A guide to Barcelona's beaches

Even without its beaches, Barcelona would be one of Europe's coolest destinations thanks to its groundbreaking food s...

Posted: Jun 1, 2018 12:53 PM
Updated: Jun 1, 2018 12:53 PM

Even without its beaches, Barcelona would be one of Europe's coolest destinations thanks to its groundbreaking food scene, unique architecture and legendary nightlife.

But the cherry on the sundae is the three-mile strip of nearly continuous golden sand, which is so wired into its heart that it's like the entire city's backyard.

Much of the seafront buzzes with a carnival atmosphere year-round, with hawkers tiptoeing around sunbathers to sell cold cans of beer, beach blankets and chintzy trinkets.

Along the pedestrian promenade that runs the length of the waterfront, musicians, street performers and sand sculptors compete for tips among a constant stream of strolling tourists and locals to this part of Spain.

Weaving around them are bikes, Segways, skateboards, motorized scooters, rickshaws, rollerbladers and every other wheeled contraption imaginable.

The most popular beaches are only a 15-minute walk from the tangled alleys of Barcelona's oldest area, and the quieter ones to the north are easily accessible by public transit.

Meanwhile, there's something for every type of beachgoer, from the partying weekender to the family man to the bronzed sunbather looking to relax with a book.

Here's your guide on how to find your kind of beach in the capital of Catalonia:

Barceloneta and Sant Miguel

No matter which beach you choose, the Mediterranean sun shines down about 300 days a year, so you'll always have at least some company. The beaches really start to come alive in April, when dozens of chiringuitos, or beach bars, sprout up along the coastline, and vendors begin renting out umbrellas, lounge chairs and sports equipment.

Another bonus: A public bathroom or outdoor shower is never that far away.

Barceloneta Beach is at the heart of it all, and here's where to come if you're in the mood for a party.

Walk from its namesake metro stop down Passeig Joan de Borbo, past the superyachts docked in the marina, and you'll arrive at Sant Miguel. It won't take long to notice the upbeat music playing among sunburned tourists who've spent a bit too much time flagging down vendors for watered-down mojitos.

Barceloneta is to the north of the 30-foot stack of steel and glass cubes, a statue called The Wounded Shooting Star.

Both beaches are part of one continuous strip, but the top half takes its name from the adjacent neighborhood. It's traditionally been a fishing quarter but now struggles with an overflow of short-term rentals, which explains both the crowds and the blue and yellow flags signaling neighborhood pride that dangle from almost half the balconies.

That bit of tension, however, is hardly evident out on the beach, which maintains a laid-back vibe despite the tourist throng.

The action continues well into the night, when groups of young locals come for an affordable night of hanging out under the floodlights strumming guitars and drinking beers.

Sant Sebast-a

This beach is close to the center of action -- just to the south of Barceloneta near the sail-shaped W Hotel -- but it's generally quiet enough to still hear the light shoosh of small, lapping waves over the bicycle bells ringing on the promenade.

Sant Sebast-a is one of the oldest swimming areas in the city, and the Club Nataci- here began hosting dips for the elite in the early 20th century. That history, plus the convenience to the center of town, draws an older crowd and families in the morning. By the time the sun hits its afternoon peak, the crowd gives way to a more boisterous gathering.

The beach is also home to the Pukas Surf School, evidence that on days after a storm, surfers come to vie for modest waves. On calmer days paddleboarders and windsurfers dot the horizon. (Avenida Zurriola 24, 20002 San Sebastian; +34 943 320 068)

Be aware that it's clothing-optional, so you'll see your fair share of nude sunbathers who don't care at all about hundreds of people walking within ogling distance.

In fact, Sant Sebast-a has always been liberal and caused quite a stir when it became the first bathing area in the city to allow men and women to swim together.

Somorrostro

This area sits between the outdoor exercise pier that marks the north end of Barceloneta and the twin towers of the Port Olympic. Until the mid-20th century Sorromostro hosted a shantytown that housed up to 15,000 people, but now it's home to the coastline's fanciest restaurants.

