Home to plenty of beaches and lovely coves, as well as one of Catalonia’s fantastic carnivals, Roses used to be a Greek colony, centuries before Christ. Greeks came from the lovely island of Rhodes in 776 BC, tempted by the peaceful waters of Roses’ natural harbour, when they set up their commercial colony. Today, apart from enjoying the obvious charms of the beaches and evening entertainment, you can still see the remains of this Greek city and those of the Roman town. In fact La Ciutadella (The Citadel) contains these remains and others, that relate to the various occupations, which have spanned the last 13 centuries. Did you know that the Bay of Roses is ranked as one of the most beautiful bays in the world?
Roses – Where The Mountains Meet The Sea
Roses stretches between the mountains and the sea, so you have that feeling of protection from the mountains, as you set about the “tiresome task” of exploring its gorgeous coves and beaches. If you want to get a bit more active, this is a great spot for snorkelling, to enjoy the magic of the local underwater life. There’s also plenty of adventure sports on tap, as well, for those who want more of an adrenaline rush.
Of course, in Roses you’re right between the Aiguamolls de l’Empordà and Cap de Creus natural parks. Aiguamolls de l’Empordà is Catalonia’s second biggest wetlands, which was declared an area of national natural interest in 1983, and is a birdwatchers’ paradise. Cap de Creus has spectacular views and scenery, and certainly shouldn’t be missed. A wonderful way to drink in these spectacular views and explore the area is by going on an excursion on the Roses & Cap de Creus Express Tourist Train. Check out some of the photos that I’ve interspersed in the guide of this experience (and no I am not a shareholder, and it’s not paid advertising!) Let your senses come alive as you explore our Roses Travel Guide.
Explore Or Relax?
Roses has plenty to offer to the visitor for an enjoyable stay, but it’s also a good base to explore many parts of the province of Girona. Also depending on when you visit you could enjoy the amazing carnival, or one of the other festivals that happens in the town.
Roses is less than a half an hour’s drive to Cadaques, which is a super spot that somehow makes you feel like you just discovered it. Of course there you can see the famous Dalí House Museum. If you want to visit the city of Girona (highly recommended), then by car it’s around 50 minutes drive from Roses. The list of lovely places to visit in the province of Girona is rather long, but another one that is around 50 minutes away is the stone village of Madremanya.
But back to the town and surrounds of Roses itself, where you can just decide to kick back and relax, or wander around locally! Apart from the generous range of bars and restaurants, there are a number of local sites to enjoy, such as the fishing port, Trinity Castle, and on the road to Montjoi, there’s the impressive megalithic complex. The old historic part of the town is a perfect spot to wander and absorb also.
Great Food, Good Company, Lovely Views
Sometimes all I want is to be impressed and nurtured by a superb meal, in great company, and to push my luck a little, if possible with some inspirational views. Roses is currently home to two 1 Michelin starred restaurants; these are La Llar and Els Brancs. You can read more about those in the Michelin star section of this guide.
Also many of the town’s bars and restaurants are perfectly positioned on some of the Costa Brava’s most beautiful sites, so your pleasure of food and drink is amplified by the marvellous views. The gastronomic offerings seem to continue the theme of the mountains meet the sea, with rabbit dishes on one hand and lobster and shellfish on the other.
Things To Do
La Ciutadella – The Citadell Roses
This is a wonderful history lesson and tour rolled into one. In 1961, the 131,480m2 Renaissance type enclosure, was declared a historic-artistic site. The 11th century Lombard-Romanesque monastery, along with the Roman town (2nd century BC to 6th century AD) and Rhode, the Greek district (4th & 3rd century BC), are part of the Citadell. Also incorporated are a number of Visigothic buildings, Paleochristian necropolis, and a number of military buildings which date to the 16th century.
The guided tour concentrates on 17 hectares of the site, and really does give the visitor an in depth historical lesson about its heritage. Additionally the Museum provides more insight into all of this history and heritage.
