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Hidden wonders of the Costa Dorada

Written by Garry Gallon

Costa Dorada, the stretch of coast between Barcelona and Tarragona, is known for some of the best beaches in the region and a balmy climate that makes it a favorite for sun-seeking visitors. The odds of finding a peaceful place to get a tan or take a quiet stroll seem small. However, the rocky coves and thick forests of the coastline hide beaches or sites whose wondrous secrets are quite well guarded.

Take a look at five stunning locations along the coast.

Cala Vallcarca

Photo by horitzons inesperats via Visualhunt / CC BY-NC-SA

Photo by horitzons inesperats via Visualhunt

This beach near Sitges may have a lack of sand and a large amount of imposing industrial buildings, but the man-made seaside area has many stunning surprises. A long walkway leads out to what locals dub ‘la Sagrada Familia’, a concrete island dominated by two thick, rusting metal towers.

Those who are brave enough can try the local pastime of jumping into the deep waters of the disused port. The road down to the beach can be found beneath the old Vallcarca concrete factory, an imposing sight on the road to Sitges.


Located in a tiny village tucked under a steep cliff and the rail lines between Sitges and Castelldefelsthe beach at Garraf maybe not be big, but it is clean and very picturesque. Quaint wooden houses frame the sands of the former fishing community and give the sheltered beach a very charming quality.

The village lies on the edge of a beautiful natural park and is also home to Catalan architect Anton Gaudi‘s little known Bodega Guell, an impressive building that bears many features of his signature style. The building now operates privately as a restaurant.

Related article: Hidden Modernist Jewels

Sitges Abandoned Theme Park

The coastal town of Sitges is mostly known for its beautiful beaches, its gay-friendly atmosphere, and a yearly horror-fantasy film festival. But away from the ancient buildings and golden sands, lies a surprisingly neglected part of Sitges.

Once a glitzy, fully operational water park,  Aquatic Paradise now stands decrepit and decaying after an accident and debts caused the attraction to close in the mid-1990´s. Since then, nature has taken over the disused slides, chutes and pools that once hosted happy families, as well as numerous skateboarders and graffiti artists.

Access to the park is not readily available or advised, as police closed off most entrances years ago and now use the grounds for training exercises. But you can always pass by the site, take some great photographs, and get a sense of how things used to be.

Torredembarra Lighthouse

As you walk beside the shimmering Mediterranean along increasingly precarious cliffs, you will see something ahead on the horizon. A tall, thin body dotted with spikes and something that looks like a U.F.O for a head. At first, you may think this an otherworldly apparition, a dark tower created by the mind of Stephen King. But no, it is just an incredibly unusual and beautiful lighthouse. You can arrange a guided tour inside here.

Related article: Most charming villages in La Costa Brava

La Mora Beach

Photo by Juan Andres Lopez via VisualHunt / CC BY-NC-ND

Photo by Juan Andres Lopez via VisualHunt / CC BY-NC-ND

If you like your beaches that are a little craggy and mysterious, then look no further than this incredible spot, only a short drive from Tarragona. Closed in on three sides by steep, pine-topped cliffs, the bay boasts golden sand and extended shallows great for splashing around in.

But what really sets the beach apart are the rocky coves, jagged crawl spaces and mysterious caves in the cliffs that line the sands. Perfect for those explorers who seek to really to get to the heart of the Costa Dorada.

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About the author

Garry Gallon

A Scotsman living in Barcelona who loves the culture of the city, and finding out about what it has to offer.

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