Our 5-Star Glamping Holiday with We Camp Cadaqués
Before I went to Cadaqués, I tried to learn a little more … I came across this quote, and if I’m honest, I wasn’t sure….
“It’s the most inaccessible town on Catalonia’s Costa Brava but also it’s most seductively beautiful. Put the two together and you can see how it’s pulled off the trick of maintaining an air of a happening place where nothing happens, a place way off the beaten track that is a magnet for celebrities.” (The Telegraph)
What I can tell you now is that although this town is authentic and steeped in history, at every turn, there is a sense of relaxed, easygoing elegance surrounding you. Cadaques exudes an ambience that is both timeless and energetic, it is a microcosm where old-world charm and authentic real-like coexist seamlessly. It is the epitome of modern lifestyle travel.
Cadaqués has a sense of openness and welcome, a cultural vibrancy, an obvious maritime heritage and a captivating history. Cadaqués has the island vibes of Ibiza, Majorca or Chania. It is surrounded by a backdrop of rugged hills on one side and pebbly beaches, inlets and bays on the other side. For me, Cadaqués is a hidden gem in the heart of Catalonia. There is a sense of enchantment about Cadaqués that leaves a little mark on your soul.
Cadaqués Top Things To Do
- Wander the old town streets and alleyways – visit Santa Maria Church
- Coffee and a xuixo pastry, people watch, shop in the boutiques, and have a dip in the crystal waters of Platja gran ( the main beach runs along the centre of the town ).
- Salvador Dali’s House & Port Lligat
- Take a Lluat, an old wooden boat, from Port Lligat and travel around the stunning sedimentary rock of Cap de Creus, stop into the cave, and swim in the crystal clear blue waters.
- Hop on the road train to Cap de Creus visit the lighthouse and be amazed at the beautiful coastline.
- Dine out and savour the local produce. The local fish is well, local. Local to this town and these waters and it tastes stunning. Savour the local honey, local bread, and local wine. People watch an evening away at Plaça Passeig.
- Experience the Tramuntana winds.
Where to Stay:
We Camp Cadaqués – Ethos and Vibe
We Camp Cadaqués is a new generation of campsites that prioritize design, comfort and respect for the landscape. They have a modern approach to design, which is high-end, relaxed and natural. Think high-quality natural materials, glamping tents and tiny houses that are conscious and considered in design, all accompanied by impeccable service. There is a commitment by We Camp Cadaqués to create ‘welcoming, contemporary and authentic spaces to connect with nature without giving up comfort.
According to We Camp Cadaqués, “We are the new generation of campsites. Restless and non-conformist, applying our experience in the hotel sector to welcome everyone who is looking for more than just a campsite.” This brand is doing something so special, they are creating a modern and luxe experience for people who want to travel, immerse themselves in nature, explore and relax, and it is all done through an eco-friendly lens, where “subtle yet essential changes have a big impact”. We Camp is transforming the travel experience. We Camp Cadaqués offers a very genuine experience of belonging to the environment that surrounds you so that you can explore it and become part of its culture.
We stayed in a sophisticated Family + Glamping tent that sleeps 6, a double bed, 2 single beds and another double bed upstairs over the kitchen. This is camping in style with mattresses and bedding that will rival any 5-star hotel, an induction hob, a Nespresso-style coffee machine, a fully stocked kitchen, wine glasses, water glasses, mugs, bowls, bins for composting and recycling, hot water on tap in the private bathroom and shower all the time and my personal favourite the stunning signature scent shower gel, shampoo and dish soap that is created from sandalwood. The design, both interior and exterior, brings a feeling of chic cabin vibes, with neutral colours, natural materials, contemporary furniture and high-end fixtures and fittings.
Location: Elevated aspect with insane views overlooking Cap de Creus Natural Park and Port Lligat and a short amble down a little ( but quiet hilly ) street brings you right into the centre of the village and the port
We arrived at a balmy 25℃ Cadaqués which was more serene and tranquil than that of a few weeks earlier in the peak season of August. It was warmer than we expected and warmer than the locals had anticipated. It was just fabulous. A warm air shrouded us throughout the day, and not a jumper nor cardigan was required at night. This serene and peaceful pace of life that the town and its locals now begin to enjoy was just wonderful; I would go as far as to say one of the trip’s highlights. It allowed us to discover Cadaqués at our own pace, unfolding beauty and charm at each turn. We never had to queue or rush or wait. It was all so calm and tranquil and, well, easy.
On October 1st, as the season really begins to slow down, preparing for almost full closure in November, Cadaqués and it’s people catch a breath; after a busy season, they rest a moment, move at a slower pace and take a minute to enjoy the evening sunsets with a cold copa of Estrella or a glass on local vino.
There is a stoic and proud determination among the Catalan people of Cadaqués. They are acutely aware of the natural beauty they behold. They firmly believe in an ethos of discernment in all that they do, from the majority of seafood served in the restaurant being caught by “the last local” fisherman who heads out to the crystal clear blue waters to catch the lobster, bream, Gambas and squid. You pay a little more, but they are adamant about keeping it local. When you order a glass of wine, the default is a bottle of the one and only brand MF, especially local to Cadaqués, not the region of L’Emporda, but Cadaqués. You will pay a little more for the honey and the olive oil, but again, it is because it is produced by small local families who care and are invested in their produce and town.
