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Baix Empordà villages: a photo essay

Baix Empordà, part of the province of Girona in Catalonia, is one of those hidden gems, to use the cliché, that no one seems to know about.

Many tourists visit Girona, and many of them venture out to the Dali Theatre-Museum in Figueres. Most, though, don’t stay long enough to explore the lovely stone villages they might admire as they speed by on the highway.

Disclosure: I’d like to thank Pirineu Girona Costa Brava Tourist Board rather belatedly for introducing me to the Baix Empordà region as part of a familiarization tour. This time, though, I visited on my own dime. All opinions are my own, as always.

one of many villages you can spot from the highway in Baix Emporda
one of many villages you can spot from the highway

These villages – Pals, Ullastret, Peratallada, and many others – date from the Middle Ages and, while I’m sure the interiors have been modernized, as evidenced by the satellite dishes and power lines, they still look medieval outside.

a stone paved street in Pals, in the Baix Emporda, Spain
a stone paved street in Pals

A fam tour

I first visited a few of these villages on a whirlwind familiarization tour of Baix Empordà in 2015. A short snorkeling visit to the Medes island, a protected “maritime-terrestrial” zone, was an adventure in itself. Later, though, we mounted e-bikes for an exploration of the less-visited countryside inland.

remains of the old defensive structures of Pals, Baix Emporda, Spain
remains of the old defensive structures of Pals

That’s where I first set eyes on a few of these villages, but our visit wasn’t long enough for me to get the full effect of wandering these ancient streets and alleyways. I decided that I had to come back, and had to bring my husband, who I knew would love them as I did.

a row of ancient houses in Monells,, Baix Emporda, Spain
a row of ancient houses in Monells

My return to Baix Empordà

We visited a few of the Baix Empordà villages in combination with our visit to the Dalí Theatre-Museum one day. With our three teenagers in tow whose patience with us old folks was limited, we only saw a few villages.

signs of age on a doorway in Peratallada,, Baix Emporda, Spain
signs of age on a doorway in Peratallada

A couple of days later we went back, this time with just our foster daughter. The two boys were distinctly unenthusiastic at our suggestion that we visit the Gala Dalí Castle, especially after their assessment of Dalí’s artwork.

a clocktower in Madremanya, Baix Emporda, Spain
a clock tower in Madremanya

I had visited the Gala Dalí Castle on that same familiarization tour. I knew that my husband would enjoy it, and he did. For me the visit to the Dalí Theatre-Museum helped me to notice more details in the Gala Dalí Castle this time. I also knew that it would allow us to visit a few more of these little Baix Empordà villages.

Here you can see the age of the streets in Madremanya, Baix Emporda, Spain
Here you can see the age of the streets in Madremanya.

Stone paving in some of them still shows the ruts from ancient steel-covered wagon tracks. Some of these villages boast archway-covered streets, perfect to keep cool in the heat of summer. At lunchtime, residents and the occasional visitors linger over local dishes at tables set outside in the shade of ancient stone roofs or grape vines.

Archways provide shade in Monells,, in the Baix Emporda,, Spain
Archways provide shade in Monells.

We visited a total of seven little villages, and could have seen double that number. For my husband, this seven was enough. For our foster daughter, seven was too many. I, on the other hand, would have been happy to visit more of them. What I’d really like to do is check into a hotel in one of these villages and stay for a week. I’d enjoy walks in the village and the countryside around it. I’d eat tapas every evening in the small village restaurants, sitting outside in the twilight cool. And I’d have lots of peace and quiet to think and to write. Perhaps some day….

a pretty row of houses in Peratallada in the Baix Emporda, Spain
a pretty row of houses in Peratallada

Have you visited this region of Spain? What would you recommend to visitors?


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about Rachel

Hi, I’m Rachel!

Rachel’s Ruminations is a travel blog focused on independent travel with an emphasis on cultural and historical sites/sights. I also occasionally write about life as an expatriate. I hope you enjoy what I post here; feel free to leave comments!  Read more…
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Oh wow! These look fabulous and yes, they look like the sort of place that deserves a week of wandering. Maybe I can meet you there some day!

Stunning, Girona looks stunning. I love Spain and need to visit more often…I particularly like the less touristy sides.
Thanks for introducing us to this gem.

So cool to hear that you returned to visit Baix Empordà after first being introduced during a FAM.So often I think “I must come back” when I’m on a press trip and then rarely do. Those stone villages would be hard to resist though!

I love how these medieval towns are so well loved and used, this one doesn’t seem to be crowded and as tourist focused compared to the other white villages in Costa Del Sol area. I would definitely like to visit this some day

I’ve never before heard of the Baix Empordà villages. They certainly are lovely and worth a visit.

My kind of place and I am with you – could have done far more than seven! Don’t give up the daydream. . . (sometimes they can be caught!!)

What marvelous villages -inspiration for a future wander in Catalonia – thanks!

We did one of those white stone villages in Andalucia, too. Like you, we enjoyed it so much!

Thx so much for introducing me to this part of Spain, Rachel. I would love to explore these medieval villages. What a way to be transposed back in time!

Yes, I’ve been to Girona and the Dali Museum and no, I’ve never been to the stone villages. How beautiful! Yes…I need to return!

Rachel, I am with you in your desire to stay longer in one of these places and relax into the life there. I would much prefer that to seeing a lot of them in a short period of time. They look delightful.

You are giving me more reasons to return to the area. Not sure if you know but I do not click with Barcelona. However, I believe I would enjoy other areas in Catalonia. Medieval villages are definitely my thing!

Beautiful! I just love these old stone villages. One of the reasons we prefer to travel by car is so we can explore these types of places.