The textures of Costa Barcelona

On my recent trip to Costa Barcelona with several other family travel bloggers, we discovered all kinds of things to do with children, from preschool to teenage years. We bounced around on ocean waves, walked on idyllic sandy beaches, ate regional specialties, waterskied, and much more. I’ve written a bit about what we did and will soon be sharing a great itinerary for your next visit to the area.

But beyond the specific activities, there is something so beautiful about the textures of the area, with its Catalunyan culture, influenced by the ocean and taking in a wide variety of landscapes. Armed just with your camera, you can capture small details that bring the place alive.


Wall tiles in Calella, Costa Barcelona


I was struck by these tiles as we walked the narrow streets of Calella, about 40 miles northeast of Barcelona and the first place we visited. One person in our group thought they were “so Seventies!” but I just loved the mottled background texture and the interlocking pattern they create. Maybe a little bit Seventies, but in a good way.


Flowers from a Calella festival stall, Costa Barcelona


On the beach in Calella there was a festival during the Festa Major, with stalls selling sausages, cheese, sweets, fruits, beer and more, family activities, music and much more. These flowers were hung in a canopy you could walk under. I shot this picture looking straight up at the sky.


Nui Beach restaurant tablemat, Calella Costa Barcelona


I loved this pattern on the tablemat at the Nui Beach restaurant, Calella, a bright breezy restaurant steps from the waves. I loved the food — paella, fideua (think paella with noodles instead of rice), seafood, local wine. I loved the entire vibe. Like this pattern, the entire experience was traditional and modern at the same time.


Grass in Malgret de Mar, Costa Barcelona


The grass poked up in the square spaces of these tiles in delicious little tufts. I snapped this in Malgrat de Mar’s Parc Francesc Macia, a sprawling outdoor space where your kids can tear around and do anything from skateboarding to football to mini-ziplining to water play (in the summer months). The park also featured huge pieces of cake to climb on, torpedo-sized pencils…funky and fun.


stream in Montseny, Costa Barcelona


Go for a walk in Montseny Natural Reserve with a guide and you’ll look at the forest in a whole new way, discovering creatures tiny and, um, middle-sized, making “perfume” from fragrant plants and “drawing” with natural materials. This clear stream, with its glassy surface, had hidden depths.


Cork tree in Montseny, Costa Barcelona

Another interesting sight in Montseny Natural Reserve, a cork tree with part of its outer bark harvested.


Restaurant Fonda Montseny


After our walk in the natural reserve, we ate at the Restaurant Fonda Montseny, right on the square with stunning views over the valley. White beans with sausage are a local specialty, here served simply on a patterned plate, with a nice glass of white wine, of course.


Caldes de Montbui


The spring water that surges to the surface in Caldes de Montbui is heated to a finger-stinging 76C (168 F) — you can experience it at a fountain in the centre city square, right next to the original ancient Roman thermal baths. The baths are hewn of stone, both smooth and rough and have a long and storied past. The wall behind the arches was where they once held prisoners chained to the wall — so macabre!



Castelldefels coat of arms


The inside of the castle in Castelldefels, 30 minutes from Barcelona, is grand and glorious. This wallpaper was in one of the rooms we walked through — it’s a fascinating combination of recognisable forms such as the leaves and this design in the middle with arrows and dotted lines.


Castelldefels castle


The grandness of the castle interior contrasts with the leafy, green texture of the hills around Castelldefels, with bits of sky lighting up the small clover leaf windows at the top. The model is my fellow travel blogger Lisa from Travel Loving Family.


Catalonia tiles, Costa Barcelona


So many places we saw in our few days there had tiles in a similar style to these — brightly coloured, smooth and cool, evoking both sophistication and simplicity.

My experience in Costa Barcelona was a good reminder to soak up these tiny details. They make visiting a new place so rich and varied, and you can learn so much by paying attention to the details, to the way a place defines itself through textiles, design and through its natural setting.

What little details have captured your imagination in places you have visited?


