Entrepreneur Hugh Roper shares his experiences from his time on the Costa Brava, with top tips for the best restaurants, walks and bars
Hugh Roper first discovered the Costa Brava region through spending time in Barcelona for business. Now he and his wife own a second home in the beautiful town of Begur which they frequently visit with their two children, from their native Poole, Dorset.
CF: How did you first come across the Costa Brava?
HR: I was looking for somewhere which combined cultural interest, with the outdoor activities and weather! Having spent some time through business in the city of Barcelona, I often flew in and out of Girona. This led to me organising a holiday in the region, during which time, we fell in love with the area.
CF: When you started looking to buy in the area, how much did you know about the different towns and villages?
HR: Very little, beyond the big cities of Barcelona and Girona. We noted how pretty they appeared, and have since spent many days exploring many of them. Tom from Lucas gave us a good history of the place, and drove us to several of the villages, prior to us selecting Begur.
CF: What attracted you to Begur in particular?
HR: Begur is beautifully situated on top of a hill, with its own castle and spectacular views of the coast and Baix Empordá. You can visit one of dozens of sandy coves and beaches within minutes of Begur. Begur is a 35 minute drive from Girona, making access to the airport quick and easy. The village is full of lovely restaurants, bars and shops, but retains a very Catalan feel. We are very happy in Begur, and the kids enjoy playing in the square, attending the various festivals and shopping at the regular market.
CF: What do you enjoy most about having a holiday home in Begur?
HR: It’s easy. We can leave Poole in the morning and be in Begur for lunch. Begur allows us to relax within the home and garden, or meander through the village streets. We can pop to the beach for a coffee, or spend the day there. The cycling in the area is fantastic for both training, and having fun. Begur is well served with amenities, and has a local police station and medical centre. The weather is reliable, and the climate is ideal, not too hot in the summer, and not too cold in the winter. Begur allows us to enjoy the Costa Brava all year round, whilst many of the seaside villages tend to close up shop.
CF: For those unfamiliar with the Costa Brava, how would you sum up the region as a holiday destination?
HR: The Costa Brava provides a unique mix of culture, sun, sea, vistas and activities that will afford the family many years of happy holidays. There is always something going on, and it’s not hard to settle as a foreign national with limited language skills. The region provides good value for money, when compared with the French Riviera or Italian Mediterranean destinations. The region is well served with international airports, making access simple and affordable. The Costa Brava area is not over developed, and has benefited from not being developed in the same way as other parts of Spain.
CF:What do you think people’s perception is of the Costa Brava generally and how does it differ from the reality?
HR: People often assume the Costa Brava has been over developed, providing cheap package holidays to people looking for alcohol fuelled entertainment. The reality is very different. The Costa Brava is a prosperous region, with rich cultural and agricultural heritage combined with stunning natural beauty. We have taken many friends and family to the region, all of which want to go back!
CF:How do you think it differs from other coastal destinations you have visited either in or outside of Spain?
HR: The unique coastline benefits from large sandy bays to dramatic cliffs and mountains that drop straight into the Mediterranean. Fishing villages are still abundant, and urban development has been controlled. The coastline is very lush and green, compared to bordering France or Southern Spain. This is due to the unique climate and mountain run off from the Pyrenees.
CF: When you come to the Costa Brava on holiday what are your ‘must-dos’?
HR: We love to explore the coastal footpaths, and ride between the country villages. Discovering new places to eat, and getting to know the local delicacies. We love to spend time on the various beaches, and pick a different one each time. Snorkelling, windsurfing or kayaking, the water has to be part of the experience for us.
CF: Your 3 favourite coves?
HR: Tamariu, Callela and Platja Castell. But there are numerous to consider!
CF: Your 3 favourite restaurants?
CF: Your 3 favourite walks?
HR: Begur – AiguaFreda through the woods, around the coast to Sa Tuna and back. Llafranc to Callela and Mont Gris fort.
CF: Best place for a sundowner?
Sa Tuna hotel bar – but there are lots.
HR: Best day trip with the kids?
Dali Museum in Figueres, lunch at Besalu, followed by swimming in the blue waters of Lake Banyoles.