Barcelona´s seven beaches span 4.2 kilometers, all of which are surprisingly clean thanks to local incentives to improve the coastal area and an urban development program focused on making the beaches more attractive for residents and visitors.
The locals will tell you that the best beaches are either up or down the coast, away from the city, but the Barcelona beaches have come a long way in recent years. In fact, all but one beach (San Sebastià) have received blue flags, an eco-label awarded based on high environmental standards and water quality. With 493 awarded beaches, Spain has become famous in the last few years for having more blue flag beaches than any other country.
All of Barcelona´s beaches have toilets, free showers, and life guard stands ever few meters. Keep an eye out for colored flags indicating swimming condition. A green flag means that conditions are normal, and you can swim without danger. A yellow flag indicates no immediate danger, but caution should be taken when swimming. Exercise extreme caution when you see a rare red flag, as sea conditions are dangerous. A black flag means sea conditions are so dangerous that you should not enter the water – an extremely uncommon occurrence on Barcelona´s beaches.
As in many European countries, going topless is somewhat common in Spain and generally not considered taboo.
Throughout Catalonia, chiringuitos are a common sight. A chiringuito is a beach bar, essentially a hut on the sand with some tables and chairs. While drinks can be pricey, chiringuitos are ideal if you want to get out the sun and enjoy some music. Many of them also serve sandwiches and snacks, and they tend to be open until 1am or 2am - perfect for an after dinner drink on a hot night.
If you don´t want to sit at the bar, chips and even coconuts are sold by many of the vendors who make their way through the sunbathers. Carrying goods in bags, these vendors call out what they sell. “Agua, beer, coca cola!” is a typical refrain. If you want to purchase something, simply raise your hand to call them over, and be prepared to barter. A drink should cost around €1.50 and definitely not more than €2.
The two beaches closest to the city center are Platja de Sant Sebastià and Platja de Barceloneta. Their proximity makes them the most accessible but also the most crowded and touristy, which means in high tourist season they may not be your best option. Sant Sebastià has services for disabled persons from June until September and is closest to city center (Barcelona metro stop).
Platja de Barceloneta is located between the metro Barceloneta and the metro Ciutadella. The latter has facilities available for leisure activities, including ping-pong tables, an area for skateboarding, volleyball courts, and a children´s play area. Visit the Beach Centre at Barceloneta for information on activities, the state of the beaches, and a beach library. With its many amenities and excellent accessibility, Barceloneta tends to be the most popular beach for foreigners.
For a wonderful lunch by the water, head north to Barcelona´s next beach Nova Icària. It is full of chiringuitos and restaurants. Under the orange awning, Mango has very reasonably priced paellas and a friendly staff. Moncho´s and others in the area are also great options. Beyond its many eating establishments, Nova Icària also has plenty of space for playing on its ping-pong tables, volleyball courts, or in the children´s play area. This beach also has services for disabled persons. Nova Icària also gets quite crowded in summer, so you may have to arrive a bit earlier in the day to claim space.
Further north is Bogatell, bordered on either side by stone breakwaters. Its nearest metros are Poble Nou and Llacuna. Beyond its available ping-pong tables and volleyball court, beach goers can rent chairs and parasols at Bogatell.
Located between the Bac de Roda breakwater and the Mar Bella breakwater is Mar Bella. Barcelona´s only designated nudist section is on Mar Bella (look for the area protected by bamboo). There is a children´s play area next to the breakwater as well as a volleyball court. In July and August a beach library is set up. Nearby you will also find a basketball hoop, ping-pong tables, and a skateboarding area. There is a beach chair and parasol rental available as well.
Nova Mar Bella is considered one of Barcelona´s most peaceful beaches. It attracts a relatively young crowd and is one of the most popular for Catalans living outside of Barcelona. It has services for disabled persons from June to September as well as a parasol and beach chair rental and a beach library.
The last – and latest- beach is Llevant, which opened in 2006. It has shower facilities but no toilets. The nearest toilets are in close by Nova Mar Bella, and the closest metro is Selva del Mar.
The bottom line? For the clearest water and the cleanest beaches it´s best to go outside of the city, and if you plan to make a day of it then a short train ride will be worth it. However, you should certainly not leave Barcelona without taking a dip in the Mediterranean, and if you only here for a short visit then it´s probably easiest to stay in the city.
In order to make the beach experience more enjoyable, there are a few general precautions that all visitors should take.First, make sure to check the flag´s color and whether or not a lifeguard is on duty before swimming. If you plan to spend time in the sun, be sure to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. As in any public space, keep a close eye on your children. Do not to leave valuables unattended. And of course, don´t forget the sunscreen!
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.