Barcelona… so many things come to mind when you think of this spectacular Spanish city: it’s stunning architecture and plentiful museums, delicious cuisine (we can’t think of better ham than jamón), bustling nightlife with boozy drinks (you can drink some sangria in the afternoon, we won’t tell), and, how could we forget, — Lionel Messi.
But one integral part of Barcelona seems to be missing from our list. Why? Because it deserves its own proper introduction: what we have here is a list of the more delightful things to see in the country — Barcelona’s beaches. Apart from being like a literal cozy hug of soft sand and warm water, most of the beaches of Barcelona have another remarkable thing in common and that is the prestigious Blue Flag Award, received only by the safest and most environmentally friendly beaches.
We’re excited to present our personally curated list of vacation spots in Barcelona that will blow your mind. One last thing before we dive in: the photos you see in the article were all taken in the morning, so be prepared to find a lot more people there in the afternoon.
- Top-10 beaches in Barcelona
- Beaches within reach of Barcelona
- Beaches of the Costa Brava
- Beachfront hotels in Barcelona
Looking for a place to stay? Consider looking for a beachfront property on Airbnb. It can be cheaper than a hotel, plus you get a more authentic experience out of your stay.
Barceloneta Beach (Playa de la Barceloneta)
Can we just say that having visited the beach, it’s a miracle the place is even on our list? Apparently, you are doomed to either fall in love with Barceloneta at first sight or despise it as passionately as we do now once you spend a couple of hours on its sands. It’s arguably one of the oldest and most visited beaches in the city with some urban vibes. Is it one of the best, though? Yes and no—here’s why.
- Perfectly located, the beach has an amazing wide promenade, a 20-minute walk away from the famous La Rambla boulevard.
- You can enjoy a wide selection of exciting restaurants, cafes and bars which make it a buzzing nightlife hub.
- The beach is cleaned daily.
- The beach surroundings meet all the required needs to accommodate people with disabilities, with a special volunteer group to assist swimmers.
Is it too soon to move on to the things we hate about it? Well, the thing is, Barceloneta isn’t just a well-known beach in Barcelona. It is hugely popular—and we mean it. Both locals and tourists who’ve just arrived to the city flock here first thing in the morning. Oh, you want more than 7 inches between you and that stranger? Not in the height of the season, honey.
Just when you think you’re finally able to relax and pretend the noise around is not there… Some guy is yelling in your face trying to sell you a beer or a towel! And he’s not alone — a myriad of annoying vendors around is something you want to be prepared for.
In view of that, it’s definitely not the cleanest beach in Barcelona. It makes it impossible to keep the place clean when the crazy amount of people leave cigarette butts, miscellaneous wraps and bottles behind them. Unfortunately, we could say the same for the sea. When we got there for the first (and last) time, we couldn’t muster up the courage to get into the water even for a short swim due to the alarming number of tags, cigarettes, and leave floating seemingly everywhere. Plus, some huge rocks along the shore seemed dangerous.
Convenience-wise, there’s everything you may need—restrooms, showers, lockers. We can’t claim those things are in good condition, though. There are workout spots, bike lanes (you can rent the bikes right there on the beach), a playground and a beach volleyball spot. These benefits and a decent Wi-Fi make Barceloneta more bearable.
We agree with many travelers about Playa de la Barceloneta being highly overrated. It’s mostly a place for party-goers and people who enjoy being in a crowd. It’s also good for having dinner in a cafe overlooking the sea or taking a walk along the promenade in the evening.
Here’s how get there by bus: take the D20, 59 or 47 to Pg Marítim-Almirall Cervera followed by a 2-min walk.
Here’s how get there by metro: take the line L4 to Barceloneta Station followed by a 13-min walk (or you could get off at the next station, Ciutadella/Vila Olímpica, and walk a little less, around 10 minutes or so).
One last note: sunbeds and umbrellas can be rented for €20 each; a glass of sangria from a nearby bar costs around €8.
Sant Sebastià (Platja de Sant Sebastià)
Sant Sebastià is arguably the best beach in Barcelona. Its proximity and similarities to Barceloneta may seem alarming at first, but fear not. San Sebastià is head and shoulders above Barceloneta.
