Ready to hit the beach near Barcelona but beyond the city shores? Hop on the train or take advantage of a car if you've got one and visit these seaside paradises in Catalonia.
RECOMMENDED: The Barcelona beach guide
Top 5 beaches to get to by train
Just some 30 minutes by train from Barcelona, this beach is between the old town and the port in Sitges, nestled in a neighbourhood with a history as a fishing village. It's a family beach frequented by locals, with more than 200 metres of coastline. From your spot on the sand you can take in magnificent views of the old town, located on a small hill overlooking the Mediterranean. The beach offers an array of services and is adapted for disabled visitors.
Located at the northern part of the nearby town Sant Pol de Mar, this beach runs parallel to the train tracks and the N-II motorway. The beach is 750 metres of coarse golden sand that narrows as it goes eastward. Located above the highway are the Roman ruins of Morer, a centre of wine production from the first century. The beach is equipped with showers, a Red Cross station, drinking fountains, and wooden walkways for the physically disabled.
This clothing-optional beach is located in a secluded corner on the south end of Sitges, where you'll find both the Platja de l’Home Mort and the Platja de Roses. The two beaches are separated by a small rocky ravine and an open bay that draws winds to the area. The combined length of both beaches is around 300 metres but never exceeds more than 10 metres in width. The waters aren't very deep and the seabed is made up of small rocks and sand. There is a 'chiringuito' (snack bar) and a terrace, with chaise longues and umbrellas available for rent.
This beach is in the north of Mataró, between the Sant Simó riverbed and the town of Sant Andreu de Llavaneres. It's got 1,100 metres of white sand, but it's quite narrow, appearing to lose width as it crawls closer to Sant Andreu de Llavaneres. The beach is divided into a family zone – which is closer to Mataró – where the majority of services can be found: parking spaces, showers, chaise longue rentals and 'chiringuitos' (snack bars). The area farther away is meant for a more 'natural' experience, which can prove much more interesting for those who enjoy snorkelling.
Situated in downtown Garraf, this beach is 380 metres long with a mixture of fine sand and rocks and a slight incline at the sea's entrance. Between the beach and the train tracks lies the area that gave this beach its name, a kind of fishing village built practically on the beach itself. The remodeled wooden cabanas are old sheds that were used by fishermen to store their equipment. Services include showers, bathrooms, rescue equipment, and chaise longues, umbrellas, and paddle boats available for rent. If you want to extend your stay, the town also has a hotel and a few restaurants.
Top 5 beaches to get to by car
Located between Escala and Sant Martí d'Empúries, Portitxol is a lovely beach surrounded by a pine forest that reaches almost to the sea. The fine golden sand and calm waters are protected on either side by rocky formations: to the south, the tip of Coves, lined by pine trees and large rocks in curious shapes that plunge into the sea, and to the north, ravines known as Muscleres Petites, which separate Portitxol from the neighbouring beach of Les Muscleres and Convent. These formations protect Portitxol beach and generate an area of calm and shallow waters, a kind of perfect swimming pool where you can take a dip without having to go under, and where kids can play.
In an idyllic setting among rocks and pine trees, the Illa Roja beach is known for its clear waters and the prominent reddish rocky island that presides over it, giving it its name ('Red Island'). It's a quiet, uncrowded spot with coarse golden sand and a pronounced slope heading down to the sea – and it's a nudist beach with international prestige, so it draws its share of foreign tourists. The only way there is via a lovely path along the coast, which, together with the wild environs and ravines surrounding it, contribute to its reputation as a small, hidden oasis tucked away in the wilderness.
Castell beach made newspaper headlines in the early '90s, when residents of Palamós started demonstrating, and then a referendum was passed to keep the area from being developed. Since then it has become one of the last unspoiled stretches of sand that remains on the Costa Brava. With a crescent moon shape surrounded by woods and crop fields, and the mouth of a riverbed in the middle, this beach is still exactly like how it was when the locals' grandparents enjoyed it, except for the added couple of 'chiringuitos' (snack bars) that open in the summer, and perhaps the nudists looking for a place to let it all hang out behind the rocks that rise up on the right side of the beach.
Commonly referred to as Waikiki Beach, Cala Fonda is one of the best preserved beaches along the Tarragona coast. This is a spot that's just a few kilometres from the city of Tarragona, yet it's completely unspoiled, giving visitors a peek at how the Mediterranean looked only a century ago. Cala Fonda is located in the Marquesa woods, one of the areas of vegetation with high ecological value on this part of the coast To get there you need to walk from Tarragona's Platja Llarga along an eastward, signposted path, surrounded by a pine forest, cliffs and natural vegetation.
The Platja del Fangar is an extensive strip of sand that is closed off to the north by the Ebre Delta. The Fangar peninsula stretches and curves as it goes along, to the point that it forms a large enclosure of salt water, creating an interior sea known as the Port of Fangar. The beach, semi-desert and pristine in appearance, is one of the most unique places in the Ebre Delta. The sand is ultra fine, and when it meets up with water it turns into a compact mass, perhaps earning Fangar ('mud' in Catalan) its name.