The Best Beaches in Barcelona

The word Barcelona written in the sand on one of the Barcelona Beaches - The Best Beaches in Barcelona

Barcelona is blessed with a beautiful coastline, and there are lots of beaches in Barcelona where you can enjoy sunbathing, take a dip in the sea or have a drink at a chiringuito beach bar.  Here’s the lowdown on the best beaches in Barcelona, no matter what kind of beach day you’re looking for!

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The Best Beaches in Barcelona

There are 10 beaches officially in the city of Barcelona, stretching from San Sebastian beach at the southern end of Barcelona’s coastline, to Banys del Fòrum at the northern end.

The best Barcelona beach for you will depend on how far you want to travel from your accommodation, if you want to have a lot of choices for food and drink, and if you prefer quieter beaches or don’t mind the crowds.

Some beaches have assistance available for people with disabilties, and there are beaches which are more popular with the gay community.  There are even some dedicated nudist beaches in Barcelona!

The beaches closest to Barcelona (Sant Miquel and Barceloneta in particular) are the most popular among visitors and tend to be busier.  Walking, cycling or taking the metro further north is worth it for more space and fewer crowds.

No matter what kind of beach in Barcelona you are looking for, there is something for everyone.

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The 10 Barcelona Beaches

San Sebastian Beach (Platja de Sant Sebastià)

San Sebastian is about 20 minutes walk from Barceloneta Metro station and is at the southern end of Barcelona’s beach strip.  The iconic W Hotel at the end of the beach is a recognisable landmark to head towards if you get lost!

Although not officially a gay beach or a nudist beach, San Sebastian is a laid-back, local spot and is popular with the LGBTI community and nudists.  There is an outdoor gym and climbing frame for kids and a place to rent out paddle boards as well as a chiringuito beach bar during the summer months.

In the area close to Plaça del Mar you can also catch Cinema on the Beach, a summer session of films shown in their original versions, usually with Catalan or Spanish subtitles.  The area is also popular with skateboarders and skaters.

Aerial View of Sant Miquel Beach near Barceloneta
Sant Miquel Beach near Barceloneta

Platja de Sant Miquel

San Sebastian Beach blends into Sant Miquel, which is one of the busiest beaches in Barcelona.  The location next to the Barceloneta neighbourhood means it is the closest beach to the city of Barcelona and is on the doorstep of the apartments and rental properties in Barceloneta.

The beach is home to the “L’Estel Ferit” sculpture, made up of four stacked steel cubes that pop up on postcards and photos of Barcelona beaches.  There are lots of restaurants and bars in Barceloneta where you can go for food or drinks before or after your beach session.

Barceloneta Beach

Barceloneta can refer to the neighbourhood alongside the beach, which was previously a village for the fishermen who lived and worked at the docks which used to fill the seafront here, or the whole stretch of beach that runs alongside it.

While Barceloneta beach is actually a relatively small section of the beach in Barcelona, next to Sant Miquel.  Here you’ll find a few chiringuito beach bars, a kids’ climbing frame and outdoor gym equipment.

There is a viewpoint known as Mirador de Pedres which has a lovely view of the beaches curving along the coast, with the sail-like W Hotel at the end.

Barceloneta Beach at Sunrise - Beaches in Barcelona
Somorrostro Beach at Sunrise – Beaches in Barcelona

Somorrostro Beach (Platja del Somorrostro)

Somorrostro Beach is the last section of the beach in Barcelona before you reach Port Olímpic.  There are several restaurants here, and in the evenings this is a popular tourist spot for nightlife with several bars and beach clubs that practically open up onto the sand.

During the day it can get busy as it is the closest beach to Ciutadella Vila Olímpica metro station.  While you’re here, take a walk around the port and have some lunch at La Fonda del Port Olímpic, a popular seafood restaurant among locals and residents alike.

The “twin towers” can be seen all along the beach in Barcelona – these are a hotel (Hotel Arts Barcelona) and an office block, previously home to Mapfre insurance services.  As well as the various restaurants and a casino, you’ll also find El Peix d’Or Frank Gehry, a golden fish sculpture.

Platja de la Nova Icària

Nova Icària was one of my favourite beaches when I lived in Poble Nou, as it was the closest to my flat!  It is a short walk from Ciutadella Vila Olímpica metro station just the other side of Port Olímpic, so it is close to several bars and restaurants.

It is usually fairly busy due to the closeness of facilities and transport, but if you want to get away from the crowds then take a walk along the top of the outer wall of the port.  There are hardly any people here and there are lovely views of the port and back towards Barcelona.

On Nova Icària you’ll also find a couple of beach volleyball pitches, several permanent beachfront restaurants that are open all year as well as an open-air gym, a kids’ climbing frame and a seating area at the far end.

