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Figueres, Cadaques, or...?

I have incredible appreciation for art so am planning on 2 nights north of Barcelona to experience both the Dali museum as well as Casa-Museu Dali, and others. Should I stay both nights in Figueres or split them, or another location entirely? I will be relying on public transportation, will not be renting a car.
I appreciate any advice.

Posted by
17881 posts

You didn't mention Girona, which I used as a base for visiting Cadaques a few years ago. Girona has a very large medieval district and a nice art museum of manageable size. There are more sightseeing possibilities in Girona than in either of the smaller towns.

One can take the train from Barcelona or Girona to Figueres. To reach Cadaques, a bus is required since that little town has no rail service. I think just taking the bus from Girona would be easiest. I assume you can take the train from Girona (or Barcelona) to Figueres and get a bus from there, but you need to be careful about changing modes of transportation in Figueres, because it has two train stations quite a walk apart. There's bus service between the two (by way of the center of town), but if your inbound train to the AVE (fast-train) station is significantly late, the bus will have departed before you arrive. In Girona, the bus departs from right outside the (sole) train station.

The Dali Museum is great and will take several hours to see if you're serious about it. You should book your ticket in advance to be sure you don't have to hang around to wait for an empty slot. The museum does get hit by the occasional bus tour, which can cause some crowding that necessitates deviating from the obvious path through the building. I also loved the nearby jewelry collection, which is covered by the same ticket. I was told one can go to the jewelry museum before the time listed on the museum ticket, but I didn't do that myself, and I guess rules could change in the post-COVID-19 era. That museum aside, I didn't find all that much to do in Figueres, and I did walk around a good bit in the town center. It's OK but not one of Spain's most attractive spots.

I haven't been to the Dali house outside Cadaques; it's a 20+ minute walk direct from the bus station, according to Google Maps; be sure to allow time for that part of the journey when choosing your entry time at the Casa-Museu. Cadaques is a beautiful white cubic village that's fun to wander around. It has some craft shops, and there's bougainvillea dripping everywhere.

I believe you'll get a nicer hotel room for the price in Figueres, but to me it's by far the least attractive of the three towns. Incidentally, I wasn't impressed at all by the meal I had at the restaurant in the Hotel Duran. It presents itself as a place with aspirations (I hesitate to use the word "gourmet" because it's not a really expensive spot), but there were several issues with my meal. It's not where I'd want to try a semi-splurge. However, I ate there only once and could have been unlucky. Or maybe they saw the solo foreign woman and just didn't care. It was "off" enough that I actually mentioned my disappointment before leaving, which I don't think I've ever done previously in my entire 69-year life.

Also in Figueres, I ate once or twice at the Cafeteria Astoria, which is a very casual sit-down place (not a US-style cafeteria) that seemed to be open longer hours than other restaurants. The typical meal hours in Spain are very late, so it was handy to have a place a hungry tourist could eat at off times. I think I had roast chicken. Not fancy or special, but convenient and not overpriced. This is visible from the intersection of La Rambla and Pujada del Castell and is a short walk from the Dali Museum or one of the stops for the bus from the AVE station. It's also near the Hotel Duran.

I wouldn't ordinarily opt to split two nights between towns as close together as Figueres and Cadaques. However, I'd want to have enough time in Cadaques to enjoy the town itself as well as the Dali house, so it's perhaps not a crazy idea if you'd otherwise be tempted to cram both Dali sights and the town of Cadaques into a single, long sightseeing day. But do check on the location of your potential lodgings vis-a-vis the bus/train station where you plan to arrive.

Posted by
82 posts

We visited this area of Spain in April 2019. We spent 2 nights in Cadaques and absolutely loved it. I could see how the town would change in high season though. At night, I thought it was magical, therefore I would recommend staying a night. Dali's house in Portlligat was great. Quirky. It can be reached on foot from Cadaques. On our way to Carcassonne (we had a car) we stopped in Figueres to check out the Dali Museum. It too, was fun. We enjoyed the city, but did not stay there. I would definitely stay the night in Cadaques to soak in the atmosphere and not have to rush as much. One of my favorite European dining experiences from many trips to Europe was had in Cadaques at Casa Anita. It's a small family owned restaurant serving great seafood. The owner spends time with you going over his menu and makes sure you enjoy his small place. All four of us loved it. We were in Europe 12 days, staying in Cadaques, Carcassonne, Girona, and Barcelona. Every place was nice. We visited Figueres. I wish we had stayed a night in Figueres, but not at the expense of a night in one of the other places. Do yourself a favor stay at least a night in Cadaques.

