Barcelona basks in the rarity of being a buzzing city with a beach – in how many places can you spend all day exploring some of the best landmarks in the world and then spend all evening sipping cocktails on the sand? Particularly in the summer months the beaches are a hive of activity, with young groups chugging beer from plastic cups, families fanning out sandy towels, and leathery locals soaking up the sun’s rays. Though it seems like Barcelona just has one beach (that’s Barceloneta for anyone not in the know), it actually has a host of sandy stretches for every kind of occasion, whether you’re looking to sunbathe in peace and quiet, try your hand at some fast-paced watersports, or even strip down to the nuddy.
It makes sense to start the list with Barceloneta because this beach is the most prominent in the city. Located just along from the port, it folds out in a show of sprawling golden sands edged with lively beach bars and seafront restaurants. Expect it to get busy, with locals and tourists flocking to it for a glimpse of the Mediterranean. During the day it can be overwhelming with the crowds (and the soundtrack of men flogging mojitos can wear thing after a while), but at night it’s a flurry of delicious seafood and colourful cocktails.
Nova Icaria Beach
Set alongside the Olympic Marina and observatory, Nova Icaria is the hang out spot of the younger crowds. Here the atmosphere is vibrant and fun-loving, with plenty of watersports opportunities and bars to get stuck into. It’s also close to the Icaria shopping centre and its English-language cinema – ideal if you fancy a break from the sun and the sea.
Though Sitges isn’t one of Barcelona’s city beaches, it’s a popular stretch of sand just along the coast. Known for its laidback party vibe and its large gay community, it’s ideal for a day of relaxation, good food, and lots of drinks. Like Barcelona’s main beaches, the largest beach in Sitges can get overrun in the summer months, but head slightly north and you’ll find quieter coves with sheltered shorelines.
Ocata sits to the north of Barcelona and is a quiet, family-friendly beach. Boasting pristine sands and plenty of space to lay down your towels it is the perfect backdrop for summer sandcastles and picnics. At a half an hour train ride out of Barcelona, it also gives you time to breathe away from the bustle of the city centre.
Closer to Barcelona than Sitges and Ocata, Castelldefels sprawls out over 5km of lush sandy shoreline. Though it’s set about 15 minutes south of Barcelona’s city centre it still gets quite busy, particularly during the warmer summer months.
Mar Bella Beach
Mar Bella Beach has many different faces. During the day its designated nudist beach fills up with freedom-seeking locals and tourists, and it plays host to a large windsurfing centre that offers all manner of watersporting activities. At night it turns into a party hotspot and is a particular favourite of the LGBTQ community. On Sunday nights throughout the summer it pumps out loud music and serves up colourful cocktails at late-night raves.
Sharing a spot of shoreline just along from Barceloneta, Bogatell Beach is a cleaner, calmer version of Barcelona’s prominent stretch of sand. It’s a favourite spot for the glamorous and you’ll see flashes of tattoos, designer handbags, and seriously oversized sunglasses. Barcelona’s kind to its audience, offering a little something for everyone with its beaches. Though it’s not as picturesque as some of Spain’s famous holiday hotspots, it offers a unique combination of lively city life and relaxing shorelines.