Things to do in Costa Brava, Spain: Visit Medieval Towns

April 12, 2024   15 Comments »

Things to do in Costa Brava, Spain: Visit Medieval Towns

May 11, 2017 15 Comments »

Looking for things to do in Costa Brava, Spain? Then, take a journey through the medieval towns of Costa Brava and Girona Pyrenees. The region is full of imposing castles, walled cities, and ruins of centuries past. Medieval towns this old and beautiful should be captured to give you lasting holiday memories, so bring your camera! But you don’t want your photos to be lost in the sea of average vacation pictures like everyone else’s!

Photographer Pete Heck and I set out to create photo walks around the Medieval towns of Costa Brava Spain. The walks resulted into ebooks that could be used by anyone to experience the medieval towns and take beautiful photos.

The book’s goals are to move your travel pictures from average to great as you traverse the most beautiful medieval villages in both Costa Brava and Girona Pyrenees.

Who Are These Photos Walk Books For?

The Medieval Photo Walk Ebooks are aimed at amateur and intermediate photographers who want to get a photography concept of a location. You don’t need an expensive camera to capture your vacation like a pro; you just need some ideas of where to go and how to set up the shot.

You will be taken to the exact places in Costa Brava where the photos were shot, provided tips on how to recreate the shot and inspired to utilize these tips on your own as you walk the historic cobblestone paths.

But even if you aren’t a photo buff, the books are great for people who just want to be guided along a fun walking path through the towns. It will lead you into corners and down alleys and introduce you to views you likely won’t find on your own!

If you are looking for things to do in Costa Brava, Spain, then plan an outing to visit these medieval towns. And make sure you have your camera with you!

5 Medieval Towns To Photograph in Costa Brava


Things to do in costa brava besalu

Besalú is a gateway to the Pyrenees and sits in the volcanic region of La Garrotxa in Catalonia. It served as an important medieval town with a rotation of Roman, Visigoth, and Moorish rulers; it was even an independent country at one point. However, what you see today in the cobblestone town is mainly dated from the 11th to 14th centuries. The crowning glory and gateway to the town is the 12th-century Romanesque bridge over the River Fluvià.

It is also known for the restored mikveh, a ritual Jewish bath, and the remains of a synagogue near the river’s edge, all reminding you of the thriving Jewish community here in the 11th and 12th centuries. From a photography standpoint, this is a beautiful town to capture since it’s so intact and has been painstakingly restored in many areas. You can spend hours capturing angles of the bridge alone, walking over it, viewing it from the river bed, and from various lookouts in the town. And on the weekend, you’ll find local fishermen dotting the river banks and bringing life to your photos.

Besalu photo walk
Click to download

This photo walk will take you from the famous ‘human looking’ bridge to its base, around the cathedral, through the main squares, to the famous Mikveh and Synagog, and outside the city walls. We’ll show you little corners and details that you likely wouldn’t notice but will love to capture. You’ll learn to play with reflections and know where to go to get the best night photography!

Castello D’empuries

things to do in costa brava castello dempuries

Castelló D’empuries, which means little castle, was one of the most important palaces in Catalonia. Being close to the sea and the towns of Roses and Cadaqués, the Castelló was the foundation of convents and monasteries as well as an important trading post.

The old and new buildings are mixed and intertwined, and it is a town where you have to really look for unique angles, subjects, and perspectives in order to be happy with your photos.

This town was probably the most surprising and exciting to me for some strange reason. I say it’s strange because the first time we went there to scout it out, I didn’t really like it at all. However, on our second trip there, it became my favorite town we photographed. I’m not exactly sure what my change in attitude was about, but it likely had something to do with the fact that the little town challenged me, and I felt like I walked away winning that challenge.

Castello dempuries photo walk book
Click to download

This walk will wind you around the old moat (still with water!), to the basilica, through the winding, colorful streets, and out to the historic bridge leading into the town. It will even take you all the way out to the cemetery if you feel like a little longer walk, and trust me, seeing that cemetery is worth it. I was lost there taking photos for an hour at least! Yes, I do love traveling through and photographing cemeteries just that much!

My best shooting memories with Pete come from Castello!

