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.

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The yellow sands of Barceloneta Beach in Barcelona with the sail-shaped W Hotel in the background
Barceloneta Beach in Barcelona is the most popular strip of sand in the city ©tkemot/Shutterstock

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.

Barcelona Club Beach stands next to a children's slide on Mar Bella Beach
Barcelona Club Beach stands at the end of Mar Bella Beach © Getty Images/iStockphoto

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.

Beach-goers playing beach volleyball on Bogatell beach in Barcelona
Volleyball is a popular pastime on Bogatell Beach, Barcelona © Dino Geromella / Getty Images

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.

Sunbathers spread out across Nova Icària Beach in Barcelona
With plenty of amenities and restaurants nearby, Nova Icària Beach is a good choice for families ©nito/Shutterstock

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.

The W Hotel in Barcelona on a clear bright blue day with the yellow curve of Sant Sebastià Beach
Sant Sebastià Beach is the nearest strip of sand to the W Hotel in Barcelona © Siqui Sanchez / Getty Images

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. 

A man and woman clamber over a climbing frame at Nova Mar Bella Beach, Barcelona
Nova Mar Bella Beach is where the locals like to hang © Getty Images/EyeEm

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.

Rebecca Horn’s sculpture, L'Estel ferit (The Wounded Shooting Star), stands in the middle on an empty Sant Miquel Beach in Barcelona
The Wounded Shooting Star sculpture at Sant Miquel Beach in Barcelona is said to represent the local beach bars © dynasoar/Getty Images

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.

An empty Zona de Banys del Fòrum swimming area in Barcelona with a giant solar panel in the background
Zona de Banys del Fòrum is not your typical beach © Artur Debat /Getty Images

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.

Frank Gehry’s El Peix (Golden Fish) sculpture dangles above the quiet sands of Somorrostro Beach in Barcelona during a pink sunset
Somorrostro Beach is home to Frank Gehry’s El Peix (Golden Fish) sculpture © Artur Debat / Getty Images

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.

A quiet Castelldefels Beach in Barcelona
Castelldefels Beach in Barcelona is local secret © Miquel Benitez / Getty Images

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. 

Two Ironman swimmers in the sea near Barcelona swim past the silhouette of an old woman on the beach
The deepwater Ocata Beach in El Masnou, near Barcelona, is good for swimming © Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images

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.

You might also like:
The 10 best beaches in Spain
Top free things to do in Barcelona
Best day trips from Barcelona

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