Platja de Sant Sebastià
The beachfront of Ciutat Vella, located next to the port, also includes what was historically known as Sant Miquel Beach, which corresponds to a large section of the coastline along the Barceloneta neighbourhood. More than one kilometre of sand and sea, walking distance from the city centre, where locals and visitors come together. The part farthest to the southwest, at the foot of the Hotel Vela, provides a perfect view of the entire Barcelona coastline, from the three chimneys to the huge solar panel in the Fórum grounds, plus the Olympic Port and Barceloneta Beach in between. The area in front of the swimming pools is an unofficial nudist beach, and there's even a gay zone. In the mornings and around lunchtime, you'll find lots of nightclub employees flexing muscle on this beach.
Length: 1085 metres
Transport: Bus 14, 16, 17, 39, 40, 45, 51, 57, 59, 64 & 157; Metro L4 (Barceloneta)
Services: Parking, bathrooms, showers, lifeguard, beverage & ice cream vendors, information point, lounge chair and beach umbrella rental.
Along with Sant Sebastià, La Barceloneta Beach is the city's biggest and most traditional beach. It is named after the seafaring neighbourhood par excellence, built during the 18th century by Barcelonans expelled from La Ribera in 1714. In addition to its maritime past, La Barceloneta also had strong connections to the metallurgy and gas industries, which are still reflected in some of the names found in the area as well as by the Gas breakwater that divides the beach in two. The construction of the seafront promenade at the end of the last century connected this old neighbourhood with the Olympic Port. It also meant the loss of the popular chiringuitos where locals made paella on Sundays prior to the Olympic frenzy. These days, you'll find other types of restaurants and services in the area below the promenade.
Length: 422 metres
Transport: Bus 10, 14, 16, 17, 36, 39, 40, 45, 51, 57, 59 & 64; Metro L4 (Barceloneta & Ciutadella)
Services: Parking, bathrooms, showers, lifeguard, support for people with disabilities, volleyball court, playground, lockers, beverage vendors, restaurants, information point, bicycle rental, beach umbrella and lounge chair rental.
Platja Nova Icaria
Cerdà had his own utopian dream of a city. He'd planned on calling it Icària like the ideal island imagined by the utupian-minded socialist Étienne Cabet. During the 19th century, several utopian followers of Cabet had settled along the old road leading to the cemetery of Poblenou. The Olympian dream brought back this Nova Icària or New Icaria, now one of the most popular beaches. It is 400 metres in length and lies right in the middle of the Barcelona coastline. Along with Bogatell Beach, it is one of the calmest. It also features the most services and has lots of leisure options. For decades, the area taken up by the beach was known as Somorrostro, a neighbourhood where thousands of families lived in improvised homes lacking even the most minimal services. The new beach has erased almost every trace of its existence, but a nearby street honors the memory of Carmen Amaya, the legendary dancer who was born there.
Length: 415 metres
Transport: Bus 6, 10, 36, 41, 92 & 141; Metro L4 (Ciutadella & Bogatell)
Services: Parking, bathrooms, showers, lifeguard, volleyball court, playground, lockers, beverage vendors, beach umbrella and lounge chair rental.
Platja del Bogatell
Bogatell Beach owes its name to an old stream that once ran from the uptown area of Vilapicina down the avenue of the same name all the way to the sea. The centre of Bogatell was home to fishermen who lived amidst the stench rising up from the municipal sewer that flowed into the sea here. Like most of the Barcelona coastline, the beach at Bogatell was completely overhauled during the 1980s and these days it is one of the most popular. According to municipal studies, the average age of beachgoers at Bogatell is the oldest of all the beaches: 38. A good number of them (30%) are visitors to the city.
Length: 702 metres
Transport: Bus 36, 41, 92, 141; Metro L4 (Poblenou & Llacuna)
Services: Bathrooms, showers, lifeguard, volleyball court, workout area, ping pong tables, basketball court, beach football, lockers, beverage vendors, beach umbrella and lounge chair rental.
Platja de la Mar Bella
At the beginning of the 20th century, this part of the coast already had baths, the Baños de la Mar Bella, but eventually they were destroyed in a storm. At the time, the city's residents held this strip of beach in high regard, but it fell on hard times in the middle of the last century. The coastal renewal process that began with the 1992 Olympic Games brought back the beaches of Mar Bella and Nova Mar Bella. The former combines two very different areas: a nudist beach at one end and a children's playground (with a very original slide) at the other. You'll also find young people playing football and volleyball.
Length: 512 metres
Transport: Bus 36, 71, 141; Metro L4 (Selva de Mar)
Services: Parking, bathrooms, showers, lifeguard, volleyball court, workout area, ping pong tables, skate park, lockers, beach library, beverage vendors, beach umbrella and lounge chair rental. Nudist area.
Platja Nova Mar Bella
The name Mar Bella is a reference to the area that La Barceloneta is built on. A 'marbella', written as one word, is the name given to land reclaimed from the sea, such as the terrain providing the basis for the seaside neighbourhood. The name, split in two, was given to these two beaches. Nova Mar Bella is a favourite amongst women (60% of beachgoers) and young people. It is the perfect beach if you or anyone in your group is disabled, because the walkways cross the sand all the way to the sea, plus volunteers are on hand to lend assistance and there's even a lift if needed. Keep in mind, however, that the service must be requested in advance at the information centre located on the beach and the disabled person must be accompanied by someone over the age of 18.
Length: 420 metres.
Transport: Bus 36, 43, 141; Metro L4 (Selva de Mar, El Maresme / Forum)
Services: Bathrooms, showers, lifeguard, volleyball court, beach umbrella and lounge chair rental.
Platja de Llevant
Barcelona's youngest beach springs from putting the revolutionary dream of seeking sand under paving stones into practice. This new beach resulted from the removal of the cement blocks of the Prim breakwater, part of the transformation of the area now known as Diagonal Mar. As a result of its youth, Llevant is the beach with the fewest facilities and services. This also means, however, that it's the most relaxed and quiet of the beaches, great for families or individuals seeking a bit of tranquillity. A big, open lot that doubles as a parking area makes it easy to access the beach by car.
Length: 375 metres
Transport: Bus 7, 36, 41, 141; Metro L4 (Selva de Mar & El Maresme / Forum)
Services: Parking, bathrooms, showers, lifeguard, volleyball court, beach umbrella and lounge chair rental.
Zona Banys Fòrum
The sandless beach. You can go and bathe at the Fòrum, but it isn't a beach in the traditional sense. Instead, it's a space reclaimed from the sea by means of a cement structure. In the area of the Fórum baths, a section of sea has been enclosed and tamed to create a large, shallow, saltwater pool. You might not know that under its layers of asphalt and cement, the Fòrum buried the Camp de la Bota, the name given to the seafront area between Barcelona and Sant Adrià that represents a tragic chapter in Catalan history. Under Franco, it served as an execution site for people who opposed the dictatorship. A memorial along de esplanade leading to the baths honours the more than 1700 victims.
Length: 375 metres
Transport: Bus 7, 36, 43 & 141; Metro L4 (Maresme / Forum)
Services: Parking, bathrooms, showers, lifeguard, waterski area, boat access, information point.