I have fond memories of family camping holidays as a child on the west coast of Ireland, building sandcastles on the beach when the sun shone and colouring inside the mobile home when it rained. I remember spending a lot of time colouring! What’s not to love about family camping holidays? Being outdoors, the relaxed way of living, the pace, the peace, the fun memories for the children.
When the weather makes such a difference to your camping experience, why not head somewhere where you’re practically guaranteed sunshine. With easy and affordable transportation links from Ireland to Europe, you can now practically eliminate any of those weather worries and comfortably enjoy camping with the family abroad.
Nestled along the eastern coast of Spain is the Costa Brava and Girona Pyrenees, a stunning coastline that will take your breath away. With daily flights to Girona and Barcelona airports from national and regional airpots throughout Ireland, the Costa Brava region of Spain is now easier to reach than some parts of Ireland.
I’ve spoken here before about my love of Costa Brava as there’s so much for families to do. The food is incredible and with the average July temperature comfortably hitting 30°C, it’s the perfect holiday destination for Irish families.
I was recently invited back to the region by Costa Brava Tourism and the Girona Campsite Association as they are incredibly proud of their campsites and wanted to show off all that they have to offer Irish families who are considering a camping holiday in Spain.
Our camping adventure starts off in Catalonia’s largest city of Girona. I feel that this vibrant university city epitomises the charm and history of this region of Spain. With it’s narrow medieval cobbled streets and rich cultural heritage, it’s no wonder the producers filmed parts of the sixth season of Game of Thrones in this stunning walled city.
We were shown around the city by the knowledgable Yolando from Girona Tourism who introduced us to the rich history of this ancient medieval city with its origins dating back more than 2,000 years. We then enjoyed a delicious authentic Catalan meal at the popular ‘Le Bistrot’ restaurant beautifully located on the steps of the Church of St. Martin. My favourite dish was a local speciality ‘Llom de Bacalla amb purée de pesols’, Cod with pea puree.
No visit to Girona is complete without a visit to the world famous willy wonka style gelateria ‘Rocambolesc’. Owned by the well-known Jordi Roca, this gelateria on Girona’s main street has three michelin stars with truly eccentric favours like coconut and violet sorbet.
With our bellies full and our camera batteries running low, we then headed to the coast to the picturesque town of Roses for our first Catalan camping experience.
Relax in Roses with Camping Salatá
Owned by the family behind the Terraza Group, this Camping Salata (233 pitches) is a stone’s throw from the sandy beach in Roses and the clear Mediterranean waters which make it the perfect base for any family wishing to enjoy all that the Costa Brava has to offer.
After a very comfortable night’s sleep in one of their two bedroom modern mobile homes, we met with the owner who proudly showed us around his campsite. I love the fact that his mission statement is to run a campsite with hotel facilities. He was particularly proud of the large gardens in the campsite with it’s own pond, fountain, picnic tables and vegetable garden. He excitedly told us that the ‘kids club’ teaches the children about growing their own vegetables and everything grown on site is then used in the on-site restaurant. What a great way to encourage families to return every year.
Although the outdoor swimming pool (12 x 5 mts) and ‘baby pool’ was not large and I can imagine it could get quite busy in peak season. The facilities around the campsite were indeed very high quality. The grounds were beautifully maintained, clean and easy to walk around. The campsite even boasts it’s own spa (additional cost) where parents can escape for an hour or two while the children are enjoying the entertainment programme.
There is a well stocked supermarket on site that sells everything you could possibly need including an impressive bakery where everything is baked on-site every morning. There is also a cafe and restaurant where you can buy hot food if you don’t fancy cooking in your accommodation.
Due to it’s great location so close to the beach, the campsite offers many sporty activities for the family including SUP yoga which was something that we got the opportunity to try. It was actually harder than it looks but was an incredibly fun experience made even more enjoyable by the warm clear Mediterranean waters below us.
Although the WI-FI on site was a little slow at times, I really loved Camping Salata and felt very comfortable there. I loved the central location and the friendly staff and would return with my three children in a heart beat.
