Tossa de Mar is located on the Girona coast, halfway between the Barcelona and the French border. It is believed that the first settlers came during the Neolithic period. The Iberians arrived sometime between the 4th and 1rst century BC, after which the Romans arrived. Medieval Tossa dates back to the year 996, and much of the architecture from this time still exists today. In the 1930´s, just before the civil war, it was a popular destination for writers and artists. Today the amazing architecture and beautiful beaches attract many visitors, especially in summer.
The Vila Vella, the old town, is where you will find the medieval architecture of Tossa de Mar. Not only that, this part of town is 70 meters above sea level and offers wonderful views of the coast. It has a medieval castle which was built in 1187 to defend the town against invaders that could come in from the sea. The castle was later turned into a windmill, and even later became a lighthouse, which is still operational.
Between the 12th and 14th centuries the walled area was built in order to defend the town against pirate attacks. The wall has seven defense towers and almost the entire perimeter of the wall has been preserved, making Tossa de Mar the only example of a fortified medieval town on the Catalan coast.
El Museu Municipal de Tossa de Mar, the municipal museum, is located within the walls in the 14th century Casa del Governador. The museum was inaugurated in 1935 and includes the Torre de Codolar, the first modern art museum in Barcelona. The museum also includes a variety of exhibits documenting the history of Tossa, and an exhibition of artists who spent time in Tossa in the 1930´s, such as Marc Chagall, whose famous painting El Violinista Celeste is on display.
Tossa de Mar has a coastline of 13 kilometers and the water is wonderfully clear, making it a popular destination for beach-lovers. Platja Gran is the main beach, and is located in front of the downtown area. It has a large beach with plenty of sand and there are many services such as toilets, showers, Red Cross stations, and a variety of bars and restaurants.
This beach has consistently earned the European Blue Flag for cleanliness. It also offers plenty of water sports. There is a nautical club and a beaching area for boats and visitors can take a boat ride along the coast to one of the nearby towns. There are also pedal boats and kayaks available for hire, as well as water skiing and parasailing opportunities.
Another popular beach is Ma Menuda (also known as Sa Palma). It also has many services and activities, including a scuba diving school which offers courses for both beginner and more advanced divers. Tossa de Mar is a very popular area for divers and local diving clubs organize day and night excursions to various sites along the coast. And if diving seems a bit too adventurous you can also experience the sea-life by going snorkeling or taking a trip in a glass-bottomed boat.
Tossa de Mar has 16 beaches and coves in total. Many of them have different services and offer water sports, but others have no facilities at all. Those without facilities tend to be the least crowded and there are lots of coastal paths which make them easy to reach, so they are definitely worth checking out. The paths are also great for those who enjoy taking nature walks, and Tossa de Mar has a strict “no high-rise” policy which guarantees your views won´t be interrupted by unsightly hotels.
Tossa de Mar is unique in that it managed to escape over-commercialization during the tourist boom and still retains a small town bohemian fee. It also tends to attract couples, families, and older travelers which means it´s significantly more mellow than some of the other towns on the coast, especially during high-season, because people who visit come to relax rather than to party. Both the old town and the new town are quite charming, and there are plenty of bars and restaurants as well as boutiques if you fancy doing some shopping. Its popularity means it attracts a lot of tourists during June, July and August, so if you want to avoid them the best time to visit in late spring or very early autumn.
If you are using public transport then the easiest way to arrive is by bus because there are no direct trains. The SARFA (www.sarfa.com) coach company offers a service that goes directly there from Barcelona´s Estació del Nord bus station. The trip takes 1 hour and 20 minutes. Tossa de Mar is also a great place to stop and spend the day if you´ve rented a car and are driving up the coast to France.
For more information on Tossa de Mar visit http://www.tossademar.com/