Barcelona, the capital and largest city of Catalonia in Spain, boasts a unique geographical location on the northeastern coast of Iberian Peninsula, fronting the enchanting Mediterranean Sea to the east, and limited by mountain range and rivers on the other sides. This means you can have the best of everything in Barcelona – big-city fun and sightseeing as well as stunning stretches of beach to bask in. If you adore the sun, sea and sand, Barcelona is the perfect European destination for you. With a coastline stretching 4.5 kilometres (2.8 mi) in Barcelona, you will be spoilt for choice with a wide variety of superb beaches. Here are 10 of the best beaches to head to for that long-awaited dream vacation in Barcelona!
1. Barceloneta beach
Being the closest beach to the city centre, Barceloneta beach is one of the most convenient spots without travelling too far out. In fact, it is just a leisurely 20-minute walk from Las Ramblas where the heart of the city is. Or if you prefer, you can also catch a short ride on the yellow line metro to Barceloneta stop.
Located in the traditional fishing district, Barceloneta is the city’s oldest and favourite beach that locals visit to enjoy fish and other seafood dishes. That being said, expect to see crowds along the 1.1-km (0.6 mi) long beach filled with mostly American style bars and restaurants. As the local’s favourite beach, Barceloneta also boasts numerous sports and entertainment facilities including beach volleyball and table tennis, sailing, kiteboarding and many more. There are also plenty of refreshment kiosks, shower and toilet facilities for you to freshen up after some sandy fun at the beach.
Do not forget to look out for funky art projects dotting the sandy beach, including the “Homenatge a la Barceloneta” (Homage to Barceloneta), a quirky sculpture featuring four large iron boxes stacked up like a crooked tower. Created by German artist Rebecca Horn, it commemorates the old-fashioned shacks that once lined the beach and was commissioned for the 1992 Olympics held in Barcelona.
Address: Passeig Marítim de la Barceloneta, 16, 08003, Barcelona
Access: Turn right on leaving the metro Barceloneta stop (Yellow Line, L4), cross the main road, and continue walking straight along Passeig de Joan de Borbo for about 10 minutes. You will see the marina area on your right as you walk. Alternatively, take one of the public buses: 45, 59, D20.
Website: Barceloneta beach
2. Nova Icaria beach
Despite being located in the centre of Barcelona’s coastline, Nova Icaria beach is strangely considered one of the most peaceful beaches in the city. The 400-metre (1312-foot) long beach is just next to the Barcelona Olympic Port, not too far from the crowded Barceloneta beach. In fact, its promenade runs until the Barceloneta district.
If you are heading to the beach with little ones in tow, Nova Icaria beach could just be the right one for you with its availability of many family-friendly facilities. There is a designated activities area with table tennis tables and a number of volleyball courts for you to get active. Or you can just lie on the golden sand and people watch. It feels more relaxed and spacious at Nova Icaria compared to Barceloneta although the latter is longer and wider. As an added bonus, Nova Icaria is also a great spot for catching a spectacular air show, such as the Festa al Cel or the Red Bull Air Race.
Nova Icaria beach
Address: Passeig Marítim de la Nova Icària, 60, 08005, Barcelona
Access: Take one of the public buses: 36, 92, H16, V27. Or alight at the metro Ciutadella or Bogatell stop (Yellow Line, L4).
Website: Nova Icaria beach
3. Bogatell beach
Bogatell beach is located directly east of Nova Icaria beach, and separated is by a stone breakwater. It is relatively close to the Olympic Port as well, with the promenade running until Sant Sebastiá Beach, in the Barceloneta district. Created especially for the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games, Bogatell beach is now a popular alternative hangout for people who want to enjoy the outdoors, but away from the touristy crowd at Barceloneta.
The beach is frequented mostly by locals, and hence has a more relaxed and friendly atmosphere. Enjoy a leisurely swim without the worry of bumping into other people’s elbows. Soak in views of Barcelona’s impressive skyline from the sea, including the prestigious W Hotel at the far end or the nearby Olympic Port. Or join the amicable locals for a game of beach volleyball. After a wonderful time at the beach, explore Poblenou, just opposite Bogatell, a hippy neighbourhood where you may stumble upon pop-up vintage markets or indie art studios.
