Tossa de Mar is a charming village on the Costa Brava coast. Even before you step foot in the town, there are many things going for it. It is on a beautiful stretch of coastline and has clean turquoise water. Speaking of beaches, many of the Costa Brava beaches are actually small coves with often a long rocky walk down to them. Tossa has a large open beach, lots of space and no long hills to climb up and down to get to the water. Then there is the village itself. Tossa has a long documented history with an early mention going back as far 881 CE. In the 12th century, a castle was built on the highest point of Tossa’s outcropping cliff. By the end of the 14th century, the walls and fortification were finished. It is the only remaining fortified medieval town still standing along the Catalan coast. Inside the fortress, Vila Vella is an enchanting place of cobblestone streets, flower covered brick walls, little nooks and crannies leading to more flower and ivy covered alleys. In its height, it had over 80 homes built within the walls.
By the 15th century the growth of the town had some of the villagers—mostly the fishermen and commerce people, building outside the city walls.
The beauty of Tossa de Mar is that there are no high rise apartments, no 20 story hotels. It is a quaint village. Tourism has come and left its mark. The population of Tossa swells from 5,000 in the winter to over 60,000 in the summer but it still manages to feel for the most part uncrowded. The shops and restaurants are open from April - September or October at most.
What to do in Tossa de Mar:
Vila Vella- the fortified city
The most obvious place to start in Tossa de Mar is taking a stroll through the walled part of the city, Vila Vella. Crossing through the archway and stepping onto the cobblestone streets is like walking into a storyland. The walled part of the city is the sole remaining fortified medieval town on the Catalan coast so is worth visiting for the history. Climbing a little higher you will start to see views of the crystal waters of the Mediterranean over the walls. Meander through flower covered buildings to eventually get to a lookout and lighthouse where the original castle used to be. Every step will give you a new view and have you grabbing for your camera.
Take a dip
After your walk up the hill to the lighthouse the Mediterranean will be calling you. If you go to Tossa in peak tourist season the beach can get crowded, but there always seems room for one more towel. The sand isn’t the soft sand of other beaches, it is more like tiny pebbles—not as great for sandcastles, but much easier to get off your feet and towels before you go home.
Platja Gran Tossa de Mar (Playa Grande) – Big Beach
This is the main beach. It is large, especially compared to many of the coves along the Costa Brava. This beach is close to the town, has the beach walk full of restaurants flanking it so whenever you are hungry or need a coffee, ice cream or a bit more of shade you can slip into one of the numerous restaurants. The west end of the beach gives you the view of the medieval village. There are even public bathroom facilities and this is the beach to catch your glass-bottom boat excursion.
La Mar Menuda
This is a smaller version of the main beach. It is on the other side of the bay and more protected from the winds. It also is a more gradual incline into the water so if you have small children you may prefer this beach.
Platja d’es Codolar
This beach is accessed by climbing up the cobbled pathway on the west end of the Vila Vella’s walls. Like most beaches that are a little harder getting to, it is worth it once you are there. It feels like you have found a hidden treasure when you step on this beach.
Take a boat trip
There are numerous water activities. You can go on a glass-bottom boat that takes you to a number of the caves along the coast. It is a marvel how the boats are able to manoeuver into some of the many caves. Of course with the glass bottom boat, you will see a variety of fish that call the Costa Brava their home and you may see a few divers as well.
You can ask at your hotel for suggestions or you can go directly to a boat tour shop called Fonda Crystal where you will get a 10% discount for buying from them directly.
Telephone: 972 34 22 29
The shopping selection in Tossa de Mar is varied and fun. You will find everything from shoes to clothes as well as a large selection of touristy souvenirs. Most of the shops are in the old town section of Tossa and are easy to find if you wander around. One shop, however, stands out from the rest for its hand crafted jewelry designed and created by skilled artisan Tim Vandeweerd. Vandeweerd has been designing jewelry for over 18 years. He is from Belgum but has been calling Tossa his home for over seven years. The jewelry at Tijo is unique, fun and reasonably priced. If you would like to take a memory home from Tossa de Mar in form of an original piece of jewelry you will want to pay a visit to Vandeweerd's little shop.
