Cadaqués – a town Salvador Dali described as a “mystical paradise”. A town that even to the ones without an artistic bone in their body will come across as full of a creative energy that is hard to ignore. Located up north on the Costa Brava, sprinkled with artistic studios, fantastic boutique stores and great restaurants, it´s no wonder Cadaqués attracted not just Dali, but also the likes of Picasso, Miró and much more. This June I spent a couple of days there, and as per usual, I just had to document where I recommend you stay, eat and what to do in this gem of a town.
Where to Stay
I can hardly imagine a better located hotel, than the Hotel Playa Sol that we stayed at. With the Es Pianc beach literally in front, and all the calas within 300m, Hotel Playa Sol offers rooms with or without the sea view, private parking inside, a fantastic pool with jacuzzi, tennis and ping pong spaces and a nice little inside and outside restaurant. If the sea view rooms are within your budget, I strongly recommend you get those. We payed around 240€ per night for such a room, as opposed to around 180€ per night for a non sea view room. Parking was an additional 6.50€ per day, and we visited in June. Make sure to book in advance! Our second hotel option would have been Sol Ixent, at around 180€ per night too, but far less central as it´s much more west, and closer to Port Lligat instead.
Where to Eat
Since we only stayed in Cadaques for two nights I don´t have a huge list of restaurants to recommend based on first hand experience, but anyone doing even some elementary research on this little gem of a town will come across Compartir, a Michelin guide restaurant with a relaxed setting and great food. We booked this one in advance and it stayed full all throughout our dinner there, so I recommend you book it too. Ideal for a romantic dinner or one with friends, it offers both a tasting menu as well as á la carte options, and you will leave it rolling on your belly. Other great restaurants in the city, that we unfortunately didn´t try first hand – Talla (we didn´t go as we couldn´t get a table outside on such short notice and we really wanted to enjoy the view), ODA Cuina Creative (I read about this one in Konfekt´s Issue 06 on Cadaqués but it looks closed now) and Can Rafa. This last one, Can Rafa, I also discovered in the Konfekt magazine and really intrigued me as the founding family had also founded Bar Melitón, frequented by Duchamp, Man Ray & co as well as Cadaqués´ first restaurant ever, Casa Anita. A restaurant that I don´t think you´ll find in many guides, nor do I think it stands out much, except it´s simple and strategically located close to Dali´s vacation house is Es Racó d´en Dani. We had lunch here on a day after a long hike and really liked it.
What to Do
Hike the coast to Port Lligat and visit the Casa Museu Salvador Dali
Through a fortunate circumstance, we managed to lose the fastest route to the Casa Museu Salvador Dali, and ended up on a one hour long hike by the coast. I might not have thought it at the time because my shoes were not the best, but this was the best mistake ever. So assuming you have the right shoes, and like a medium difficult hike by the coast, just walk west by the peninsula from Cadaqués to Port Lligat and enjoy beautiful views of the Mediterranean and its rocky shores. End up at Dali and Gala´s vacation house and olive garden and visit them for 18 € full price. The website recommends booking the tickets, and I recommend not trusting Google as it told us it was open on a Monday, when in fact the place was closed on the Monday we went to visit it. Basically what I am saying is to check the website in advance and make sure you have your entry booked on the right day. While you´re around, grab a drink and a bite at Racó d´en Dani, the restaurant I mentioned above.
Take a swim in Cadaqués´ many calas
Note: Cala – noun. inlet [noun] a small bay in the coastline of a sea, lake etc. cove [noun] a small bay or inlet of the sea.
Not that there´s anything wrong with Cadaqués´ beaches, but I personally recommend you head towards the west of the city, about 200/300 m from the Es Pianc beach and find yourself a cala to descend to instead. Some of these calas are reachable by stairs and albeit rocky, they are fairly easy to access with the right shoes and physical condition. And what´s better than finding yourself a large stone to lie on like a lizard, reading a great book and diving into the turquoise waters to refresh yourself every half an hour?
Shop in Cadaqués´ many boutiques
Whether you´re into ceramic art, fancy olive oils (we got one with edible gold!), luxury fashion, home decor or diving gear, Cadaqués has everything you might need. I particularly loved the multi brand boutiques combining clothes and home-wear, and I could most probably have left the city with a complete new wardrobe. I even discovered a new brand of shoes made in the island of Menorca, and I still regret the sandals I didn´t buy. All in all, I think I behaved quite well, leaving Cadaqués only with a cute ceramic magnet with Dali´s face, bought at the house Picasso used to live in, plus the golden oil mentioned above and a bottle of nice vermouth. I dare you to be as calculated!
Grab a vermouth at sunset at the Casino
From what we could gather, the local Casino is actually a Casino Bar, and as the end of the day approaches, it gets packed with locals and tourists alike. But mainly locals. They sit either at the tables by the water, or on the outer windowsills, but never inside. Sipping on a vermouth or beer, everyone enjoys the sunset while music plays in the background and the sea hits the shore. This might be just my impression, but I felt that the Casino Bar is somewhat of an institution in Cadaqués, one that everyone is drawn to as soon as the sun starts descending and the music starts playing. So it´s a definite must on my list.
Enjoy some good music and a late night cocktail at Brown Sugar
Now we didn´t try the cocktails at the Casino, but we did absolutely devour the ones at Brown Sugar. Hidden in a cobble stone alleyway, away from snooping tourists, the Brown Sugar Bar plays excellent music and makes fantastic caipirinhas. The inside is fairly large, but it´s the outside we really loved. On the alleyway, you´ll find some three tables, improvised chairs and even people sitting on the cobblestone, under a big tree, enjoying the warm summer nights, music reaching them through the bar´s open doors and cocktails coming to them constantly through the friendly staff. We went after dinner and only stayed for one cocktail, but I can say that Brown Sugar could easily become one of my top five favourite bars in the world.