The megalithic complex
This complex dates to between 3000 to 2700 BC, and is a cultural asset of national interest. It’s on the road to Montjoi, and there is no doubt that this is a very impressive megalithic complex.
It is made up of many dolmens, cists and menhirs – the largest Dolmen consists of seven massive blocks which are placed vertically, and in fact, this is one of Catalonia’s biggest prehistoric monuments. There are guided tours available to learn all about this megalithic complex.
Construction of the lighthouse began in 1864, it stands upon a base of rock, which is of special geological interest. Built in neoclassical style, you will find it at Poncella Point, which guides the entrance into the port. If you are out walking, it serves as the perfect reference if you wish to follow along the coastal path. In 1921 it was electrified.
Roses historic centre
Wander around the uneven streets of the historic centre of Roses, where you will see fine examples of modernist architecture, the Santa Maria church, plenty of little shops and restaurants, and all of this running parallel to the seaside. There is a real Mediterranean atmosphere here, and apart from enjoying the ambience, you may also like to go to the square which is dedicated to the Civil War’s historical memory.
The name of this is Plaça de la Pau, and you can find it in between the streets of Trinitat and Escorxadors. Included in this area is a sculpture by the artist Ció Abellí, which represents the irrational nature of war, and the value of our lives. While spending time in this square, it may interest you to know that between 1937 to 1938 this is where there was a bomb shelter.
Roses Costa Brava Beaches
There is certainly no lack of beaches and coves in and around Roses, in fact, one of the main charms of this coast is the fact that it is filled with contrasts. From generous beaches with fine sand, to wild landscapes, to environments which are perfect for diving, the coast of this area has something for everyone.
Actually the coves, the beaches and the promenade have been awarded internationally recognised certificates, due to their environmental quality. The area is ideal for those who love water sports, but also for families as there are some beautiful shallow waters around, and if you like taking photographs some of the natural coves are especially pretty.
La Punta beach
This feature is centrally located in the town of Roses, it has shallow transparent waters and is around 500m in length, with fine sand. It is perfectly suited for families and also set up for water sports.
La Nova beach
Another of the beaches in the town of Roses, is around 450 m in length and approximately 40 m wide, or so, of fine sand and also with clear shallow waters. La Nova beach is adjacent to the promenade, which overlooks the Bay of Roses.
Els Palangrers beach
This is a small beach around 1KM from Roses town, you’ll find it along the road on the way to the lighthouse. It has lovely clear waters, fine sand and is around 140 m in length. Do be aware that the bottom of the clear waters can be quite rocky.
Although this is not so close to the town, it is worth the trip if you like dramatic wild landscapes. It is a little difficult to access via land, and for this reason for those who have access to boats, it has become a little, “secret” paradise. Of course it isn’t a secret, located 10 km from Roses town, but you will need a boat to access it.
Another cove that is very difficult to access via land, this is also around 10 KM from the town. The cove is embraced by cliffs, and feels remote and virgin, so perfect for some privacy.
This cove is between the coves of La Pelosa and Montjoi, approximately 14 KM from Roses town. You can get to this one on foot, via a sandy road that runs along from Cala (cove) Mountjoi to Cala Joncols. Once you get there you will find a small bay, which is surrounded by cliffs and has beautiful transparent waters.
La Pelosa beach
This beach is around 15 KM from Roses town, you can access it on the coastal path that leads to Cala Joncols. Another lovely cove, it’s protected by the Cape of Norfeu, but you need to be aware that once you get into the water if it becomes deep very quickly.
Canyelles Petites beach
A semi urban beach, which can be found in the residential area of the same name as the beach, this is around three KM from Roses town. To get to it you need to take the road which leads from the lighthouse to Almadrava beach. Around 350 m in length by 25m in width, its waters are crystal clear and especially enjoyed by swimmers, because the beaches sheltered from the wind.
