If you’re planning a trip to Barcelona and you love the beach, the sun and lots of outdoor fun – consider Barceloneta. It is the city’s most popular beach, easily accessible and a favorite stopover for tourists and locals alike.
Barceloneta (which literally means “little Barcelona”), is a former fishing village with a rich maritime history and one of the four primary districts of Ciutat Vella (old town) which is centrally located in the very heart of the city.
This district was purpose built for the residents of Ribera who were ousted from their properties to make way for the construction of the Ciutadella in the 18th century. This is why much of what you see seems to be very organized and well laid out. The whole area was designed in one major development phase, and this has led to a feeling of organization, which makes it very easy to find your way about.
Today, it is one of the most popular areas in all of Barcelona and features beautiful pedestrian walkways and lots of great cafes. Adding to its charm, Barceloneta is bordered on one side by the Mediterranean Sea, bordered on a second side by the delightful Muelle de España of Port Vell and bordered on a third side by El Borne – a district of Barcelona packed with trendy bars, great restaurants and some of the city’s most fashionable boutiques.
Barceloneta’s main attractions are its beaches. However, they may not be the area’s best attraction. Although conveniently-located close to the city center, popular with tourists and generally well -suited for families with children, these city beaches may not be always well-maintained and tend to become overcrowded on most summer weekends. If you’re looking for a beach that can provide you with relaxation and tranquility, it may be a better idea to go to Nova Icaria or Bogatell.
All of Barceloneta’s beaches feature vendors who walk among the sun lovers throughout the day, offering products for sale that are generally inexpensive, such as sunglasses. Some of these vendors also offer foot massages for as little as 5 Euros.
Another beach benefit is chiringuitos. These typical small Spanish-style open bars can be found on all the beaches in Barceloneta. These convenient bars are actually right on the beach – on the sand itself – and offer hot and thirsty beach lovers a chance to relax and cool off – with a cold drink, a light snack or even a pleasant lunch at a beachfront, open-air table. Chiringuitos are immensely popular with Spain’s beach-loving citizens and can be found at beaches all over the country. Most chiringuitos are open from 9 A.M. to 2 A.M. daily.
Barceloneta’s main boulevard is Passeig Joan de Borbo. It begins at the Plaça Palau and stretches all the way to the Mediterranean Sea. Modern and well-suited for pedestrians today, it once was the site of endless rows of warehouses and was not at all fashionable. Passeig Joan de Borbo is currently the place to go for fresh and delicious seafood. There are many fine restaurants and bars, with “hawkers” out front urging you to enter, serving traditional culinary seafood delights, such as paella and fideua.
Stop and see L’Aquarium de Barcelona. If you’re traveling with children, and you tire of the beach, you may want to consider visiting Barcelona’s first class aquarium – L’Aquarium de Barcelona. Located in Port Vell (old Port) and considered to be one of the finest aquariums in all of Europe, it features interactive displays that will delight children and huge tanks filled with Mediterranean sea life, as well as sea life from other parts of the world.
Although an indoor activity, I’d strongly recommend the IMMAX Cinema in Port Vell, one of the largest movie theater complexes in Barcelona No doubt your children will strongly recommend it too when they hear about it! It’s a short walk up from the beach, and is home to a dazzling array of amazing 3D films that the whole family will certainly enjoy, many of them are presented in English.
While in Barceloneta you may also want to visit the Museu d’Historia de Cataluña (Cataluña’s History Museum). Located in the stunning Palau del Mar (Sea Palace), which is in the old port, it will enable you to take an interesting tour back through Cataluña’s long history. Once you’ve completed your tour, you can take a break at one of the several cafes and restaurants located just outside the museum. The outdoor tables will allow you to enjoy the sun and the passing pedestrian scene while you sip a drink or eat a meal.
Visitors may also consider a stop at Plaza de Barceloneta, the area’s main square and the home of the Iglesia de Sant Miguel del Port. Built in 1755, the building’s façade is particularly interesting. There is also a giant sculpture of St. Miguel himself.
Barceloneta is also home to the Mercat de Barceloneta, a lively, traditional and typical Catalan market. Here, you can join with locals to buy fresh meat, fish, fruits and vegetables – all at very fair and competitive prices.
Here’s how easy it is to get there. Barceloneta is easily accessible in a number of ways. You can walk there along the Passeig de Colon, a short trip that begins at the Plaza de Colon, just past Las Ramblas. Or, if you prefer, you can use public transportation. The Metro Yellow Line L4 will take you to a stop that will leave you at the beginning of the district. Buses, such as the N-17 line, are also available.
There is even a cable car at San Sebastian beach which you can use to get to the top of Montjuic Mountain. It’s a scenic ride, so take a camera with you in order to take memorable photographs of the panoramic views you’ll enjoy of the port and the Mediterranean Sea.
One of Barcelona’s main railway stations, Estaçio de França, is located directly behind the Barceloneta metro. Trains leaving from this station can take you directly to the airport – quickly and easily – or to other parts of Spain, such as the beautiful coastal area of Costa Brava, Figueras, home of the Dali Museum or even Girona, a city known for its Gothic architecture. There are also lockers at the railway station that you can use to store luggage, temporarily, if, for instance, your flight out of Barcelona will be late at night.
Finally, it’s important to know that Barceloneta is the place to go for locals who enjoy outdoor sports, such as jogging and cycling. It’s popular with tourists who are drawn to its long, palm-tree lined boulevards, especially the Passeig Joan de Borbo. And it’s popular with everyone – locals and tourists alike – who enjoy a day at the beach.
If like the beach, dining on seafood, visiting aquariums and museums, you need to make sure you come to the city’s former fishing village when you visit Barcelona. Include a stopover in Barceloneta.