CADAQUÉS is by far the most pleasant place to stay on the northern Costa Brava, reached only by the winding road over the hills from either Roses (16km) or Port de la Selva (12km) and consequently retaining an air of isolation. With whitewashed and bougainvillea-festooned houses lining narrow, hilly streets, a tree-lined promenade and craggy headlands on either side of a working fishing port, it’s genuinely picturesque. Already by the 1920s and 1930s the place had begun to attract the likes of Picasso, Man Ray, Lorca, Buñuel, Thomas Mann and Einstein, but Cadaqués really “arrived” as an artistic-literary colony after World War II when Surrealist painter Salvador Dalí and his wife Gala settled at nearby Portlligat, attracting for some years a floating bohemian community. Today, a seafront statue of Dalí provides the town’s physical and spiritual focal point, haughtily gazing on the artists, well-heeled Barcelonans and art-seeking foreigners who have rolled up in his wake.
With its art galleries and studios, smart restaurants and trendy clothes shops, Cadaqués makes for an interesting stroll. At the top of the hill is the austere-looking sixteenth-century Església de Santa María, containing an ornate eighteenth-century altarpiece and a side chapel on the left painted by Dalí. Local beaches are all tiny and pebbly, but there are some enjoyable walks around the harbour and nearby coves; the helpful tourist office has further information and maps.