I have to admit that I knew very little about Tossa de Mar or Costa Brava and had not even heard of the Camino de Ronda before stepping foot on her rocky path. But as I inhaled the sweet fragrance of spring flowers and stared out over the rugged Girona coastline with its sparkling blue green water I knew I would not soon forget it.
While attending a TBEX (Travel Bloggers Exchange) conference in Lloret de Mar in the Costa Brava of Spain, a few of us were invited by the Oficina de Turisme Tossa de Mar to explore their coastal town. Tossa de Mar sits halfway between Barcelona and the French border and is an ancient fishing village turned charming tourist destination. It boasts the rare blend of having a walled medieval town, beautiful beaches, great seafood, and stunning coastal hikes. Oh and in my opinion the very honorable claim to fame of being the first town in Spain to become anti bullfighting!
We were staying in the more touristy neighboring town of Lloret de Mar and from there we took a Dofi Jet Boats for a 30 minute cruise along the coast to Tossa. The ride itself is a great way to see Costa Brava from another viewpoint and they even stop briefly in a sheltered cove to view the sea life from the glass bottom of the boat.
Love At First Sight
As we approached the harbor it was immediately obvious that the town of Tossa de Mar had many charms to entice travelers. Panning from left to right we were treated first to a view of ‘Vila Vella enceinte’ displaying the ramparts and turrets of the fortified medieval town. Straight ahead was a cove and sandy beach back dropped by a row of pretty buildings housing restaurants, small hotels and shops. To the right was a rocky outcropping climbing up to the wooded trails overlooking the crystal clear sea.
We were met on the beach by our hosts and also our hiking guide, Josep Santane, who presented us with hand made walking sticks and told us that he would be going at a quick pace but not to worry, he would wait for us. He wasn’t joking about the pace. Although twice the age of some in the group he had obviously been hiking all his life and had the gait and energy that said he could hike for many hours before tiring.
A Taste of the Camino de Ronda in Tossa de Mar
Setting off at almost a trot we headed towards the outcropping I had seen upon arrival. Before long we had left the town below and behind us and were causing our guide to wait as we attempted to capture on camera the vistas before us. As he waited he told us a bit about the trails and how they had originally been made to help patrol and control the rampant smuggling of contraband into the area. Since we had just couple of hours we could only walk a small section of the 220 KM of trails that stretch from Blanes to Collioure but that was enough of a taste for me to know that I want to go back.
**Unlike the popular Camino de Santiago there is not a lot of info online for these trails but there are some books such as ‘Camins De Ronda: La Travessa de La Costa Brava’ which I’m told can be found in English.
As we had taken up so much time with our photo stops (as bloggers do) we took a faster route back to town and although not as stunning as the coastal path it was not without its own beauty. The return path led us up from the beach through a fabulous campground and out to a dusty path through the woods and over the mountain. Being spring the floral and fauna were fresh and new and we were engulfed in heady scents and bright colors popping out from the greenery. My love of all things nature kept me more than a few paces behind as I continued to stop and smell and/or photograph every few feet.
Tossa de Mar Streets & Eats
Once back in town we bid farewell to Josep, who insisted we keep the beautiful walking sticks, and were led to the Tossa de Mar waterfront Hotel Restaurante Victoria for a much welcome seafood lunch. The food was fresh and delicious consisting of an array of tastes such as anchovies (which I normally don’t like), calamari, shrimp, croquettes and a traditional fisherman’s dish called cim i timba. If you ever get to Tossa de Mar, which you really should, definitely stop in at this restaurant for a fresh seafood meal.
It was then time to explore the ‘Vila Velle enceinte’ with it’s charming cobblestone streets and picturesque buildings. The walk took us up the hill following the ramparts to the lighthouse.
A View of Tossa de Mar From the Ramparts
Once at the top we were treated to more stunning views of the coast and the town below along with an up close look at what was once the castle of the Abbot of Ripoli. The castle has since been turned in a lighthouse which is still in use today. The lighthouse itself is not accessible for viewing but there is a visitors center with a very good virtual demonstration.
Another historic monument, although from much more recent days, is a life size statue of Eva Gardner ( and btw she was tiny!) The reason for this is that the actress starred in the 1950 movie ‘Pandora and the Flying Dutchman’ which was the catalyst for the transformation of Tossa de Mar into tourist town.
As good things do, the day came to an end. Sitting on the bus back to Lloret I closed my eyes and sleepily replayed the experience in my mind. Lloret de Mar had been a bit of a surprise for me as it is much more touristy that I had expected. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy my time there and for families or groups it is a perfect spot with everything you need for a fun filled vacation. However Tossa de Mar is more in line with our style of balanced travel. We look for destinations that offer a mix of history, nature, active pursuits, local food and relaxation. Tossa de Mar is all of this and more and we will definitely return!
**A very special thanks to our hosts in Tossa de Mar who showed us not only their beautiful town but also amazing hospitality. As always our opinions are entirely our own and we would not hesitate to visit the area of Costa Brava again and highly recommend the same to anyone who loves beautiful coastline.