The nature of the tourists we encountered in this privileged off-peak season was primarily “discerning” if that makes sense. No football jerseys, but no golf t-shirts either. No flashy designer handbags or logoed baseball caps or shirts. There is a chicness, a casual but refined nature to the tourists here. One that has an appreciation of the finer things but is not showy. There is no caring about what the neighbours think. There is confidence and self-assuredness in one’s own self. They are here to appreciate and indulge in the “actual”, real, authentic and important things in life – quality lodgings, quality food, quality waters, quality experiences, immersion in real, beautiful, protected nature, all the time with those who are most important to them.
Day 0: Sunday
We packed the bags, drove to Cork Airport, parked, drank a beer, flew, and arrived at 10.30 pm at night, the free hotel shuttle picked us up at the airport, and we checked in to the Salles Girona Airport Hotel – triple and a double room – €174. We had to do this, as the car rental places were closed that night. This was unfortunate, but in hindsight, better, The road from Rose to Cadaqués is tricky and at night, may have been too daunting. We would have also missed the stunning views that frame Cadaqués and set the scene for arrival.
Day 1: Monday
We picked up the car at 8am from Go Car, a Ford mini SUV. It costs around €50 per day. It was lovely. The drive is about 1 hour 20 minutes, with the first hour being a really simple motorway route. We stopped at a big Carrefour outside Roses and did a big grocery shop. We then drove on to Cadaqués, arrived at We Camp, did a quick check in and headed for the Monday market. We picked up some bracelets, beach towels and some delicious cheese, meats, vegetables and fruits for eating that week.
Later that afternoon, once settled, I had a glorious coffee on the terrace, read my book by the pool in the late afternoon sun as the kids swam and coloured and just soaked it all in.
I admired the stunning view of Port Lligat, had a swim and then headed back to our glamping tent, where we had some cava and aperitifs. Later that evening I cooked us a lovely casual dinner and later again, curiosity and a longing for gelato got the better of us and we headed down to explore the town of Cadaques by moonlight. It was so warm and balmy that no jackets or cardigans were needed.
Day 2: Tuesday
I got up before my crew to have a coffee on the terrace, tap away on the laptop and watch the sunrise. It was stunning. Then, it was time for a lazy breakfast feast using some of the beautiful fruits we got in the market the day before. Later that day, we all headed off to explore the town, wander the little winding streets, a little shopping, some coffees and pastries. Just living the good life. We returned to the pool for a few hours that afternoon and about 8 pm headed to La Viatge for dinner. We ate some ice cream from Joia, before embarking on the 10-minute stroll back up to the campsite. We snuggled up in our luxury beds and drifted off to sleep.
Day 3: Wednesday
We headed off to explore a nearby harbour and beach town called El Port De la Selva. The town had gone into off-season mode for sure. It was so quiet but lovely. There was a group of older cyclist gentlemen sitting sipping well-earned cold beers after their cycle over those winding mountain roads, some tourist retirees were pottering the streets and having a coffee and lots of locals enjoying the peace and quiet of their gorgeous town now that the madness of tourist season had passed. I would probably not stay in El Port de la Selva, but its location is lovely; another inlet that sweeps along the beach and is hugged by the mountains. As we walked the marina we were so lucky to spot a Spanish Dancer, what first looked like a leaf, then emerged to be not a fish but an eel.
A rare find for sure. We also happened upon the bakery up one of the back streets, the smell of real fresh bread baking with notes of almond essence in the air was immense. Following our noses we found the Quer brand of bakery and I think I had one of the most stunning and simple pastries ever …. Xuixo (pronounced shoo-shoo) is a Catalan dessert originating from the city of Girona. Dating back to the 1920s, this pastry is cylindrical-shaped and filled with the delectable crema catalana. It’s probably best to describe it as a cross between a croissant and a churro, but filled with cream. We sat outside in the sun, soaking up every moment as we washed them down with ice-cold chocolate milk.
The tourist road train excursions are a BIG hit; even at this time of year, they were full to the brim. There was a one-hour trip or a 2-hour trip that brought you to Cap de Crues and the lighthouse. It paces slowly along the coast road where you can sit back at your leisure and watch the coastline, the big bright blue sky and the glistening crystal water below. The cost is €17 for adults and €11 for children.
After we returned and had a quick lunch, we headed 5 minutes walk down a little path from our We Camp campsite to Salvador Dali’s House Museum. This is not a museum or a gallery, this is his actual house. Even off peak, the tours need to be booked well in advance; the under 6’s were free and then the cost for an older child and 2 adults was €47. The little ones were a bit reluctant to leave the pool on such a glorious day but all reported back at the end that they were delighted to get to explore his actual house. It is a fantastic tour, like one of the coolest cultural tourist things I have ever done. The tour slot is an hour, and you get 40 minutes to explore the gardens, olive grove and the pool area and then in very small groups of 6/8, you are brought around the house room by room. It feels so real like he just stepped out yesterday. There is creativity, taxidermy and Never Forget flowers everywhere. It is a visual feast for the senses. They were captivated as were we. A really cool trip.