A fashionable crowd lounges on plush sun chairs underneath Frank Gehry's lacy, bronze fish statue, nibbling elevated takes on traditional tapas and sipping sangria (try it with sparkling cava instead of wine). Just make sure to put a shirt and shoes back on before trying to get in.

For those who prefer to pass on the pricey cocktails, there are still drink and ice-cream kiosks, and the marina at the north end of Somorrostro beach has a number of restaurants offering more bang for your buck.

There are a couple of fast-food chains and a number of reasonable Middle Eastern options to provide some variety to your Spanish vacation diet of cured ham, olives and fried croquettes.

Nova Icaria and Bogatell

It's hard to believe that these beaches were an industrial wasteland before the city tore up seaside train tracks ahead of the 1992 Olympics.

Sand was imported from Egypt, and a center of beach sports was born. Each summer, the city sets up dozens of volleyball courts along this stretch north of the Port Ol-mpic but some stay year-round at Nova Icaria. They're free to use, so come early or be prepared to wait. On weekend mornings, you'll also find lessons available.

The line of chiringuitos extends to both beaches, but they also host a handful of proper restaurants along the Passeig de Maritim, where local families come to share a paella on Sunday afternoons.

At the north end of Bogatell, the Nautica Base Barcelona offers lessons for windsurfing, kitesurfing and sailing plus kayaks and catamarans that shove off from a pier into open water, past all the swimmers. (Av. del Litoral, s/n, 08005 Barcelona; +34 932 21 04 32)

There's also a no-frills cafe that's good value compared to many of the other beachfront places.

The ease of access to two more Metro stops and the variety of activities make these a good option for families without a car, or for a vacationer looking for a more relaxed atmosphere than the packed beaches to the south.

Mar Bella

From Mar Bella and farther north, things tend to be even quieter, cleaner, and with fewer vendors walking the beach. Both Mar Bella and Nova Mar Bella, one beach north, have been designated as blue-flag beaches for their quality. They're also less obviously attached to the city, though still well served by public transit.

Besides pristine sand and the cleanest segment of water in the city, Mar Bella also displays another example of the city's liberal attitude. On one end of the beach is a rope pyramid for kids and a small playground with a slide; on the other is a nudist section.

Unlike at Sant Sebast-a, a man-made hill separates the nude area of the beach from the pedestrian promenade, which runs next to a park where you can seek some midday shade. The park also has a network of skateboard ramps used mostly by kids on razor scooters, which is always fun for people-watching.

This beach also draws gay sun worshipers and a beach bar called Chiringuito BeGay opens here up every summer. But it's a mixed crowd, so all are welcome. (Paseo Mar-timo de la Mar Bella, s/n, 08005 Barcelona; +34 608 30 24 54)

Nova Mar Bella and Llevant

Amenities like restaurants become a little more sparse in these northernmost beaches, though there are still bathrooms and showers. But what is lacking in services is made up with parking. A 15-foot-high wall separates the beach from the car lots and the most modern towers of Barcelona's skyline, so it's still easy to focus on the clear Mediterranean.

Other than the ease of shuttling the kids to shore, other activities make it an ideal destination for a family with a car to spend a full day. In the morning you could hit up the Bosc Urb-, which is Catalan for urban forest, a covered adventure park in the Forum complex with zip lines, bungee cords and rope bridges. (Parc del Forum, s/n, 08019 Barcelona; +34 931 17 34 26)

A few blocks away from the sea, there's the Museu Blau, a natural science museum that recently featured an exhibit on the Spinosaurus, "the lost giant of the Cretaceous." (Plaza Leonardo da Vinci, 4-6, 08019 Barcelona; +34 932 56 60 02)

There are also play areas for kids, beach volleyball courts and clubs where senior citizens play dominoes or cards. A sand-free swimming area called Banys Forum sits just to the north, enclosed by piles of concrete blocks with steps that lead into the water.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 58640