Tossa De Mar

things to do in costa brava tossa de mar

The “Vila Vella enceinte” (old walled town) is the only fortified medieval village on the coast of Costa Brava dating back to the 13th and 14th centuries. It is not only still standing, but it’s beautifully intact.

The wall’s entire original perimeter is still in place and includes four towers perched on the cliffside. Originally designed as a way to be protected against pirates from the sea and bandits from the land, it is now a picture-perfect example of those medieval times. In fact, from afar, the walled city that skirts the beach looks like a giant sand castle.

This is a town where the early bird photographer gets the best shots: a sunrise over Mar Menuda, an empty beach, and a quiet walk through the cobblestone streets. The day we were there was full of pouring rain, clearing to beautiful sunny skies; quite a fun day for photography. We were mostly intrigued with the lines, angles, and textures of the old walled city, but the beach was equally beautiful.

Tossa de Mar photo walk book
Click to download

This walk will get you up early and lead you along the beach and up into the walled city. We’ll show you great little lookouts and hidden beaches to photograph, as well as some quirky streets and alleyways. We’ll even take you up to a point on the famous Cami De Ronda trail for a killer shot of the walled city and its hidden beach.


things to do in costa brava Peratallada

Peratallada is a favorite for tourists and locals. Less than an hour away from Girona, you are transported into another century, as even the streets have been left in their original medieval shape. The remains of the fortress walls, the moat, the castle, and many of the towers show how well-preserved the town is. Enjoy your time in Peratallada, and don’t rush.

This is one of the smallest towns we visited, sitting on a little hill above the sprawling Catalonia countryside. More than any other town, this one was full of little details, like the ruts in the centuries-old stone streets from horse-drawn carts going through the city.

My favorite memory from Peratallada was finishing our work and having a spectacular late lunch with Pete at Restaurant El Borinot. It was one of those moments where everything was absolutely perfect; we were high on great photography and amazing food.

peratallada photo walk book
Click to download

You’ll start at the old church and cemetery and walk into town as they did in medieval days – by crossing the moat. We’ll lead you around to hidden plazas, point out architectural scenes, historic churches, and walk you into the main plaza, Plaça de les Voltes, where we encourage you to sit and people watch. We’ll even show you the best view of the city from outside the medieval walls!


things to do in costa brava girona

Girona is a city that should be admired from afar and above. Surrounding the city are fortresses and watchtowers, some of which are in better condition than others and were once used to defend the city and region. In the town, you can walk along the preserved walls, which have been attacked in 25 different siege attempts throughout history.

Discover the food of Catalonia and where to find it in the Pyrenees

But we didn’t just stop at the historic walls of Girona, we actually created multiple photo walks through this spectacular town to give you a glimpse of the old, new, and the ‘Hollywood’. This book includes 6 photo walks: Viewpoints and Vistas, Along the River Onyar, Jewish Quarter and Old Town, Markets of Girona, Game of Thrones Filming Locations, and The Gardens, Parks and Cloisters

We’ll walk you through the old and new city as well as some hidden spots, and a short hike outside the city to spectacular views of the region. You’ll definitely need multiple days in Girona to take in all of this great photography!

girona photo walk book
Click to download

During this project, Girona was our base, and because of that, we were able to get much more in-depth and fall in love with it even more. Girona now actually feels like a 2nd home to me as we immersed ourselves in daily life there. We also happened to be there during one of its biggest festivals of the year – the Temps des Flors and witnessed the traditional Catalan human tower event right outside our Airbnb window! I think that’s what I loved about Girona the most;, it was a beautiful mix of old traditions and new life.

Whether you go to one of the towns of all of them, you’ll now never have to wonder, “How did they get that shot?”

Where to stay while you are in Costa Brava

If you stay in Girona, check out our favorite Airbnb properties that we stayed/lived in during the project.
Apartment above the Jewish Museum
Apartment with views of Historic Town Center
Get $20 off if you are new to Airbnb!

If you are staying outside of Girona in or near one of the medieval towns, then check out renting a local villa!  Charming Villas is my favorite with tons of choices!


Our time in Costa Brava was in partnership with Costa Brava Tourism, Girona Tourism and Catalunya Experience.

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