Cambrils is one of the destinations that has been awarded the Family Holiday Destination seal of quality by the Catalan Government and when you visit, it’s obvious why. This is a lively town, but not tacky, which seems to have something for everyone. With over 200 restaurants and recognition as a gastronomic capital, Cambrils will also appeal to foodies who wish to spend time in a vibrant town.
It has almost endless beaches and is of course very close to PortAventura and Salou, so this means that if you’re travelling with children or teenagers, it’s close at hand, but you can stay in Cambrils, which is less hectic than Salou! It’s about a 10 to 15 minute drive. One of it’s pride and joys is the park – El Pescador, close to the marina area, which is an impressive park in a wonderful location.
A Lovely Harbour, Pretty Cobbled Streets And A Great Promenade
Parts of the town have pretty cobbled streets, a great castle, fortress and a lovely harbour, where you can have your favourite tipple while you people-watch, or just admire the scenery that nature gave us. It’s got a good buzz even in February, where you can see that the cafés and restaurants are full, on the stretch opposite the fine, palm-lined promenade, on Saturday for lunch.
Cambrils Is Caravanning Friendly
If by any chance you are considering a holiday in a caravan, Cambrils is especially caravanning friendly, as are some of the areas close by. There are a few sites there, but Cambrils Park is the best known and even gets rave reviews on the Holiday Watchdog website. As well as sightseeing, we were also on the lookout for a caravan to buy, so we dropped into Caravanning Cambrils where they rent and sell caravans, and even though they were about to close, the guy was very friendly and helpful. They also store caravans and transport them to your desired caravan park for you.
Cambrils Tourist Train
A fun way to see the town when you first arrive is to get onto the Cambrils Tourist Train. This runs from Wednesday to Sunday, from the 17th June until the 15th September.
You pick it up just outside the Tourist Office, and it costs €3.10 for adults and €1.50 for children under 12 and those over 65, who are called the Third Age (Tercera Edad) over here! Also you can buy different passes for a number of trips and half trips. The train takes you to the old town, through some residential areas and on Wednesdays to the market.
The town’s Plaza España (Spain Square) is striking and colourful, just behind the promenade area and for those who enjoy a Mc Donalds once in a while, the location of it in Cambrils is superb, as the tables outside look directly at the beach and sea.
Cambrils Brief History
There is evidence that Cambrils originated during pre-historic times, however its growth only began during the Roman period. A variety of archaeological evidence shows us this, in particular sites dotted throughout the area, for example the Roman town of La Llosa. La Llosa is close to the Via Augusta, the Roman road which crosses the territory of what was called the Hispania Province and eventually joined the Via Domitia.
By medieval times, on the Alforja Torrent’s right bank there was a permanent settlement, and from 1152, after the Moors were driven out of Catalonia, privileges were granted in numerous places to encourage re-population. Of course the town’s maritime connections and strategic location made it particularly attractive, and this meant that the Crown decided to keep the title of Cambrils, so they established a feudal lord and also put soldiers there. Defensive towers and walls were built to seve as protection for the town and nearby villages. In 1229 the army of Jaume 1 sailed from Cambrils to re-conquer the island of Majorca from the Moors.
So the town of Cambrils was of significant importance at that time, and the old town that you can see today was developed then. It had a hospital, hostel, church, convent, market, artisans and a fair. Of course in terms of economy, the farmers who worked than fertile lands around the town were also very important.
But this vitality was unfortunately disrupted during the War of Reapers (Guerra dels Segadors) in December 1640. After a three day siege the town fell and the situation was made worse, as the occupying soldiers reneged on the surrender agreement, and killed a large amount of the defenders. They almost destroyed a large part of the town’s walls. This huge event in the town’s history is remembered every year, on a Sunday before or after the main winter festival, of the Immaculate Virgin (8th December). There is a ceremony at Plaça del Setge- Siege Square, which is where the siege took place, which includes two giants, a festive procession and the Devils Dance.
However the population started to increase from the 18th century onwards, with neighbourhoods also growing outside the town walls and once the danger of pirate attacks had reduced, fishermen and their families started to live the Port of Moors Tower, which you can see in the photo here.
