If Port de la Selva is laid-back and low profile, Cadaqués is its glossier, more popular neighbour. It's all relative though: this white-washed beachside town is no Monaco. Cadaqués isn't ritzy and glitzy; nor is it over-crowded – but its pin is more firmly in the international tourist map thanks to its most famous former resident, Salvador Dalí.
|Salvador Dalí's former home in Portlligat|
|That swimming pool|
Dalí also dominates nearby Cadaqués; his statue positioned prominently by the beach to welcome visitors to the town. Significantly bigger than Portlligat, Cadaqués is still easy to wander in an afternoon. Arranged around a cove, it boasts plenty of beachside bars for a relaxing drink. Unlike Port de la Selva, Cadaqués has no permanent harbour, although in summer the bay fills with boats. When I visited during the Puente de Mayo, Cadaqués was bustling yet still relaxed – I suspect it can get a bit crowded in July and August though. It wouldn't be too challenging to shrug off your fellow visitors though: away from the bay, Cadaqués is a maze of narrow streets, winding up the hillside. Perfect for quiet exploration, these alleys are studded with boutiques, bars and restaurants – plenty of boltholes to escape the crowds.
Maitanqui is one such bolthole. Tucked away down a passageway close to the seafront, this modern restaurant serves modern Catalan and European dishes with a fusion twist. I enjoyed my share of two starters, Thai-style mussels and artichoke chips. The mussels were plump and juicy, with a healthy amount of ginger and coconut, while the fried artichoke chips were full of flavour (the two sauces provided, tartare and barbecue, weren't the best complements though). My main of bream en papillote (the paper turning out to be a banana leaf) was delicious, cooked with coconut and chilli. In the evening, the restaurant's interior was softly lit, the patio sadly empty due to the Costa Brava's notorious tramontana wind paying an unwelcome visit. With helpful yet discreet service and great value, well-prepared food, Maitanqui is worth a visit for holidaymakers finding themselves tired of standard seafood and rice dishes. Cadaqués's culinary clout doesn't end here though: the town's most famous restaurant is Compartir, which is run by three chefs who formerly worked with Ferran Adrià at world-renowned El Bulli.
Cadaqués itself has little in the way of formal sights, beyond a town museum (Dalí's work features prominently, as you would expect). Its appeal lies in just that, though: it's a town to wander and explore at your own pace, pausing to dip in and out of cafes, bars and shops, to soak up the sun on the pebble beach. Dalí arguably may not have had much taste in facial hair, but he certainly chose his place of residence well.