Costa Brava

It’s one of the most romantic, gorgeous, unspoilt stretches of coast in Europe. Where else, less than two hours’ flight from Britain, can you drive or walk alongside rugged pink rocks with the teal-coloured Mediterranean glimmering below, framed by grand, arabesquing pines? You can, of course, on the Cote d’Azur. But essentially what you find on the Costa Brava is the same coastline, a little farther south, generally at a fraction of the price.

Gloriously wild in parts and tastefully manicured in others, the Costa has some of the finest Blue Flag beaches in Europe, broad and sandy stretches to elegant horseshoe bays and secluded smugglers’ coves.

You’ll also find wonderful, independent hotels and exceptional food. Any lingering associations there may be with egg and chips are well past their sell-by date. Yes, English menus may still be a fixture in the larger resorts on the southerly part of the coast, such as Lloret de Mar, but further north you won’t catch a glimpse of them.

In fact this stretch of the coast is a foodie’s paradise and Catalonia – where the Costa Brava lies – has one of the highest concentrations of Michelin-starred chefs in Spain, not to mention superb, locally produced wines. Little wonder that this has been the holiday spot of choice for well-heeled Barcelonesas and in-the-know French for years.

The weather is another key factor, and one of the things I most love about living here. Going for a walk along the beach on Christmas day in short sleeves without feeling chilly was a blissful revelation after British winters.

Beyond that there’s art, history and outdoor activities aplenty. This is Dalí country and three excellent museums – including the painter’s home at Cadaqués – are devoted to him. The Costa is also home to some of the most scenic and important Greco/Roman and Iberian archaeological sites in Europe.

Alternatively, if you just want to enjoy the spectacular surroundings, there are exceptional coastal walks and world-class golf courses, as well as extensive swimming, diving, snorkelling and sailing.