Lloret de Mar Off the Beach
If you arrive in Lloret de Mar – Bay Laurel of the Sea – on a weekend in the summer, it would be easy to mistakenly presume that the package-tourist party atmosphere is all there is to the town.
Tourists flock here for more than just the opportunity to wear brightly coloured beachwear and suntan (or burn depending on your SPF factor). True, the two main blue flag beaches flaunt long stretches of scrunchy sand with water sports available as expected from a seaside tourist area, but Lloret de Mar off the beach boasts gardens and shady coastal walks along the rugged coasts that give the area of Costa Brava its name. These are great places for a day hike, a packed-lunch picnic overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, or an escape at the foot of a pine tree with a good book. Walking is encouraged further inland as well, with urban routes also signposted.
One of these routes leads you past a bike park where adrenalin junkies get airborne, as well as a water canal that doubles as a graffiti art gallery.
Not far past this, 2.5 km inland from the town centre on the edge of Lloret de Mar, stands the Chapel of Les Alegries. Although only open for special occasions, it is a nice break along the hiking trail and has a toilet available on the property: a welcome sight on a long walk. This 11th century chapel was the first church in the area and was once central to the original farming settlement. Nowadays people clamour for a seaview, but a thousand years ago people had different priorities; they lived inland to avoid pirate attacks.
In 1509, construction of the Gothic styled Church of Sant Roma began near the seafront. With this strong building erected, people started to feel more protected and began moving towards the coast to take advantage of the sea. The capacity of the building is 380 people. So what’s in a number? This number represents the entire population of the area at the time and was built this size in order to provide a safe refuge for everyone during the dreaded pirate attacks.
Fishing soon became the focus of the region. The bronze statue of the fisherman’s wife (at the northern end of Lloret de Mar beach along a coastal path) remembers this fishing history by honouring the women who went to the seafront daily to watch for their husbands. Rubbing the statue while looking out to sea is supposed to make your wish come true.
Large sailing ships also left here for the Americas, with those that found their fortune returning as Americanos, or Indianos. Their homes lined the seafront until tourism took hold around 50 years ago. The Museo de Mar is located in one of these restored Indiano houses and tells the tale of Llorets’ maritime history.
Nowadays tourism is the most important industry to the town, but many of the attractions that appeal to family tourism also benefit residents. Sports such as running, football and many others are well catered for, and a brand new Olympic size swimming pool is being built. Although most popular with tourists in the warmer months, the Cataluña sunshine, sandy beaches and rocky coves are a draw that residents can enjoy year round…minus the sunburn.
Catamaran Sensation provides a BBQ and scenic coastal sail to a stunning cove and a party on the way back. And it doesn’t hurt to check – you’re crew may have a Cuban connection like the Americanos!
*If you’re vegetarian, it’s a good idea to tell them the day prior to an outing with them so that they can bring veggie burgers.
A Lloret tourism card is available from the tourist office for €10 and includes entrance to Santa Clotilde gardens and museums, plus other discounts
Julie’s waffles near the cathedral has yummy crepes and waffles. With a French background and a cafe in Los Angeles, you can’t go wrong here for meat free eats.
Do you have anything you’ve discovered in Lloret de Mar? I’d love to see your comments below.