Blanes Travel Guide-An Insider’s Guide
Blanes is a vibrant, seaside modern town, which still has an old quarter with character...and it’s surrounded by an abundance of gorgeous nature. If you like busy but with some character, but not horrendously hectic with a large dose of party animals, then the few kilometres that separates Blanes from its loud neighbour, Lloret de Mar, may be a very good move.
The bustling Blanes is categorised by the Catalan authorities as a FHD – Family Holiday Destination. It’s easy to reach from both Barcelona and Girona airports, as there are pretty good train services, and roads. Did you know that in 2012 National Geographic voted the Costa Brava as one of the top destinations, and nicknamed it the Creative Coast of Spain?
Although Blanes is busy enough in the summertime, the town has not succumbed to the plastic tourism of burger joints, tacky souvenir shops, and drunken young people who feel freedom means not remembering most nights of their holiday.
In Blanes, there’s still a tangible Catalan identity, as well as an active fleet of fishing boats. That said, Blanes is not a tiny undiscovered fishing village either. There’s a healthy mixture between the old and the new, and actually the town is very popular with residents from Barcelona. For them, or for tourists who wish to spend some time in Barcelona, the journey is approximately 1 hour – 73km.
This Insider’s Blanes Travel Guide selects some of the top things to do in the town and in other places that you could visit on day trips. It’s written by me, Jackie – I am an Irish writer who has lived in Spain since 2003. I hope these travel tips help you make happy holiday plans!
Blanes has been famed as a family-oriented location for a long time, so it wasn’t a big surprise when it received the coveted Family Tourism Destination Certificate in 2007. Families are drawn to the town year after year by the warmth of the welcome, as well as the weather. It has that proverbial something for everyone, though. For the adults, there’s a decent nightlife scene with many bars open late.
Food lovers are well catered for too. Unsurprisingly, being a port town, it has a strong reputation for the quality of its mouthwatering seafood. There are plentiful markets for those doing a bit of cooking themselves to source fresh produce, or for those who are looking for a memento of their trip to the area.
Thousands of families and fun seekers light up the atmosphere in the Catalonian town of Blanes -which is the gateway to the Costa Brava, in the south of the province of Girona. Every summer the tourists double the town’s 40,000 population. Some visitors want no more than to be on the beach by day and the restaurants by night, while others want to explore the beauty of the town and surrounding areas as much as possible. Others try to come towards the end of July to catch a glimpse of the spectacular fireworks displays. which run from around these dates – Thursday July 24 through to Sunday July 27 – approximately. They change slightly each year to fall around the weekend.
Explore and Relax In The Old Quarter
The well preserved old town is also a great place to spend some time. With a Gothic fountain, church and romantic squares, it’s the cultural hub of Blanes. Other buildings of note in the old quarter are the Town Hall, the hospital and the church. There are also some examples of both medieval houses and modernist buildings.
Shop Til You Drop
Blanes also has its fair share of beautiful boutiques and shops. It’s got plenty of temptation for those who like to shop til they drop.
Fun With The Kids
A stroll along the main promenade is a great route for the family, boasting plenty of attractions. This is where you’ll find fun rides for the kids – right in the centre of Blanes.
Visit The Picturesque Port
At one end of the walkway lies the picturesque port, one of the busiest in the region. It’s a real hub of life and activity and a great place to soak up the atmosphere and watch the world go by.
Sitting 85km from Barcelona airport and just 33km from Girona airport, Blanes is easily accessible for tourists and visitors travelling around the region – in the Day Trip section I’ve included a few suggestions for you.
Things To Do
Make A Wish At Blanes Gothic Fountain
This is a magnificent fountain in the old quarter, which is considered both rare and unique. It is a fine example of Gothic civil architecture. If you believe in magic, why not make a wish at this magical fountain!
Temperatures typically top 30 degrees centigrade throughout the summer months and the town’s popular sandy beaches are the best place to be..to relax and dip into the water when you fancy it.
The beautiful main beach in Blanes (Playa de Blanes) is the perfect place to soak up the glorious summer sunshine. Especially if you’re travelling as a family, during the height of the season there is a Kids Club here. This golden sandy beach is actually the physical beginning of the Wild Coast, or as it’s more commonly known – the Costa Brava.
This is the biggest beach in Blanes, at over 2300 metres long. It’s also got a Kids Club and heaps of other facilities. It’s just on the left-hand side of the landmark rock called Sa Palomera.
Sant Francesc Beach – Cala Bona
Although it’s located around 2 km from the town centre, this beach which is often called Cala Bona, is a lovely Cove embraced by pine trees. To get there you can actually go through the Botanical Gardens, but there are other routes well. This golden sandy beach is around 200 metres long.
Santa Anna – Capellans Beach
Most often this beach is called Capellans Beach, and it’s located just behind the town’s port. It’s a smaller beach of around 75 m in length, and has golden pebbles. Above that you can see the Blanes convent.
Between 3 to 4 km from the town centre, you’ll find the smallest beach in a northerly point of the municipality. This golden sandy beach is surrounded by an area of natural interest.
