In Barcelona you are never more than a stroll or short metro/train journey away from the nearest beach. The city’s beaches are a great way to spend a lunch break, picnic with friends or just read a book in the sun – but if you want something less crowded, more beautiful, more peaceful and generally more beach-like then it is worth exploring a little further.
The region has a wealth of beaches both north and south of the city of Barcelona that are much more conducive to relaxation and closer to nature. Here is a list of some of ShBarcelona’s favourite beaches in Catalonia, all of which can be reached by public transport.
North of Barcelona
Maresme lies between Montgat and Malgrat de Mar and is approximately 30 minutes from Barcelona using the RENFE (overland train). The beaches throughout the Maresme coast are generally broad and visually appealing and being 30 minutes from the city – but not yet Costa Brava – they are pleasingly quiet.
The railway between the city of Barcelona and Mataró was constructed in the mid 1800s and was Spain’s first train line, a symbol of the fast industrialisation at the time. The railway’s proximity to the coast makes it ideal for people getting away from the city for a day on the beach, although it tracks don’t add to the scenery.
To get to Maresme, take the R1 from Placa Catalunya, Barcelona Sants, Arc De Triomf or Clot and get off at Maresme.
Sant Pol de Mar
Beyond Maresme you will find Sant Pol de Mar, a charming little fishing town just an hour from Barcelona. Expect delightful white houses, fishing boats and winding roads.
A steep rocky outcrop provides shelter and makes the gently curving beach a more intimate option than the other beaches in this area. Not to mention, that due to its lovely clear water Sant Pol de Mar is a perfect snorkeling spot!
To get to Sant Pol de Mar, take the R1 from Placa Catalunya, Barcelona Sants, Arc De Triomf or Clot and get off at Sant Pol de Mar.
Caldes d’Estrac – or Caldetes, as it’s also known – has two long and broad beaches giving you enough space to shake your beach towel without covering the person sitting next to you in sand.
One beach is lined with beautiful Modernista villas that were built in the early 1900s for Barcelona’s middle-classes who would try to escape here from the summer heat.
To get to Caldes d’Estrac, take the R1 from Placa Catalunya, Barcelona Sants, Arc De Triomf or Clot and get off at Caldes d’Estrac.
Ocata has a wide and clean beach from which you can just about make out the outline of La Vela (The W Hotel) in Barcelona whilst you top up your tan, read your book or take pictures with your smartphone. (You know you will.)
If you are feeling more active, there is a narrow pathway that runs alongside the train track which is ideal for a stroll or a doggy walk. It even has some more hidden spots, ideal for a picnic or even a romantic encounter.
To get to Ocata, take the R1 from Placa Catalunya, Barcelona Sants, Arc De Triomf or Clot and get off at Ocata.
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South of Barcelona
This remains a fairly quiet beach as tourists are more likely to carry on to Castelldefels, Sitges or beyond. You will generally find locals here and it’s nudist friendly if you want to give your nether regions a nice tan.
To get there, take the train to Viladecans from Barcelona and then take the VB-4 bus, which will drop you at the beginning of a dirt track from which it is a ten-minute stroll to the beach. Try to resist the temptation to unclothe before you get there. That won’t be easy though!
Castelldefels is just 25 minutes from Barcelona by train and then a five-minute walk to get to the beach. The spacious beach is a popular destination for both windsurfing and kitesurfing, which gives it a lively the ambience. The sand on the beaches of Castelldefels is clean and there are chiringuitos alongside to grab a bite once you are done riding the waves.
The town centre of Castelldefels isn’t the most visually appealing in Spain, but there is a small area around the main plaza that is quite pleasant with plenty of cafes, bakeries and restaurants to choose from.
To get to Castelldefels, take a train from Estacio de Franca, Passeig de Gracia or Estacio Sants and take off at Garraf train station.
For a complete change of pace you can wander a little farther along the coast to Gavà Mar, which is much more peaceful than its neighbouring towns.
The beaches here are wide with undulating dunes and a wooded area with pathways make Gavà Mar feel much more intimate and natural than the bustling Castelldefels and its multitude of kite surfers and Sitges with all its hot naked men.
There isn’t much here other than the beach, a couple of restaurants and a chiringuito. No wonder: its location makes Gavà Mar more difficult to get to than other places along the same stretch.
However, this also means that you are pretty much guaranteed a peaceful and uncrowded beach. So if you’re after more intimate surroundings and don’t mind hoofing it an extra ten minutes or so, get to Gavà.
To get there, take a train from Estació de França, Passeig de Gracia or Estació Sants and take off at Castelldefels Platja train station. From here walk along the coast southwards until you reach Gavà.
Garraf is a lovely cove that nestles beneath the hills between Castelldefels and Sitges. This tiny and pretty beach is bordered by a row of privately owned huts. Once a working beach full of fisherman, it now functions solely as a destination for beach-lovers heading south from the city of Barcelona and yearning for peaceful surroundings.
Expect a quiet and intimate beach, much more so than its neighbouring Castelldefels and Sitges. There is a restaurant overlooking the beach where you can enjoy a cold beer, vino tinto and the usual Spanish fare.
To get to Garraf, take a train from Estacio de Franca, Passeig de Gracia or Estacio Sants and get off at Garraf train station.
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The Costa Daurada begins at Sitges and stretches beyond Tarragona. Between the sea and the mountains you will find olive groves and vineyards. It’s difficult not to like Sitges.
Apart from its popularity, which means that it can get very crowded during the summer, the beach is long and the town centre is exceptionally charming.
The waters are warm, and so are the waiters, and it is possible to walk south along the coast to find quieter beaches. There are lots of chiringuitos and great restaurants in the town itself.
There is a nudist-friendly beach in Aiguadolç which is a 15-25 minute walk northwards along the coast. Sitges was until recently known as the gay riviera, and is therefore a very gay-friendly resort.
Many of the shops are aimed at gay men, but that’s not to say that it isn’t open to everybody. Expect nudity on the beaches very north and very south of the city.
To get to Sitges, take a train from Estacio de Franca, Passeig de Gracia or Estacio Sants and take off at Sitges train station. The beach is a 10 to 15 minute walk from the station.
Further South towards Tarragona, you will find Torredembarra – one of the few natural beaches left in Catalunya. With fine white sand and saltwater lagoons it’s an ideal location for some gentle swimming, sunbathing or picnics. There are good restaurants and great places to explore in the neighbouring natural park.
To get to Torredembarra, take a train from Estacio de França, Passeig de Gracia or Estacio Sants towards Tarragona and take off at Torredembarra train station.
Just before you get to Tarragona, and about an hour from Barcelona, you will find Altafulla – a long and beautiful beach that is considered the finest in the Costa Daurada. The town is attractive too with a lovely old centre and a tower on a cliff that is visible either side.
To get to Altafulla, take a train from Estació de França, Passeig de Gracia or Estació Sants and get off at Altafulla train station. The beach is a 10-15 minute walk from here.
If you don’t want to travel anymore after having arrived in Barcelona, you can always rent an apartment near the beach. Take an evening stroll and watch the sunset or have dinner at one of the restaurants with great views of the sea.
What beach or coastal town is your favourite and why?