apartment, we were able to really relax and enjoy ourselves, rather than feel squished in a small hotel room.
Host a Cooking Class in Your Home
While staying at Alemanys 5, we were able to host a cooking class in our totally fitted-out kitchen. The women behind Local Market, Irene and Mariona came to the apartment with everything needed for a traditional Catalan meal. They showed us how to make a version of mar y montana, or sea and mountain, a classic Catalan dish of seafood and meat over rice. We also made a Crem Catalana. We even got to use a little blow torch to blacken the top ourselves.
Local Market provides the food, the wine, and all of the dishes and cooking utensils. When our lunch was over, they packed up everything they brought, cleaned everything up, and left our kitchen as it was before. It was such a treat!
Hire a Private Sommelier
We love the Catalan wines in Emporda, the wine region stretching from just outside of Girona, all the way to the French border. And, I like to consider myself a bit of an expert on Emporda wines. But, getting to learn about Emporda wine from a private sommelier is an incredible experience.
We’ve actually experienced two private wine tastings with Laura Masramon, who is one of the top sommeliers in Costa Brava. The first time we conducted a tasting with her was at a luxury villa in Cadaques two years ago, with our friend Sherry of Otts World. Laura tested our aroma abilities as well (embarrassingly). This visit to Costa Brava we met Laura again, and we had another amazing private tasting experience.
Charter a Private Sailing Yacht
And, yes, our private wine tasting with Laura was hosted on a private sailing yacht! We spent our last day in Costa Brava aboard Restless Spirit, a luxury sailing yacht, which we boarded in Roses. Our captain took us up the coast, stopping to show us the hidden cove where Ferran Adria’s El Bulli, once stood. We continued past a school of dolphins and stopped for lunch in the cove at Cadaques, a lovely village on the way to France.
While anchored at Cadaques, our onboard chef presented a traditional Catalan meal, while Laura offered an explanation of how to pair wines with our food. I felt like you could smell the sea while we dined on fresh seafood, with crystal clear blue skies surrounding us. All, while sipping Laura’s hand-picked Catalan wines.
Float in a Hot Air Balloon Over Costa Brava
Okay, this is one luxury experience in Costa Brava we’ve never had ourselves. But we have friends who have. And, I often see the lovely hot air balloons coasting over the countryside, particularly close to the Pyrenees, the mountain range that lies between Spain and France. So, this is one experience that I think is a must-have. So much so, that I am going to figure out how we can do it ourselves!
Private Chef in Your Villa
Although our experience with Local Market in our Girona apartment was incredible, sometimes I don’t want to cook my own meal. Instead, I would just rather sit back, relax, enjoy the view, chat with friends, and, well, drink wine. And, that experience is entirely possible when hiring a private chef to cook at your villa or apartment. We ate a traditional Catalan rice dish two years ago with Chef Lee Pennington, at a luxury villa overlooking Cadaques. There was wine. There were views. There were friends from around the world and great conversations. It was a perfect luxury experience in Costa Brava.
Luxury Experiences in Costa Brava
I really was shocked during this last trip to Costa Brava at what kind of luxury experiences in Costa Brava we were able to find. Sure, during our first trip we had some unique culinary experiences, but this was a whole new level. I am so happy we decided to move here!
We were supported by Costa Brava Tourism during our time in Costa Brava.
Amber Hoffman, food and travel writer behind With Husband In Tow, is a recovering attorney and professional eater, with a passion for finding new food and drink destinations. She lives with her husband, Eric, in Girona, Catalonia, Spain. Together over the last 20 years, they have traveled to over 70 countries. Amber is the author of the Food Traveler’s Guide to Emilia Romagna.