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CostaBravaTouristGuide.com — Roses (or Rosas in Spanish) has the largest fishing fleet of the Costa Brava, but like so many other towns along Catalonia’s coast its main income nowadays is derived from tourism.
The town is particularly popular for its splendid beaches, and loved for its unique location: it is the only beach resort facing west, which means tourists and locals alike get to enjoy fantastic sunsets across the Gulf of Roses.
Except for the Casa Mallol, built in 1906 and used as the town hall, not much is left of the old village. The coastline is covered with big hotels and tall apartment buildings.
We happen to think that’s a shame, but we realize that not everyone who visits the Costa Brava does so to see quaint and semi-authentic villages.
Tell you what we did like about Roses: its beaches. We don’t think you’ll find more sand anywhere else along the Costa Brava:
The vast majority of tourists come to Roses for its wide, clean, family-friendly beaches — all of which sport a Blue Flag, the European symbol for good water quality and a range of facilities.
Mind you, if you come for the beaches you should known that during the summer months Roses’ 30.000 citizens are vastly outnumbered by large crowds of tourists.
Among them many young people who enjoy the beach by day before diving into the town’s rich offering of nightlife.
In general the beaches are large enough — 32 to 40 meters wide — that you won’t encounter any problems.
That said, those looking for a more tranquil beach experience tend to head to the smaller bays just past the harbor, away from the center of town.
Right away there is Platja Palangres, which is popular with the locals, not in the least place because it include a tree-shaded picnic area.
For a really nice experience it would be worth your while to take a taxi to either Canyelles Petites, or Canyelles Almadrava Grosses.
Canyelles Petites is 3 kilometers from the center of Roses. It sports golden sand (310 meters long, 27 meters wide) and crystal-clear water with a sandy bottom. As an extra bonus it is sheltered from the north wind.
Almadrava is about 1 kilometer further. It is a 450 meters long beach with fine sand and deep-blue water. It, too, is sheltered from the north wind.
Further up the coast there are plenty of small beaches reached, for the most part, only on foot or by boat. As is the case all along the Costa Brava, you may encounter full or partial nudity there. [See our information about Costa Brava beaches]
Right across from the center of Roses is La Punta, a typical family beach with fine sand and calm, shallow water — great for small children.
Further down are the beaches of Nova, Rastrell, and Salatar — divided from each other by small streams. Together those three beaches offer 1.800 meters of fine sand and shallow water — ideal for families.
The Santa Margarida residential neighborhood of Roses also has a great beach — 650 meters long and 40 meters wide, again with fine sand and shallow water.
But Santa Margarida also has a large marina with over 16 kilometers of navigable canals.
Many well-to-do foreigners and locals have second homes here, and there are quite a few hotels and rental apartments.
Map of Roses
View Roses, Costa Brava in a larger map
Not much is known about the history of Roses, but it is generally accepted that the place is some 3.000 years old.
Some say the village was founded in the 8th century BC by Greeks settlers from Rhodes.
Others claim Roses got its start in the 5th century BC when a number of Greeks came over from Massalia (present-day Marseilles).
The monastery of Santa Maria de Roses is mentioned for the first time in a document from the year 944 AD, and archaeologists says the mediaeval town grew around this monastery.
In other words, no one knows for sure when the village was founded.
Much later Roses housed a Roman colony, and in the 16th century Charles V had a citadel built south of the town. The walled ruins can sill be seen.
And in the Middle Ages Roses was an important military port.
Roses does offer some archaeological attractions — such as the ruins of the Trinitat castle, remains of a Visigoth campsite, and the dolmen — portal graves — of Creu d’en Corbetalla, which are part of the biggest megalithic monuments in Catalonia.
The bad news: El Bulli, which the New York Times says was considered by many to be the world’s greatest restaurants closed in July 2011, after having been in business since 1961. The restaurant held three Michelin stars since 1997 and has been rated the “world’s best restaurant” for four years running since 2005 by Restaurant Magazine.
According to the New York Times, Adrià “said he decided to close the restaurant for good because he and his partner, Juli Soler, had been losing a half million Euros a year on the restaurant and his cooking workshop in Barcelona.” That money is now spent on his new academy and to finance scholarships so the world’s most talented cooks can attend.
But there are, of course, plenty of other good restaurants in Roses. One renowned favorite is Flor de Lis, located in a restored fisherman’s house in the center of Roses.
In Roses you find a local specialty called suquet. Created by fishermen, suquet de peix initially it was a simple dish of freshly caught fish boiled with potatoes.
Over time different versions of the dish emerged, along with the sort of good natured rivalry one finds among, say, paella cooks: my suquet is better than yours!
Restaurants frequently participate in suquet cook-offs. If seafood is your thing, you’re in for a treat.
Things to do in Roses
As mentioned the beaches are the main attraction in Roses.
Watersports are very popular here as well. The Port de Roses, which bills itself as the Port of Cap de Creus — the natural park that covers almost the entire peninsula.
The marina serves 485 boats, 374 of which are permanent spots with the remaining berths reserved for visiting boats.
Many visitors enjoy walking in the quiet mountain landscape of Cap de Creus. The local tourist office has brochures with different routes, along with information about precautions you should take if you venture into the mountain area.
How to get to Roses
Roses is situated at the coast of the Costa Brava, some 20 kilometers east of Figueres, 53 kilometers north-east of Girona, and 160 kilometers north of Barcelona.
Most tourists visiting Roses arrive by plane via the airport at Girona (Girona-Costa Brava Airport), which is serviced by many low-cost airlines, such as Transavia and Ryanair.
There are direct buslines from the airport to the main bus station in Roses. The bus ride takes 1½ hours. See Sagelés for information.
Barcelona’s main airport, Barcelona El Prat, is 160 kilometers from Roses.
Take a RENFE train to Plaza de Catalunya, or Sants, in Barcelona (30 minutes). From there you take a train to Figueres (2 hours), where you take a bus (Sarfa/Moventis) to Roses (30 minutes). That’s 3 hours travel time, not counting the time spent buying tickets and waiting for connections.
Instead of the train you can also take a bus to Figueres. See Alsa
If money is no option you could always take a taxi. A trip to or from Barcelona Airport will set you back about € 250.00.
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