Santa Margarida beach
This is a long beach of around 550 m, with clear shallow waters. It extends from Salatar beach to the mouth of the residential marina, Santa Margarida.
If you’re looking for a beach at the edge of a neighbourhood where there are shops, entertainment, accommodation and food, then this beach may suit you. It’s a sandy beach, with clear shallow waters, but it does tend to get rather busy.
El Rastrell beach
This beach is also located in the residential Salatar area, and it is the widest beach that you will find in the town. It’s ideal for families, shallow transparent water and golden sand.
This cove is quite a wide, busy beach, and is well known for scuba-diving. Located around 12 KM from the town, it is accessed by the same road which leads to Cala Joncols.
Between the coves of Pelosa and Joncols, you’ll find this little wild cove, which seems almost lonely. This is another pretty, yet pebbly cove.
Almadrava beach, is also known as Canyelles Grosses beach, and it is a semi urban, residential beach around five KM from the town. To get to it you go on the coastal road which leads to Almadrava beach from the city centre. It is around 25 m in width and 500 m in length. It’s a fine sandy beach, with very good quality water.
This is a wild roguish landscape which embraces a virgin cove, around 18 KM from the town. You can get there via the coastal road which goes along the whole of that coast, and passes Cape Norfeu.
Right next to Cala Montjoi, you will find this little cove, which is so small it is considered an extension of Montjoi. Around 50 m in length, the cove has medium grained sand. Be careful, because the water becomes deep very quickly.
El Bonifaci beach
No bigger than around 1000 m², this little cove has crystalline waters and a combination of pebbles and coarse sand. It’s between Almadrava beach and Canyelles Petites. It is also accessed via the coastal path.
The Visigothic Fortress Roses
Another cultural asset of National interest, this fortress dates to between the 6th and 8th centuries, and is located on top of the strategic hill, which overlooks the old town. So it had perfect views over the town that was called Rhodes-Roses, the bay and also access to the town’s porch. However it is hidden from the sea. Today you can see the remains of some homes and streets.
Another of the town’s assets of National interest, this castle was originally constructed in the 8th century and stands on top of the hill, making it a little difficult to access. There is something mysterious about its remains, and this is a trip for those who enjoy walking, climbing and wild and wonderful places.
Trinity Castle Roses
This is a super impressive sight over one of the loveliest bays, which was constructed from the year 1544, when Emperor Charles I was reigning. The walls of the castle are two metres thick, and the shape is of a five pointed star. There are three terraces which were built for the batteries of Collins, mortars, and each of these are set at different levels.
There is no doubt that this building is still an extraordinary example of a construction of a coastal artillery fortress. Trinity Castle in Roses perfectly complements the citadel. It probably won’t surprise you to know that this is also a cultural asset of National interest.
Mas d’En Coll
Carretera de les Arenes 89, Phone: 972 256 465
Imagine waking up in a place like this! This fortified farmhouse, originally appears in documents during the 12th century, at which stage it was mentioned for its vineyards. Today it’s a cultural asset of local interest and it is somewhere for you to come and learn about the process of wine production and the history of it in this area. Also you can taste the wine while there, as well as some of the other local products.
Summer hours from 15th of June 2 15th of September: 11 AM to 9 PM every day
Winter hours: 10 AM to 6 PM Monday to Saturday
10 AM to 2 PM Sunday, and holidays
From Roses you can go to 2 beautiful natural parks, both of which have their own qualities and distinctive aspects of nature to enjoy. Just click on the links below to find out more about either of these natural parks of Catalonia, both of them are within around 10km of Roses.
Roses Tourist Train
If you want to get some perspective on this very striking area, the best way to do it is to book the excursions on the local tourist train. The views are absolutely fabulous, and it’s a wonderful way to get to know the area. You can check out the excursions are on offer at Roses tourist train.
Fishing Port Guided Tour
In terms of the volume of fish which are caught, the Port of Roses is the Costa Brava’s most important fishing port. You can go on a guided tour, which gives you the opportunity to learn about the various fishing techniques, the seafaring life, the species which are native to this area and of course, go along to the fish auction.
