National Geographic called Barcelona the best beach city in the world and yet all I hear are whiny locals saying it’s crowded, dirty, and overpriced.
Can they both be right about the best beaches in Barcelona? That’s up to you to decide.
Let’s find a stretch of sand for you.
1 – Barceloneta – people watching
2 – Bogatell – families and fitness
3 – Somorrostro – clubs and food
4 – Nova Icaria – volleyball
5 – Mar Bella – gay friendly and nudism
6 – Nova Mar – peace and quiet
7 – Directions + map
8 – Barcelona beach hacks
9 – Beaches near Barcelona
The Best Beaches in Barcelona
This is the most popular beach in Barcelona due to its location at the Barceloneta metro stop, but you should be able to reach it in 20-30 minutes walking from anywhere in the Old City.
The crowds here naturally lead to an abundance of sellers, tourist traps, and litter. Buy sunscreen, water, food, and anything else in advance or you’ll pay 20% more.
- Near all the city centre attractions.
- A great area for seafood afterwards.
- There are too many services to name.
- It’s easy to meet people from all over the world.
- The promenade is a great place for a morning run near hotels.
After Barceloneta beach I recommend the famous Bar Leo (34 Calle Sant Carles) where you can take your plastic cup beers into the street and even take in a free Spanish guitar concert.
It’s also one of the best Barcelona beaches for food so go for either Bitacora (1 Calle Balboa, value Spanish tapas) or Somorrostro (11 Calle Sant Carles, modern Spanish seafood).
You’ll get to Playa del Bogatell from the Llacuna metro stop (yellow line L4) after about a 10-15 minute walk.
Here you’ll find an optimal place for families since the travel time from the centre is less and you’ll find less of the young music playing and beer drinking people of the other major city beaches.
You’ll also find cleaner water (comparatively) during high season.
At the north east end of the beach you’ll find a lot of free exercise equipment for a free workout. If you don’t like sand you’ll also be able to use the concrete sun loungers that offer a great view of the harbour.
You can get cheap drinks and food at the Mcdonald’s and the Repsol gas station.
- It’s less crowded than Barceloneta but central with the same services.
- Near cool lodging in the up and coming Poble Nou area.
- There are reasonably priced chiringuitos (beach bars).
- Weaker swimmers like the shallow waters pushing about 50 metres out.
- You can get umbrella and sun lounger rentals at a decent price.
For the full Spanish monty you can’t beat the beach side restaurant Xiringuito Escribà (62 Av. del Litoral) – the specialties here are the paellas and the sunsets.
I also suggest walking up the Rambla del Poblenou for its terrace bars and restaurants. Here make sure to stop in at El Tío Che (44-46 Rambla del Poblenou) for an ice cream or a refreshing horchata, a milky and ice cold drink from Valencia made from tigernuts.
This classic Barcelona beach is found on the most energetic spot of the seafront.
If you’re looking out at the sea you’ll find Playa del Somorrostro immediately to the right of the two iconic skyscrapers by the water – you can get there from the Ciutadella Vila Olimpic metro stop.
You could call this beach a cousin of Barceloneta (it used to be part of it until 2011): it’s packed with tourists and young people out to have a good time.
There are a lot of sellers including club promoters and you may be able to get a good cover deal.
In fact, it’s the site of some of Barcelona’s best clubs specializing in electronic music like Opium, Pacha, and Catwalk.
There’s also a neat little spot with free crossfit equipment.
- Lots of young people looking for fun.
- It’s the cleanest central beach (this is relatively speaking, it’s still not great!).
- A fantastic beach side restaurant scene.
Due to its privileged location along the beach it won’t be cheap to eat at Agua (30 Passeig Mar’tim de la Barceloneta) but you’ll find quality seafood here and some great sangria.
You may want to really cool off going for a drink at the legendary Ice Bar.
Nova Icaria Beach
This bumpin’ Barcelona beach is to the north east of the two skyscrapers on the water. Get off the metro at the Ciutadella Vila Olimpica stop on the yellow line – from there you can also walk to Ciutadella Park.
Here you’ll find tons of beach volleyball courts, restaurants, tapa bars, and the famous casino.
