Since the massive clean-up operation of the beach and nearby Olympic marina and village undertaken for the 1992 Olympics, this area has become a magnet for Barcelonans and visitors alike. A lot of effort goes into maintaining the cleanliness of both sand and sea, which is tested daily, and all beaches have disabled access, lifeguards (in season), sun beds and showers.
Closest to the Olympic marina, and therefore always crowded, this wide swathe of rough golden sand is great for food goers. There are three spotless beach bars, two immensely popular restaurants on the promenade behind (Mango and Chiringuito de Moncho) and countless bars and restaurants off the Port Olímpic just a short stroll away.
This beach is twice the length of adjoining Nova Icaria and fringed by a stretch of stone walkway perfect for jogging, roller blading and cycling. The raised promenade cuts down on traffic noise and makes it possible to almost believe you’re a million miles from the city. No beach bars, but three large informal restaurants on the promenade.
(Metro Ciutadella Vila Olímpica, plus 20-minute walk) Divided from Bogatell by a breakwater housing a school and hire center for windsurfing, hobie cats and kayaks, Barcelona’s only naturist beach is tucked away behind a long hillock of rustling bamboo. Nearby is a peaceful park – good for a picnic or siesta under the trees.
Very wide and long and fringed by woodendecking along which lies a series of American-style eateries(pizzas and Tex-Mex mostly) plus the busy Catalan restaurant Agua. Somewhere along its length, the beach becomes San Sebastian (Metro: Barceloneta), a traditional and popular stretch with locals and consequently crowded, noisy and very jolly.
The best beaches around Barcelona
The Catalonian capital boasts some appetizing looking beaches, notably around the Olympic Village, but they are often overcrowded, not particularly clean and prone to bag-snatchers. So if you’re in search of cleaner waters and more space, hop a train for a short trip out of town.
The first decision is north or south? While local lore has it that the beaches to the north attract a better class of person, the main difference is that the beaches to the south are wider and longer whose shallow water makes them safer for children, while the ones to the north are usually prettier and deeper with bigger waves. Temperature differences can be quite marked and a lukewarm sea holds little appeal when what you really fancy is a refreshing dip.
In the south, the first beach of any note is Casteldefells – five kilometers of wide unbroken sand within 15 minutes’ train ride from town. It is great for the kids and easy to get to, as the walk from the nearby station of Platja de Casteldefells to the beach is just 50 meters. It has good facilities, bars and restaurants, all within easy reach. The downside is that its very accessibility means it is also noisy and very busy.
Much better are the myriad beaches a bit further down the tracks around Sitges. El Garraf has good facilities, is not usually overcrowded and is an easy walk from the station (Baixador del Garraf). The pretty resort of Sitges, which is only half an hour away from the city, offers over 10 beaches complete with ice-cream parlors, rent able sun-loungers and jet-skis.
A popular gay resort, the town has a relaxed atmosphere and a couple of nudist beaches. The main sandy areas in front of the town, Fragata and Ribera, are high-pose zones with trendy bar kiosks where the Barcelona crowds compare swimsuits and thongs. If that isn’t your scene there is a quieter beach just behind the pretty pink church set in pleasant cove, which is less hectic and better protected from the wind. The only disadvantage of Sitges is that the walk from the station is longer than most other beaches, though the parking facilities are good, so long as you arrive early.
Just along the coast is the lesser-known Vilanova, a mainly family beach favored by locals. The facilities for children are excellent, especially the great park right next to the beach.
To the north, most of the beaches suffer from the presence of the badly planned coastal highway. It’s best to keep going past the beaches of Badalona and Mongat until the electricity plants of Fecsa at San Adria are out of sight. Get off at Ocata, just after Masnou. The train drops you next to an enormous stretch of golden sand dotted with trees and climbing-frames, which runs into beautifully clean water. No matter when you visit, you’re guaranteed plenty of space. Another plus is that the local council, in a bid to attract people away from the better-known resorts, organizes lots of activities for children.
Further up the line is Caldes d’Estrach, or Caldetes which has a wonderful beach with few facilities other than the chiringuito. The village is pretty and it’s probably the least distance you have to travel to escape the urban sprawl of Barcelona. Beware of the sudden change in the depth of the water.
Any further up the line and the journey becomes rather longer than a comfortable day trip, but if you can manage just over an hour either way then San Pol is well worth a visit. The water is crystal clear and the village itself is surrounded by beautiful green hills. For the more adventurous, a beautiful little cove or cala can be found just after the train tunnel where nudist bathing is permitted.
Further a field, and only accessible by car, are lots of wonderful beaches within 90 minutes reach. Tossa de Mar is picturesque with its old castle on the hill overlooking the bay, but the beach is made awkward by the coming and going of the pleasure boats. Nearby, between San Feliu de Guixols with its working fishing port and the Platja d’Aro with its mega discos, is one of the six best beaches in Spain, Sa Conca, a beautiful cove with pine trees tumbling down rocky slopes to the sandy shore.