Crystalline waters and powdery white sand aren’t normally synonymous with city beaches, but Barcelona’s nine are internationally certified for their environmental management, so you can hit the Mediterranean coastline with confidence to swim, paddleboard or simply sun yourself. Here are four of our favourite beaches.
1. For people-watching: Barceloneta
At Barceloneta, you’ll find people playing volleyball, sipping Aperol spritzes and taking bikini-clad selfies. But the draw of this beach is also its culinary offerings—the restaurants lining the promenade serve some of the city’s freshest seafood.
2. For water sports: Mar Bella
Restored as part of the seafront development plan for the 1992 Summer Olympics, Mar Bella is the ideal spot to do some sporting of your own, with kitesurf, kayak and stand-up paddleboard rentals. You can even take the helm of a patí català, a small Catalan recreational sailboat.
3. For tranquility: Ocata
Just a half-hour north, Ocata is a local’s spot and one of Barcelona’s quietest beaches. It also has the nicest sand; a white, coarse-grained variety. Make a day of the outing with a paella lunch and a glass of refreshing local Moritz beer at a shorefront chiringuito (beach bar).
4. For families: Nova Icària
Nova Icària’s shallow water makes it perfect for little waders. This peaceful stretch is easily accessible from the beachfront promenade (meaning it’s stroller-friendly), and parents can enjoy a beach-hut drink while kids play in the sand. While there, check out the cool climbing structure and outdoor ping-pong.