Again, there are less sellers here which is a plus. The water isn’t the cleanest around though. There is deeper water here compared to other beaches so be careful with children.
Down the stairs near the boats is an area full of seedy tourist clubs. The club nights here generally have no cover and cater to tourists looking for craziness – check out the dancers on the bars.
- Tons of designated spots for volleyball.
- A bunch of Barcelona’s top beach side bars like Opium or Pacha.
- It’s a great spot to meet members of the opposite sex.
Mar Bella Beach
Get off the Llacuna metro stop (yellow line) and walk 15 minutes to an area hidden behind a massive mound of sand.
Though it’s a nudist and gay-friendly beach it’s pretty much come as you are – there’s no pressure to undress completely! In fact I’ve been there a dozen times in my regular beach outfit.
Unlike many other nude beaches the crowd here is quite eclectic and not just a bunch of pervy men in their 50’s 😉
This beach is a bit less exposed so expect choppy waves on windy days – it’s naturally the most popular place for surfing or windsurfing (rare).
The bonus is there are hardly any sellers.
- There is much cleaner water here.
- You won’t face the constant interruption of sellers.
- You’ll see some beautiful nude bodies (and some not so much!).
Nova Mar Beach
Of the best beaches in Barcelona we finally get to my favourite: Nova Mar.
By metro you get off at Selva de Mar on the yellow line and walk for 15 minutes.
It’s much further out so it’s naturally quiet and the sea is very clean. This is an optimal place to relax if you want to escape the crowds but still get a tan.
For those looking for some of the best shopping in Barcelona Diagonal Mar shopping centre is just ten minutes away at 3 Avenida Diagonal.
- The cleanest beach in Barcelona.
- The best shot at tranquility.
- Nearby shopping opportunities.
How to Get to Barcelona Beaches
You need to walk 10-15 minutes from the stops listed but with so much brilliant sunshine and so many attractions along the way to see you’ll be happy you did.
There are transport alternatives. For starters there’s probably no better way to see Barcelona in the summer than renting a bike – it’s cheap and the beach side promenade is built for them.
You can also go full Mediterranean and rent a scooter to maximize the wind in the hair effect – with the added bonus of being able to cover ground people with only the metro or bicycle cannot.
From March to October the green line of the Bus Turistic serves Barcelona’s beaches.
Barcelona Beach Map
Barcelona Beach Hacks
- Swimming season is between mid-May and late-September.
- Walk up into the city and buy drinks at shops/markets for 50% cheaper.
- Alone? Hire a secure locker at the beach gym for valuables.
- Ask your hotel if they supply beach towels (some do!).
- Go around 6:00 pm to avoid crowds and burns – it’s still lovely.
- Don’t pay any more than €1.50 for street vendor beer/water.
- Buying a beach umbrella is cheaper than renting.
- Always barter when buying souvenirs – you may just get 25% off.
- Bring a wind breaker outside of peak summer periods.
The Best Beaches Near Barcelona
Barcelona beaches pale in comparison to what is often a short bus or train away – if you have time in spades and want a real beach holiday seriously consider getting out of the city.
If you like wide and long beaches get on the train and go to Casteldefells, Sitges, Vilanova i la Gertrù or Calafell.
If you like small beaches at the foot of rocky coastline then go north and hit the Costa Brava.
Pretty much every place there is a postcard.
Costa Brava Beaches
For the best beaches near Barcelona without a car head to Tossa de Mar. Take a round-trip bus from Estaciò del Norte for €24.50 (€12.25 one way). It takes an hour and 20 minutes to get there.
Don’t stop there though. From the bus station at Tossa de Mar you can take a bus to Cala Llevadò – there are some amazing coves there and few of them are for nudists.
There’s also the super popular package holiday resort town and party central: Lloret de Mar.
Have I missed Anything?
OK! This is important folks.
My advice on the best Barcelona beaches is only as good as the people who keep me in check.
If I’ve overlooked anything I want you to let it all out in the comments below. And don’t forget to drop me a line if you have any question, no matter how ridiculous, about your Barcelona holiday.
And don’t be afraid to join the beach discussion in my new Facebook group called I’m Off to Barcelona – here you can ask any questions, air out grievances, chat with fellow travelers, and more – anything goes!