The 14 Best Catalonia Beaches

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This picturesque region in northeast Spain is perhaps best known for its capital, Barcelona, but there's a whole heap of other seaside towns dotted along the Catalan coast that tourists flock to as well.

The ever-popular Costa Dorada and Costa Brava can both be found in this part of Spain, and they're both filled with resorts which range from loud and lively, to peaceful and secluded.

The Costa Dorada's 81km stretch of golden sands is home to the lively town of Salou. With its sandy Blue Flag beach, shallow, clear waters and seafront fairground, it's a popular place with families. There are tonnes of bars and restaurants that pull right up to the sands too, so you'll always find places to eat and drink.

For somewhere a little quieter along the Costa Dorada, Cambrils and La Pineda are two of the top picks. Again, they both come with golden, sandy beaches as standard - in fact La Pineda counts three Blue Flag beaches along its 2.5km stretch of coast. And not to be outdone, the fishing village of Cambrils has a whopping nine Blue Flag beaches along its own 7km stretch of shoreline.

And for somewhere completely away from the crowds, Cap Salou's the place to be. It's just a 10-minute taxi ride away from its far livelier namesake, Salou, but the two are worlds apart when it comes to atmosphere. Unlike its livelier neighbour, this small, sandy cove has no beach bars or cafes along its shoreline, which helps to keep the masses away.

Further up the east coast, you'll find Spain's northernmost Costa - the Costa Brava. Arguably the country's prettiest Costa, it's a hub of traditional fishing villages, seaside towns and rugged cliffs.

Popular resorts along here include the party-central town of Lloret de Mar, which has an enormous swathe of biscuit-coloured beach, and the more traditional town of Tossa de Mar. This Catalan hotspot lines up two Blue Flag beaches, both backed up by a bevy of bars and restaurants.

For a quieter Costa Brava spot, the caramel-coloured sands of Platja de Castell are a little more off the beaten track, thanks in part to a lack of nearby amenities, with the beachfront remaining relatively untouched by the masses.

  • 1. Bogatell Beach

    Bogatell Beach
    Markus Tacker
    Great for:
    • Swimming

    Stretching for 700 metres along Barcelona's coastline close to the Olympic Port, the sands of Bogatell Beach are generally considered to be less crowded on the busiest days than nearby beaches such as Barceloneta and San Sebastià, from which it is separated by a stone breakwater.

    All the same, Bogatell Beach provides pretty much everything that anyone could want for a relaxed day on the beach, with a lifeguard… read more »

  • 2. Barceloneta Beach

    Barceloneta Beach
    Nicholas Gemini
    Great for:
    • Swimming

    The closest beach to the centre of Barcelona, Barceloneta Beach stands on the city's eastern coast in a former fishing district mentioned by Cervantes in the Spanish classic Don Quixote. Now, perhaps ironically, home of one of Europe's largest aquariums, Barceloneta is very well provided for when it comes to amenities and facilities.

    In addition to showers, toilets, and changing rooms, some areas of the beach offer Wi-Fi connectivity. There are… read more »

  • 3. Tamariu // Costa Brava

    © Elena Aliaga

    It may only be small, but the beach at Tamariu is one of the most sheltered in the Costa Brava region. It is overlooked by a pretty former fishing village which has escaped overdevelopment and the calm waters and Blue Flag status make it a popular beach with families.

    read more »
  • 4. Castelldefels Beach

    Castelldefels Beach
    © Eva11975
    Great for:
    • Swimming

    This five-kilometre stretch of golden sand is one of Catalonia's most beautiful beaches.

    Families flock here in the summer months, thanks to the family-friendly activities on offer, with everything from a toy library to kids' play areas. The clean and shallow waters also make it a safe space for the little ones.

    It's a big hit on the facilities front too - as well as plenty of parasols and sunbeds, you'll find… read more »

  • 5. Mar Bella Beach

    Mar Bella Beach
    Markus Tacker
    Great for:
    • Swimming
    • Kitesurfing

    This semi-urban beach on the coastal reaches of Barcelona is located between Bogatell and Nova Mar Bella beaches. Like its neighbouring areas of golden sand, Mar Bella Beach has a good number of public facilities, including toilets, showers, a children's play area and beach volleyball courts.