Visiting the ‘white village’ of Cadaques
From Roses, we took a boat along the coastline to visit the truly stunning village of Cadaques. It’s nicknamed the ‘white village’ as there are strict rules about only painting buildings in white to preserve the look of this village which was once home of the artist Salvador Dali. Many of the doors are painted blue so you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re in Greece.
To explore the quaint and winding cobbled streets, make sure you have the right footwear, leave those high heels at home.
I would recommend climbing up the narrow paths through the old town to visit the Church of Santa Maria which has breathtaking views over the bay. Inside the church is an incredible baroque altarpiece that is unlike anything I’ve ever seen in a church before.
When you’re strolling around Cadaques, I would highly recommend calling into visit Sergi Quer at Quer Cadaques, a family owned bakery who are renowned for their pastries. The biggest issue will be choosing which pastry to buy.
Talking of food, if you get the chance, head along the coast to the famous Chiringuito La Pelosa for lunch. Set in the Natural Park of Cap de Creus, about 10km from Roses in Cala Montjoi, this restaurant was named ‘Best beach restaurant in Spain’ in 2013 and is set in the most stunning location. I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed a meal in a more beautiful setting. Be warned, it’s a long and bumpy road to get there so arriving by boat and grabbing a water taxi is preferable. In fact, if you arrive by boat and cannot get a table then they will happily deliver your food to you on your boat.
I would highly recommend reserving a table in advance and trying the local ‘Fideua’ which is similar to Paella but uses noodles instead of rice. I had this dish and it was delicious. Also it’s very chilled out in Chiringuito La Pelosa. As this is a beach restaurant, they are quite happy for you to dine in beachwear and bare feet which adds to this laid back bohemian atmosphere.
Glamping with Eco Campsite Camping Nautica Almata
Located about 50 km from Girona, Camping Nautica Almata is nestled on the coast between the Natural Park dels Aiguamolls and the river Fluviá. Its unique location makes it one of the few campsites in Spain that is accessible by boat or jet ski. It’s a large (1109 pitches) and beautifully laid out eco campsite with many different types of accommodation including safari tents, lodges, bungalows and tents.
One of the great things about Camping Nautica Almata is that it has direct access to its own private sandy, 3.5 km long, beach which boasts many family-friendly activities such as sailing, windsurfing, kayaking and beach volleyball. “This is a place that people return to every year” says the manager of the campsite who is very proud of the fact that 60% of their clients are families who return year after year.
You can see why, as well as a stunning swimming pool (300 sq.m.) complex, the campsite has loads of family-friendly activities on it’s 17 hectares site. The campsite also has numerous restaurants, cafes and playgrounds, so even in peak season, it never feels too busy.
I was lucky enough to be staying in a ‘Bahia Almata Lodge’ which was one of their safari tents. This is true glamping. All the fun of back to basics camping, no toilet or running water but with the luxuries of a fully-equipped electric kitchen and comfortable beds. It was so much more fun than I thought it would be and I think it’s the perfect camping solution for modern day families.
Talking of back to basics camping, there are loads of sanitary blocks around the campsite which are cleaned many times during the day and the overall amenities are a very high standard.
With 24 hour security in high season, you can stroll around the campsite in the evening and feel 100% safe, however I would recommend bringing a torch. The only issue with this camping in nature is the pesky bugs, although the campsite very kindly give you a welcome pack which includes bug spray, I was still bitten after spending a gorgeous evening relaxing by the beach bar in the campsite. Still, it was worth it and I would definitely come back as the kids would just love the safari tent and I loved the facilities.
Things to do near Camping Nautica Almata
If you’re remotely interested in nature, then you can’t visit this campsite without visiting the beautiful Natural Park of Wetlands of Emporda. Perfect for bird-watching and hiking, it’s a safe (and free) space to bring the kids and try to spot some of the 300 bird species that live in the park, including flamingoes. There are bird watching locations doted along the walking trail where you can sit and identify the birds. It’s also worth climbing to the top of the old rice silos about halfway along the trail as one has been converted into an observation tower and provides amazing views over the landscape.
Costa Brava Parc d’Aventura
This tree top adventure park is walking distance from the town of Platja d’Aro and is something that the whole family can enjoy. There are eight different aerial trekking courses and 1500 metres of zip wires to test your bravery and abilities.