Castillo de San Juan – St. John’s Castle
If you go up to see the castle remains on a clear day, sometimes you can even see the silhouette of Mount Montjuic in Barcelona. It was built sometime around the middle of the 13th century, on a site where it is thought a fortification existed previously. The watchtower was built in the 16th century, at a time where many coastal towns and villages did the same – as it was an especially busy time for pirates. The castle is so symbolic of Blanes, and from it there are spectacular views of the town and a lot of the Costa Brava.
Iglesia Santa Maria Blanes – Blanes Church of Mary
Carrer Nou 22, Blanes 17300 Phone: 972 330 574
The church is a Gothic building which was built between 1350 and 1410. Today you can see a few remaining architectural aspects from the 15th century – which are the facade and Bell tower.
El Convent de Blanes – Blanes Convent
Calres Fuast 4, Blanes 17300 Phone: 972 357 345
Built in 1583, the Blanes Convent monastery is a beautifully preserved piece of history. Located just where the Costa Brava begins in the south, this is a wonderfully unique space – the type that has been used for film productions. When you see it, you’ll understand why it’s an adorable venue for weddings and other important events.
Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Esperanza – Church of Our Lady of Hope
This chapel/hermitage may have been built sometime in the 17th century, however records can approve dates will where the other. If you wish to visit it you need to ask for the key.
Blanes Botanical & Tropical Gardens
Jardí Botanic Marimurtra – Marimurtra Botanical Gardens
A nature lover’s heaven, a photographer’s paradise, and even a great place to propose to that special someone….These Botanical Gardens are considered to be one of the finest in the whole of Europe. The beautiful panoramas alone are worth the trip. You’ll find them in a stunning setting, with dramatic cliffs overlooking the sea, in a space of around 4 hectares. They have been declared an area of National Interest. The Marimurtra Botanical Gardens were actually founded by a German man, Carl Faust, more than 80 years ago.
The gardens are divided into three different zones, and are populated with over 3000 exotic species. Wander between the Mediterranean, sub tropical and temperate zones, and sea plant species which originate from five different continents. During the high season, there’s a bus service that runs from Blanes city centre about every 20 minutes or so. The gardens are open to the public all year round.
Website: http://www.jbotanicmarimurtra.org/ Phone: 972 330 826
Pinya de Rosa Tropical Garden
Also, on the outskirts of Blanes is the Pinya Rosa Tropical Garden. Personally I think this tropical garden will either be a love or hate affair. I love cacti, but I know not everybody does. But if cacti are your thing, here you can see one of Europe’s most interesting and largest collections of living cacti – more than 7000 species.
A well-known industrial engineer, Ferran Riviere de Caralt, started creating this amazing collection not long after he bought the property back in 1945. The specimens that you can see today have come from private collections, nurseries and botanical gardens from all over the world.
The Pinya Rosa Tropical Garden is open from Monday to Sunday between 9 AM to 5 PM, and the entrance fee is €4, with reduced fees for pensioners and students of €3, and also groups over 10 people pay €3 per person.
Website: http://pinya-de-rosa.es/ Phone: 972 350 689
Gnomo Park – Gnome Park in Lloret de Mar
Carretera de Lloret a Blanes, Lloret de Mr 17310
Between Blanes and Lloret de Mar is no Park, which I reckon offers a really lovely family day out, with a little bit of imagination. Located in a Mediterranean pine forest, the 40,000 m2 park offers endless amusement for gnome lovers of all ages.
Marineland in Palafolls
Marineland is in Palafolls, which is only 4km away. This incorporates Aqualand and a variety of shows including sealion, dolphin and exotic bird shows. There are also penguins and seals.
Waterworld Lloret de Mar
Only 5 km away you can find Waterworld, which is a great day out for the kids – with heaps of fun and all kind of water attractions.
Go Bowling In Blanes
Blanes has its own bowling centre, complete with a children’s play area. You can also play billiards there.
Take A Look At Tossa de Mar
Only 18km away is the lovely town of Tossa de Mar, with its medieval walled town.
Beautiful Buzzing Barcelona
In one hour you can be in the beautiful buzzing city of Barcelona. Connected by train as well as road, you can choose which way you’d prefer to travel. Driving takes around 1 hour, and the train takes about 1 hour 45 minutes or so. If you haven’t been to Barcelona, you might prefer to stay at least 1 night.
An easy trip either by train or car, Girona is a gorgeous city that should not be missed. It’s only a matter of time before this city becomes better known as a destination for English speaking tourists. Of course Ryanair have been flying in and out of there for a while, but it still hasn’t had that much limelight in the media. By train it’s about a 45 minute trip, and by car it is a similar amount of time, even thought it’s just 43km. The trains come around each 2 hours.
Follow In Dali’s Footsteps In Figueres
If you stay on the train that goes to Girona you can continue up to Figueres, which is part of the Dalí Triangle, and also a fine town in its own right. If you’re driving, the distance is 84km, and it’s about an hour’s drive. On the train it takes 1 hour 15 minutes. Here you can read about the town of Figueres and also the Dalí Triangle.
Where to Sleep
Where to Eat
Blanes Fireworks Competition July
This is an Internationally renowned event, find out more here.
One of my favourite ways to see different spots on the Costa Brava, is to be able to view the underwater world by using one of the both services that does trips between the different resorts along the coast. The line that I mentioned below, is not a personal recommendation, however they do do routes from Blanes up towards tacit are, and also down onto the Barcelona coast.