Posted by
183 posts

I don't know how much time you have, nor the time of year- but will offer another suggestion as a Dali lover and art in general. It's been nearly 10 years but I stayed in Collioure (it was mid summer) and used the train to take a day trip south to the Dali museum. It was about a half hour walk (?). But I didn't go to his house. So in your case, you could do this in reverse with Collioure (if you are a Matisse and Derain admirer and the Fauves) after your time in Spain. There isn't a museum but rather, as in Arles, plaques that show where the artists painted the scene at which you, too, are looking. Were I doing this trip now I would have stayed also in Perpignan, which had an impact on Dali- also doable with the train/bus as a major transfer point.

Posted by
1996 posts

Figueres is a workaday town whose main draw is the Dali museum, and little else. I would stay in Cadaqués and visit the Dali museum on the way north on the first day. Alternatively I like Acraven's idea of using Girona as a base to visit both Figueres and Cadaqués.

For me it's also dependent on when you go, as the weather during the Autumn/Winter months on the Costa Brava is quite miserable and cold, last time I was in Cadaqués was in November a year or two ago and we had snow flurries! It boils down to this for me:

Spring/Summer = Cadaqués
Autumn/Winter = Girona

Posted by
11905 posts

We have been to both the Dali museum in Figueres and the Dali House in Cadaqués, and enjoyed both very much. I am going to join with those who suggest that you spend your 2 overnights in Cadaqués, assuming that your visit is in spring or summer. The village is lovely and so is the Costa Brava. Good hotels and restaurants offer a warm welcome. I think we may have had dinner at Casa Anita as mentioned above, and it was outstanding. If not there it was an equally good restaurant.

We went as part of an REI Adventures hiking trip to the Pyrenees and Costa Brava, so transport and hotels were provided, along with the guided hikes and other activities (like the museum visits). We stopped in Figueres on for several hours on the way between our base in the Pyrenees and Cadaques, and had a guided introduction to the Dali museum, followed by another hour to explore at will.

Our visit to the Dali House was part of a lovely day of hiking from a point outside the town, along the coast and back to our hotel. We had a yummy seafood lunch at a beachside cafe near the Dali House, then were given our timed entry tickets for our visit. The house is fascinating and the grounds are lovely. We enjoyed it even more than the Dali Museum.

Posted by
3489 posts

Another vote for spending some time in Girona, with its good transport connections, atmospheric streetscapes, and ambitious restaurants (or so they were before the pandemic). And it is a centre for Catalonian nationalism.

Posted by
4521 posts

Another vote for staying at least one night in Cadaques if possible. Not only is the town lovely, but it helps planning and logistically since you are traveling there by bus and the Dali house is a bit of a walk from the station.

I would also suggest Girona as an overnight rather than Figueres.

Posted by
5 posts

Thank you so much for the replies and responses.
I have cancelled the two nights at Figueres and have booked the two at Cadaques. Although both Collioure as well as Girona sound amazing for only two nights, with two destinations which will take hours each, I feel being on the coast and closer to one of the two will be less hurried. I will keep both recommendations in thought though for a latter trip.

Posted by
2 posts

Hi,
One of the best experiences of my life (seriously) was staying in Cadaques at the hotel Arels. It is not that easy to find online, they're not on Booking.com etc., but believe me you will not find a better place there. The hosts are wonderful. The scenery is amazing and the food there (for breakfast) is incredible. It is truly an amazing place.
We went to Figueres for one night and went to the 11pm opening for the Dali museum, very cool to be there at night. In the morning we took a bus (although car rental may be better) to Cadaques. The Hotel Arels will pick you up at the station. They also drove us to the Dali house museum because I didn't plan enough time to get there and the museum is very strict about being there on time.
I seriously think about wanting to go back to the Hotel Arels all the time.
Hope you go there!
Irene