From ribbons of honey-colored coast that stretch 3.1 miles (5km) north from the Port of Barcelona to secret southern sands that – shh! – the locals want to keep quiet about, these are the best beaches in Barcelona.
1. Barceloneta Beach
This is it: the epicenter of Barcelona's beaches; the most popular strip of sand in the city. Just east of its namesake neighborhood, Barceloneta Beach throngs with sun-seekers, mojito vendors and sarong sellers during the height of summer.
Entirely manmade, its pharaonic gold sands were shipped over from Egypt and the palm trees along the promenade once called Hawaii home. For some, it might feel like a circus, but for many others, this iconic stretch of parasol-lined paradise epitomizes the energy of the city. We're firmly in the latter camp.
2. Mar Bella Beach
Towards the north of Barcelona's coastline is this wonderfully cosmopolitan stretch of soft blonde sand, which is ever-popular with an LGBTQI+ crowd. Mar Bella Beach has a small nudist strip, which is clearly marked, as well as a number of other amenities, including a skate park and some water sports.
3. Bogatell Beach
Fronting the hip El Poblenou neighborhood, the fluffy golden-white sands of Bogatell Beach host volleyball courts and a few seasonal xiringuitos (beach bars) with sun loungers and umbrellas.
There are a couple of excellent seafood restaurants on the promenade above, including much-loved Xiringuito Escribà, but down on the sand, this is as quiet a beach as you’re going to get in this part of Barcelona.
4. Nova Icària Beach
Arguably Barcelona’s best beach for families, the southernmost strip of golden sand above Port Olímpic often echoes with the excited squeals of young children. But that’s unsurprising: with a wide selection of sports facilities, including table tennis and beach volleyball, lifeguards on patrol, and warm, shallow waters, Nova Icària Beach is the ideal place for parents to let their kids run down the tank.
5. Sant Sebastià Beach
Beneath the glass gaze of W Barcelona, the 26-story, sail-shaped beach hotel that puffs out at the southern end of La Barceloneta, is this wonderful slice of sun, surf and sand. Sant Sebastià Beach is a handy stretch of white-gold for those looking for a quick break from the city.
6. Nova Mar Bella Beach
This crescent of sparkling gold sand is where the locals tend to hangout. Located towards the north of the El Poblenou beaches, it’s usually dotted with brightly-colored beach umbrellas and sun loungers fixed in the horizontal position. Nova Mar Bella Beach still has plenty of facilities, including showers and a couple of beach bars, but it’s far more chilled than most of the beaches this end of the city.
7. Sant Miquel Beach
Taking its name from the 18th-century church in nearby Barceloneta, this stretch of soft honey-gold sand is one of the oldest beaches in Barcelona. Due to its proximity to the old city, Sant Miquel Beach is often busy, but it’s worth spreading your towel out for a while — if only to see Rebecca Horn’s L'Estel ferit (The Wounded Shooting Star), a sculpture of four stacked cubes that look like they might topple over at any moment.
8. Zona de Banys del Fòrum
Not a beach in the traditional bucket and spade sense – there's no sand here – but for all intents and purposes, the bathing area at El Fòrum acts as one. With a number of diving pontoons, several shaded areas and a groyne of solid concrete cubes, this beach-by-design is architecture you can use.
Located at the most eastern point of the city's shoreline, where the massive Pergola solar panel glints in the sunshine, this sea-fed swimming area is around 375m-long (1230ft) and 30-m (98ft) wide and includes steps down into the water that have been adapted to allow access for disabled travelers too.
9. Somorrostro Beach
Stretching out like a soft golden cat between Gas breakwater and the Moll de Marina pier, Somorrostro Beach makes locals purr with delight. This stretch of sand is where Frank Gehry’s El Peix (Golden Fish) sculpture dangles enticingly out-of-reach on the promenade above. It can get busy during the summer months.
10. Castelldefels Beach
Around 20km southwest of Barcelona city center, this beautiful long sweep of golden-blonde sand beloved by kitesurfers is accessible by train. Backed by some fairly hefty sand dunes, Castelldefels Beach is a blissful escape and rarely packed. Its pink-and-apricot sunsets are often exquisite.
11. Ocata Beach - El Masnou
The beach town of El Masnou is only around 30 minutes from Barcelona by train, but the journey is worth it for this long curl of burnished bronze sand. Motorway-wide, there’s plenty of room for spreading out, plus its healthy number of xiringuitos (beach bars) will allow visitors to make a day of it.
Although much more peaceful than the inner-cities beaches, beware that the drop of the beach scarp, the area between the shoreline and the seafloor, is much steeper than in Barcelona.
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