Figueres and Cadaques make for a viable and worth-it day trip from Barcelona
Many moons ago, I wrote about my trip to Barcelona last year. One of the things that I did in the 5 days that I spent in the city was to take a day trip. There are in fact, multiple options for a day trip from Barcelona – Montserrat, Girona, Roses, Sitges, Figueres & Cadaques are probably the most popular ones.
After spending days mulling over which place to pick, I finally decided to visit Figueres & Cadaques. Montserrat certainly looked gorgeous and it would have been a completely different landscape, but I didn’t quite feel like I was up for some hiking during my trip. Girona came highly, highly recommended, and I was told that the old town was absolutely breathtaking, but I think my heart was looking for something along the coast, so once I saw the pictures of Cadaques, I was sold!
Things to do & see
Dali museums in Figueres – Figueres is home to the Dalí Theatre Museum and the Dalí Jewels Museum (and also the town where Dalí was born). From whatever little bit I read about the town, it didn’t seem like there was too much to do beyond the museums.
The Dalí Theatre Museum was designed and planned by Salvador Dalí himself on the ruins of an old theatre museum – hence the name. The museum probably has the most exhaustive collection of Dalí’s works (though probably his most recognised piece – The Persistence of Time – actually resides at the MOMA) and it is impossible to not get inspired by this genius artist.
Dalí’s works are visually stunning – your senses explode even as you enter the museum into a circular courtyard. There’s the Al Capone car right in the centre of the courtyard and a host of golden figurines dotting the interior wall of the building.
There’s also the Mae West room, which funnily enough, reminded me of Donald Trump.
I loved this holographic painting which is an image of Gala / Abraham Lincoln, depending on how you look at it.
The thing I like about these kind of museums that are dedicated to a single artist is that it is very easy to see the progression in the artist’s skill and mindset and application. Sometimes in the bigger museums, the artist’s journey – so to speak – does not come across as strongly. The galleries in the Dalí museum showcase works right from his childhood to his early 20s when he dabbled in Cubism, and eventually to his works as an established Surrealist, and it is astounding to see the transformation in the way his artist mind moved through the decades.
I also popped into the Dalí Jewels Museum to look at the the jewels which had been designed by Dalí himself. While the level of details should not have surprised me, I was still astounded to see his immense talent shine through is a completely different medium.
Casa Dalí in Port Lligat – About 30-45 minutes away by taxi (an hour by bus), and a mile away from Cadaques town centre, is Port Lligat, a charming cove where Dalí bought a house in 1930 and continued to add to the property over the years. Casa Dalí is where Dalí and his muse and wife, Gala, majorly lived until she died in 1982, after which Dalí moved to the Púbol Castle.
A lot of care has been taken to make the house appear as same as possible from the time that Dalí and Gala actually lived there. The entry to the house is timed – they only let in about 8 people at a time, and you get about 35-40 minutes to explore the house along with an appointed guide.
The house is idiosyncratic, to say the very least, with a dash of ordinariness thrown in every now and then. There are decoupaged dressing room doors (lots of photographs of the artist and Gala, and magazine covers), interesting shaped couches, taxidermied animals and lots of art work all around. He also designed an oblong reddish room to serve as Gala’s lounge and place to entertain guests; the softest of whispers echoes throughout the room.
I loved seeing his “art room”. Being an artist, light was obviously of supreme importance to Dalí, and he designed his art room to take full advantage of the light as well as the gorgeous views of the Port Lligat bay.
The terrace around the house is large and whitewashed, spread across multiple levels, fringed by olive trees and designed with merry abandonment, as one would expect from Dalí.
I haven’t been to any other artists’ homes, but having experienced Casa Dalí, I cannot wait to explore more such places – I think they serve as a fascinating insight into the mind of the artist, and represent a side of the artists which may not always be evident in the public sphere.
Get lost around Cadaques – Cadaques is a charming seaside town with whitewashed houses, blue doors and windows, cobblestoned streets and an abundance of of bougainvillea trees, where Dalí spent his childhood summers. It is an easy walk from Casa Dalí to the town centre, and I spent a few hours just walking around the streets, sitting by the beach, and finally ending the afternoon with a leisurely lunch of mixed seafood paella.
Getting to Figueres from Barcelona – You could drive, take the bus, or take the train. There are high speed trains (AVE or AVANT) – which is what I took – from the Barcelona Sants station which will get you to Figueres (station name: Figueres Vilafant) in about 50-55 minutes. The slower trains take close to 2 hours.
Getting to the Dali Museum from Figueres Vilafant station – Buses as well as taxis are easily available. It would take you about 5-10 minutes at best to reach the museum from the station. It’s also an easy 15-20 minute walk, if that’s what you’d prefer.
Getting to Port Lligat from Figueres – I chose to take a taxi (about 35 minutes, and €40-60) from what looked liked the town centre at Figueres, but you could easily take a bus too.
Getting to Cadaques from Port Lligat – This bit you should walk. It’s an easy walk, about 10-15 minutes, and the view of the Port Lligat bay is just glorious.
Getting to Figueres from Cadaques – I really messed up this part, so pay attention – you don’t want to make the same mistake. I had my train back to Barcelona from Figueres all booked for late evening. I had assumed that getting to Figueres from Cadaques would be easy enough. Wrong assumption.
After I finished wandering around the town, I went to this spot which looked like a taxi stand, and called the couple of numbers I saw listed around there for a taxi. And guess what – no one was available. For like a couple of hours or so. I didn’t have a couple of hours to wait around because that would mean missing my train, which was already one of the last trains back to Barcelona. After asking around various shops and even at the tourist information centre, I walked over to the Cadaques bus station to explore my options. Thankfully, there was a bus leaving directly for Barcelona in about 30 minutes – which I ended up taking – and the day was saved! Moral of the story – make sure you’ve got your transport from Cadaques to Figueres sorted. Taxis may not be very easily available, and there are not too many buses as well, especially during the low season.
Tickets to the Museums – While you could purchase a ticket to the Dalí Museum in Figueres at the ticket counter when you visit, for Casa Dalí, you should book your tickets online before you get there. They only allow 8 people at a time, and the entry is all timed. You should definitely not be late for this.
If you have more time… you could also hike all the way to Cap de Creus. It is the easternmost point of mainland Spain, and from whatever pictures I saw online, the views are just mindblowing. But also note, it doesn’t seem like a very easy hike.
Some more pictures if you’d like to see.
The man and his moustache.
Just a place to hangout, you know, at the Dalí Museum…
Front patio views from Casa Dalí.
Dalí sure had a thing for weird shape objects.
Whitewashed terrace and olive trees at Casa Dali.
Hello, flowers and Catalan independence flag.
Bougainvillea flowers everywhere you look.
Of cute shops with cacti plants.
White and blue ftw!
Cannot get enough of the Bougainvillea flowers.
Overall, this day trip from Barcelona to Figueres and Cadaques was immensely fulfilling and satisfying. And if you’ve got more time to spare, you could even do a 2-3 night stay in gorgeous Cadaques. It’s a slow paced, lovely little town, and would make for a charming break from the city.
Have you ever visited the Dali Museums in Figueres or Cadaques? Did you take a day trip from Barcelona? I’d love to know in the comments below…
All images by me, shot on either an iPhone 6 or Fujifilm XT-10.