    On Passeig Marítim, the promenade that runs behind Mar Bella, visitors will also find table tennis tables, a range of bars and… read more »

  • 6. Sant Sebastià Beach

    Sant Sebastià Beach
    Great for:
    • Swimming

    Noted for its modern tower and integrated cable car station (for trips up to Mount Monjuic), Sant Sebastià Beach lies in the Cuitat Vella district of Barcelona immediately along the coast from Sant Miquel Beach. One of the city's oldest and best loved beaches, Sant Sebastià comprises biscuit-coloured sands that continue for around a kilometre in length and average widths of 80 metres.

    Sant Sebastia is well equipped with… read more »

  • 7. Nova Mar Bella

    Nova Mar Bella
    Sergei Gussev
    Great for:
    • Swimming

    Backed by modern high-rise apartment buildings, Nova Mar Bella beach was part of a larger regeneration scheme that coincided with the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and aimed (successfully) to reunite city and coastline.

    Though a man made construction, Nova Mar Bella still has a lot going for it. For one thing, it is a slightly more tranquil experience than other nearby beaches, and has managed to maintain its local vibe, appealing to… read more »

  • 8. Platja de Llevant

    Platja de Llevant
    Great for:
    • Swimming

    Barcelona's newest beach is also its most easterly, as its name suggests. Opened to the public for the first time in 2006, Platja de Llevant has already managed to garner a Blue Flag award for its cleanliness and the quality of its facilities.

    Comprising light coloured sands that stretch for 400 metres along the coast and another 75 metres or so inland, Platja de Llevant is the next beach along from… read more »

  • 9. Nova Icària Beach

    Nova Icària Beach
    Ronnie Macdonald
    Great for:
    • Swimming
    • Kitesurfing

    Located north of the Olympic Port and next to Bogatell Beach in the La Vila Olimpica del Poblenou area of Barcelona, Playa de la Nova Icària lies at the heart of the city's coastline.

    Created for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, Nova Icària Beach has a reputation for being one of Barcelona's more tranquil urban beaches. That said, amongst its 400 metres of golden sand you'll still find plenty of… read more »

  • 10. Banys del Fòrum

    Banys del Fòrum
    Great for:
    • Snorkeling
    • Swimming

    When is a beach not a beach? When it's Barcelona's Banys del Fòrum, a sand-free modernist pool of constantly refreshed seawater protected from the open waves of the Mediterranean by a series of screening posts made – elegantly – from concrete.

    Constructed in 2004, Banys del Fòrum Beach is a great place to head for anyone most interested in the swimming side of being beside the coast, with the enclosed pool… read more »

  • 11. Platja de Garraf

    Platja de Garraf
    Great for:
    • Swimming
    • Surfing

    Just along the coast from the ever-popular Castelldefels, you'll find this peaceful and pretty spot, which is ideal for avoiding the crowds.

    This 350-metre long stretch of biscuit-coloured sand is a popular place with families, thanks to the clear, calm waters and chilled-out vibe.

    Lots of the beachgoers here are day trippers from Barcelona, who are looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city for a few hours,… read more »

  • 12. Platja de la Bassa Rodona

    Platja de la Bassa Rodona
    Jorge Franganillo
    Great for:
    • Swimming

    Located in Sitges, roughly 20 minutes from Barcelona, Platja de la Bassa Rodona is best well known as the region's premier gay-friendly beach. As one of the most central, it's here that many gay couples choose to sunbathe, although increasingly relaxed attitudes towards the gay community mean many happily bathe on beaches closer to the Catalonian capital.

    As a result of its history, visitors can expect some male nudity, but… read more »

  • 13. Platja del Trabucador

    Platja del Trabucador
    Great for:
    • Kitesurfing

    Beautifully positioned in the Ebra Delta region, south of Reus, is Trabucador Beach. Unspoilt, secluded and tranquil, the wide stretches of golden sands here are backed by salt marshes and a lagoon where various birds make their homes.

    This pristine and untouched beach is also popular with windsurfers.

    read more »
  • 14. Platja de l'Arboçar

    Platja de l'Arboçar
    Jorge Franganillo

    This cosy little beach is about as off the beaten track as it gets. 

    You'll find it just a 20-minute drive away from Tarragona, but to reach the actual sands, you'll need to park up a couple of minutes' away and finish the journey on foot.

    When you reach the golden sands in this secluded little cove though, it's well worth the extra effort. The water's calm and crystal clear, and the… read more »