Barcelona’s sizzling beach season typically goes from April to October. Yup, I said October! (This past fall it got up to 24°C). Typically, the best months for hot weather are May to August and sometimes September. Some days are cloudier than others in the off-season but it doesn’t stop the locals from spending hours at the beach, sometimes until dusk. Catalans will tell you, any day with sunshine is a good day for the beach. Here are 3 local beaches to head to in beautiful Barcelona, Spain.
Tip: Europeans love to roast in the sun so sunscreen is not exactly a hot commodity around here. You can find it, but expect to fork over at least 20 euros a bottle.
Platja Mar Bella
Mar Bella is a fairly new beach since the city re-developed the coastline for the 1992 Olympic Summer Games. It is one of the farthest beaches from downtown Barcelona and because it’s not easy to get to, it makes for a great escape from the large crowds of tourists. It is the more youthful beach, where all the locals flock to, and the best option for a more relaxing, tranquil day. You’ll have nearly one kilometre of beautiful sand and crystal blue waters. The waves here are a lot fun often getting up to a few feet in height just at the shoreline alone. Windsurfing and volleyball are popular sports among the locals at Mar Bella. A large sand dune to the south gives loungers their privacy and, although it is not officially a nudist beach, topless is the norm. In fact Spanish law says that it is permissible to be nude anywhere in Spain as long as it does not cause a disturbance. It’s no wonder the Spanish have some of the most seamless tan lines.
At Mar Bella, there seems to be a demographic shift, with an older or retired crowd in the morning, a larger and younger group arriving early in the afternoon, around siesta time, and a smaller gay crowd later in the day. Some vendors may roam every half hour or so selling cold drinks or offering massages but they are not aggressive and certainly far fewer than you will find on the tourist beaches. For solo travelers, the beach’s local climate makes this a fairly safe area so go ahead and leave belongings on your towel while you go for a dip.
Best way to get there: Metro Selva de Mar (Line 4). About 5 euro by taxi from Port Vell or take the cycle track for a 20-minute scenic bike ride along the waterfront.
Most beach goers head to La Barceloneta (it’s the closest beach by the city-centre and the easiest to find) . It’s full of restaurants and bars along the boardwalk, and popular nightlife that goes until 6am. It’s definitely worth the visit – in fact, Discovery Channel named this the third best beach spot in the world – but to escape the throng of tourists head further east to Port Olimpic. It’s just a 20-minute walk along the coast and you’re sure to get a good-size spot on this sandy stretch.
Best way to get there: Metro Ciutadella-Vila Olímpica (Line 4) or 20 minute walk from the end of La Rambla.
Sitges is the St. Tropez of Spain and home to the renowned Sitges International Fantasy Film Festival. Only 35 minutes southwest of Barcelona, the city makes for a great day trip.
The charming beach town has 17 beaches to choose from with some of the clearest waters and sandy shores. The maze of cobblestone streets will almost always lead you to one of them! My recommendation is to walk to the city’s main and narrow pedestrian street, Cap de la Vila. It is full of traditional Spanish shops but make sure to stop in to one of their tasty bakeries on this road. Take in the main shore which lies in the backdrop of the 17th century church of Sant Bartolomeu i Santa Tecla. Further from town, you can find a couple of nudist beaches as well as Playa del Muerto, known for its lively and vibrant gay scene.
While temperatures easily reach 30°C and higher in the summertime, October averages 20°C and about 13°C in the winter months. August is great for Festa Major but when the beaches cool down, check out the Santa Tecla Festival in mid-September – one of the most traditional and oldest festivals since 1321 with human towers, parades and fireworks. The film festival also takes place for 10 days in October and the Sitges Carnival in February or March.
Best way to get there: Take the direct RENFE train leaving Passeig de Gracia or Sants stations in Barcelona . Four trains run every hour and costs about €3.60. Make sure to buy your tickets from a kiosk first.