The Great Spa Towns of Europe
Take a dip into UNESCO’s recently designated therapeutic springs.
The beautiful streetscapes of Seville are well known and the architecture of Barcelona is unparalleled, but one small town on the east coast of Spain maintains historic charm you'd be hard pressed to find anywhere else. And it's a locale that doesn't quite get the attention it deserves.
The small coastal town on the Punta de Sa Costa bay stands almost as if it were frozen in time. Accessible only by a single road from the west, Cadaqués, in Spain's Girona region of Catalonia, is a maze of winding streets that encircle a picturesque beach. The abundance of historic structures are preserved, in part, to the town's remote location.
Many well-trotted travelers equate beautiful white stucco buildings to the picturesque Greek islands, but Cadaqués could easily be mistaken for the highly trafficked Santorini—if not for the absence of the island's iconic blue roofs. The town is filled with stark white buildings that encircle a quiet bay filled with fisherman hauling in their daily catch. With so much activity in the bay, you know you're in the right place for unbeatable seafood.
A two-and-a-half hour drive from Barcelona, travelers will find a plethora of museums, restaurants, and sights to check out. The town is perhaps best known as a guiding inspiration to the famed artist, Salvador Dali. He often visited Cadaqués as a child and owned a home in nearby Port Lligat in later years, which was turned into a museum and can be visited today.
Dali isn't the only notable artist to have spent time in this idyllic town. Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, Marcel Duchamp, Richard Hamilton, Albert Ràfols-Casamada, Antoni Pitxot, Henri-François Rey, Melina Mercouri, and Maurice Boitel all gleaned inspiration from the town's stunning beauty.
Only about 3,000 people call this town home, but during the summer months, the population grows significantly. Still, you won't find it hard to book a restaurant reservation or find a spot to lounge on the beach. Visitors should make note to check out the 17th-century Church of St. Mary for unobstructed views of the city or take a leisurely stroll down the Riba des Poal.
Whatever you do, when you visit Cadaqués, you're in for a relaxing retreat filled with beauty and plenty of charm.