Barcelona is a great city for visitors and locals alike, people who enjoy sun, surf and fun. There are several beaches to choose from, all of which are easily accessible. And, as is true for most cities, some beaches are a little nicer than others. In fact, one of Barcelona’s best and nicest beaches may be in Vila Olímpica district.
Facing the city’s port area and the spectacular Mediterranean Sea, Vila Olimpica didn’t even exist before the 1980s. This part of town was essentially overlooked and forgotten while most of the interesting sites and things to do remained in the center of the city, a fact that is still largely, but not entirely, true today. In fact, that all changed when plans were made to host the 1992 Summer Olympic Games.
Vila Olimpica and Port Olimpic were constructed specifically for the Olympic Games and included apartments to house the athletes. When built, the apartment buildings containing the apartments replaced dozens of old factories and warehouses, dramatically changing the character of the neighborhood. Today, those apartments are privately-owned and they remain spectacular symbols of the 1992 Olympic Games.
In the period leading up to 1992, Barcelona also made modifications to the highway that had long separated the city from the sea. The result: a new underground highway and beautiful seaside walkways were created, along with a brand new port. The name given to this area was Port Olimpic.
Today, Port Olimpic is one of the nicest destinations in the entire city and Vila Olimpica is a smart and chic residential district. It is also where some of the liveliest and best entertainment in all of Barcelona can be found … and enjoyed. Pedestrians can walk along the esplanade which passes right by the luxurious Hotel Arts complex and stop to enjoy dinner at one of the many fine seafood restaurants that dot the landscape. The area is also home to lots of finest lounges and cafes.
In total, Vila Olimpica is one of Barcelona’s newest neighborhoods, filled with style and sophistication for those who live there … and those who visit.
When you get to Vila Olimpica, the first things you will probably see are the twin towers. You can’t miss them because they dominate the landscape. The first tower is called Torre Mapfre. It is currently serving as one of Barcelona’s more noteworthy office buildings and features a large shopping center on the ground floor level.
The second tower is the home of the Hotel Arts, a spectacular hotel complex that was designed by internationally-known architects, Bruce Gram and Frank O. Gehry and is currently owned by the world-famous Ritz-Carlton Group. This remarkably-beautiful 5-Star hotel overlooks the Mediterranean Sea and features more than 450 luxurious rooms and suites. Interestingly, the towers rise more than 150 meters into the sky, making them the tallest buildings in all of Barcelona.
There is another famous sight you’ll want to see when you are in Vila Olimpica. It’s the breathtakingly stunning metallic Fish. Created by Frank O. Gehry, the architect who also designed Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum, the sculpture rests imposingly right outside the front entrance of the Hotel Arts. This is a magnificent one-of-a-kind work of art that changes color – almost magically – each time sunlight hits it at a different angle.
Of course, Port Olimpic is a welcome destination for both tourists and locals for a variety of reasons. Ideally-suited to the tastes of water sports enthusiasts and bicyclists, its marina was designed by a group of well-known architects, including Oriol Bohigas, Josep Martorell, David Mackay and Albert Puigdomenech. There is also a sports marina which was built for the 1992 Olympics sailing competition and features 740 berths for yachts and other pleasure boats. The marina’s entrance is visible from anywhere in Barcelona.
Vila Olimpica’s main boulevards are the Passeig Maritim de la Nova Icaria and the Passeig Maritim del Port Olimpic. Those who choose to stroll along the Passeig Maritim del Port Olimpic will find that they can stop at – and enjoy – any one of a dazzling array of restaurants and cafes, all of which feature open-air terraces which are available to diners throughout the spring and summer seasons.
These restaurants and cafes offer visitors a wonderful opportunity to enjoy a delicious seafood dinner and the chance to enjoy views of the sea and the passing pedestrian scene. It’s an experience you have to include in your itinerary.
Vila Olimpica is the right destination for your holidays if you like the beach. It is where you will find one of Barcelona’s best beaches – Nova Icaria. Located right next to Barceloneta beach, Nova Icaria is generally less crowded, cleaner and much more comfortable. It is also very popular with beach volleyball players.
Here’s something to make your stay at the beach even more pleasant: Nova Icaria beach is dotted with chiringuitos (typical small Spanish bars). They can be found right on the beach so that you can walk up to one, order a cool, refreshing drink … a light snack … or even sit at a table and enjoy lunch. Chiringuitos are open daily from 9 A.M. to 2 o´clock at night beginning in April – when Barcelona’s weather warms up.
Of course, this beach area also has lots to do at night. In fact, Vila Olimpica is home to some of the city’s best and most popular discos – Catwalk, Shoko, Opium Mar and many others. The streets near the beach also have many pubs and lounges, some of which can be found right in front of the Port Olimpic and the Grand Casino of Barcelona.
Here’s a money-saving tip: chiringuitos frequently have discount tickets or even Free Passes to many of the discos and bars in Vila Olimpica. If you’re planning to visit a disco or bar, ask for the pass during the day, while you’re at the beach.
It’s Easy to Get To Vila Olimpica.
Vila Olimpica is easily accessible by metro. All you need do is take the Yellow Line 4 to Ciutadella Vila Olimpica. It’s a short trip and when you exit the metro you need only walk about 10 minutes to reach Port Olimpic and the beach.
In a word if you enjoy the sun, the surf, the warm sand under your feet, great seafood restaurants and lots of fun in the evening, there’s one thing you need to do. Make Vila Olimpica your next stop on your visit to Barcelona.