We can all agree that Barcelona’s seaside is one of the many appeals that draw people to the city. Interestingly enough, the beaches didn’t exist until the reconstruction of the Maritime Front began in the 1980’s for the 1992 Olympic Games. Before the reconstruction and growth of tourism, Barceloneta was home to the city’s fishermen and a largely poor, working class locals. Today, the neighborhood’s narrow alleyways and tiny apartments remain as visible traces of the once traditional fishing village.
The beautiful beaches of Barcelona & Catalunya
Just a 30-minute train ride towards the Costa Brava, Ocata Beach is where the locals go to escape the crowds. This spot has clear water, fine sand, and all types of services (beach bars, restaurants, surveillance, showers, etc.). If you’re looking for a relaxing beach scene, Ocata Beach is worth the trip.
30 minutes south of Barcelona, Castelldefels Beach is a rarely crowded, spacious beach with a view of the mountains. Some other benefits are long walkways, clean sand, bars, restaurants, ice cream shops, sunbeds, a water sports area, and free WiFi.
Playa de Aiguadolç
If you’re looking for a simple, inconspicuous beach, the 45-minute drive to this Sitges beach might be for you. Visitors say Playa de Aiguadolç is a break from the hawkers selling drinks/massages/other goods. This beach is also considered to be a more intimate experience with less tourists and peaceful sunsets.
The word ‘cala’ means cove or small bay in Catalan. There are many calas along the coastline of Costa Brava that range in size, popularity, accessibility, and more. Here are a few different options for you to choose from:
Platja de Castell
Platja de Castell is a decent-sized cala in Palamós, with about 300 meters of fine white sand and clear water. Spared from property development by a referendum in 1994, this special site houses the remains of a 6th century BC Iberian settlement. Bring your snorkeling gear, take a kayaking lesson, eat a snack at a xiringuito, or simply sunbathe to enjoy the activities Platja de Castell has to offer. In addition, services like nearby €5 parking, public transportation options, and wheelchair access make Platja de Castell an easy experience for all visitors.
Cala Morisca is a small, clothing-optional beach in the middle of Garraf Natural Park. This hidden cove can be slightly more difficult to get to, but most visitors agree that the trek is worth it. You can access the beach by car or moto and park at any time from 9:00 until 18:00 or 19:00. From Playa de Vallcarca, follow the path that borders the cliff until you arrive at Cala Morisca. If you prefer a quieter beach trip, it’s best to go to Cala Morisca on a week day. Note: sports elements like surfboards and boats are prohibited.
Topless sunbathing on Barcelona beaches is allowed, but it’s against the law to go fully nude unless you’re at a nudist beach.
- Mar Bella is the official gay nude beach of Barcelona. This is one of the friendliest and most diverse beaches in the capital. With choppy waves on windy days, Nova Mar Bella is the most popular for watersports like surfing and windsurfing.
- The southern end of Sant Sebastià beach has a nudist area. This beach has great views of the entire Barceloneta coastline down to the Olympic Port area.
When you leave the beach or swimming pool, make sure to cover up. Any bikini tops or bare chests are considered beachwear and shouldn’t be worn in the town center. This rule is known to be strict in Barcelona and can result in up to a €300 fine.
A xiringuito (or a chiringuito in Spanish) is a bar or restaurant on the beach. These small wooden structures pop up in May to sell drinks and snacks during the summer months. Here are the names of a few notable xiringuitos along the coastline:
- Bambú on Playa de Llevant
- Xiringuito Escribà on Bogatell Beach (Make sure to try the paella and leave room for dessert!)
- Can Fisher on Bogatell Beach
- Vai Moana on Bogatell Beach
The beaches of Costa Brava have color-coded flags to indicate when and where it is safe to swim. The flags can be green, yellow, blue, black, red, or marked with images of jellyfish.
- A green flag indicates that it is safe to get in the water.
- A yellow flag means to swim with caution and stay alert. There is potentially high surf or strong currents, so swim near a Lifeguard on duty if possible. (Service hours are 10:30 to 19:30 in high-season.)
- A blue flag is awarded by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE). This certification certifies the beach’s environmental quality.
- A black flag means that the beach is closed due to dangerous conditions of the sea and/or sand; don’t swim!
- A red flag is a warning that the water is hazardous and swimming is forbidden.
- A jellyfish flag indicates that there are jellyfish in the water. In the spring and summer, they can be swept toward the coast by currents. Be warned, but you may choose to swim at your own risk!
Keep in mind that if you’re ever unsure about the meaning of a flag or the condition of the water, you can always ask Lifeguard services (if present).
As of July 2022, smoking is banned at all ten beaches along Barcelona’s coastline. Those who fail to comply with this extension to the city’s clean air policy will receive fines of €30. The smoking ban aims to reduce the pollution of cigarrette butts, to better public health, and to respect the environment.
Pets are prohibited on Barcelona beaches during weekends from April to October and on any day from the 1st of July to the last Sunday of September.
As a general rule, guide dogs, rescue dogs, assistance dogs, and authorized detection dogs are the only exceptions allowed on the beaches.
Here are the beaches in the province of Barcelona that are dog-friendly:
- Llevant Beach has a fenced-in area for dogs who have a microchip, are up to date with their vaccinations, and are accompanied by an adult
- Les Salines Beach
- Cala Vallcarca
- La Picòrdia
- Ponent Beach
Drinking on the beach (as well as in any public place) is illegal in Barcelona and can result in a range of fines if you are caught. With that being said, it’s smart to steer clear of street beer sellers. You’re free to enjoy a drink at any nearby beach bar!
Buoys and Breakwaters
- When swimming, don’t venture past the yellow buoys
- Always swim parallel and never too close to the breakwaters
- It’s prohibited to walk on, climb up, dive off, or fish from the breakwaters
You’re encouraged to use the showers along the beach, but washing with soaps, shampoos, or detergents is illegal. This law protects marine life and shore life from harmful chemicals in the run-off.