On the Costa Brava you can follow in the footsteps of Salvador Dalí, learn about his life and visit the places that meant the most to the eccentric artist. Discover his art, his home and the places that inspired him.
The easiest way to discover the Dalí Route is by car, but you can also get around by bus and on foot or by bike. The first stop on the route is the small, authentic fishing village of Cadaquès, which with its white houses encircles a bay in the Mediterranean. It’s about an hour’s drive from Girona and a couple of hours by bus or car from Barcelona.
You’ll need a couple of days to complete the Dalí Route, and Cadaqués is a good place to stay, with plenty of hotels. Stay, for example, at the Hotel Playa Sol, with postcard views of the bay, or the Hotel Resedencia, decorated in a Dalí theme with original works.
Salvador Dalí lived in Cadaqués from the time he was a child, where his father had a mansion in the town. As an adult, he built a house in the area, and the town became the place where he was inspired and dared to be himself. Here he met his circle of intellectual and artistic friends, including. André Breton, Luis Buñuel, Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró and Garcia Lorca, who was his soul mate. It was also in Cadaqués that Dalí and his wife Gala fell in love while she was still married to the poet Paul Eluard. Today, the city still attracts many aspiring young artists and art lovers who, like Dalí, are fascinated by the city’s light and colour.
Start by walking down to Plaça Passeig, which is on the seafront. In this large square, right in the city centre, stands a bronze sculpture of Dalí. It’s also where people gather in the many bars and restaurants around. Sit back and enjoy a glass of chilled wine and a tapa at Bar Nit, where you’ll get the best views of the Old Town and the sea.
Local charm and plenty of art
Along the seafront, the scent of the sea mingles with the sounds of locals lively exchanging the day’s events. Tourists enjoy beach life or explore the many small galleries and craft shops.
Walk up the crooked, narrow streets of the old town. Come siesta time and you’ll find just a few lazy cats licking the sun on a flight of stairs and muffled sounds seeping through the shutters of the houses where lunch is eaten and relaxation is enjoyed under the shade of the sun.
The small late Gothic church, built by local fishermen, sits atop the old town. The church has a beautiful gold-plated altarpiece. In front of the church there is a fantastic view over the sea and the roofs of the city.
Visit the Museu De Arte De Cadaqués, dedicated to Dalí, which exhibits his works and biography. The museum also has regular exhibitions by other artists linked to the city, including. Picasso.
When you get hungry, there are plenty of cafés and restaurants along the seafront promenade, offering great sea-view dining options. Try the seafood dishes, which are one of the city’s specialities. Also stop by the tapas bar l’Hostal, where Dalí came. Here is original art and photos of DalÌ. You can also venture off the promenade and into the Compartier restaurant, owned by former employees of the world-famous, now closed, El Bulli. Compartier means to share in Catalan, and the food is also served in the middle of the table, so you can share it. Compartier is very popular especially for its fish dishes and desserts.
Dalí’s extravagant house in Port Llegat
A few minutes’ drive from Cadauqés is the small fishing village of Port Lligat, with Dalí’s house, which he built for himself and Gala. If you’re not in a car, you can walk, take a taxi or hire a mountain bike from Rentabit in Cadaqués.
It was at the house in Port Lligat that Dalí painted some of his most famous works, inspired by the surroundings and life with his beloved wife and muse Gala.
In the early 1930s, Dalí bought some small fishermen’s cottages and later added more, gradually transforming them into a magnificent mansion. Even from the outside, the house, which beautifully both matches and stands out from its surroundings, is an experience. Dalí’s creative inventions, such as the eggs and heads on the roof and the fountain with elephant sculptures in the garden, are typical of Dalí’s distinctive creativity. In front of the blue front door there is a wooden boat in which a tree is growing. The house now functions as a museum, so you can get in, but you need to book a ticket in advance.
Inside, you are welcomed by an enormous bear that acts as a mute. Next to it is a flowered sofa shaped like a mouth, evoking Mae West’s lips at the museum in Figureres. The house, built on different levels with many blind spots, is a true paradise of Dalí’s unique creativity and quirky logic. The house still contains the original furniture, personal objects from Dalí’s work and life, and the evidence that he staged his entire life. The unique oval room is inspired by a design Dalí made for a nightclub.
Dali’s love of stuffed animals also takes up a lot of space in the house, including the bedroom, where the red beds are flanked by stuffed lambs. The windows of the house are all in different shapes, so they best incorporate nature. You can see his studio, office, living room and garden, including a swimming pool and a bench shaped like Mae West’s lips flanked by Pirelli tyres.
Dalí worked and lived in the house with Gala for 40 years. When Gala died in 1982, Dalí immediately left the house and never returned.
Rugged nature with surrealistic rock formations
Continue from Port Lligat into the Cap de Creus nature reserve, with its rocky and almost ghostly landscape. The journey there is through a steep and winding mountain landscape. Take the car or a taxi (6 km), or walk the hiking trail from Port Lligat to there (about 10 km). You can also cycle, but you need to be in really good cycling shape and up for a challenge.
The rugged, imaginative landscape that inspired some of Dalí’s paintings is notable for the windswept cliffs and bent pines shaped by the strong northern wind, the Tramuntana. Dalí has referred to it as a place made for gods rather than men. The most famous rock formations look like animals and have been named the Camel, the Eagle and the Great Masturtbant. The latter inspired Dalí’s painting of the same name (El gran masturbador).
