L'Escala is a town in Alt Empordà on the Costa Brava, very close to Girona (43 km) and Figueres (26 km).
At the moment it is very visited by tourists, who come to enjoy its beaches and landscape.
This is a fishing village, well known for its anchovy canning industry, with several companies in the population. This activity has been developed here for more than 200 years.
The town has an important presence in literature: Caterina Albert, known as Víctor Catalá, whose most important work was Solitut (Lonelyness), was born and died
in L'Escala; Josep Pla, who talks about the village in several of his books; Ian Gibson, who published the letters between Lorca and Dalí, recalled their walks through Empúries Ruins; and the
more contemporary Rosa Regás, who, writing about the Gulf of Roses, talks about the beauty of the landscapes of L'Escala and Passeig d'Empúries.
Getting There & Away
To get there from Barcelona, Girona o Figueres, you have to go by road, either by private car or by buses from the SARFA company.
Figueres is the closest important city, which can easily be reached from Barcelona or France by regular or high-speed trains (AVE).
Where to Stay
It is possible to stay at a camping. There are several ones, including:
- Camping L'Escala, in the town
- Camping Cala Montgó, in
- Camping Resort Illa
Mateua, in Montgó Avenue
- Camping Maite, also in Montgó Avenue
- Camping Riells, in Can
All these campings have bungalows in good conditions
If you prefer to rent a private apartament
of one of the neighbors of the village, it can also be a not too expensive option.
There are also the so-called Port de Rei Apartments, in front of Illa Mateua and near Montgó.
If you want to stay at a hotel,
the offer is not very extensive. Among the main ones, we can talk about Ca la
Neus, on the seafront promenade in the village, Hotel Empúries, in Passeig d'Empúries, close to the archaeological site, or Can Miquel, in Cala Montgó.
Where to Eat
To eat, there are good menu deals in several restaurants in L'Escala from Monday to Friday at noon, and they are not expensive.
Apart from these, there are also some restaurants offering a good value for money in the Old Town, such Los Compadres in Bonaigua Street, very close to Port d'En Perris, to eat
sardines, grilled cuttlefish, stuffed potatoes... and its speciality, Belgian-style mussels; or Can Galán in a small alley next to the village beach.
In Port d'En Perris, you can eat delicious pastas and pizzas in La Tagliatella and, directly opposite, in Pizzería Dolce Vita.
If you are looking for good seafood rice dishes or fisherman's "suquets", you have to go to L'Escalenc in C/ del Mar next to the seafront promenade,
El Golf de Isabel that is in an alley next to the beach of the village, and Roser (the first one is in C/ de la Església and the second, more expensive, in the seafront promenade).
As it is a beach area, the sports that are practiced are those related to the sea. We can highlighting the scuba diving, which is practiced basically in
Port de Rei, where there are several diving centers. In the beaches of Empúries you can practice Surf and Kyte Surf.
What to See & Do
- Old Town
If we walk around the Old Town or "fishermen's quarter" we'll find Saint Peter's Church,
in a popular Gothic style with a Renaissance facade with Baroque decoration (17th century) in honor of Saint Peter and Sainte Maxime.
It houses a beautiful image of the Virgin of Carmen, beloved by its inhabitants.
Also strolling around the narrow alleys, we can find a fishermen's house, Can Xua, in Torre Street.
We can visit the Sea Cemetery, dating back to 19th century, with a Neoclassical style, many niches and 4 pantheons. It is usually closed, although the
Anchovy Museum organizes guided visits.
At the exit of the village, heading north, there is the Museu de
l'Anxova i de la Sal (Anchovy and Salt Museum), located in the old slaughterhouse,
from the beginings of the 20th century, next to the old laundry areas. It holds and exposition about fishing activity from the 16th century to
the present, and also about the canning industry, as both activities have been the driving force of the economy of the town for many years.
If you walk along the coast, at the northern part you will first encounter a small rocky cove, where some mooring of fishermen's boats and also some barracks remain.
Continuing heading south, you'll get to Mar d'en Manassa, a lookout
with beautiful views over the bay. Close to the village beach, which was the fishermen's harbour until the beginning of the 60's,
Riba Vella still preserves some "norais", which are stone pillars that serves as boat mooring. The ships loaded with salt reached this peer.
Salt was an essential element for the canning industry. To make it reach inner towns, it was first stored at "Alfolí
de la Sal", a warehouse. At "La Punta", next to the parking, there is a sculpture of an anchor, dedicated to the people of the sea.
Following the walkaway in the same direction, we find another bronze sculpture, dedicated to the fisherman's wife, representing a woman hugging her
children and looking towards the sea, waiting for the arrival of her husband while the wind moves her hair.
After a few meters, we reach "Port d'en Perris", a tiny peer which worked years ago for the "llaguts", a kind of sailing boats for fishing.
Following the coast, you can take the seafront promenade which takes you to Riells and its beaches.
Halfway there is the Friar's Rock, which was pulled out of the water and left on the seafront promenade.
Riells is a large beach area with shallow waters. Walking around we can find some references
to the novella The Little Prince, by Saint-Exupery, including its sculpture on a wall, a bronze sculpture of the fox on the stairs of Plaça de l'Univers (Universe Square),
volcanic rocks reprenting the asteroid B612, a baobab at the end of the promenade, a rose on the floor, etc.
A little further there is the current harbour of La Clota, with a sector for leisure boats and another one for the fishermen.
