The Golden Coast
Costa Dorada means ‘Golden Coast’ in Spanish, which is pretty fitting for a coastline that turns out 92 kilometres of caramel-hued sands from one end to the other. Running south from Barcelona, they’re warmed by 300 days of sunshine a year, and laced with every type of resort going.
Salou is a big hit with families, thanks to its Blue Flag beach and seafront fairground. Then you’ve got the quieter resorts of Cambrils and La Pineda. The former is home to a 9-kilometre stretch of white sand, and the latter has a waterpark, where little ones can play with sea lions. The town of Sitges takes a different approach to holidays. Known as the Brighton of Spain, it serves up great nightlife and hosts an annual film festival.
PortAventura, Tarragona and Barcelona
One of the Costa Dorada’s key attractions is PortAventura. Just outside Salou, Spain’s biggest theme park lines up sky-high rollercoasters, water rides and themed ‘worlds’. This part of Spain also puts you within easy reach of two of the country’s big cities. There’s Tarragona, with its impressive Roman ruins, and Barcelona, where Gaudi’s wacky architecture tops the bill.
The countryside here is ripe for exploring. Its mountains and green hills are home to must-sees like the Monastery of Montserrat, and the birdwatchers’ paradise of Ebre Delta – one of Europe’s best wetland reserves.
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The Spanish have been flocking to La Pineda on the Costa Dorada for their holidays since the Fifties, and now the international set is discovering its charms. A vast stretch of golden sand is the town’s biggest draw, with the high-octane Aquapolis waterpark coming a close second. As for tempo, La Pineda is still fairly quiet compared to its lively neighbour Salou, though it’s more vibrant than its little sister village of Cambrils.
Three million visitors flock to PortAventura, on the Costa Dorada, each year. The giant theme park – the most popular in Spain – is what brings most of them, but the town also boasts an expansive sandy beach, and lively bars and restaurants. For more excitement, Salou is just 5 minutes’ drive away and Barcelona an hour on the train.
If entertainment is what you want from your holiday, Salou has it in spades. Set on Spain’s Costa Dorada, it’s got Europe’s biggest theme park on the doorstep and a waterpark just up the road. The place also sets a lively pace at night, with a big choice of bars and clubs. There’s plenty of relaxation to be had, too, though, on the town’s golden beaches.
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