Santa Cristina d’Aro, Costa Brava – Quick Essential Tourist Guide From Locals

Enjoy our quick guide to Santa Cristina d’Aro, a charming town located in the Aro Valley in the Spanish Costa Brava.

Santa Cristina d’Aro is merely 6 km inland from the beaches of the Platja d’Aro and S’Agaro. It is one of Costa Brava’s prettiest destinations.

Along with a breathtaking coastline, the town also boasts of a picturesque countryside, mountains and a number of natural routes, perfect for those who like to go hiking, cycling and nature tripping.

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Esglesia de Santa Cristina d’Aro – Photo by Josep Maria Viñolas Esteva, Wikimedia Commons

Below we feature an expat interview with Andrew Horsley of AH Property and Development who covers the Santa Cristina d’Aro area.

Specifically, we asked Andrew on the advantages of choosing Santa Cristina d’Aro as a place to live and the value for money that you can get if you decide to stay permanently in the area.

Andrew, thanks for helping our readers. I guess we should start off by asking what would you say would be the advantages to living in Santa Cristina d’Aro compared to other Costa Brava towns?

There are many reasons: the weather, the people, the landscape and beauty of the surrounding mountains. But the village has many pluses too: modern supermarkets, bakeries, butchers, banks, cafes, restaurants, in fact most of your necessities you need to live. The only thing that it does not have is luxury good shops. But apart from this, it is very convenient to travel to the airport, Girona, the beaches, towns and villages of the Costa Brava and not too far to get to is Barcelona.

Also to live just a few miles inland makes life a bit more tranquil in the summer, especially if you live in the foothills of the mountains surrounding the village also living in the close proximity to the Pyrenees mountains and Andorra. You take advantage not only of sightseeing but additional activities like skiing which is quite brilliant because they are much less congested slopes compared to the Alps as it is not as famous to go skiing in Spain.

But the scenery is spectacular and it is much warmer and therefore more comfortable to ski with blue skies, sunshine and warmth, cheaper and more friendly as well. The main bus route runs through the village and the nearest train station is about 20 minutes, airport 30 minutes, Girona 30 minutes, Barcelona just over 1 hour away.

Would the area not suit certain types of people, i.e. are there any possible downsides?

I would say there was not a downside to living here in Santa Cristina d’Aro if you are willing to accept the culture and language. If you are willing to join in the everyday routines of life, opening and closing hours of shops, schools, bars and restaurants etc. Then life here really is good. The people are generally polite and pass you in the street wishing you “good morning.”

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Castell de Solius, Santa Cristina d’Aro – Photo by Marc79, Wikimedia Commons

I have travelled all over the world and to get back to Catalunya feels very very civilised, only northern Italy compares with the same friendliness, sophistication and values, which many places just dont have. I hate these countries where you have to stand in a queue for a coffee and then to receive it in a plastic or paper cup. Here in a cafe you find a seat and shortly a waiter will come over to take your order and bring you coffee in china or pot cup, sometimes with a biscuit. I know it sounds petty but this just is a small example of how it works here.

You can walk from one end of the main tourist town here Platja d’Aro to the other and no one will try to entice you to come into their shops, restaurants or bars. The only comment you will hear is “buenos dias/tardes” (good morning or afternoon. No beggars or robbers that I have seen. Compared to lots of these other places you go on holiday, it makes it so relaxing.

What proportion of the local population are Spanish?

The local population is mainly Spanish/Catalans. However the urbanizations on the outskirts of the village are made up of a real mix of nationalities. Not one nationality is prominent.

What are your favourite things to do in the area?

For me personally is riding my motorbikes, my trail bikes in the forests where the tracks are never-ending, with many breathtaking views, through mountains, streams, green valleys, beautiful villages where you can stop for a coffee, cakes or lunch. Then the road-bike for track circuit like roads with sweeping bends that take you to coastal towns to stop and take a rest.

But for most walking, hiking, climbing, horseback ridings and cycling has become one of the most popular past times that seems to have increased over the last years, not just road cycling but mountain biking and total family excursions on special routes made by the local town halls, usually made on the old train routes that take you on relatively flat tracks from towns, villages to the coast.

Also shopping, sunbathing on more than a hundred beaches, sailing, diving, all water-sports, eating out, bar-b-queing, really there is something for everyone. And if you like festivals, with music, beer and local cooking then there is always one just around the corner.

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Church at Romanya – Photo by AH Property and Development

Can you give us some insider tips to the best bars or restaurants?

Well the area has won awards in the last years on a few occasions of having the best restaurants in the world, so how do you top that, two restaurants to be exact, but the standard here is generally very high in the good restaurants. Very local to Santa Cristina d’Aro is Tinars and Can Roquet which I would recommend. They are very different from each other but a good experience of how quality and style can be served in two totally different ways.

Are there many facilities such as doctors and dentists, shops etc?

We have found on first hand experience with having two children who have played sports and generally very active, having injuries, breaks, flues, colds, bites etc. the doctors, medical centres and hospitals are very good in comparison to other countries where we have had medical treatment. Very clean, modern and helpful. Our local medical centre in Santa Cristina d’Aro is a prime example of the general standard, which we find very high.

Although generally very good all over, the three main areas are Platja d’Aro our most local, which has been described as “very cosmopolitan” and improving all the time, selling all top world brands and attracting high end customers, visiting the chic shops and taking a break in similar bars and cafes.

The second centre is Girona 30 minutes drive away. Here you can not only shop but also wander through the ancient narrow streets and take in the history and architecture from this medieval city, even take a long or short walk around the Roman walls that surround the city. Third which needs no description from me is Barcelona which is just over 1 hours drive, bus or train journey away.

