True or false: the best part of travelling is uncovering the history of the places you visit. If you answered true, then you’re in luck – I’ve got a sunny Spanish destination that will soon be calling your name. Whether you’re travelling by yourself, with your family or with friends, Tossa de Mar is a wonderful destination for history lovers.
Located on the Costa Brava, this medieval town offers all things ancient and will have you spiralling back in time. Its walkable stone walls, towering watchtowers, luminous lighthouses and once-vivacious villas are only the beginning of what it has to offer. The past is waiting – why not use this helpful list to plan a future trip to Tossa de Mar?
Vila Vela is one of Tossa de Mar’s top attractions. Known as the ‘Old Town’, it is the only fortified medieval town that has remained completely intact over the years. It was originally built to protect its inhabitants from North African pirates and, to this day, it still casts its watchful eye out over the sea.
It’s enough to make you want to go back in time – and once you step though the arched gateway entrance into this ancient city, you do. You will be greeted by breathtaking views, gorgeous stone houses and local restaurants, and can choose to spend your time wandering around the town and exploring the secretive, labyrinthine cobblestone alleyways and streets.
For those looking to suck every last ounce of history-seeped marrow out of this city, I recommend taking a trip to Eglesia Vella de Sant Vicenç (a fifteenth-century Gothic church that is now just ruins) or Museu de La Vila Vella (a museum that features everything from finds from the Roman periods to contemporary art). For old cinema lovers, there is also a life-size bronze statue of American actress, Ava Gardner, the star of a movie filmed in Tossa de Mar.
Far de Tossa is a lighthouse located at the highest point of the city. It was built in 1917, and currently contains a small museum where you can learn about the fascinating evolution and history of lighthouses, all while taking in gorgeous scenery.
No trip to Vila Vela is complete without a walk along the city walls. Built sometime between the twelfth and thirteenth century, they comprise four large towers (the main one, La Torre d’en Jonas, gazes out over the bay) and three small watchtowers.
Insider Tip: For the best views, make sure you go once the sun has begun to set so you can experience an almost unreal sunset over the beautiful Mediterranean coast.
Can Magí Tower
During the sixteenth-century, bands of marauding North African pirates were a very real threat. People built watchtowers for protection, and, if any danger was seen, the information would be communicated from tower to tower with the use of signal fires.
Can Magí was one of these towers. It was built from stone in the sixteenth century and is three stories high. Just a short walk from Vila Vela, it’s a lovely, historical site that I highly recommend to everyone apart from modern-day Moorish pirates looking to pillage Tossa de Mar.
Els Ametllers Roman Villa
For one of the most important of the ancient Roman villas in the area, head to Els Ametllers. Its original owners were well-off, which we can tell from the remains on the property – they had a fruit press and a spa, and collected mosaics and sculptures. However, you don’t have to be wealthy to visit – there’s no entry fee.
With both rural and rustic parts to it, it gives an excellent representation of what farming and fishing would have looked like in Roman Spain, as well as what types of fish tackle and agricultural and loom tools were used. Visit Els Ametllers for a living museum as well as a history lesson.
How to Get to Tossa de Mar
Flights from London to Barcelona Airport are only two hours long – take advantage of the short travel time and plan an action-packed holiday to Tossa de Mar. Consider pre-booking a transfer from the airport via Shuttle Direct. I always do – I’m exceptionally bad with directions, so their services always give me peace of mind and save me from wandering around in circles in a foreign country.
Insider Tip: Shuttle Direct drivers are often friendly locals who speak your language and are more than happy to give you inside information you won’t find in a guide book. Consider striking up a chat – who knows what knowledge you might walk away with!
Where to Stay
Hotel Diana is the ideal base for those touring Tossa de Mar. Not only can you very easily get to the best sites the town has to offer (the hotel itself is nestled in the Old Town centre near the castle), but staying here will have you literally living with history. The building is over 100 years old, family-run and has an interesting and rich past you’ll love discovering.
To add to its appeal, it offers lovely sea views from its terrace. If that makes you crave a wander down to the water, it’s got direct beach access and only takes three minutes to get there.
For those who want to stay somewhere with character, a modernist boutique style and all the creature comforts you could ever want from your accommodation, Hotel Diana is a fabulous base.
About Shuttle Direct
For fast, professional airport transfers, book with Shuttle Direct. We have services all over Europe and North Africa, and offer both private and shared vehicles. Let us get you to your holiday destination – we’ll take care of the travel so you can take care to have the best time possible.