Beyond Barcelona: Costa Maresme, Spain’s New Coastal Hub

Barcelona’s beaches have had their day; if you’re traveling to Spain this year, it’s all about the Costa Maresme. Located a stone’s throw from the tourist hub, the Maresme coast is packed full of sandy beaches, great eating spots, and a scenic train route. Oh, and did we mention that there aren’t hoards of tourists, as you’re bound to find in Barcelona? Trust us on this one.

The place where Barcelonans themselves go to escape it all, Costa Maresme offers a rare slice of untouched beauty in the region, hinting at a rugged nature that the nearby city might once have boasted. While you might prefer to reach the coast by car, the railway trip is worth the extra effort, not least for the stunning coastal views it reveals along the way. Leave from Barcelona itself and be at your destination within the hour, all while enjoying the spoils of the Spanish coast as you go that’s not a bad way to travel.

With a lot more space on offer than nearby cities, Costa Maresme can indeed seem like a breath of fresh air on arrival, so make sure you schedule enough time to get a feel for the place. With railway stations every few kilometers or so, there is plenty of opportunity to hop off the train and enjoy a nearby beach whenever you fancy. The coast’s sprawling beach spots are clean, open, and family friendly, so there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

If you’re simply stuck for choice, however, try making a beeline for Caldes d’Estrac, otherwise known as Caldetes. A jewel in the crown of the Costa Maresme, the town is bursting with great eateries, local bars, and stunning architectural points of interest. If you’re a lover of arts and letters, however, you’ll head directly for Fundació Palau, a place dedicated to one man’s lifelong friendship with Pablo Picasso. Filled with letters passed between the two, sketches, doodles, and the odd painting, the place is a must-see for any art enthusiast.

Of course, food doesn’t go overlooked in the area, and no matter where you go in the Costa Maresme, you’re guaranteed something out of this world. Proving that simple doesn’t necessarily mean boring, for example, is the restaurant La Llotja, located in Arenys de Mer. A seafood place at heart, the restaurant is handily located next to the town’s seafood market, and always has some variation of the catch of the day. If, however, you prefer to pull out all the stops, El Jardí del Vellard is the place for you. Home to a Michelin-starred chef, the place always serves up a surprise while remaining surprisingly affordable, to boot.

Looking for somewhere to rest your sleepy head? There are plenty of B&Bs and local hotels across the coast. If you’re looking for something that is truly one of a kind, only Caldescans will do. Boasting a mere four rooms, the hotel fills up fast, so be sure to book well in advance to make the most of the 1960s-inspired interiors. The Vila Arenys lies on the more elegant scale of things, offering up a set of sleekly furnished hotel rooms. While there are a number of standard rooms available in this boutique B&B, it’s worth going the extra mile to pay for a resting point with a terrace and hot tub combo. What are holidays for if not relaxing, after all?

Hannah Lamarque
Hannah is a freelance writer and copy editor living in Europe. She writes about travel, art, design and culture and loves discovering hidden places in the cities that she visits.