Your idea of a dream beach probably looks a bit like this: crystal clear water, soft and clean sand, palm trees… in short, a tranquil place where you can let the cares of the working week melt away with each sip of an ice-cold Mojito.
If that’s the case, DO NOT GO TO BARCELONETA! The city centre’s closest beach will leave you feeling disappointed at best and most probably annoyed and more stressed than when you arrived.
Whilst it’s fantastic living in a city with an urban beach, the near constant cries of “Mojito, Mojito”, “Cerveza, beer, agua”, relentless queues for the public toilets and jostling for towel space smaller than a Brazillian bikini isn’t exactly conducive to relaxation.
You could maybe put up with all the above if it was otherwise an excellent beach, but the truth is that for most of the year it’s just plain filthy.
I’ve ventured down there countless times wanting a swim and had to turn back after seeing a disgusting layer of foamy scum on the water, toilet paper and tampons bobbing around next to bafflingly oblivious holiday makers and of course the ubiquitous plastic debris. This is most often seen after periods of prolonged rain when the sewers overflow and untreated waste water finds its way into the sea, but honestly the waste can be seen all year round on almost any beach if you’re unlucky.
What’s a beach lover to do? Ask any Barcelonian where you can find dream beaches and they’ll probably rightly tell you to go up north to Costa Brava where hidden beaches and secret coves can be found. Problem is, it’s difficult if you don’t have a car. For a lot of the dream spots you would have to take a train then a bus, and then walk, and before you know it half your Sunday has been spent travelling. But fear not, you don’t have to give up on fantastic beaches.
For those of you with no car or who simply don’t want to travel so far, I’m going to run you through my Top 5 Beaches you can reach by direct train from Barcelona with detailed instructions of how to get there. Without further ado, let’s dive in! (All beaches ordered from closest to farthest away):
Ocata on one of those blue, blue Mediterranean days
Stretching 2.5 km and having a width of 133m, this is one of the widest beaches in the area, so although it is very popular, there’s enough room for everyone without being packed together like sweaty sardines. Why do I love this beach? Whilst being a mere 30 minute train ride away from Barcelona, it feels a world apart from the city. At Ocata there’s space for everyone, a good range of facilities like showers and chiringuitos* and play areas for the kids, making it a favourite among local families. To my knowledge there is no rental service for sun loungers at this beach so unless you want to sizzle in the sun, it’s best to take along your own beach umbrella.
How to get there: Get there directly from Plaça Catalunya on the R1 train, direction Mataro with a ticket for Zone 2. When you get out at Ocata station you can’t miss the beach, it’s straight ahead.
Price: For all of these beach destinations I would strongly recommend buying a T-10 ticket as it works out a lot cheaper than buying single or return tickets. It soon pays off because if there are two of you travelling, you will have already used 4 of the 10 journeys on a trip to the beach and back. A T-10 ticket for Zone 2 costs €20.10 (€2.01 per train ride).
*In Spain, ‘chiringuitos’ is a word you will hear a lot, meaning beach bars. These are found all along the coast and offer anything from drinks and snacks to full-on meals.
Going down south of Barcelona, Castelldefels is a very popular option with young and old but because it’s so long and wide there’s no shortage of space. This is an extremely well-equipped beach complete with countless chiringuitos, restaurants, bars, shops to buy beach gear, sun lounger rental services, volleyball nets, play areas for kids, and water sports galore, especially kite surfing.
How to get there: Castelldefels is just 18km south of Barcelona and is one of the last stops you can get to with a Zone 1 ticket. Get there directly from Estació de França, Passeig de Gracia or Sants with the R2S train, direction Sant Vicenç de Calders. Ride seven stops to get to the beach (stop is Platja de Castelldefels), which will take about 30 mins in total.
Price: T-10 ticket costs €10.20 ( €1.02 per train ride, what a bargain!)
Note: Make sure to get out at the stop Platja de Castelldefels and NOT CASTELLDEFELS. If you get out at the stop “Castelldefels” you’ll be walking for some time to get to the beach, which may not be the best idea if you are heavy-laden with beach umbrellas and cooler bags. (Experience obviously learnt the hard way here).
3. Caldes d’Estrac
Caldes d’Estrac. So idyllic it serves as a cover photo.
Just 40km north of Barcelona you have another banging beach at Caldes d’Estrac, also known as Caldetes. Whilst Caldetes is just a short walk from the train station, you can’t see, or perhaps more importantly, hear the trains, which makes going here a more relaxing and private affair than at some other beaches in the area. This beach is a hit for its golden sand, clear water and laid-back vibe and offers chiringuitos, showers, and an outdoor gym with a sea view. For those of you who like to go au naturel at the beach, (or want to try it), there is a nudist section of the beach at the northern tip of the beach called Platja de la Musclera complete with chiringuito and a sun lounger rental service.
How to get there: Get there directly from Plaça Catalunya on the R1 train, but this time the direction should be Maçanet-Massanes as the train to Mataro stops a few stops short of your destination. This time you will need a ticket for Zone 4 and the trip takes around 50 mins.
Price: €35.25 for a T-10 ticket. ( €3.5 per train ride)
4. Canet de Mar
It’s thirsty work going to the beach
Canet de Mar offers over 2km of gorgeous golden sand with clean and clear water and all the services you would need; chiringuitos, toilets, parasol rental services etcetera without feeling too crowded or built up. The perfect place to enjoy an ice-cold, refreshing clara I would say!
How to get there: Get there on the same train which goes to Caldes d’Estrac (R1 direction Maçanet-Massanes) but get off two stops later at Canet de Mar. This is still in Zone 4 and the trip takes an hour from Plaça Catalunya.
Price: €35.25 for a T-10 ticket. ( €3.5 per ride)
5. Torredembarra-Els Muntanyans
Where is everyone? Not in Torredembarra!
Travelling further down South this time you get to Torredembarra and this really is the star of the show! This is one of my favourite beaches because of its natural setting, especially in the northern section of the beach called Els Muntanyans, which requires a little walk to get to (around 20 minutes), but it’s well worth it. This is a loooong beach and is rather special in that it has beautiful sand dunes and salt marshes, making it one of the few places like this left in the area.
If you like walking and nature this is a great choice because you can visit the protected natural park here. This tranquil beach has fine sand, crystal clear, shallow waters and a natural setting devoid of beach bars, and shops. It seems like it’s mainly locals who visit this beach and it has a quiet, family feel. This is one for those who seek total relaxation in nature.
If you walk up this beach for about half an hour direction Barcelona you will also find a sizeable nudist section. Take your own beach umbrella (as you won’t find a rental service on the beach), a picnic, and you are set for the day.
The town of Torredembarra also has an extensive promenade with lots of lovely restaurants and bars you can head to after your day at the beach.
How to get there: Take the R Express from Estació de França, Passeig de Gracia or Sants, direction Reus or Tortosa. The journey takes 1 hour on the train. Of all the beaches in this list, this is the most expensive to get to: tickets cost €14.50 for a return ticket. It’s so worth it though!
Another picture of Torredembarra taken in July. Note the lack of people!
And there you have it, Top 5 Beaches close to Barcelona. I hope these suggestions are helpful and give you some beach inspiration this summer. Please let me know what you think in the comments below and get in touch if you have any questions or your own suggestions that you think should be added to the list.
That’s a wrap for now!
Sending you positivity and sunshine from Barcelona, have a great day!
Bonus: link to handy train map showing you the zones and different stations:
And if you enjoyed this article, read my introductory post to find out what else is in store for you at Across the Water!