The beaches of Barcelona’s coastline were cleaned up, and the Olympic Marina was built for the 1992 Olympics. These two factors have contributed to its appeal as a tourist magnet and provided a boost for the whole of Barcelona.
City beaches can often be crowded in the high season, which is June to August, but being so well located with proximity to the centre of Barcelona this isn’t really surprising.
If you have the time it can be far more of a pleasure to take a trip by car or train an hour or two away from Barcelona to the surrounding areas where you will find cleaner and much nicer beaches.
Here you’ll get an overview of the best beaches both south and north of Barcelona. Also some information about Barcelona beach as it is divided into several beaches.
Central Beaches in Barcelona
Closest to the Olympic Marina, and therefore often quite full, is Nova Icaria. There are three beach bars and two popular restaurants on the promenade, Mango and Chiringuito the Moncho, plus a variety of bars and restaurants are a short walk outside the Olympic Port.
Bogatell Beach is twice as long. The elevated boardwalk helps to reduce some of the noise from the city, so noise-wise it can be a little quieter. There are no beach bars here, but three great restaurants on the beach promenade.
Separated from Bogatell by a breakwater is Mar Bella. This is the epicentre for windsurfing and so you’ll find many places to hire equipment, and even a windsurfing school.
Barcelona’s only naturist beach lies here tucked away behind a long hill, while nearby is a park which makes a great place for a picnic or siesta.
Nova Mar Bella
Great with the younger crowd who are mostly locals.
Barceloneta is a very wide and long beach. There are some restaurants with mostly pizza and Tex-Mex menus, and a Catalan restaurant called Agua. The beach then merges into the beach of San Sebastian.
It is here you find the big luxury hotel, W Barcelona, looking like a big silver sail overlooking the Barcelona beach.
Just behind you find another “one of the best” five star Eurostars Grand Marina Hotel GL.
A traditional and popular beach among locals, San Sebastian can get quite crowded, noisy and lively.
Best beaches south of Barcelona
The beaches south of Barcelona are broader and feature shallower water, while those north of Barcelona are often more beautiful and are deeper with larger waves.
Vilanova with a luxury camping and cheap family bungalows.
A bit further along the coast lies the little-known Vilanova.
This is a family beach with mostly locals who already know that the facilities for children are excellent, especially the large Vilanova Park where you can hire bungalows for a cheap price!
Great area with several swimming pools and lots of whole family activities.
20 kilometres south from Vilanova you find the beach Playa de San Salvador, belonging to the village El Vendrell. Here you have one of the best luxury spa hotels along the northern Spanish coast. Le Meridien Ra Beach Hotel & Spa
The first beach south of Barcelona is Casteldefells which has a long five-kilometre beach and is situated 15 minutes by train from town. You get off at the Platja de Casteldefells station.
There are good facilities here as well as bars and restaurants, though the compromise is that it’s often quite full in high season.
Even better beaches are a bit further south around Sitges. El Garraf has good facilities, is not overcrowded and is an easy walk from the Baixador del Garraf station.
Picture from the beach resort hotel Mediterráneo Sitges
The beautiful seaside town of Sitges is located half an hour away from Barcelona. The town has a relaxed atmosphere and also has a couple of nudist beaches.
The trendiest beaches of Fragata and Ribera are high society zones. Here people stroll to see and be seen.
Fortunately, there is a quieter beach just behind the pink church in a bay. It is less hectic and also better protected from the wind.
There is a fair distance to walk from the train station to the beaches of Sitges, but if you’re driving a car it’s a nice drive. Parking in Sitges (in high season) may be difficult if you arrive late, so be out early if you drive.
It should be mentioned that Sitges is a popular destination for the gay culture, and several bars and nightclubs are adapted to their joyful nightlife.
Many nice beach resort and spa hotels in Sitges that can be worth checking out. An overview here >>
Best beaches north of Barcelona
It is advisable to go a bit outside of Barcelona and do excursions to the many beautiful sites with lovely beaches.
At Sant Pol the water is crystal clear and the village itself is surrounded by beautiful green hills.
For the more adventure-seeking there is a beautiful small bay to be found just after the train tunnel where nudist bathing is permitted.
A great hotel (picture above) is Hotel Restaurant Sant Pol situated right on the beach. Be sure to book a room with balcony and sea view. You understand why when you look at the pictures of the hotel.
Sa Conca, one of the six best beaches in Spain
Between the fishing village of San Feliu and Platja d’Aro (the bay north of Sant Pol Beach), is one of the six best beaches in Spain.
Sa Conca features a wonderful bay with pine trees and rocky slopes down to the fine sandy beach.
Map of the route between San Pol and Platja d’Aro, where you’ll find some really nice beaches outside Barcelona.
A – The popular San Pol beach
B - Sa Conca. one of the best beaches in Spain
D - The long and charming beach of Platja d’Aro.
Get off at Ocata, shortly after Masnou, where this is beautifully clean water. No matter when you visit the beaches, you’ll have plenty of room. Another plus is that the municipality, in an attempt to lure people away from the more famous resorts, organizes many activities for children.
There is also a big camping resort right on the beach, Camping Masnou. They have a web site that you can look at: www.campingmasnou.com
Caldes d’Estrach – Caldetes
A little further north with a wonderful beach is Caldes d’Estrach – Caldetes, but please do be aware of the sudden change in water depth here.
Luxury Yacht in Port Marina Palamós
Now you have the opportunity to book some days on a luxury yacht on the Costa Brava coast. It’s moored in Port Marina Palamós, 118 kilometers north of Barcelona (little over one hour drive by car).
There are only 3 available cabins so you have to be quick to take advantage of this luxurious and cozy accommodation on the Spanish Coast.
Read more about Barcelona and Spain.