- San Sebastià wholly deserves its recognition as a Blue Flag beach. It’s neat, tidy, fine sand beach (there’s no garbage whatsoever). This bay beach boasts clean, glistening water that you will surely enjoy.
- The beach is wide and long (second only to Bogatell), so there’s plenty of space for the flow of tourists.
- There are no vendors on the beach to annoy you, so you can sit back and enjoy the tranquil surroundings. This alone is enough to put San Sebastià at the top of the list.
- Most of the people are friendly locals. Everyone goes about their business—sunbathing, swimming, or playing sports—creating a calm and truly relaxing atmosphere.
- The beach is only half a mile from Barceloneta; nearby is the famous L’Aquarium de Barcelona and the easily recognizable sail-shaped W Barcelona 5-star hotel.
- Sant Sebastià has a separate area available to those who prefer to sunbathe topless.
The beach is convenient and well-equipped. The only things lacking are lockers to store your belongings and sufficient entertainment opportunities. Otherwise, it’s perfect—children can play, and adults can browse the Internet and/or take surfing or swimming classes.
Overall, we highly recommend you pay a visit to Sant Sebastià when you vacation in Barcelona.
Here’s how get there by bus: take the V15 or 59 to Pg Joan De Borbó—Pl Del Mar followed by a 2-min walk.
One last note: sunbeds and umbrellas can be rented for €20 each.
Sant Miquel (Platja de Sant Miquel)
We arrived in Sant Miquel by chance when we got off at the Barceloneta metro station and decided to turn off the road leading to the main beach. Honestly, after the turmoil of our first day, this place turned out to be a soothing balm for our souls.
Sant Miquel is located between Barceloneta and San Sebastià, so it’s a combination of the few downsides of the former and, luckily for us, a bunch of upsides from the latter.
- The spotless sand makes it easy to get into the turquoise sea since there are no stones. Like Barceloneta, Sant Miquel boasts a Blue Flag.
- The beach is in a central location in a nice neighborhood. As you make your way from the subway, you’ll get to enjoy a view of the yachts and luxury boats moored in the harbor.
- The standard set of available services is rather impressive; you can easily find a bike rental service and a couple of restaurants that you might enjoy.
On a less positive note, it’s definitely crowded with tourists and the occasional masseur offering their services (quite loudly and convincingly). This is nothing compared to Barceloneta though.
With only a modest number of bars in the area, the beach is relatively quiet. You might be interested in learning that tourists recommend Sant Miquel as the best family-friendly beach in Barcelona. Shallow water and ample space for building sandcastles make it an excellent choice for families with children.
Here’s how get there by metro: take the line L4 to Barceloneta Station followed by a 12-min walk.
Here’s how get there by bus: take the V15, 59 to Pg Joan De Borbó—Almirall Aixada followed by a 5-min walk.
One last note: sunbeds and umbrellas can be rented for €20 each.
Bogatell Beach (Playa de Bogatell)
Bogatell beach is a half-mile sand strip equipped with everything your heart desires. Renovated for the 1992 Olympics, Bogatell beach is believed to be the top-notch place in Barcelona where you can reconnect with the sea.
- The beach is cleaned every day—it’s relatively uncrowded thus the amount of garbage is rather insignificant.
- The water is cleaner than at the other beaches. Until waves come 🙂
- Bogatell has been receiving Blue Flag award for years now, meaning that it reconfirms its compliance with the quality standards each year.
- The beach suits any type of tourists. Are you a lazy sunbather? Check. You have high-energy kids? Check.
- Getting into the sea is easily accessible to everyone, especially to people with disabilities.
- Bogatell is one of Barcelona’s most popular beaches for locals. Rather far from downtown Barcelona, it remains uncrowded as the ordinary tourist doesn’t have enough patience to arrive here. You would think it means more space at the beach, but it’s not the case.
Bogatell is a nice and calm place with few annoying vendors and masseurs. Showers, restrooms, drinking fountains and lockers are available. Sun-kissed Catalan rescue team is watching over from the towers, ready to use their loudspeakers to holler at reckless swimmers to get back to the buoys.
For those of you who fancy sports and outdoor games, there are basketball baskets, volleyball nets, and ping-pong tables. Children will have a lot of fun at the playground. Lazybones can rent a sun lounger and an umbrella, get a mojito in the nearest bar and start posting photos on Instagram—with that great Wi-Fi connection, who wouldn’t do the same?