On the far cliff top, about 5 km from Port Lligat, is the Far de Cap de Creus lighthouse, at Spain’s easternmost point. Here you really feel like you’ve reached the end of the world, for all you can hear is the roar of the sea and the cry of the seagulls. The wind will give you a good shake. If you go out on the cliff edge, you can look out over the Mediterranean. There are also several hiking trails. If you want to know more about the area’s flora and fauna, visit the Espai Cap de Creus centre, located in the lighthouse.
Next to the lighthouse is a disused police station, where Restaurante Cap de Creus is now located. In the building there are also apartments, which are rented to tourists. The restaurant has outdoor seating where you can enjoy a beer or coffee while taking in the spectacular scenery.
The labyrinthine Dalí Museum in Figueres
Next stop is the Teatro Museo Dalí in Figueres, less than an hour’s drive by car or bus from Cadaqués. The idea for the museum came about when the town’s then mayor asked Dalí if he would donate a work to Figueres. Dalí replied that he would donate an entire museum, and he chose to locate it in the city’s old theatre, to which he felt a special connection. Partly because it was in the museum’s foyer that he held his first exhibition, and partly because he was baptised in the church opposite the museum.
The Dalí Museum opened in 1974 and is considered the last major work by the artist. Everything is thought and designed by him. The exception is the remarkable transparent dome that crowns the building and has become the city’s landmark. It was designed by the architect Emilio Pérez Piñero, but commissioned by Dalí.
Dalí decorated the museum’s roof with 2 metre high eggs, carrying on the egg fascination from his home in Port Lligat. At the main entrance, tall female figures in gold welcome you, setting the eccentric Dalí style that the museum best represents.
The museum houses works representing Dalí’s entire artistic life. From portraits, surrealist works to works representing his interest in mysticism and science. The 1500 or so works in total include drawings, sculptures, engravings, holograms, photographs and a jewellery collection. Some of the works, including the famous “Mae West Room” and “The Raining Cadillac” were created by Dalí for the museum. The museum also houses works by other artists, including those from Dalí’s private collection.
For the last five years of his life, Dalí lived in a newer wing of the museum, which he named the Galatea Tower after his late wife. Gala also appears in many of Dalí’s paintings, several of which can be seen at the museum. One of the most famous is the portrait of Gala with 2 lamb chops balancing on her shoulder.
Dalí is buried in the crypt in the middle of the museum. The crypt was rebuilt in 1998 to include a collection of the gold jewellery designed by Dalí.
The castle of love for Gala
The last stop on the route is Castillo Gala Dalí in Púbol, also known as Gala’s Castle, which is an hour’s drive from Barcelona. During the couple’s early years in the 1930s, Dalí promised Gala that he would give her a palace. However, he did not fulfil his promise until 1969, when he bought the ruins of an old stone castle in the small village of Púbol in Girona, close to Santuari dels Angels, where the couple were married in 1958.
Dalí transformed the ruined castle from the end of the 14th century and the beginning of the 15th century into a unique pragmatic home for his beloved in the extravagant, ostentatious style that was typical of him. At the same time, it is also filled with romantic declarations of love. He created the throne room as visible proof that Gala ruled here. When Gala stayed at the castle, Dalí was only allowed to visit her if he received a written invitation.
Gala lived at the castle until she died of tuberculosis, aged 87, in 1982. She died in Port Lligat, but Dalí had her body driven to the castle in the couple’s Cadillac, and she was buried in his castle. The Cadillac is still in the garage in Púbol. Dalí then moved to Gala’s castle to be close to her, and it was here that he had his last studio. Illness forced him to stop painting in 1983. In 1984, a fire broke out at the castle and Dalí suffered severe burns to his arms and legs. He then moved to the Torre Galatera wing of the Figueres Museum, where he lived as a recluse until his death. He is said to have fallen asleep to the strains of his favourite composer, Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde.
Gala’s castle stands as it was left and bears witness to the last years of the couple’s life.
Read also the guide to other beautiful cultural cities on the Costa Brava.
- Salvador Filipe Jacinto Dalí y Domènech born 11 May 1904 in Figueres
- Had his first exhibition at the theatre in Figueres in 1919
- Started at the Madrid Art Academy in 1922, where he met Federico García Lorca and Luis Buñuel, among others.
- In 1925 he had his first exhibitions in Madrid and Barcelona
- In 1929 Dalí joined the Surrealist group in Paris, led by Andre Breton and including. spoke to filmmaker Luis Buñuel, with whom he made the films The Andalusian Dog (Un Chien Andalou) and The Golden Age (L’age D’or)
- In 1931 Dalí had his first solo exhibition in Paris
- Married Gala, born Elena Ivanova Diakonova (1894-1982) in 1934.
- In 1938 Dalí was expelled from the group of Surrealists. Then he found his own style
- From 1940-48 (during the Spanish Civil War), Dalí and Gala lived in exile in the United States, where he enjoyed great success as a designer
- 1982 he was awarded the title Marques de Dali de Púbol
- Dalí died 23 January 1989
Source: Fundacio Gala-Salvador Dalí
About the Dalí Route
Find driving directions at
Car hire is often available when you buy your flight ticket. However, I have rented a car from:
Plaça Passeig 8 (show on map)
Riera Sant Vicenç s/n
Museo De Arte De Cadaqués
Calle Narcís Monturiol 15 (show on map)
Open: changes with the seasons. See opening hours