On the southern part of L'Escala, we can visit Montgó Cove, which is protected from the winds,
especially from Tramuntana, by Punta Montgó and Punta dels Milans. It is a beautiful sandy beach.
- Northern Part
Close to the Anchovy and Salt Museum but at the other side of the road, Empúries promenade starts.
Empúries Promenade. Nice 2.5 km walk from l'Escala to Sant Martí d'Empúries, built for the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games.
The promenade runs along the beaches of el Rec, el Portitxol, les Muscleres, and Moll Grec (Greek Pier). The boat with the flame for the Olympics arrived here in 1992,
and then travelled around Catalonia until the opening ceremony, when it was thrown with an arrow to the cauldron, to shine there until the end of the competition.
The right side of the promenade is delimited by sand dunes, with some autoctone plants. On the left, about halfway, there are the famous Empúries Ruins.
At the end of the walk, we arrive at Sant Martí d'Empúries.
Sant Martí d'Empúries is a small medieval village, which today is considered a neighbourhood belonging to l'Escala.
It has been inhabited since the 9th century. In the 12th century, it started a commercial relationship with the Genicians, Punics and Phocaea, which made Empúries
to become one of the most important settlements in the Mediterranean region.
The medieval remnants that we can observe today are the wall around the village, which was built over the Greek wall,
and the church, from the 16th century, which was also built over another Pre-Romanesque one, from the 10th century.
All the houses are medieval, and form a beautiful ensemble. However, there is a house which contrasts with the others, the so-called
Casa Forestal, in Modernist style, which is used for cultural events.
Empúries Ruins. It is a world-renowned archaeological site. Founded over Sant Martí
d'Empúries by Greek merchants from Phocaea, it was subsequently expanded until the city that we can visit today. Its original name was
Emporion. After the Second Punic War, the Romans occuped the city, and they began the romanisation of the Iberian Peninsula.
The first excavations date back to 1.908. Since then, there have been continuous discoveries and recovery, and today
we can visit the Roman city in the upper part, and the Greek city in the lower part, close to the sea. We strongly recommend this visit.
The audioguide is also useful, because it explains the characteristics of both cities and the lifestyles of their inhabitants.
The official website is
Cinc Claus. From Sant Martí d'Empúries, following the road that goes to the campsites,
there is a path on the right that, after 2
km, leads to this group of stone houses that also belongs to l'Escala. It is also possible to go there
by a paved road, taking it at a junction on the road which goes from the highway to l'Escala. It is a very interesting ensemble, containing
a small Romanesque chapel devoted to St. Reparata, which only opens in special occasions.
- Southern Part
Camí de Ronda. Although Camí de Ronda runs all along the coastline and crosses the town, the part that starts at the harbour (La Clota)
and goes to Cala Montgó is really interesting and offers wonderful views.
You can start at la Clota and head towards the south. The path is signposted.
Before it was a military zone, which currently belongs to the town, but has not been urbanized.
You will cross different spots and find bunkers along the way, until you arrive to Punta
Montgó, where there is a defensive tower. There are also underground tunnels that are communicated to each other, arriving almost to the sea.
The path goes up sharply until Punta Montgó. Before arriving, you will pass through Mateua Island, a big rock close to the coast.
From Punta Montgó, the Camí de Ronda goes down turning around and passing through Cala Montgó, a nice cove which is protected from Tramuntana wind.
- Other trekkings
Camí dels Termes. From Cala Montgó to Cortal Nou (1
hour 45 minutes). You can start at Cala Montgó and follow the green and white indications until a house called Masia del Cortal Nou.
To go back to the starting point, you have to make the way backwards.
This promenade goes inside the town, following a path delimited by stone walls which are typical from the traditional regional architecture.
Vilanera/Camp dels Pilans Trail(1 hour 30
minutes). Loop trail starting at Camp dels Pilans, next to the Community Center, and going to Mas Vilanera, a fortified country house from the 18th century, which was built
over the ruins of an old Benedictine Monastery. This trail crosses a Pine woods, passing the so-called "Pi Gros" (Big Pine), which is more than 300 years-old.
Trail from Les Corts to Empúries (3 hours). This loop trail starts at the parking of the Restaurant Molí de l'Escala. It goes inland and then to Sant Martí d'Empúries.
Instead of going up to the village, the trail keeps going along the coastline through Empúries Promenade. At the end, it goes inland again until the starting point.
Massos Trail (3 hours 30 minutes). This loop trail starts at the parking in Massos dels Recs. It heads to Torroella Road,
crosses it and follows the way on the south of the Karting circuit. After that, it goes inland and passes through different Massos, which are defensive
towers where the peasants took shelter during pirate attacks.
Volta al terme municipal de l'Escala (Trail around l'Escala) (6 hours).
Starting at Cala Montgó, it runs along the full perimeter of l'Escala,
except for that of Cinc Claus, running through the coastline and coming back inland. It is the composition of the previous trails.
- Bike Trail
As it is such a flat region, there are different trails to do by bike, with a low level of difficulty.
We suggest a trail that starts in l'Escala, follows the Empúries promenade
until Sant Martí d'Empúries and then takes the road to the camping sites. Before the bridge, you can take a path on the left that leads to
Cinc Claus, and afterward continue to l'Armentera. We cross this village and follow the Fluvià river bank until Arbre Sec. Here, the trail crosses
the road that goes from l'Armentera to Ventalló and, across different paths, it reaches Viladamat, where we go through Les Corts and la Closa del Llop to go back to l'Escala.
Documents from the Tourist Office from l'Escala have been used as references for this post.