Spain Guide

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Tossa de Mar Spain

Tossa de Mar is located in the Spanish region of Catalonia on the Costa Brava. This is a pretty town with cobbled streets, a magnificent ancient castle and a beautiful mountainous hinterland with lush green valleys, gorges and natural springs. There's a bustling beach life in this attractive resort which appeals to couples and families rather than all night revellers.

One teenager who holidayed here just about summed it up with her verdict: "My mum and dad really loved it.I'm sure I will too if I come back in 20 years!"

Tossa lies at the heart of the Costa Brava, 95 kilometres north of Barcelona and 100 kilometres south of the French border. It's a world away from its near neighbour, Lloret de Mar which is the place to go if you're after more of a Club 18 30 type of holiday.

Hollywood arrived here in the early 1950s, shortly before mass tourism, putting Tossa on the map with the shooting of Pandora the Flying Dutchman starring screen idols Ava Gardner and James Mason. A statue of the actress was erected in the old town in honour of her stay here.

These days the resort has huge appeal and charm for those wanting a relaxed holiday with plenty to see and do without the noise, brashness and "Britishness" of Lloret.

The coastline is a 14 kilometre stretch of sandy tourist beaches and small sheltered coves. There's a full range of watersports to be enjoyed here; the crystal clear waters and nearby islands are a magnet for scuba divers, snorkellers (and those who prefer underwater discovery from the safety of a glass bottomed boat!)

There's plenty of activity down at the seafront during the summer months with bars, restaurants, ice cream parlours and gift shops.

But the most attractive part of this historic town is the Villa Vella (old quarter) with its ancient defence walls and towers still in tact.

Medieval Tossa dates back to the year 966 and in 1187 the castle was built on the headland to defend the town against sea borne invaders. Today it's invaded by foreign tourists who delight in the sense of history and wonderful views to be had from the highest point of this ancient town.

The walled enclosure, built in the 12th and 14th centuries to guard against pirate raids, has been preserved along with the original defence towers which have become the emblem of Tossa. The enclosure, accessed via an arched portal, is the only surviving example of a fortified medieval town on the whole of the Catalan coast. It's a delightful labyrinth of medieval alleys peppered with shops, restaurants and ancient houses, some of which are still inhabited.

Just 800 metres from the town is the Sa Riera park, a man made nature reserve consisting of a Mediterranean forest, river and lake with an underground watering system all designed to encourage a wealth and diversity of plant and animal life.

The Massif of Cadiretes is a vast natural reserve which extends over most of the wider area of Tossa between the plain of La Selva and the coast. This wild, mountainous territory is intersected by river beds, lush valleys and hollows and has a special ecosystem born out of the Mediterranean climate combined with the high levels of humidity and rain here.

The result is a rich variety of flora and fauna which thrive here including many rare species that have been found along the six kilometres of protected coastline.