Where: c/Passatge Sa Sassola, 1
Where to eat in Tossa de Mar:
There are so many restaurants in Tossa de Mar that you may have a hard time deciding what you really want. What I love about Tossa is that even though there are a lot of tourists (I heard more French, German, Dutch, English and of course Catalan than Spanish) it isn’t a cheesy tourism where it has been overtaken by another culture. Even with the huge variety of tourists you have no doubt that you are still in Spain. I saw a few international restaurants, but the main theme was Spanish cuisine.
Ca l’Angela: Great food at a good price
Ca l’Angela is in the old town section on the same street as about 20 other restaurants. They actually advertise roasted chicken as their speciality, but the menu of the day had an interesting selection. My daughter spotted the stuffed scallops on the menu and wanted to give that a try as it isn’t something you see on many menus in Spain. We had scallops which, more than stuffed were baked in the shell with a cream sauce, but were excellent. My husband ordered calamari which were fresh and perfectly cooked. My daughter and I ordered the spinach crepe with goat cheese, pine nuts and raisins for our 2nd dish. It was excellent. We thoroughly enjoyed it. My husband had cod with an aioli sauce and honey. I would have never put those two flavours together, but it worked. We all wholeheartedly loved this restaurant for the originality of the food, the flavour, the cleanliness of the place, the service of the staff and the overall price. (only 13 Euros/person with 2 dishes, wine, bread, and dessert all included in the price)
Where: c/portal 14
Telephone: 972 343521
Facebook page: @Ca-l-Angela
Chesery - Fondue restaurant with live music
This restaurant was recommended by Tim Vandeweerd who lives in Tossa De Mar. Chesery is a place to go for a fun evening event. Not only are the owners Swiss, so know a bit about fondues, but they bring local music acts to the restaurant and offer live music every night. Reading the reviews on trip advisor makes me want to drop everything and head right back to Tossa today. All the reviews rave about the atmosphere, the food and the music. It seems to fill up quick, so if you want a table it would be a good idea to make a reservation.
Where: c/Pola 27
Telephone: 634 82 9792
La Placeta — a fine dining experience
If you are looking for something a little extra special you might want to try the La Placeta which is just inside the old city walls. The beautiful setting will be enough to attract you, but after you will want to stay for the food. Here is what a diner said:
The Diana is a modernist boutique hotel which is located right on the main beach of Tossa de mar and has some of the best water views in the town. The unique architecture of this hotel is kept in each of its 21 rooms. There are numerous salons and patios that are public areas and each has beautiful design details such as stained glass windows, tasteful ceramic tiled floors high airy ceilings and large arched windows. The overall effect is stunning. The Diana is open from March until December.
There are numerous salons and patios that are public areas and each has beautiful design details such as stained glass windows, tasteful ceramic tiled floors high airy ceilings and large arched windows. The overall effect is stunning. The Diana is open from March until December.
Reservations: Hotel Diana
Telephone: 972 34 1886
The Saint March — a family friendly hotel
If you are looking for a quiet, clean and family-friendly hotel then Saint March should be on your list. This character hotel is an oasis in the heart of Tossa de Mar. The gardens around the courtyard of Saint March are relaxing and inviting. The rooms are basic and clean and prepared for families.
Reservations: Hotel Saint March
Telephone: 34 972 34 00 78
Price Range: 100 Euros/night during summer season (price varies depending on room size and dates)
Hotel Neptuno is a little further back from the beach, but has some added perks once you get to the hotel. The garden area around the hotel is lovely and welcoming. The hotel doesn't have great frills when it comes to the decor, but it is clean and well looked after. The staff is efficient and helpful. You can choose to have breakfast or breakfast and dinner included in the price of your room. As with many hotels in Spain, Hotel Neptuneocharges per person, not per room. On the plus side, children under 12 are free.