Located about one hour from the buzzing city of Barcelona, Sant Feliu de Guixols has a lovely old town, a beautiful beach, marina and romantic rocky headlands that look down over the sparkling Mediterranean sea. Beautiful walks with amazing views are a must for those who wish to explore on foot, but there’s no shortage of other things to do. It’s a good spot for diving and other water sports.
The town has its fair share of interesting architecture, culture, and nice places to have a little tipple and watch life go by. Its coastline is scattered with lovely, little coves and it’s blessed with a pleasant temperature most of the year. Girona is about half an hour’s trip from the town, around 35km distance, and is well worth a day or more out.
Whether you fancy some fresh fish, a bit of horse riding, or just loads of blissful relaxation, Sant Feliu de Guixols has these options, and more besides. The town has medieval origins and it actually grew around the Monastery de Sant Feliu de Guixols. The monastery and town are named in part after Sant Feliu, and in part after the term for Rope Maker.
Come and discover more in our Sant Feliu de Guixols travel guide with the help of Dan Moorhouse, historian, who has contributed to this guide, and myself Jackie!
You can feel the town’s connection to its seafaring past, and it has a range of dive centres and sailing activities, plus its own Maritime Musuem. There are sandy beaches, fascinating coves and rock pools within close proximity to the port and centre of Sant Feliu de Guixols. The region has a fantastic shoreline. Of particular geological interest is Pedralta. Pedralta is the largest rocking stone in Europe: Rocking stones are large stones that are very finely balanced, therefore rocking slightly when pushed. Pedralta is cited in a nature park that overlooks the bay, providing an excellent vantage point.
Things To Do
Sant Feliu de Guíxols Monastery
The Monestir de Sant Feliu de Guíxols was a Benedictine Monastery founded in the middle of the 10th century. Romanesque in style, it has several interesting architectural features, including two towers and the famous Porta Ferrera. The monastery has been developed a little over the years and is now home to a History Museum. As with many monasteries in the region, the Monestir de Sant Feliu de Guíxols is fortified as one of it’s functions was to provide shelter to locals in the case of an attack.
La Constància Casino
Designed in 1889, this casino attracted in a range of types, such as seafarers, artisans, workers and the more liberally minded townsfolk. The casino, which was designed by General Guitart i Lostalo, has Arabesque evocations. Today you can see the original structure, which of course includes the gambling area, as well as a library. Ballroom and a staircase.
Sant Feliu de Guíxols Cemetery
Just like Sitges, the town as a lovely cemetery, where there are some fine stone sculptures and some Modernist features. It was constructed on the outskirts in 1833, and offers a lay area as well as a Catholic one.
Shipwreck Rescue Shelter
Constructed in 1897, this was, as the name hints, accommodation for shipwrecked fishermen and sailors. It also had a warehouse for storage. These days it’s part of the town’s History Museum, and displays sea rescue items which date back to the 19th century.
Antic Hospital – Old Hospital
The origins of the old hospital can be traced back to 1305, as we know it existed because of some of the contents of the will of Blanca de Mordenyac, who left a blanket and bed to the hospital! Later due to a need for more space, a new hospital was constructed, in 1595, outside the walls. In fact the hospital remained there until 2003.
Platja de Sant Pol
Most of the beaches and coves are easily accessible. The main tourist beach is Platja de Sant Pol. Situated in a central location this beach is sandy and close to all of the main amenities of the town centre. The beach boasts a Blue Flag and has many features that make it family friendly. There are lifeguards, a volleyball court, showers are available and there is parking close by. For a lazy day on the beach, this is ideal. Of similar quality though slightly smaller is Platja de Sant Feliu which also boasts many amenities and is also central and easily accessible.
For those of you who prefer to enjoy rocky beaches there are several to choose from. Though relatively small, they are attractive and provide all the usual opportunities to paddle in small pools, scour for shells etc. Of these rocky beaches ad coves, Sa Caleta is the best served with amenities, though there are several others that are as beautiful, that simply offer parking spaces.
Other beaches and coves can be read about here.
Sant Elm Hermitage
Although the hermitage was founded in 1203, it was in 1452 when the original chapel was built. The quaint Chapel of San Elm was then rebuilt in 1923, and these days has a collection of allegorical paintings from the same year. The chapel is a short journey out of town and provides nice views of the bay. It is from this chapel that it’s reputed that the coastline was named Costa Brava by Ferran Agulló.
Sant Feliu de Guixols History Museum
Within the monastery, you can find the town’s history museum. This is the perfect place to understand how the town has evolved, and also to absorb how important its relationship with the monastery has been. It houses different exhibitions, such as The People and the Sea, and the Rural Doctor.
Toy History Museum – Museu d’Historia de la Joguina
Located in a building that has been listed as a protected building, the museum was initiated by the current owner Tomas Pla, from the year 2000. He had the necessary work carried out to adapt the small Catalan palace to bring his vision to life. Today it houses around 3500 pieces that are predominantly from Spain, from between 1870 to 1980.
Museum of Cava & Champagne Bottle Tops – Museu de Plaques de Cava I Champagne
No I kid you not …not only does this museum exist but it has a keen following! In fact offers a new cultural experience to visitors, that is rather enriching. It was the dream of the collector Josep Albo Junca, who was born in the town on 2nd March 1937.
Museu del Rat-Penat de Mascanada
This museum is the creation of Josep Almar, another son of the town. He is a teacher of Artisan Crafts, and creates sculptures, sailboats, and items related to navigation. He has opened up a little museum in his artisan workshop.
There are a number of good examples of Modernist architecture in Sant Feliu, here are a few to whet your appetite.
La Casa Estrada – Xalet de les Punxes
It’s hard to miss the La Casa Estrada, in the backdrop of the Sant Pol beach. Built between 1890 and 1912, I just love theose funky turrests and its main tower. Also close by are two more examples of modernism, by Josep Goday, which were built in 1910. These are the Casa Domenech-Girbau and the Casa Girbau Estrada.
Farmacia Ruscalleda – Ruscalleda Pharmacy (which was the house of the widow of Sabater)
I love the funky entrance of this modernist building, which was built in 1909, under the architect General Guitart i Lostala. The curved lines used combined with the stained glass and the artisan forged iron, make this an interesting example of this genre.
Casa Viader (Can Viader)
This modernist building was designed by Pere Pascual i Baguer in 1902, and its façade stands out with its exuberant modernist design, including floral aspects.
Designed by Joan Bordàs i Salellas in 1929, who was the municipal architect, and built by Marcis Franquesa, the market hall was commissioned in order to improve the hygiene of selling meat and fish. The structure is similar to some others that you’ll see around Catalonia.