About Salou Beach
Salou is the most popular and built-up resort on the Costa Dorada. The resort’s main attraction is its long golden beach, plus guaranteed fun whatever the weather at nearby Port Aventura, one of the biggest theme parks in Europe (closed in winter). Salou merges with neighbouring La Pineda to the east (a headland divides their beaches), with their respective centres some 4km (2.5 miles) apart.
The broad, long golden sandy beach of Playa Levante is divided from the town by a wide palm-lined promenade. It stretches for around 1.2km (0.75 miles) and is lively and commercialised with most watersports on offer. Just east of Playa Levante is the picturesque beach of Playa de Capellans. Backed by tall cliffs and pine trees it is an ideal spot out of season. To the west, Playa Poniente is flat, but also partly backed by pines. This is much quieter than Playa Levante and joins with Cambrils.
Beyond the beach:
The ferris wheel of the Salou funfair, just off the beach, has become almost as much a symbol of the town as its famous illuminated ‘dancing’ fountains on the promenade. Just past the west end of the beach is a rare remnant of old Salou – the Torre Vella (Calle Arquebisbe Pere de Cardona), a 16th-century watchtower, which now accommodates modern art exhibitions. The biggest draw away from the beach however is PortAventura theme park.
Many visitors rate PortAventura (Autovia Salou/Vila-seca, 2.2km/1 mile from Salou) (www.portaventura.es) as Europe’s top theme park, and you will need at least two days to see it all. It is famous for its thrill rides (‘Dragon Khan’ is a legendary white-knuckle roller coaster) and some of the evening shows are breathtakingly spectacular. However there is also plenty to do for youngsters with scaled-down versions of the big rides and lots of Universal Studios characters to meet. On a warm day bring your swimming costume as there is an excellent water park, Costa Caribe, on site (separate admission). There are cheaper, if not quite so exciting rides at the Salou funfair and kids can splash about in the Aquopolis water park at the neighbouring resort of La Pineda (Passeig Pau Casals, 65). Aquopolis is also home to a dolphin show.
Tarragona (11km/7 miles north of Salou) is an atmospheric city with a compact historic centre featuring some outstanding medieval and Roman remains. Its cathedral is one of the finest in Spain. Well-preserved Roman relics include an amphitheatre, the Roman Praetorium (traditionally the birthplace of Pontius Pilate) and, just out of town, the Pont del Diable (Devil’s Bridge) aqueduct – one of the greatest Roman structures still standing in Spain. You can walk across its 217m (712ft) span and enjoy vertiginous views into the valley below. Barcelona (110km/69 miles northeast) is around 90 minutes away by train.
Make the short journey, 6km (4 miles) west to Cambrils for the best seafood on the Costa Dorada. The Michelin-starred Can Bosch (Rambla Jaume I, 19; www.canbosch.com) serves innovative dishes in a family-friendly atmosphere. In the heart of Old Tarragona, try Merlot (Calle Cavallers, 7), where traditional Mediterranean recipes are given a creative twist. In summer you can dine in the courtyard.