The 19th century had its fair share of difficulties, including epidemics, wars and meteorological disasters, however 1867 saw the opening of the railway, which of course gave a good boost to the economy. The town had been producing flour, historically, in its numerous water-driven mills, but during the 19th century other activities started, such as liqueur production, boatyard building and construction material factories. By the middle of the 20th century, the harbour had been built and the population was greatly increased during the 1950s due to immigration from other areas of Spain. By the 1960s tourism hit the town.
Things To Do
The area of Cambrils boasts 9km of sandy beaches, which are very well kept and also due to their topography, suitable for children.
Platja del Prat d’en Forès o Platja del Regueral – Prat d’en Fores or Regueral Beach
Right in the heart of Cambrils you’ll find this urban beach of 1210 metres long by 78 metres wide. It’s a blue flag beach of fine, golden sand that has good services, but can get of course get busy. You’ve got all types of facilities on tap here, even a Mc Donalds that overlooks the sea. If you want to be in the middle of things, this is the beach for you.
Platja del Cap de Sant Pere – St. Peter’s Cape Beach
A blue flag beach of fine golden sand with calm water, which is around 800 metres long and 10 metres on average in width. There are plenty of beach services and bars there, as well as the the fact that it meets with one of the Salou beaches, which means that this beach can get very busy. There are apartment buildings and two hotels there.
If you have teenagers who want to meet other teenagers/young adults, it could be a good option, but if you want to avoid a beach that has a high concentration of teenagers and young adults, then maybe give this one a miss!
Platja de Vilafortuny – Vilafortuny Beach
On the way to Salou, in a semi urban area, you’ll find the popular blue flag Vilafortuny Beach. The sea tends to be calm and the sand is golden, plus there are good facilities. The beach doesn’t get as busy as some of the other main Cambrils and Salou beaches, and is around 1200 long by 70 metres wide. You tend to find a more Spanish crowd there, but also foreigners who rent nearby apartments.
Platja de L’Esquirol- L’Esquirol Beach
A blue flag golden sandy beach, of 1100 metres long by an average of 26 metres width, the beach has good facilities and calm waters. It can be busy during the season. At this beach you can see the Torre del Telegrafo (Telegraph Tower). There’s a sailing school on the western end of the beach.
Platja del Cavet – Cavet Beach
A blue flag beach that has half rocks and half golden sand. It doesn’t get as busy as some of the other beaches, probably because it is a bit wilder than some of the other beaches, with funny features such as twisted pines – but they do add character. It is around 660 long by 20 metres wide.
Platja d’Horta de Santa Maria – Orchard of St. Mary Beach
Around 550 metres long and 54 wide, this is also a busy enough beach in an urban area, which has breakwaters that protect it from the coast. You’ll find some nice restaurants and bars there, with comfy terraces.
Platja de la Llosa – Slab Beach
This beach is in a semi-urban area, and doesn’t get as busy as some of the others beaches in Cambrils. It is around 1000 metres long and 55 metres wide. It has golden sand and calm waters, with some rougher sand and grassier areas as you get closer to the promenade.
Platja de l’Ardiaca – Archdeacon Beach
This beach is 1600 metres long by 60 metres wide, with golden sand and a breakwater that protects the beach. It is not as busy as some of the other beaches in Cambrils.
Platja de La Riera – Riera Beach
At the fishing port is the Riera Beach, which has more coarse golden sand. It still gets pretty busy, because of its calm waters and location. The beach is small, around 200 metres long by 15 wide. I like it because of the river – Riera de l’Alforja – which runs into it at the end, but this only happens after heavy rain.
Eglesia de Santa Maria Cambrils – Church of Mary Cambrils
Carrer de les Creus 10, Cambrils 43850 , Tarragona Phone: 977 360 124
In the Cambrils Nucli Antic – Cambrils Old Town
The exact date of when the church was built is not known, but thought to be between 1495 and 1648. It has a combination of Baroque, Renaissance and Neo-Gothic styles and in the 18th century was restored, and once again after 1939. It is a listed protected monument.
Monument al Cardenal Vidal i Barraquer – Monument of Cardinal Vidal i Barraquer
Carrer de les Creus 10, Cambrils 43850 , Tarragona
Outside the church Eglesia de Santa Maria in Cambrils there is a monument in honour of the son of the city, Cardinal Vidal i Barraquer. It is a bronze statue by Ramon Ferran, of the man who was archibishop of Tarragona and Cardinal. It was opened official on the 15th May 1978 when the Cardinal’s mortal remains were returned to his home town.
