Barcelona is fairly unique in that it enjoys all the perks of a major city, whilst also boasting some of the best beaches in Europe.
Alongside epic nightlife, groundbreaking food, designer shopping, and an abundance of cultural and historical sites, the weather is one of Barcelona’s top attractions. And where better to enjoy over 300+ days of sunshine a year – and 4.5km of Mediterranean coastline – than on a Barcelona beach?
Whether you’re a tourist, a nudist, or an extreme sports enthusiast, there’s a playa (or platja, if we’re using Catalan) in Barcelona for you.
Best for: People watching
Barceloneta is one of Barcelona’s most energetic and animated neighbourhoods, and its beach isn’t much different. Lively La Barceloneta is arguably the beach in the city, attracting scores of sunbathers each year thanks to its size and convenient central location – the Barceloneta metro stop is a short distance away, but you can walk to it in less than 30 minutes from just about anywhere in the old city.
Best for: Families
La Barceloneta isn’t for everyone. For while it boasts gloriously golden sands, it also has to put up with legions of opportunistic sangria-and-margarita-sellers patrolling it all day long. Walk a little further up the coastline – or head to Bogatell metro station – and you’ll find a much more accessible, all-ages beach: Platja del Bogatell. Nearby Platja de la Nova Icaria beach is similarly spacious and peaceful, and the Municipal Sailing Centre there offers courses in sailing, windsurfing, canoeing and scuba diving.
Best for: Drinks
Take a short walk along the seafront from La Barceloneta – heading towards the Olympic Port – and you’ll find Somorrostro beach. Platja del Somorrostro enjoys a similar vibe to La Barceloneta, and is especially popular with young people. Why? A number of bars and beach clubs look onto the beach at Somorrostro, and it’s the closest beach to nightclubs like Club Catwalk and Opium.
Best for: Going au naturel
The seafront regeneration process that took place around the 1992 Olympic Games was responsible for the return of both Platja de la Mar Bella and Platja Nova Mar Bella. You’d do well to make sure you know which of these blue flag beaches is which though, because while the latter is popular with women and young people, the former largely attracts naked people. For a nudist beach, Platja de la Mar Bella isn’t remotely remote, and the nudist area segues seamlessly into an area with a children’s playground in it.
If visiting a nude beach in Barcelona isn’t your bag, then Platja de la Nova Mar could be worth a trip. A little bit further out of town, this beach is naturally quieter than many of the beaches on this list – perfect for a spot of peace and quiet while you sunbathe.
Best for: Sports and sunsets
Hop on a train and head 20-ish minutes out of town and you’ll find one of the best beaches near Barcelona. With beach bars, sunbeds, watersports and more, Castelldefels is much like any of central Barcelona’s beaches, but with one notable difference: There are a lot less people. That’s not to say no one goes here, though, because this spacious beach is particularly popular with locals after a day in the office (can you blame them?) and kite-surfers in the spring, but the hordes of central Barcelona are nowhere to be found. Head here in the evening and take a peaceful stroll along 5k of dreamy pale-yellow sand as the sun goes down.
Best for: A day trip
Venture even further out of the city for 10 more minutes and you’ll find the rather pretty town of Sitges, which enjoys a few decent beaches of its own. 17 to be exact. Each one has its own personality, often affected by the types of people who go to them, from locals (Platja de Sant Sebastià), families (Platja de la Fragata), LGBT people (Bassa Rodona), nudists (Cala Morsica) and surfers (The Cemetery… don’t be put off by the name – the beach is just near a cemetery. Promise.)