Tourism Capital of the Costa del Maresme

Be very careful how you refer to the Maresme coastal resort of Calella because it can get you into big trouble with the locals.

In order not to confuse it with Calella de Palafrugell in Girona Province, some tour operators refer to the town as Calella de la Costa, which makes the inhabitants very angry.

Calella is just one word - Calella! - and if some poor tourist ends up in Calella de Palafrugell by mistake, thet's their problem.

Located 50 km north of Barcelona and about the same distance south of Girona, with nearly 3 km of golden sandy beaches, the town has been a major tourist destination since the 1970s and is the main beach resort on the Costa del Maresme.

The resort is well-served by both Barcelona El Prat Airport and Girona Costa Brava Airport, making it a very easy destination to get to and so a popular choice for package holidays.

Although the hotels on the outskirts are a bit faceless, it's got a delightful old town with some lovely pedestrianised streets, good shopping and plenty of bars where you can sit out in the sun.

So before booking, I recommend you look at a map and make sure your hotel is as central as possible.


Fantastic Beaches

Just 30 minutes away from Barcelona, Calella boasts 3 km of beautiful golden sandy beaches.

One of the things that surprised me on my last visit - the photo above was taken on a Saturday in mid-July - was how few people there were on the beach.

It seems that Calella is a place where sunworshippers can practice their religion in its full glory.

There's not much to say about the beaches - they're long sandy and very golden with a reasonably steep but very safe gradient down into the water, just like the majority of the beaches along this section of the Catalan coast.

I was also particularly impressed by the tree-lined Passeig Manuel Puigvert, which runs between the beach and the railway line.

It's a lovely shady place where you can cool off out of the sun's rays, and there are also a few pleasant bars, where you can sit out and have something to drink or eat.

What's more, at the far end of the beaches - on the other side of Capaspre - there are also secluded rocky coves, some of which allow nudist bathing.

I also read recently that the town is a fantastic place for water sports and the local council is actively working to attract sports tourism.

Their efforts seem to be paying off as a number of national swimming teams used the resort for their training stage prior to the London Olympics.

Calella Old Town

Calella has a small but very pleasant old town in the area around the church, which is accessed along Carrer del Turisme.

The eighteenth century neo-classical Church of Santa Maria itself is nice enough.

The barroque door with the sculpted heads of the twelve apostles by Jean de Tours caught my eye, and the interior is a clean refreshing white that provides cool relief on a hot day.

On the other hand, just inside the doorway, there's an interesting little shrine to various saints, which has so many candles in such a small space that it would be a good place to keep your dinner warm.

Apparently, there's also a Museum and the Chapel of Sant Quirze and Santa Julita, the patron saints of the town.

What I particularly enjoyed, though, was the sense of space in the Church Square, which is also home to the Town Council building - the Ajuntament.

We then had a very enjoyable walk along the pedestrianised shopping street Carrer de l'Esglèsia.

The street is full of rather tacky souvenir shops for tourists, but with traditional Catalan food shops as well, so you get the idea that the town is a lively place to live in when the tourist season is over.

Carrer de l'Esglèsia runs parallel to the beach with the train line in between so as you walk along you get glimpses of the sea down the sidestreets.

Calella Festivals

The Passeig Manuel Puigvert is where the locals celebrate all their festivals of which there are many.

Definitely designed for local consumption, most of them are held in June or September, when the weather is still good but the tourists either haven't arrived in strength yet or have just left.

On the first Sunday in June, there's the Aplec de la Sardana, one of the biggest and oldest Sardana meetings in Catalonia. As the picture shows, the Sardana is the traditional Catalan circle dance and this section of El Maresme is one of the best places to come a watch it being danced.

Later in the month, you can enjoy the Festa Calella Renaixentista, which celebrates the town's Modernista past, and on June 16th the festival of the patron saints Sant Quirze and Santa Julita is a minor Festa Major.

The Festa Major de la Minerva is on September 23rd whilst the rest of the month Calella celebrates La Fira de Calella i l'Alt Maresme, which is a chance for local shops, businesses and farms to show their wares.

Perhaps due to the influence of German tourists, for the first three weeks of October, Calella celebrates its own beer-swilling Oktoberfest.

Visiting the town off season, when the weather is still very good, is a great idea and the Ajuntament or Town Council is working hard to make Calella attractive all year round.

Ajuntament de Calella

If you understand some Catalan, you can find up to date news about Calella on the Ajuntament de Calella Website.

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