Destination Inspiration: Pals, Catalonia, Spain

Destination Inspiration: Pals, Catalonia, Spain

East of Barcelona, the medieval Spanish town of Pals is home to honey-hued architecture, family-run eateries, sandy beaches and plenty of independent art galleries.


Pals, Catalonia, Spain.

Why now?

Located just a 90-minute drive east of Barcelona, the small medieval town of Pals
feels worlds away from the party-fuelled city crowds. Flanked by
stretches of dense vineyards, rolling rice fields and the dazzling
Bay of Empordà, these dusty streets look as though they should be
crammed with horse-drawn carts and an elderly population, but that
couldn’t be further from the truth.

A town that is best explored on foot (and borderline impossible
to discover by car, thanks to its narrow passageways), Pals is the
place to dance between independent galleries – the Anna Agustí
Hontangas Gallery is our favourite – and walk-in workshops,
discovering the creative energy that rules these sun-scorched
streets. Spend days collecting colourful handcrafted ceramics, scoffing paella and
sipping sangria.

Don’t miss

Take the time to visit Torre de les Hores, a 10th-century castle
that marks the tallest point of Pals. If the bell tower is open,
peep inside. Alternatively, settle for breathtaking 360-degree
views across the Costa Brava coast.


Where to stay?

Hotel Es Portal. Okay, okay, this isn’t technically in
the centre of town, but the 10-minute drive is well worth it for
the remote, home-from-home set-up. Housed in a converted
16th-century farmhouse, nine minimalist rooms feature rough-hewn
stone walls and arched windows. It’s the gigantic outdoor swimming
pool that’s really won us over, though. This being an adults-only
hotel, you can kick back poolside without fearing the spray of a

Where to go for breakfast?

It takes a lot to drag us out of bed, but for Grava, we’ll
happily rise at the same hour as the birds. Comprising a spacious
outdoor courtyard, this spot feels more like a market hall than a
café. A delectable all-day brunch menu awaits. Settle beneath the
timber-clad pergola (watch your head for the bamboo pendant light
fixtures) and order Grava’s famous pancakes with a glass of freshly
squeezed orange juice. More than just a foodie hangout, this is a
great venue after dark, when the cocktail menu is unleashed.
Drinking den of choice, sorted.

And for dinner…

Blink and you’ll miss it… Restaurant Can Dolç can be found tucked in a
sun-dappled corner of the town’s square – if you’re in need of a
pointer, look beneath the looming Sant Feliu de Boada church spire
and you’ll find a cluster of parasols hugging feast-ready tables.
While the chefs know how to cook up a storm, it’s the sheer blood,
sweat and tears of founder Carlus Guerra Figola that is behind the
restaurant’s success and loyal clientele. Arrive for 7pm and snag
an outdoor seat, so you can watch the light beginning to fade.
Insider tip: specially crafted vegan, gluten-free and veggie
Catalan classics are available, too.

Who to take with you

If, like us, you’ve been thinking that a proper family reunion
is well and truly in order, this has got to be the perfect place
for it.

When to go

This is a town that remains off the tourist trail. We suggest
visiting in the second week of August to soak up the heat of the
summer sun. That way, you can also attend the remarkable Nit d’
Espelmes festival, an evening that sees the whole town plunge into
darkness, before some 10,000 candles are lit. A celebration that
draws crowds of locals, upcoming artists and culinary connoisseurs,
this is where you’ll find the cool kids.

Essentials to pack

Pals is a medieval town, with plenty of narrow alleyways and a
fair few hills to climb. Pack these New Balance 327 suede and shell sneakers to
make strolls that little bit more comfortable.

How to get there

Fly to Barcelona El Prat Airport and spend a few days exploring
the city, before hopping on a train bound for Girona – jumping off
three hours’ later in Pals.


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