If you want to really explore the Costa Brava and see different beaches and hilltop villages, having a car definitely makes this a lot simpler (see Costa Brava car hire for further details).
Having said that, if you’re coming primarily for a beach holiday, there are very good bus connections between many of the beaches. Sarfa is the main company (www.sarfa.com) and it runs regular buses between Calella de Palafrugell, Llafranc and Tamariu. It also operates between all the major cities and smaller towns such as Barcelona and Girona to Palafrugell, Cadaqués, Begur and Tossa. Tickets can generally be bought on the bus from the driver.
There are also local taxis if you’re just likely to need the odd trip here or there in a car, perhaps to or from the beach if you want to go outside the bus hours; the local tourist offices or your hotel will have details of taxi companies.
You can also rent bikes and scooters in Cadaqués (www.rentabit.net), and it’s worth asking at the tourist offices in Palafrugell and Begur about bike rental.
The other mode of transport that’s very big in this part of the world – in the summer mainly - is of course, the boat. Many affluent Catalans keep speedboats and yachts moored in the harbours along this stretch of the coast and there are plenty of companies that organise boat-trips and excursions of all kinds. In Tossa, boats leave from the Platja Gran and there are also various boat options at the beaches around Begur, Calella de Palafrugell and Cadaqués. (In Cadaqués you can also tick the outdoor and culture boxes in one fell swoop by taking an hour-long trip on Gala Dali’s boat – telephone 617 46 57 57 for details.)
Getting around in Girona
If you’re visiting Girona on its own, you’ll probably be flying in and out of Girona airport and if that’s the case, I’d recommend not bothering with hiring a car unless you particularly want to explore the surrounding countryside and beaches. Girona is a very easy city to manage on foot and you’ll get a much better feel for it that way. (Parking in the old town can be hideous and expensive and there are also some murderously steep hills.) Girona and much of the surrounding countryside is also ideal for cycling (so much so that the city is a big favourite with professional cyclists like Lance Armstrong) and there are various companies that rent bikes such as Girona Cycle Centre based in the old town (www.gironacyclecentre.com), which also runs guided cycling excursions.
Other than that, the only thing to say is that unless you’re driving through Europe, you’ll most probably arrive at either Barcelona or Girona airports. There are car hire offices in both (see Costa Brava car hire) but there are also buses from both airports (for information see Costa Brava flights). If, however, you’re travelling between Girona and Barcelona, the train is generally the quicker, if slightly more expensive, option.