Bogatell Beach

Bogatell is a lovely, long stretch of sand next to the Poblenou neighbourhood.  It is popular with locals and has a variety of facilities including accessible toilets and showers and wooden pathways that lead down towards the water for easier access.

If you need a break from the sand, nearby Poblenou Park is a greener space with trees where you can find some shade.

Mar Bella Beach (Platja de la Mar Bella)

The part of Mar Bella Beach next to Bogatell is fairly narrow, but it widens up as you go further north along the sand.  Mar Bella is clothing optional so don’t be surprised to see naked sunbathing here!

It’s also popular with the LGBTQ community and there are several beach bars here to try out although the service is often painfully slow!

Nova Mar Bella Beach (Platja de la Nova Mar Bella)

“New” Mar Bella Beach is part of the Sant Martí neighbourhood and is mainly used by locals so it is one of the quietest beaches in Barcelona.  There’s a chiringuito during the summer, and a skate park nearby.

It is also close to the shops and hotels at Diagonal Mar.  It gets busier when there are events and festivals at Forum, such as Primavera Sound, which also makes the public transport much busier too.

Llevant Beach

Llevant is one of the newest beaches in Barcelona and was only created in 2006.  Llevant Beach has an area marked off at the far end which is reserved for locals who have dogs with them.  The special “Area Gossos” is fenced off and has dedicated amenities for dogs such as drinking troughs and dog showers, as well as more regular cleaning.

Fòrum Bathing Area

This area isn’t a beach as such as there is no sand here, but it is a public swimming area.  Instead of walking into the sea from the sand as you would on the beaches in Barcelona, there is a paved area for sitting and sunbathing, with steps down into the water.

The swimming area is marked off with ropes and floats, so be careful not to go outside the designated swimming area.  Apparently, there are also sea urchins here, so wearing swimming shoes is recommended.

The word Barcelona written in the sand on one of the Barcelona Beaches - The Best Beaches in Barcelona
Barcelona Beaches – The Best Beaches in Barcelona

Quick Tips for Enjoying the Beach in Barcelona

Check How Busy it is

The Barcelona Town Hall website has a map showing each of the beaches and how busy they are.  The occupancy levels shown are updated regularly, but things can change quickly.  The maps also show water quality and whether bathing is recommended.  Check out the map here.

Follow Barcelona Beach Rules

For everyone’s safety and enjoyment, smoking is now banned on all Barcelona beaches, except in beach bars and promenades.  Topless sunbathing is common on all the beaches in Barcelona but nude sunbathing is only allowed at Marbella and San Sebastian beaches.

Leave the Dog at Home

During the summer bathing season, dogs are banned on the beaches (except for guide dogs), except for an area at Llevant Beach which is specifically fenced off for locals and their pets.

Avoid the Beach after Heavy Rain

If it rains heavily in Barcelona then the water quality on the beaches decreases due to excess water flowing into the sea from the city streets.  The same applies after a storm, although it can be interesting to take a walk along the beach and see what has been washed up!

Gay Beaches in Barcelona

Barcelona is generally a gay-friendly city, so you can enjoy any of the beaches here without any problems.  However, San Sebastian (Platja de Sant Sebastià) and Mar Bella (Platja de la Mar Bella) are known as the gay beaches in Barcelona.

Nudist Beaches in Barcelona

There are two clothing-optional beaches in Barcelona, with the official nudist beach area at Mar Bella, and an unofficial one at San Sebastian.  These beaches are welcoming to everyone and popular with the LGBTQI community too.

There aren’t any physical barriers marking out where the nudist areas are, so if you prefer not to see naked bodies on the beach then it’s best to give these areas a wide berth.  If you are looking for where it is safe to get naked, just keep an eye out for other nude sunbathers and stick around them.

You don’t have to take your clothes off to enjoy these beaches, but if you keep your swimsuit on then be respectful of the people around you.  Avoid staring and taking photographs, just relax and enjoy the sunshine!

Topless Sunbathing in Barcelona

While nude sunbathing and swimming are reserved for the two beaches mentioned above, topless sunbathing is common on all of the beaches in Barcelona.

The Best Beaches Near Barcelona

If you venture a little further out of the city you can find even more beautiful beaches, that are much quieter than those in Barcelona.  There are train services that run north and south along the coast, with pretty beaches in either direction.

Badalona

Hop on the metro or take the train to Badalona (using a standard zone 1 transport ticket or your Hola Barcelona card) and enjoy Badalona beach with far fewer tourists than the beaches close to Barcelona.

Sitges

Sitges is a pretty town about 35 minutes south of Barcelona by train from Sants train station.  Trains to Sitges depart from Estació de França, stopping at Passeig de Gracia before Sants, and then on towards Sitges and are also included in the Hola Barcelona transport card.