Are there smaller villages nearby that you might also recommend?

There are so many villages in the Costa Brava to see, coastal and internal which are known for their beauty and historical values but also as places to eat and watch the world go by. You literally are spoilt for choice, if sightseeing is a hobby of yours.

What are the nearest international schools and how good are they?

There are some very good international schools but you have to travel to Girona by car or school bus, about 30 minutes. They are private and so there is a cost to this. We however chose to sent our children to the local school, as they were age 4 and 6 and thought by throwing them in at the deep end, it might make them adapt quicker and better. Although the first three months were very hard on them, they did get through and the advantages seem to outweigh the initial hardship. As they joined in, in after school activities with their classmates which would have not been possible if they had schooled in Girona. Now nearly 15 years later they still have the same friends from those early years, which is a great bond to have I think.

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The Old Train Station, now bike track and restaurant – Photo by AH Property and Development

Is crime an issue for expats?

Over the last 14 years I have been aware of less than 10 break-ins, and most of them, nothing was stolen, as the properties were holiday homes and the perpetrators were obviously after jewellery and cash which neither were there in these particular properties. So although there is an element of crime, it is not a major concern. All of these properties had no alarms or cameras. So if you want to be safer and stop the possibility of becoming victims of robbers, then it would make sense to have some security system fitted to your property.

Coming onto buying property, what is the market like now in terms of prices going up, or down or staying the same?

If you are in the market to buy a property to live or for holiday home, with the exception of the low value of the pound at this moment, there would not be a better time to buy, as although I have seen no increase in prices rising, I have seen an increase in sales, which usually some time after does start to trigger off an increase in values. But what is clear is the asking prices are at the lowest for many years and there is absolutely no sign that they will get any lower now, so I would say the only way is up and if I am right you should be able now to bag yourself a bargain.

What urbanisations are there and can you describe each one and how they might differ from each other?

There are several Urbanizations around Santa Cristina first the furthest away is:

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Hotel Mas Tapiolas – Photo by AH Property and Development

Val Repos. There is roughly around 200 properties here. It is an Urbanization set in a very green valley about 10 minutes drive away from the village. It is a little like Marmite you love it or hate it. People who like nature, dog walking, peace and quiet, are the people who love it here. Property prices are generally on the lower side of values here, averaging from €300,000 to €500,000.

Romanya de la Selva is a little nearer. It is really a village rather than an Urbanization. There has been a preservation order on the Urbanization and there are no new buildings allowed to be built for the foreseeable future. So it is only possible to buy secondhand properties at the moment. There is a real mix of properties varying in prices from €300,000 to €2,000,000.

Bell Lloc. About 5 minutes drive to the village, there is the Urbanization of Bell Lloc which is much more residential compared to the last two. It is set out on the green hillside of Bell Lloc meaning nice old place. Some of the properties have spectacular views over the local mountains and in the distance the sea. Again it is pretty quiet and seems to have its own microclimate, south facing and growing trees and shrubs that find it difficult to grow on other parts of the areas around. Prices can range from €300,000 to top price I have seen paid €3,600,000. But usually not over €1,200,000.

Roca del malvet, is just outside the village but at the final street you can be 15 minutes drive back to the centre. It really is set out on one/two roads climbing up the mountain away from the village. It is made up of what can only be described as a miss mash of individual properties, some of poor quality and therefore I would give this Urbanization the lowest mark in the area, although a little gem can always be found amongst some bad apples. Prices from €150,000 to €450,000.

Les Teules is another more residential Urbanization. Usually the houses here are built on smaller plots than the other urbanizations but it is the closest to the sea and beaches, so it does get points for that. Some of the houses and gardens are really well looked after. Some properties have incredible views and therefore prices can vary quite a lot. Prices from €200,000 to €1,200,000.

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Golf Club in Santa Cristina d’Aro – Photo by AH Property and Development

Costa Brava Golf Urbanization is the most prestigious of all the urbanizations in the area, and as the golf club, fairways and greens run throughout the Urbanization which keeps this residential estate to a higher standard. The only downside I see is that it is north facing and can be cooler and more damp with having less sun. So it is important to view properties at different times of the day and better in the latter months to get a true idea of what it would be like living here. Some fantastic properties, detached prices from €300,000 to €10,000,000.

Any tips and advice to people looking to buy in Santa Cristina d’Aro or surrounding area?

Another way is to buy a plot of land and build your own dream property which is what I do on a daily basis for my clients. Sometimes it can work out a little more expensive but in the long run, you have everything new, modern materials with guarantees, done to your own sizes and design. Rather than buying an older house, paying for the kitchens and bathrooms and floors which you usually end up throwing into a skip, which you have to pay someone to do. So I think it is worth considering as an option.

I have a team consisting of a builder, joiner, plumber, electrician, architect and solicitor to take you through from start to finish of a new project, even plots of land to view.

Andrew, thank you so much for taking the time to help our readers with your experiences in Spain. If you want to contact him, you can find his details below.

AHPD For sale sign 2016AH Property and Development

Santa Cristina d’Aro, Costa Brava
Catalunya, Spain
Tel. +34 972 833 301
Mobile: +34 677 460 360
Email: andrew@ahpd.co.uk
Website: www.ahpd.co.uk


Here is an interesting video showing a beach in Santa Cristina d’Aro.


Contact us to be featured – we want more expat interviews for our newsletter and website. You don’t need to be an estate agent, we want to hear from anyone who lives in Spain whether you are working or retired.


 

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