Reported Deaths: 1677
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin18641828
Ramsey7233261
Dakota4188104
Anoka3515114
Stearns286420
Washington200944
Nobles17536
Olmsted168823
Scott147918
Mower10942
Rice10138
Blue Earth8745
Wright8475
Carver8162
Clay76840
Sherburne7037
Kandiyohi6871
St. Louis48619
Todd4222
Lyon4213
Freeborn3581
Steele3381
Nicollet32913
Benton3153
Watonwan3010
Winona25416
Crow Wing22514
Beltrami2150
Le Sueur2101
Martin2045
Chisago1891
Goodhue1878
Otter Tail1853
Cottonwood1750
Becker1501
McLeod1480
Pipestone1479
Polk1453
Waseca1380
Douglas1360
Itasca13512
Carlton1320
Unassigned13241
Pine1280
Dodge1250
Murray1221
Isanti1160
Chippewa1011
Wabasha870
Brown862
Meeker852
Morrison851
Faribault830
Sibley822
Rock770
Koochiching743
Pennington731
Jackson720
Cass712
Mille Lacs693
Renville625
Fillmore610
Lincoln540
Grant523
Swift521
Yellow Medicine510
Pope460
Roseau460
Houston410
Norman370
Kanabec321
Redwood320
Wilkin323
Hubbard300
Aitkin291
Marshall290
Mahnomen261
Wadena240
Red Lake230
Big Stone220
Lake200
Stevens170
Clearwater150
Traverse100
Lac qui Parle60
Kittson30
Cook20
Lake of the Woods10

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 47424

Reported Deaths: 910
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk10032206
Woodbury369151
Black Hawk308463
Linn227987
Johnson202116
Dallas184635
Buena Vista179112
Scott165514
Dubuque162331
Marshall142525
Pottawattamie128426
Story114114
Wapello87233
Muscatine84048
Webster7727
Crawford7263
Sioux6143
Cerro Gordo59617
Warren5471
Tama54529
Jasper46626
Wright4551
Plymouth4528
Louisa38014
Dickinson3774
Clinton3623
Washington29310
Boone2442
Hamilton2441
Franklin2339
Bremer2037
Clarke1953
Emmet1882
Carroll1851
Shelby1771
Clay1761
Hardin1730
Marion1620
Allamakee1544
Poweshiek1538
Des Moines1522
Jackson1481
Benton1461
Floyd1432
Mahaska13917
Guthrie1315
Cedar1281
Jones1272
Buchanan1231
Hancock1212
Butler1192
Henry1193
Pocahontas1151
Madison1142
Lyon1092
Lee1073
Cherokee1031
Clayton1023
Harrison1020
Humboldt1001
Delaware991
Taylor960
Iowa941
Monona910
Winneshiek911
Mills850
Page850
Calhoun832
Kossuth830
Sac820
Fayette810
Jefferson800
Palo Alto800
Osceola790
Mitchell780
Winnebago770
Grundy761
Union751
Monroe697
Worth650
Lucas574
Chickasaw540
Montgomery534
Davis521
Cass501
Howard490
Appanoose473
Greene390
Fremont370
Van Buren341
Keokuk331
Ida290
Audubon281
Adair270
Decatur230
Ringgold211
Wayne191
Adams160
Unassigned30
Rochester
Broken Clouds
70° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 70°
Mason City
Broken Clouds
72° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 72°
Albert Lea
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 73°
Austin
Scattered Clouds
73° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 73°
Charles City
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 72°
Warming temps and rain inbound
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Tractor pullers excited to rev up their engines in 2020

Image

Need school supplies? Iowa tax-free weekend on clothes

Image

War hero remembered with motorcycle ride

Image

Families react to RPS's "Return to Learn" plan

Image

Sara's 10pm Forecast- Friday

Image

Giving your best volunteer of the month

Image

Sara's 6pm Forecast - Friday

Image

Developing Broadband for Telecommuting

Image

Solar Panel Project at NIACC

Image

City Works to Clear Out Homeless Encampment

Community Events