Here’s how get there by metro: take the line L4 to Llacuna Station followed by a 15-min walk.
Here’s how get there by bus: take the H16 to Pg Calvell—Rambla Del Poblenou followed by a 7-min walk.
One last note: sunbeds and umbrellas can be rented for €15 each.
Mar Bella (Platja de la Mar Bella)
While being a pretty good place to have fun by the sea, this beach differs in one important way: it’s a nudist beach. Although Sant Sebastià has a topless area, Mar Bella is the only beach in Barcelona where people are allowed to get naked.
Mar Bella is your go-to spot if you’re looking for a beach where the LGBT crowd is more than welcome. You’ll love the atmosphere of this beach—it’s one of the best in Barcelona.
- The sand is smooth and the sea is beautiful; the rainbow flag proudly flutters next to a Blue Flag.
- Located between two breakwaters, Mar Bella is loved for its calm and crystal clear water.
- You can totally relax here since there’s just a few cafes and pretty low noise levels. Having to look at a crowd of naked bodies could be a controversial experience for some people, but overall this place is worth a visit.
- Another upside is that Mar Bella is equipped with more things than all other beaches of Barcelona.
Mar Bella is a large beach. It’s pretty crowded, too, especially on weekends. Merchants (fully clad) freely wander around. You can get into the water easily, although the bottom is uneven due to a rather deep slope.
Entertainment-wise, the beach will likely appeal to everyone with its playgrounds, basketball court, volleyball nets, table tennis, and skateboarding area, in addition to a library and access to Wi-Fi. At Mar Bella, you can visit the nearby diving center, sail on a catamaran, rent a boat, book a windsurfing class, go kayaking, and enjoy all the other fun activities the beach offers.
At Mar Bella, the nudist area is behind a hill, so casual strollers don’t see the free-spirited naturists. There are signs everywhere, so a nude encounter shouldn’t come unexpectedly. Still, unsuspecting tourists from nearby hotels somehow manage to stumble upon nude beachgoers, prompting them to write negative reviews about Mar Bella.
Here’s a little sidenote for you: technically, the beach is laid out in a certain way. Families with children come first (yes, parents do bring their children here), then there are the straight beachgoers (sans children), followed by the gay beachgoers. When you pass the bar called BeGay, you’ll find the good old nudists. In practice, however, the person next to you can (and very well might) strip down whenever they feel like it—it’s a nude beach after all. Feel free to wear a swimsuit though. Either way, there’s no judgment.
Here’s how get there by metro: take the line L4 to Poblenou Station followed by a 15-min walk.
Here’s how get there by bus: take the H16 to Jonquera—Taulat followed by a 7-min walk.
One last note: sunbeds and umbrellas can be rented for €5–€8 each.
Nova Mar Bella
The farther you get from downtown Barcelona, the better the beaches are. Take Nova Mar Bella, for example. People confuse this beach with Mar Bella and stay away from it because of its nudist reputation. They couldn’t be more wrong— stripping down is not welcomed at Nova Mar Bella. Besides, it’s one of the best beaches in Barcelona.
- It’s a clean and fine sand beach with the water so crystal blue that you can see the fish at the bottom. Nova Mar Bella definitely deserves its Blue Flag.
- Beachgoers here are mainly locals. Schoolchildren frolic here on weekdays, families and groups of friends come here on weekends.
- At Nova Mar Bella, prices in bars and restaurants are significantly lower than those at the downtown beaches.
- Showers, restrooms and sun loungers are available all day. In addition to services, there is a first-aid station, police, and lifeguards.
- Regarding entertainment, there is an open-air gym, volleyball net, snorkel rental, and playgrounds for children where they can climb, hang upside down and do the things children do best.
Getting into the sea is easy due to the gentle slope. Masseurs and vendors are few and far between and not as annoying: police guards keep them on their toes. Sadly, there is no Wi-Fi here.
Nova Mar Bella is a beach you can come to when you want to get away from the city during summer months. The weather is nice and hot, the sea is refreshing, people aren’t packed like sardines—it’s the perfect way to relax with enough space to do so.
Here’s how get there by metro: take the line L4 to Selva De Mar followed by a 20-min walk.