After that, it was back for some sundowners and read my book by the pool while the girls swam. That night, we tottled off down our little ( steep ) road to land at the town’s water edge. A quick turn right and we hit “the other ” La Gritta pizzeria. 3 fine-sized pizzas later, drinks and a jug of delicious sangria and we were all fed and watered for about €50. It is super tasty and just what we needed. After that, it was off for our obligatory ice cream at Joia, the artisan, boho chic Gelateria which sells ‘natural I bio gelato artisans’. For me, this was such an experience. We surpass stracciatella, cheesecake, unicorn and Nutella for flavours like Green lime, lemon, bergamot and yuzu confit, black sesame, Iranian Rose and Olive oil. After this, it was a stroll up a steep hill, in relative darkness, but sure, we had our ice cream to distract and sustain us, so we could have cared less. We were off to bed, happy.
Day 4: Thursday
I got some steps in and a little mindful and peaceful walk. I got up early, and after some emails, I headed off for a big walk around the town on my own. I loved seeing the town in the early morning as things opened up and explored. I love seeing new parts and watching real life unfold in front of my eyes. I passed a big group of 60+ year olds on a walking tour, backpacks, walking poles and bottles of waters, a French mom and her son after their breakfast taking a little trip on their paddle board, the divers removing the buoys from the water and the boats being moved to storage for the winter. While I explored, the guys had a lazy breakfast and headed to the pool to read their books, colour and swim. (Donagh loves colouring right now).
Later that afternoon I was invited into the restaurant kitchen to cook and create some fabulous simple, speedy and delicious Mediterranean-inspired dishes the entire family would love. I created a delicious Tuna Pasta Puttanesca, a Goats Cheese Salad with balsamic dressing and local candied almonds and a beautiful Tagliatelle pasta dish with Meatballs, and Romesco Tomato Sauce, Pesto and Burrata. All washed down with a glass of local chilled white wine. Stunning.
We had an action packed day on Thursday. After lunch, we got ready and headed down to port Lligat where we met Joseph, and his stunning Llaüt ( an old, impeccably restored boat from the 1950s ) and we sailed out to sea hugging the famous and dramatic coastline leading to the Nature Park at Cap de Crues and the Faro Lighthouse. Joseph anchored the boat outside a little inlet and let us all jump and descend into the crystal clear blue turquoise waters. It was amazing. To be able to see the kids jump in, float, put the snorkels on and search for blue fish and for all of us to be in the sea together was amazing. This is a memory that will stay with me forever.
We sailed into an amazing cave, where Joseph told us about a music festival, Mar Acoustic, that is held in the cave each summer, we learned about the tectonic plates and the sedimentary rock, about the Pyrenees and our proximity to France. We also heard a few pirate tales, just for good measure. It was an immense experience and one I am so grateful for.
Later that night, we got dressed up a little and took the 10-minute stroll into town where we had the pleasure of having a front-row table at Can Rafa, an institution for seafood in Cadaqués. The kids had fish and chips, which consisted of monkfish in a light batter and calamari, which was fresh and crisp. We shared gamba paella for two. It is made from a stock of the gamabas heads served with 4 juicy meaty Gambas on top and a thin veil of gambas carpaccio on top. Finished off with a creme Catalan, and we were happy and content. This is one of the more expensive dining experiences in town, but it comes with a heritage, a well-heeled crowd and a prime location for people-watching.
Day 5: Friday
This was what I considered a necessary non-event. We checked out, said our grateful and heartfelt goodbyes and travelled to the airport. We returned the car, checked in the bag and flew home to Cork without a hitch, thankfully. We were even home in time to hit reality with a bang, do the grocery shop and be just on time for piano lessons.
If we had to stay longer
As you travel from Girona to Costa Brava airport (which is such a simple route to drive ) you come off the AP1-7 and head for the G-614. I highly recommend stopping in the Carrefour and doing your big supermarket shop.
Close to this is a typically modern town of Roses. On the way out of here heading for Cadaqués there are two very good-looking Go-Karting places which would be ideal and super fun for older ones. Also not far off the mountain road after leaving Rose, between here and Cadaqués is the Water Park, Aqua Brava, which looks great and good for smaller ones too.
There is a stunning Botanical Gardens about a 2-hour drive from Cadaqués. We did not have time on this trip but it is on our list for the next time for sure.
The town of Palles looks like a really cool Medieval town, Donagh would love this.
I would love to have hired the e-bikes and cycled around the coastline and hiked a little in the Nature Park, on a longer stay for sure and when the little ones are just a little older I think that would be ideal.
Sea Kayak or Paddle board off the coast is 100% on the list for next time too. The water is so calm and clear. It is just perfect.
A huge thank you to We Camp and Ramon and his team for our wonderful visit. We were invited to spend a few days here and I am so grateful for our time. #invite