Address: Passeig Marítim del Bogatell, 80, 08005, Barcelona
Access: Take one of the public buses: 26, H16, V27. Or alight at the metro Llacuna stop (Yellow Line, L4).
Website: Bogatell beach
4. Nova Mar Bella beach
Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing
Nova Mar Bella beach is located on the other end of the coastline in the Sant Martí district. The beach was also created because of the urban renewal that took place for the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games. Although just 500 m (1,640 ft) long, Nova Mar Bella beach is quite popular with locals as well, probably because it is considered one of the quietest beaches in the city. More of 60% of the visitors to this popular beach are women, and you can expect to see a younger crowd here too.
There is a volleyball court in the middle of the beach, and of course the usual amenities such as showers and lifeguard services are put in place for the convenience of visitors. If you prefer to see a different side of Barcelona beach life, then make your way to experience Nova Mar Bella beach for some peace!
Nova Mar Bella beach
Address: Passeig Marítim de la Mar Bella, 128, 08005, Barcelona
Access: Take one of the public buses: 26, H16, V27. Or alight at the metro Selva de Mar or El Maresme stop (Yellow Line, L4).
Website: Nova Mar Bella beach
5. Somorrostro beach
Located adjacent to Barceloneta beach to its west, Somorrostro beach is one of the most ideally located beaches in the city within easy access to public transportation. However, it is also a place with infamous history. In the past, it was the site of a shanty neighborhood called Somorrostro, where more than 15,000 people lived in extremely poor conditions. The neighbourhood was only demolished in the 1960s and eventually became part of Barceloneta beach. Only 7 years ago in 2010, it was renamed after its former name to commemorate this historical site.
Because it is so close to everyone’s favourite - the Barceloneta beach, you will also find lots of young tourists here and some locals who are attracted by the ease of visiting Somorrostro beach. Expect to see the typical beach facilities here at the 520-m (1,706-ft) long Somorrostro beach, including showers and public restrooms, children play area, volleyball courts and lifeguard service.
Address: Passeig Marítim de la Barceloneta, 32, 08003, Barcelona
Access: Take one of the public buses: 36, 45, 59, 92, D20, V21, V27. Or alight at the metro Barceloneta or Ciutadella stop (Yellow Line, L4).
Website: Somorrostro beach
6. Sant Sebastia beach
Sant Sebastia beach is one of the city’s oldest and most traditional beaches and is located to the east of Barceloneta beach. They were the first beaches to provide amenities for bathing onsite, a facility meant for the Barcelonian middle class to enjoy exclusively when they were constructed in the early 20th century. As it is considered the last stretch along the Barceloneta beach, it is less popular than its neighbour given it is a little further from the nearest metro station. But with no obvious breakwater between them, they form the longest stretch of unbroken beach in Barcelona of over 2 km (1.2 mi) long.
Although not as popular as its star neighbour, Sant Sebastia is equally developed, equipped with lifeguards, showers and public restrooms and also home to two of Barcelona’s most important swimming clubs. The two swimming clubs not only run competitive swimming teams but also have pools and fitness centres for public access. An interesting thing to note about Sant Sebastia is that it is the only other beach in Barcelona that offers a nudist area (located at its southern end). The other nudist area is Marbella Beach to the west of Nova Mar Bella beach.
Sant Sebastia beach
Address: Passeig Marítim de la Barceloneta, 2, 08003, Barcelona
Access: Turn right on leaving the metro Barceloneta stop (Yellow Line, L4), continue walking straight along Passeig de Joan de Borbo for about 10 minutes. You will see the marina area on your right as you walk. Alternatively, take one of the public buses: V15, 39, 64.
Website: Sant Sebastia beach
7. Castelldefels beach
If you have more time to explore a little further from the city centre, there are several lovely beaches in Barcelona’s outskirts to escape from the crowds downtown. Castelldefels beach may be a mere 15-minute train ride south of the bustling downtown, but you will get a 5-km (3.1 mi) long stretch of tempting sand once you arrive. Despite the town getting more tourist attention with many hotels and restaurants constructed at the beach promenade, there is still plenty of space for you to move around for a relaxing day out.
