Barcelona, a city of amazing monuments, great tapas food and…beautiful beaches!
The city of Gaudi is famous for its long, sandy shores. Its beaches have always attracted many visitors every year (well, at least pre-covid times) and has been a nice getaway those past few months for all the people living in Barcelona as it is a great place to chill and enjoy the Summer holiday feeling unique to our city.
So, why don’t you come with me and discover the seaside of Barcelona? We will explore its many beaches, from North to South, searching for the best one!
First, a curiosity: did you know that until ’92 there were no beaches in Barcelona? It is hard to believe, but Barcelona lived for decades turning its back to the sea. In fact, beaches like Nova Icària, Somorrostro o Bogatell did not exist until the beginning of the 90’s. For the Olympics, more than two miles of beachfront were built up with a modern marina and promenade and a sports and leisure port. A remarkable example is the view of the ‘Villa Olímpica’, the neighbourhood created with hundreds of apartments and flats that had the function of accommodating the athletes, coaches and referees, among others, during the Olympic competition. Before that, locals were a little bit ashamed of the Poblenou town. A cemetery and the remains of obsolete industries were the most remarkable things there. But the Olympics transformed what some named the ‘Old Catalan Manchester’ into the currently considered the ‘Barcelonian Copacabana’.
And the result of those transformations were miles of sandy beaches, where Barcelones and ‘guiris’ (a Spanish word to make fun of all the tourists), students and seniors, families and couples, love to go and spend their after-work afternoons or their weekends. And there is a beach for every taste. Come with me, let’s begin this journey!
The Most Popular: Barceloneta
Our first stop is at the most popular beach, “La Barceloneta” (literally “Small Barcelona”). Just on the side of the historical neighborhood from which it takes its name, this beach attracts many different people: crowded with yoga lovers, swimmers and people tanning under the sun! This beach is also famous for its chiringuitos, small beach bars with music all along the shore, and it is close to many famous and traditional neighborhood restaurants, such as La Cova Fumada. I love to come here when I have little free time for a quick swim (in summer) or just chilling on the beach with a book and my beloved Argentinian mate.
The Surf Heaven: San Sebastian
Let’s walk along the promenade, and we will get to San Sebastian beach! Even if Barcelona is not a super good spot for surfing (as there are not so many waves here), on winter, windy days this spot attracts dozens and dozens of surfers. You can book a surf lesson at one of many surf schools of Barcelona, or just rent a surf table and try it out. You can practise your surfer skills, and then fly to Basque country or Canary Islands and face bigger waves! I tried myself, it’s not so hard and the water is not as cold as you can expect!
The Sport Beach: Bogatell
Let’s keep walking, and after a few meters we arrive in Bogatell. This is heaven for sport lovers. Every day, from early morning to late afternoon, the beach is crowded with yoga classes, circuit training groups, and volleyball matches, but also many other sports lovers love to meet here: runners pack its sidewalk, bikers and skaters ride along it, ping pong players play against each other, and you can find even classes of dance or tai chi! Name a sport, I bet you will find it in Bogatell! I come here to run, play volleyball with my friends or for a yoga lesson!
The Zen Beach: Ocata
For our last spot we must take a train and go north just a few km from Barcelona. We get off at Ocata, a large and beautiful beach. No tourists and guiri here, no noisy parties or crying children: only families and locals come here. This is the place to be if you want some relaxation under the sun but you don’t wanna go too far. The train station is just near to the beach, making it really easy: enjoy the silence and peace of this place. I discovered this beautiful beach last summer, and since then I have came here when I am tired of tourists and people and I wanna relax in silence.
Thanks for coming with me on my journey along Barcelona beaches! What’s your favorite?
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Maurizio Belli is SAI Barcelona Program Coordinator, and he loves beaches.