Here’s how get there by bus: take the H16 or V29 to Av Del Litoral-Platja De Llevant followed by a 4-min walk.
One last note: there’s a big parking space nearby.
Somorrostro isn’t far from Barceloneta, so we were rather surprised to find it being far superior to it’s neighboring disaster of a beach.
- Somorrostro is a spacious beach, so much so that you can’t accidentally step on another person while you’re making your way to the sea.
- There simply isn’t enough crowds to make the beach a dump, so it stays clean even in the height of the season.
- Somorrostro is a central beach and easily accessible by bus and metro.
Like all other beaches in the city, it has a standard set of services. There are sports grounds, a beach library, and a volleyball court, in addition to a surf school and boat rental. There’s also a below-average Wi-Fi connection.
Center de la Platja is the thing that makes the beach really stand out. This information center organizes summer tours all around the city, lectures, and performances focused on Barcelona’s coast history. Also, this is a place where you can borrow buckets and shovels for your kids to get the best sand play experience.
However, the word “tranquility” is not a suitable description for the beach. The nearby coolest clubs and restaurants account for the young crowd of party-goers hanging on Somorrostro day and night.
Here’s how get there by metro: take the line L4 to Ciutadella—Vila Olímpica followed by a 12-min walk.
Here’s how get there by bus: take the 59 or D20 to Hospital Del Mar followed by a 3-min walk.
One last note: sunbeds and umbrellas can be rented for €12-15 each.
Llevant (Platja de Llevant)
Llevant is a classic urban beach in Barcelona, a non-tourist place that feels like home. Few travelers staying downtown decide to come all the way over here. There are still a lot of people at Llevant for some reason, particularly in the summer months.
- Llevant is a nice place with no noticeable algae/trash in the sea.
- There are fewer people than on popular beaches, but a little effort is still required if you want to soak up the sun in a stretched-out shooting star position.
- A separate area for beachgoers with pets makes Llevant a local beach.
- Massage and mojitos are barely ever offered, which is a good thing.
Other advantages include readily available amenities like an outdoor shower, restrooms, umbrella/sun lounger rental, and Wi-Fi connection. Llevant is accessible for people with disabilities, yet getting into the sea could be problematic, since the decent into the water is quite harsh. Besides, you might step on some sizable stones.
Here’s how get there by metro: take the line L4 to Selva De Mar followed by a 15-min walk.
Here’s how get there by bus: take the H16 to Pg Taulat—Diagonal Mar followed by a 10-min walk.
One last note: come in the morning if you’re driving—the small parking lot is filled to the brim by the afternoon.
Nova Icària is a beach with mixed reviews. This one is well equipped, with a pretty vista, lots of cafes, and entertainment opportunities. However, the benefits and drawbacks here go hand in hand.
- Nova Icària has a Blue Flag, but they should probably focus a little harder on the crucial standards. With a port in vicinity, the sea is littered with bottles and plastic bags. By the pier, the trash situation looks especially dire.
- The beach is less crowded than Barceloneta but far from deserted.
- There are showers, restrooms, and lockers for your belongings, but no changing rooms. This causes long lines by the restrooms.
- Vendors scurrying back and forth may interfere with your leisure.
Nova Icària is a family-friendly beach and kids love it here. The shore is long and smooth, the sand is clean. Besides, there’s a fun playground with the trained entertainers for the little ones, while adults may enjoy playing volleyball and tennis. That being said, definitely weigh the pros and cons before visiting this beach.
Here’s how get there by metro: take the line L4 to Ciutadella—Vila Olímpica followed by a 15-min walk.
Here’s how get there by bus: take the V23 or H16 to Av Icària—Av Bogatell followed by a 5-min walk.
One last note: sunbeds and umbrellas can be rented for €15 each.
Zona de Banys Fòrum
Although classified as a beach, the Fòrum area may not be a conventional place to swim and sunbathe. It is a huge seawater swimming pool enclosed by mounds of boulders that successfully keep waves away; but trash? Not so much. The water is easily accessible by convenient steps with handrails and the beach is well equipped for people with disabilities.
You won’t find any sand here—instead, there’s a wooden deck for comfortable sunbathing.
The place is just as inundated with people as any other. There is a nice shower and restrooms, as well as water skiing and pier jumping opportunities.
