Photo by Pawel Kazmierczak/Shutterstock
Photo by LianeM/Shutterstock
Castell de Tamarit near Tarragona, Costa Dorada, Catalonia in Spain
There is no shortage of excellent beaches near Barcelona, Spain. Here are the best beaches within two hours of Barcelona to visit on your next trip to Spain.
Most visitors to Barcelona know its urban beaches, but outside the capital is where you’ll really experience all the Catalan coast has to offer. Brimming with charming seaside towns and spectacular Blue Flag beaches, this stretch of the Mediterranean runs for some 360 miles, from the French border down to the Ebro Delta in the south. Fortunately, much of the coast is easily accessible by train from the city, which means you can be sunning on the golden sand beaches of the Costa Dorada or the Maresme in under an hour. And while the Costa Brava takes a bit more effort—and a car—to reach, it’s worth it for miles of pristine shoreline and all its rugged cliffs and dreamy, hidden coves. Here, we’ve rounded up the best beaches near Barcelona to visit on your next trip to Spain.
How many beaches have you visited that are home to a full-fledged medieval castle? Lording over this wide, ¾-mile-long strip of sand on the Costa Dorada is Castell de Tamarit, an impressive walled fortress that dates back to the 12th-century. Altafulla Beach also has a charming promenade, Botigues de Mar, where a jumble of 18th-century warehouses have been converted into holiday apartments and delightful cafés and restaurants with beachfront terraces. Reserve a table at Voramar Cal Vitali, serving top-notch paella and fideuá (similar to paella but made with noodles instead of rice), coupled with gorgeous Mediterranean views.
Trains to Altafulla/Tamarit station leave from several stations in Barcelona (including Sants and Estacio De França) on Renfe. The journey is about 75 minutes.
A labyrinth of steep, narrow, stone streets lined with grand colonial mansions, and crowned by a crumbling medieval castle with spectacular Mediterranean vistas, Begur is one of the Costa Brava’s most beautiful towns. It’s a long walk from the city center to the sea, so you’ll need to drive, or from Plaça Forgas, near the main tourist office, hop on the shuttle bus, which services Begur’s three main beaches (Sa Tuna, Sa Riera, and Aiguablava). Aiguablava, to the south, is the best of the bunch, with wonderfully soft white sand and turquoise waters framed by rugged hills topped by pine trees. If the beaches are too crowded, stroll the Camí de Ronda, a path skirting the coast, and climb down to the many idyllic coves nestled along the rocky shore.
The drive by car from Barcelona to Begur takes around one hour 45 minutes, depending on traffic.
Filled with upscale restaurants, bars, and hotels catering to well-heeled Catalan tourists, the old fishing village turned seaside playground of Calella de Palafrugell is among Costa Brava’s swankiest destinations. (Don’t confuse it with Calella, a big, bustling resort town in Maresme.) Wander through its charming stone lanes flanked by rustic whitewashed houses, then head down to Port Bo beach and stroll beneath the centuries-old colonnades, featuring vaulted, wood-beamed ceilings. A trio of pretty beaches front the town, but for a wilder experience, drive five minutes to El Golfet, a sublime stretch of golden sand and shallow blue waters surrounded by rocky cliffs—reachable only by a steep flight of stairs from the surrounding streets.
The drive to Calella de Palafrugell from Barcelona takes about one hour 40 minutes, depending on traffic.
Although it’s just 10 miles northeast of Barcelona, Ocata is worlds away from the city’s perpetually crowded urban beaches. While much of the Maresme shoreline can be narrow, this wonderfully broad, 1.5-mile-long swath of sand ensures you can always find a spot for your towel—and maintain a healthy distance from fellow sun-worshippers. Pop by one of Ocata’s many chiringuitos (beach bars) for drinks and tapas with your toes in the sand, or take a 15-minute walk to the El Masnou marina, home to dozens of restaurants.
Trains to Ocata station leave from several stations in Barcelona (including Sants and Plaça de Catalunya) on the Renfe Rodalies R1 line. The ride takes approximately 30 minutes.
Every corner of the fishing village of Sant Pol de Mar, on the Maresme coast, is tailor-made for Instagram: winding stone streets dotted with ancient olive trees, whitewashed houses with flower-filled windows, richly detailed modernista buildings. But it’s the beaches here that truly shine—stretches of fine golden sand framed by dramatic rocky outcroppings and impossibly blue Mediterranean waters. Playa de les Barques, so named because of the many fishing boats along its shore, is mere steps from the train station and thus tends to be busy. Instead, head slightly north and stake out your patch of sand on the quieter Playa El Morer.
Trains to Sant Pol de Mar station depart from several stations in Barcelona (including Sants and Plaça de Catalunya) on the Renfe Rodalies R1. The journey is about one hour.
First, there’s the sheer beauty of Sitges, with its maze of hilly, cobblestone streets lined with whitewashed villas and fanciful art nouveau buildings. Then there are its chic boutiques and galleries, stylish restaurants, classic tavernas, and lively gay bars. Toss in several great beaches—plus a nearly two-mile-long promenade ideal for seafront strolling and biking—and you’ll get why this coastal town is so wildly popular. Just a half-hour by train from Barcelona, it can get crazy crowded on summer weekends and holidays, so opt for a weekday or off-season visit for a more tranquil vibe.
Trains to Sitges depart from several stations in Barcelona (including Sants and Plaça de Catalunya) on the Renfe Rodalies R2 line. The ride takes approximately 30 minutes.
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