I’m not great with heights myself but I was determined to give it a go. After we were fitted for our safety equipment, there was a detailed safety briefing in English so I was confident that I was going to get around the 3.5m route in one piece. It was one of the scariest and most exciting things I’ve ever done and I was so proud of myself for completing the course.
Big and little kids would love this place. There are so many circuits to choose from, whether you’re a toddler or a brave daredevil.
41km from Girona and only 300 meters from the curved beach of Sant Antoni is the well known Eurocamping campsite. Well I say campsite but it’s more of a resort really. It’s a large resort with a great selection of pitches, bungalows, chalets and mobile homes. As you stroll around the vast campsite, it feels like you’re in the middle of the countryside even though you’re in the middle of the town.
With its multiple pools, gym, game room, indoor and outdoor playgrounds, restaurants and bars, there’s no shortage of facilities to keep the whole family happy. The restaurant is great value too, a three course set meal is only €16 and that includes bread and wine.
I was staying in a two bed Comfort Plus mobile home which is perfect for a family of four (or six if you covert the sofa into a bed).
While there, I was shown one of the brand new uber modern wooden chalets (to sleep families of five) that they are planning to introduce to the campsite next year (2019).
Eurocamping campsite even offers a daily tourist train to take guests to the beach everyday (July and August only) which is a great idea when you have a mountain of things to bring down to the beach when you have kids in tow.
All in all, this is a great campsite. Although it does lack the character of the other campsites that I visited, it had everything you family could possibly need meaning that when you arrive at Eurocamping, you would not need to leave for the duration of your stay.
A short stroll (or tourist train) from the campsite is the stunning stretch of beach known St. Antoni de Calonge. What really impressed me about this beach was the fact that they have recently opened an enclosed section of the beach that is designated to breastfeeding mothers. With a freearea to keep baby food chilled, changing areas and even microwaves they really have thought of everything. There’s even separate fridges for coeliacs. It’s the first of its kind in the Costa Brava region but I’m sure that other beaches will follow suit.
Things to do near Eurocamping Campsite
Espai del Peix
A short ten minute drive up the coast will take you to the popular tourist town of Palomos. We didn’t get a chance to wander around the town as we had booked in for a cookery class at Espai del Peix. The cookery school is located right by the fishing harbour so it’s a lively place with boats coming and going. The school aims to promote the fresh fish that is unloaded at the port, talk about zero food miles. There is also a fish auction which is a fascinating place to watch the hotel and restaurant buyers trying to outwit each other to get the best fish at the best price.
Cala Llevado Camping
Our last night on our Costa Brava camping adventure was at the four star Cala Llevado campsite near Tossa de Mar. This stunning eco campsite is set in the hills and has the most incredible views over its 4 private beaches! They have pitches for tents, caravans and motor homes. They also have glamping pods, bungalows and some incredible wooden lodges in their eco bungalow park.
I was lucky enough to be spending the night in one of the 29 stunning eco lodges.
They’re perched on a hill at the back of the campsite with amazing views over the ocean. I defy anyone not to fall in love with these eco lodges, they’re so comfortable and the smell of the wood was intoxicating. Perfectly designed for a family of four, they have everything you could possibly need, air-conditioning, modern kitchen, coffee machine, free Wi-Fi etc.
One thing to be aware of with this campsite is, due to the fact that it’s built into the hills, it’s not easily accessible to everyone. For example, the beaches are all close, less than 10 minute stroll but it’s downhill and some older members of your family maybe struggle with that. However, this really was a wonderful campsite and I would love to return and spend some time visiting the surrounding area of Tossa de Mar and sure wouldn’t any child (and adult) love to spend their holiday in a treehouse?
There you have it, four of the coolest campsites in the Costa Brava Girona region of Spain. All offering something a little different but all offering the opportunity to have an incredible family holiday and make wonderful lasting memories with your kids.
Which campsite would you like to visit?
Disclaimer : I was a guest of Costa Brava Tourism and the Girona Camping Association for the duration of my visit. All opinions are honest and my own.