Here’s how get there by metro: take the line L4 to El Maresme—Fòrum followed by a 20-min walk.
Here’s how get there by bus: take the H14 to Metro Maresme—Fòrum followed by a 20-min walk.
Here’s how get there by tram: take the T4 to Campus Diagonal—Besòs followed by a 15-min walk.
One last note: beware of sea urchins that come here in “herds”—swimming in special shoes is very advisable.
Things to do nearby? Let’s see. Try a small amusement park in the vicinity, that the locals flock to on weekends, the Diagonal Mar shopping mall across the road from the pool and an architecturally noteworthy building called Diagonal ZeroZero.
We were actually looking for the reputable Granier Bakery (which eventually turned out to be ubiquitous), when we discovered a pleasant route for a stroll that stretches from the Forum Park along Avinguda Diagonal up to the Torre Agbar. Sant Marti is such a calm tree-covered neighborhood that just has that “local” Spanish ambience. We’ve been toying with the idea of buying an apartment there one day.
Beaches within reach of Barcelona
If you’re looking for a laid-back, carefree holiday, be it with the kids, a loved one, your parents, or solo, the capital of Catalonia should not be your first choice. Resorts on neighboring coasts, however, will take care of all of your relaxation needs.
You can see on the map that Spain’s beaches, especially in its eastern part, are lined up in an almost continuous strip. However, unlike those in Barcelona, not all of them are identical. Some spots have white or golden sand; others are pebble beaches.
Barcelona borders the beaches of Costa Daurada in the south. These are, hands down, some of the best beaches in Spain. Families will appreciate the convenient central Salou beach and Playa de Ponent, while Platja dels Capellans would probably be the best choice for a group of friends. But remember, Mallorca isn’t the only place that has the much-loved white sand beaches in Spain—let’s not forget La Pineda, which is not far from Salou.
North of Barcelona, you’ll find some great beaches with views of Calella and Pineda de Mar. The golden sandbars and turquoise waters will blow your mind and are guaranteed to look gorgeous on your travel blog feed.
Beaches of the Costa Brava
Lloret de Mar is truly the gem of the Catalan capital’s northern coast.
There’s a variety of stunning places to choose from, whether you prefer wide public beaches (Lloret) loved equally by locals and tourists or picturesque uncrowded spots surrounded by a lush greenery (Platja de Santa Cristina, Platja De Sa Boadella). The sand is any color you can imagine, be it white, golden or grayish, with a texture that can’t even be described—are those large sand grains or tiny pebbles?
Beachfront hotels in Barcelona
Local hotels may be close to the sea, but they aren’t allowed to own a section of the beach. In Barcelona, a tourist’s dream to stay at a hotel by the beach is destined to remain a dream, because all the sandy places belong to the municipality.
Finally, here comes our list of top 4 beachfront hotels with the cheapest options possible (to the extent of what can be considered “cheap” in beachfront hotels of Barcelona):
- 5* Sofitel Barcelona Skipper — a truly unforgettable 5-star experience of a hotel: located super close to the beach, superb service, beautifully designed interiors and nice rooms (Diptique products in the bathroom, come on!). Rooms start at $228 a night.
- 5* W Barcelona — direct beach access, next-level Spa center on site, as well as a top-class gourmet restaurant. The hotel’s sail-like structure can be seen from far away, making it a desired destination among city’s guests. Rooms start at $264 a night.
- 5* Hotel Arts Barcelona — as the name suggests, the hotel hosts a contemporary art collection as well as other word-class amenities, including a spa center with magnificent panoramic views, a rooftop pool and a 2 Michelin stars restaurant on site. Rooms start at $274 a night.
- 4* Hesperia Del Mar — finally, a more budget-friendly option of a beachfront hotel in Barcelona! The truth is, they are really hard to come by, so make a note of this one for your future travels. It’s hard to believe that you can rent a room here starting from $83 a night, since the balcony view easily costs a million dollars. Sleek modern design and close proximity to the beach are nice add-ons to the overall experience.
We hope that our extensive list of beaches in Barcelona was enough to make you want to experience if not all, but most of them. Trust us, once your feet touch the soft and warm sand of these beaches, consider yourself a Barcelona beach gropie for life!