Prices: Adults: €6, Children: €3.50 (ages 6 to 17 years) Under 6: Free
If you wish to book this, you need to go to the local tourism website to check the calendar of activities – click on Roses Fishing Harbour Guided Tours
Air Raid Shelter Tour
Roses was one of the sites that was bombed during the Civil War in Spain. These tours are less frequent, so do check at the local tourist office – Roses Tours To Air Raid Shelter
Where to Sleep
Where to Eat
Skydiving In Empuriabrava – 6km from Roses
This skydiving centre has been open since 1985, and is considered to be amongst the biggest and best in world!
Windtunnel Empuriabrava – 6km from Roses
In 2012 this new wind tunnel opened, giving adventurous types the chance to experience the amazing feeling of free falling…but of course without the risk of doing it in a natural environment.
Kitesurfing Empuriabrava – 6km from Roses
Kite Costa Brava opened in 2009 and you can book a Baptism session to see if you like kite surfing, if you haven’t tried it before. They also offer lessons, weekend getaways and courses.
Golf Near Roses In Gualta, Emporda Golf Resort – 10km from Roses
The closest place to play golf from Roses is the Empordà Golf Resort, which was designed by one of the world’s best architects – Robert von Hagge. It’s a 36 hole course, consisting o tow 18-hole rounds, which take in lakes and sand dunes.
There are over 10 courses around the Costa Brava however, all of which you can check out here Costa Brava Golf Courses.
Roses Walking/Hiking Suggestions
As you can imagine in such a spectacular setting, it almost doesn’t matter where you decide to hike! However here are some ideas.
Roses Olive Route
This route takes around two hours, and begins at the Mas Oliva residential estate. Initially the route is on a paved road, but then you will enter fields with rows of olive trees. Look out for an olive tree with an absolutely massive trunk, which is centuries old.
Roses Megalithic Routes
There are three possible routes that you can choose to take, one which starts in the Mountjoi Valley, which is a great location both for scenery and culture. This route takes in the oldest megalithic tombs which can be found in the area. Another route is a circular route, of relatively low difficulty, which takes in dolmens and menhirs, on the Casa Cremada plain. The third Ruta gives you the opportunity to see dry stone constructions, terraces and dolmens. It runs by the Rec de la Quarentena stream, and has also some especially beautiful views.
Not surprisingly there are some really beautiful seaside routes that you can walk in the area.
For further help with any of these routes be sure to contact the local tourist authority in Roses.
Roses Horse Riding-Near Palau Saverdera – approx. 8km from Roses
Get out in the beautiful nature of the area on horseback. Treks and lessons are available at the Hipica Aiguamolls, which has 10 hectors of pastures and 20 stables for the horses.
Roses Water Activities
There’s no shortage of water activities – you can do anything from renting motorboats and jet skis, to getting on the funny banana doughnut. In Roses, you can also hire sailing boats and catamarans, or go on a Maritime cruise. There is paddle surf, kite surf, parasailing, kayaking, diving and a water park in Roses. There’s also a school for rowing, sailing and windsurfing.
Roses Tennis Club
If you like playing tennis, or want to try paddle tennis, there’s a tennis club in Roses. You can see a price list by clicking on Roses tennis club – don’t get a shock, as some of them are actually monthly prices for certain time allocations. Just look for Preus Mensuals, which means monthly prices.
Medical Centre – Centre Medic Plaça Catalunya
7 Plaça Catalunya, Phone: 972 257 191 Website: www.centremedicroses.com
Hospital de Figueres – 20 km
Rda. Rector Arolas, Figueres Phone: 972 501 400
Roses Local Police
64 Avinguda de Tarragona, Roses 17480 – Phone: 972 153 715
Roses Tourist Office
77-79 Avinguda de Rhode, Roses 17480 – Phone: 902 103 636 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://visit.roses.cat/en/