Cambrils Nucli Antic – Cambrils Old Town
If you don’t take the tourist train, but opt to walk, as you wander around Cambrils, you’ll spot a few road signs that point to the Nucli Antic – this is the old town. You’ll see that some of the ancient wall is still preserved, and there are a few different monuments to see in the old town of Cambrils.
Torre i L’Ermita de la Mare de Déu del Cami – Tower and Hermitage of the Mother of God of the Road
I was impressed with the Torre i L’Ermita de la Mare de Déu del Cami – Hermitage of the Mother of God of the Road. When I first saw this monument, I hadn’t any idea what it was, all I knew was that it was impressive. It turns out that the original chapel, is referenced in a document in 1214. The building you see today was actually built in 1778 with stones that were brought from the quarry of Monjuic. It has a crypt that joins to the former watchtower, and three naves.
Unfortunately it was in a state of neglect until the 1970s, at which stage the town began restoring it. Today it is a fine monument, with a combination of architectural styles – Baroque, Gothic and Renaissance. In 2007 its crypt was also restored and transformed into a concert hall. On the 8th of September the feast of it’s patron is celebrated there.
El Museu Agrícola de Cambrils – The Agricultural Museum of Cambrils
Carrer del Sindicat 2, Cambrils 43850 , Tarragona Phone: 977 360 719
In Cambrils Nucli Antic – Cambrils Old Town
The design of this building started in 1914, by the architect Bernardino Martorell, with a style that shows a definite Gaudí influence. It opened in 1921 because of the efforts of the Union of Agricultural Production members. During wine-making it allowed energy to be saved, and the building was in active use until 1993 when the wine section of the Co-op was dissolved.
In 1994 the Agricultural Co-Operative initiated work which began to transform the building into a museum. This work was supported by the City of Cambrils and the Province of Tarragona, and in 1998 the museum opened, and it’s part of the History Museum Theatre Network. Visitors can buy local produce from the area’s farmers, including Siurana, an excellent extra virgin olive oil.
1st September to 30th June
Saturdays from 10.00 to 13:30 and from 17.00 to 20.00
Sundays and holidays from 10:30 to 13.30
July and August
Tuesday to Saturday from 10.00 to 13:30 and from 17.00 to 20.30
Sundays and holidays from 11.00 to 14.00
Closed Mondays and on the 1st and 6th January , 1st May and 25th and 26th December
Museu Moli de las Tres Eres – The Three Era Mill Museum
Via Augusta 1, Cambrils 43850 Phone: 977 794 528
You can see an old hydraulic flour mill here, as well as a range of permanent exhibitions, such ads the one that is dedicated to archaeology of Cambrils ancient population. There are Neolithic objects to be seen amongst other treasures, in the building that was operating until 1895 as a flour mill.
Further information about these: http://www.cambrils.org
Where to Eat
Cambrils took its time in getting back into carnival time, in fact it didn’t happen until 2009, which in comparison to other Catalan towns was rather late.
Here you can find out how well the folks in Cambrils are catching up with the carnival these days!
Three Turns and Saint Anthony Cambrils
18th/19th January, depending normally on when the weekend falls, the official days it the 19th. This is the procession and blessing of the animals, learn more here.
Cambrils Mantis Shrimp Festival
Running for a few weeks from the 6th February is the Mantis Shrimp Festival. Read more here.
Cambrils Easter Week
Festival Date: 01-04-2015
Easter is celebrated very differently in Catalonia and Spain, than back in Ireland and the UK. Find out more here.
This kicks off during the first weekend of June normally. You can read more about it here.
Cambrils Neighbourhood Festival
Check out what’s going on in Cambrils the weekend before the big night of San Juan in June here.
Cambrils Night of Saint John – San Juan
The night of the 23rd going into the wee hours of the 24th June, is a big night in all of Catalonia and Spain. Check out what’s going on here.
Cambrils Saint Peter Festival
On the 29th June is the Festival of Saint Peter. Read more here.
Cambrils Carmen Festival
The patron saint of fishermen and sailors, the Virgin Carmen is celebrated across numerous fishing villages and towns on the 16th July. Find out what happens in Cambrils during this fiesta.
Cambrils International Music Festival
Maybe it might be an idea to find out why this festival has been running for over 40 years …here
Festival of Our Lady of the Way Cambrils
On September 8th, there’s a combination of religious and festive activities that can be traced back many centuries. Find out more here.