Partake in a number of water sports facilities such as kite surfing and swimming in its shallow and calm waters. Or maybe you prefer to sunbathe on the golden sand and look out to marvellous views of the mountain in the horizon. Along the beach heading towards the north, you will find many hotels, restaurants, bars and souvenir shops for the touristy side of Castelldefels. Nonetheless, visit during low season and the beach is so empty that you can hear the sound of the splashing waves clearly. This is a true beach luxury to enjoy just 15 minutes away from the busy city beaches.
Access: 3-minute walk from the Platja de Castelldefels train station.
Website: Castelldefels beach
8. Ocata beach
Another noteworthy beach, just a few kilometers north of Barcelona downtown, is the alluring El Masnou town where Ocata beach can be found. The long and wide beach starts right after the marina of Port Masnou, stretching more than 1.5 kilometres (0.9 mi) long. Even in busy summer, you will surely be able to find a spot to throw your towel into the sand, without getting in the way of others.
With only a 30-minute train ride from downtown, you will arrive at Ocata, which boasts a pristine and relatively flat beach, ideal for a leisurely stroll or sunbathing on the beautiful golden white sand. Less of an entertainment area like the city beaches, Ocata is the ideal destination for a peaceful getaway. Chill in one of the many Chiringuitos (beach bars) lined up along the serene beach with a cool drink. If you like, you may also want to check out the stretch towards the secluded south where nudity is permitted.
Access: short walk from the Ocata train station.
9. Caldetes beach
Slightly further than Ocata beach is another equally, if not quieter beach called the Caldetes beach, less than an hour from downtown on the train. Also known as Caldes d’Estrac, Caldetes is a tranquil small village that allows for a quick retreat just a few miles northeast of the city, where you can relax and unwind. The picturesque and pristine beach in this quaint little village used to be a spa and resort town for the well-to-do, but it is now a popular tourist destination. Although it is a popular tourist spot, do not worry about it being like another Barceloneta beach. Boasting a 860-m (2,822-ft) long stretch of sand with a width of 78 m (256 ft), you are assured of the much-needed privacy at Caldetes beach too.
On one side of the beach, you will find gorgeous Modernista villas, constructed in the early 20th century for Barcelona’s middle-classes who came here to seek respite from the summer heat. In addition, there are also a handful of Chiringuitos and atmospheric cafes to lounge in. Or if you prefer to get active, surf or kayak in the clear blue waters, and some parts of Caldetes offer stronger currents and larger waves than other beaches to add to the fun. There is also a range of outdoor activities including a volleyball court and a lovely kids’ playground to enjoy. Enjoy the picture-perfect beach, regardless of how you wish to spend your time at Caldetes!
Address: Caldes D'Estrac, Barcelona
Access: 45-minute ride from Plaza Catalunya in the city on the R1 train.
10. Sant Pol de Mar beach
Last but not least, if time is on your hands and you truly want to escape from the hectic downtown, find your way to Sant Pol de Mar northwest of the city. The 50 km (31 mi) journey along the Costa del Maresme will lead you pass many beautiful beaches such as Ocata and other small towns, one of which is the appealing Sant Pol de Mar. There are not many tourists over here, which is something you will likely appreciate.
Boasting an immaculate sea by the serene beach, Sant Pol de Mar makes the perfect retreat for swimming and snorkeling through its many coves. There is a small church overlooking the town sitting atop a lovely hill which adds to the scenic sight you get on the dreamy beach. Perhaps because of the high privacy visitors get to enjoy at Sant Pol de Mar, the beach is popular with gay daytrippers and nudist bathers. If you are game to experience anything, follow the rail tracks back towards Barcelona for about 1 km (0.6 mi) from the train station to get to the nudist coves backed by pretty hills. Nonetheless, even if you prefer to keep your kit on, the beach and enchanting coves are very enjoyable too.
Sant Pol de Mar beach
Address: Platja Roques Blanques; 08395 Sant Pol de Mar, Barcelona
Access:about 1-hour ride from Plaza Catalunya in the city on the R1 train.
Enjoy the sand, sea and sun in Barcelona
If you are a sun worshipper, Barcelona is your ideal European destination facing the alluring Mediterranean Sea for that long-awaited dream vacation. Now that I have introduced the 10 best beaches in the cosmopolitan city, are you itching to head there soon? Disfruta tu viaje (enjoy your trip)!
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