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Lloret de Mar beaches
The biggest and most built-up resort on the Costa Brava, Lloret de Mar has been a favourite flop-and-fly destination for British holidaymakers since the 1960s. The resort sprawls some 4km (2.5 miles) around the bay and development behind is high rise and dense. The western side of the resort comprises mostly apartments and is quieter with an attractive beach.
Lloret de Mar offers a choice of five main beaches. The town beach is the biggest at 1.6km (1 mile) and offers all services and watersports. It is divided from the more attractive Platja de Fenals beach by a green headland. This too offers all services. Sa Boadella beach, 2.5km (1.5 miles) west of town is a lovely undeveloped cove. All these beaches are a mix of sand and shingle. Further west is the beautiful sandy beach of Santa Cristina, with most services but no watersports. East of Lloret de Mar are a number of small cove beaches. Canyelles beach, 3km (2 miles) east is a stretch of shingle with watersports. All beaches, with the exception of the town beach are backed by pines.
The biggest attraction is Water World (Carretera Vidreres) (www.waterworld.es). This is the largest water park on the Costa Brava with many white-knuckle rides and even features a bungee jump. Adjacent Karting Formula (Carretera Vidreres) is a go-kart track. In the centre of town, Skyrider (Calle Josep de Togores) is a giant catapult which shoots riders some 70m (230ft) into the air, producing over 4Gs of pressure. By contrast visitors seeking peace and quiet will enjoy the romantic Santa Clotilde Gardens (Paratge de Santa Clotilde) with their formal hedges and borders and statuary. Set in a natural amphitheatre some 50m (164ft) above sea level, they enjoy splendid views over the bay. The recently opened Museu del Mar (Maritime Museum) is worth a visit.
Water World is the best family day in the resort, with lots of rides and areas which are suitable for little ones. Marineland is another exciting day out with complimentary buses running from Lloret de Mar.
The prettiest resort on the Costa Brava is Tossa de Mar, 8km (5 miles) west. Explore its Vila Vella (Old Town) and ramparts with its magnificent views. There are more wonderful sea views, and flora, to be enjoyed at the Mar i Murtra botanic gardens at Blanes, 8km (5 miles) east. Just inland from Blanes, Marineland (Carretera Malgrat a Palafolls) (www.marineland.es) is a large water park, marine zoo and dolphinarium. Barcelona, famous for Las Ramblas, its Gothic Quarter and Cathedral and Gaudí's extraordinary architectural achievements lies 77km (47 miles) northeast. Less well known but well worth a visit is Gerona, 40km (24 miles) north. In character and architecture it is a mini-Barcelona, but without the crowds.
Two of the best gourmet restaurants in town are the Hispano Suiza at the Casino de Lloret (Calle dels Esports, 1) and the main dining room at the 5-star Hotel Santa Marta (Platja Santa Cristina) (www.hstamarta.com ). Or spoil yourself at the spa of the 5-star Rigat Park & Spa Hotel (Avenida América 1, Playa de Fenals) (www.rigat.com).