Read more about Costa Barcelona

10 great family experiences outside Barcelona on Jenography

Planning a family holiday in Costa Barcelona, by Maria at One Tiny Leap

Bring the kids to the vineyard! by Susanna at A Modern Mother

13 things to do on the Costa Barcelona with kids, by Cathy at Mummy Travels

Destination guide: Costa Barcelona with kids, by Lisa at Travel Loving Family



I’m a journalist and blogger. Previously I was The Times’s online lifestyle editor and Alpha Mummy blogger. Now I’m co-founder of BritMums and BritMums Live! – our annual blogging conference that draws hundreds. Follow me on Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter and Google Profile+


  1. November 24, 2016 / 2:33 pm

    Love this post Jen. Those patterns and textures and the small details you noticed are what makes the Costa Barcelona so unique. I have an obsession with those tiles but don’t have the interior decorating skills to pull them into our living space. Thanks for sharing with us on #farawayfiles

    • November 25, 2016 / 10:05 am

      I know what you mean, Katy, about those tiles. I’d like to go over with an empty suitcase and just load it up with tiles to bring back.

  2. November 24, 2016 / 7:37 pm

    What beautiful photos – I love all the little details you’ve noticed too. Some of the colours and tiles were wonderful but the Montseny shots are fabulous. #farawayfiles

    • December 1, 2016 / 11:14 am

      Cathy, thanks so much for the compliment. It means a lot, knowing you’ve seen these places too.

  3. November 24, 2016 / 8:46 pm

    I’ve been seeing a lot about Costa Barcelona and I’m sad I missed it when I visited Barcelona, but I love the colorful textures you discovered! #FarawayFiles

    • November 25, 2016 / 10:02 am

      The city is great but it is worth getting outside its borders to experience everything else the area has to offer. Thanks for commenting!

  4. November 25, 2016 / 8:32 am

    Love the details that you have captured in your photos. I might be travelling to Spain (or Portugal) next year, so this is something that I’m definitely looking forward to 🙂 #farawayfiles

    • November 25, 2016 / 10:00 am

      Kat, thanks so much! There is so much to soak up there, from food to design. Enjoy! x

  5. November 26, 2016 / 6:08 pm

    I LOVE all the details you’ve captured here. For me, a travel experience is made so much more special by stopping to see the little things that you’d miss if you were just rushing around seeing all the sights in the guidebooks. Your photos of the stream and the cork tree are just magical and I really like the different textures you’ve captured. A really inspiring post for #FarawayFiles. Thank you so much for inspiring me.

    • December 1, 2016 / 11:15 am

      Clare, what a compliment! I particularly love the picture of the stream too, with the reflections, the slick stone, the leaves… Loved taking part in #FarawayFiles too!

  6. November 27, 2016 / 9:09 pm

    I can’t stop looking at the grass growing between those tiles! Such an interesting design. I agree, it’s the textures, colours and scents that create more of an lasting impression of a place – and it’s often easy to overlook the details when a location throws all its beauty at you. Gorgeous post. #FarawayFiles

    • December 1, 2016 / 11:01 am

      There is something so pleasing about that grass between the tiles, isn’t there? Makes you want to curl your toes into it!

  7. November 28, 2016 / 1:12 pm

    You are speaking my graphic language. I love finding the connecting visual thread of a place. These are lovely images and thoughtful evocative textures that share a place. Make it a special space. Love it. Thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles – Erin

    • December 1, 2016 / 11:00 am

      Erin, thanks so much. We are all part of a graphic-loving tribe of travellers! Really appreciate the comment. x

  8. December 5, 2016 / 8:24 pm

    Oh yes, the details in a place can really make a it special. We’ve just returned from a last minute trip to Seville and it was the exquisite detail in the ceramics and architecture that amazed me. It reminded me that there is still so much of Spain I haven’t seen and I would love to see more.

    • December 6, 2016 / 9:52 am

      I can just imagine the ceramics you saw you in Seville. Spain in particular excels at this kind of design. It makes me think of the fantastic textiles in Scandinavia, and the Deco architecture and design in NYC. So much to “collect” with our cameras that evoke the spirit of a destination.

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