El Poblenou Platges

Top choice beach in Barceloneta, the Waterfront & El Poblenou

Image by Scott E Barbour Getty Images

A series of broad, sandy beaches stretches northeast from the Port Olímpic marina. They are largely artificial, but that doesn't deter the millions of sunseekers and swimmers from descending in summer. They're lined with chiringuitos (temporary snack bars) and are particularly popular for beach volleyball.

Platja de la Nova Icària, the southernmost beach, is the busiest. Behind it, across the Avinguda del Litoral highway, is the Plaça dels Campions, site of the rusting three-tiered platform used to honour medallists in the sailing events of the 1992 games. Much of the athletes’ housing-turned-apartments are in the blocks immediately behind Carrer de Salvador Espriu.

The next beach is Platja de Bogatell. Just in from the beach is the Cementiri del Poblenou, created in 1773.

Platja de la Mar Bella (with its brief nudist strip, popular with a gay crowd, as well as a good skateboard area with half-pipes) and Platja de la Nova Mar Bella follow, leading into the new residential and commercial waterfront strip, the Front Marítim, part of the Diagonal Mar project in the Fòrum district. It's fronted by the last of these artificial beaches to be created, Platja del Llevant.

In July and August, the city sets up Biblioplatges ('beach libraries') at Platja de la Mar Bella at the Espigó de Bac de Roda; you'll find magazines, newspapers and a small foreign-language selection among the Spanish titles. In addition, you can also hire out frisbees, volleyballs and nets, beach rackets, balls and petanque games; for kids, you'll find buckets, spades and watering cans. They're free to use; all you need to hire out books or gear is your ID.