The attractive small Mediterranean beachside town of Calella is located almost on the borders of the world city of Barcelona, a short 30 minute drive away. Once a fishing village on the Costa Maresme, a little-known coastline just to the north of the Costa Brava, the town is one of the longest-established holiday destinations in the region. Popular for long years with Barcelona residents on a day out or a longer stay, it’s now reaching out to European visitors as a great base for a self-drive tour around Catalonia and Barcelona itself.
Calella is also known within the region for its nudist beach, set at the end of the three kilometre stretch of golden sands gently sloping to the ocean. The beach here is pristine and has been awarded Blue Flag status for its clean waters and wide stands, giving safe swimming conditions for families with small children. Various activities take place along the sands, including beach volleyball, professionally led aerobics sessions and kayaking in the warm waters. The beach is lined with local bars and small restaurants, great for a tasty lunch or an evening admiring the sunset.
Set on a shallow strip of land dividing the ocean from the foothills and mountains of the Montnegre-Corridor National Park, the quaint town boasts a carefully cared-for Old Quarter with a typical Catalonian twist to its architecture which is also visible in much of the newer part of town. History buffs will enjoy wandering around the old cobbled lanes and discovering heritage buildings such as the town’s church of Santa Maria at the centre of the old district. The picturesque neo-classical church is known for its 12 historic stone carvings of the heads of the Apostles, crafted by sculptor Jean de Tour, and the square fronting the church plays host to several of the town’s many festivals and events.
Other notable heritage buildings here include the 16th century House of Sivilla and the 14th century Salvador House, built in Gothic style with fine window and door surrounds. Close by are the two charming chapels of the local saints Quirico and Julita, whose annual festival is another much loved occasion for local people and visitors. The town’s lighthouse, set on a headland, is a mid-19th century construction, invaluable to the then fishing village. Unique attractions her are the ‘Boards of Calella’ tall, rectangular towers part of a network of similar buildings used for long-distance communication by means of optical telegraphy using lights, signs and flags. Constructed in 1850, their use was discontinued after the invention of electric telegraphy.
Calella’s pretty park is perfect for a relaxing stroll and is set not far from Calella city centre hotels, with its rose gardens, trees and flowering bushes and shrubs are a good background for an impromptu picnic. The 19th century promenade fronting the Old Quarter is another place for a gentle stroll, especially in the evening, and the New Promenade runs along the beachside in front of the town’s group of high rise beachfront hotels and its newer districts.
A much-appreciated feature here is the number of fun and traditional festivals taking place at all times of the year and including eating and drinking on a grand scale as well as fireworks, dance and music. The annual favourite is Carnival, marked by costumed parades, street parties and traditional music and dance, with the religious celebrations for Santa Julita, San Quirico and Santa Maira taking place on the saints’ days and involving street parades of religious images and more traditional entertainments. Other enjoyable events include the Festival of Minerva, the noisy International Band Festival, the Catalonian Festival of Roses, two traditional dance festivals on the old and new promenades and the much enjoyed ‘Oktoberfest’ Beer Festival.
Lek Boonlert is an editor and content reviewer at DirectRooms and is responsible for all Calella City Centre Hotels content.