The most southerly holiday resort on the Costa Brava, Blanes not only attracts international tourists but is also frequented by large numbers of Spanish holidaymakers. Like many Spanish coastal resorts Blanes has grown from a picturesque fishing village into a tourist boomtown. The resort has a two-mile (3km) long stretch of coastline offering sandy bays and rocky coves. The main beachfront is lined with high-rise hotels and apartment blocks, but the historic centre of the town remains charmingly well-preserved, making Blanes a refreshing combination of commercial development and authentic Spanish culture. The alleyways of the old town reveal numerous shops, restaurants and cafes, and reminders of its past include the medieval castle of St Joan, several churches and some other ancient buildings, which attract hundreds of holidaymakers each year. The pride of the town are the two renowned botanical gardens, which boast thousands of plant species. Blanes also offers traditional street markets, several fiestas and folk dancing fairs. It is a testament to its abiding charm that it attracts locals as well as foreign visitors.
There are more than 700 shops in Blanes, from boutiques and supermarkets to small, traditional retailers. The Monday morning market at Passeig de Mar is the best place to buy souvenirs and various cheap clothing. Every afternoon, local fishermen sell off the day's catch here. The daily Municipal Market in Mas Enlaire is also worth a look for groceries and fresh produce. Blanes offers a variety of shopping opportunities and provides everything visitors may need.
There are more than 150 restaurants in Blanes, many located along the promenade. Locals tend to frequent the smaller eateries behind the promenade for authentic Spanish fare. Travellers should try the tapas at Cafe Terrassan near the corner of Passeig de Dintre, widely considered the best in town. In general, fresh seafood is the best bet to order, as are local Catalan dishes. There is also plenty of international food on offer though.
Although Blanes is not known for its nightlife, there are several British-themed pubs and some decent bars that stay open till late, especially in the summer months. For quality nightlife visitors should head up the coast to Lloret. That being said, at the end of July each year Blanes hosts the Costa Brava International Fireworks Contest, when the seaside town comes alive with fiestas lasting late into the night.
Various boat trips allow visitors to explore the stunning rocky coastline, caves, coves and pristine beaches of Spain's Wild Coast, north of Blanes. Away from the beaches and beautiful interior, the historic centre of Blanes remains intact and provides various diversions for tourists. Travellers should visit the renowned Marimirtra Botanical Gardens and take the kids to Waterworld (Europe's biggest waterpark) near Lloret del Mar, or to Marineland, a short drive south of Blanes. Barcelona, 60miles (100km) south, is close enough for a day trip and offers myriad world-class attractions.
On peak summer days the beach and promenade gets very crowded.