Nestled high into the hills of Spain’s Costa Brava, just an hour outside the city of Barcelona, you can find the quaint little spa town known as Caldetas (Caldes D’Estrac in Catalan).
Where to stay in Caldetas
I’ve been lucky enough to spend time there for a few weeks at a time here and there over the past few years, staying in a really lovely vacation apartment built up on top of the hill with beautiful views of the town below and the Mediterranean Sea.
What I especially love about visiting Caldetas is the feeling of utter relaxation. You can totally imagine why it has a reputation as being a spa retreat. The slow pace of life, strict adherence to the siesta policy and, of course, the presence of the sea just minutes from the town center set the tone for the kind of vacation you’re going to spend there: chilled out.
Just walking around and exploring the little streets is one of my favorite things to do there! There is even a small museum, called Fundacio Palau, which exhibits some works from Picasso.
There is even a thermal bathhouse in the town center that uses only the purest water from the mountains above. I’ve been there, and believe me, it’s everything you would expect!
When you’re not relaxing in a whirlpool, there are also many little restaurants that call this charming town home. Down the main strip is where you will find the majority of them- a mix of seafood, rustic Spanish, tapas bars, and a pizza place as well as small cafes and bars. If you spend a little time exploring the side streets there are also a few more restaurants, including one of my favorites- Fonda Manau
Like most Spanish villages and cities, there is also a central market on the main street, which has different sections for meat, vegetables, fruits, cheese and fresh seafood. As well, there is an open air market that was open on Tuesday and Friday mornings when I was there. The prices are very low and you can get local ingredients right from the farmers. Also, because Caldetas is not a hugely touristic destination, the locals are very friendly for the most part.
A short story: when ordering some meat for dinner from the butcher at the local market, I misheard the price and thought she said 13 euros instead of 30. When she went to ring me up, the price was much higher than expected and I realized my mistake. When I explained it to her she simply asked where I was staying and told me to bring the rest of the money when I came back down from the house the next time! That’s for sure not something you see everyday!
The Best Part? The Beach!
The star of the show in Caldetas is the beach, of course. There isn’t much better than waking up on a bright, sunny summer day and throwing on your bathing suit, walking 10 minutes down a hill and setting yourself up in the sand for the day.
The water is really clear and the beach was never super crowded when I’ve been there. Plus there are tons of little beach bars along the way to provide a nice respite from the hot Spanish sun.
If you like, there are also surfing and windsurfing classes offered during the summer months at reasonable prices.
For days when the weather isn’t warm enough for the beach or you simply need a change of scenery, you can easily take the train from the town center up or down the coast. Just an hour ride south you arrive in the Plaça de la Catalunya in the heart of Barcelona or a few hours up the coast is the town of Figueres, Dalí’s hometown and the location of the Dalí Theatre and Museum. Or, for a short trip, there are also many little town along the way that are fun to explore!
Just keep in mind that in many of the small villages most people won’t speak English, so you may want to brush up on your Spanish, or even better, Catalan!