From bustling Barceloneta to nudist Mar Bella and tranquil Caldetes, this is our guide to Barcelona's best beaches.
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Attracting a mostly very young crowd, Nova Icária is beside the Olympic marina and observatory. It's also near the Icária shopping centre with its English-language cinema, a good option when returning from the beach and stuck for something to do.
Nova Icária is good for watersports and there are some English-language sessions you can book online.
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Bogatell Beach is a bit of a walk from Bogatell Metro Station—about fifteen minutes—but once you get there it's cleaner and calmer than the Barceloneta stretches. Prepare for many a tattoo, lots of silicon and seriously large sunglasses.
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Mar Bella Beach
Mar Bella has a nudist stretch, part of which is discreetly partitioned off by a big dune beside the windsurfing center. It's also a favorite hangout for gays and lesbians.
On Sundays throughout summer there are late-night raves.
Read more about other Nudist Beaches in SpainContinue to 5 of 11 below.
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North of Barcelona, Ocata is quiet, pristine and very flat, with oodles of space on the beautiful golden white sand. It's a half-hour trip on the train out of the city.
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If you're looking for no-frills beach action, this is the one. Although it's only a short ride north of the city center, Caldetes is comparatively deserted.
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St Pol de Mar Beach
St Pol de Mar is an hour's train journey out of the city, but it's got a gorgeous beach lapped by clear water and backed by pretty hills. Best of all is the enchanting cove—which has become a nudist zone—next to the rain tunnel.
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It's only fifteen minutes south of the city center and enjoys five kilometers of tempting sand. The downside is it's as busy as the city center beaches.Continue to 9 of 11 below.
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Five minutes by train from Castelldefells is Garraf, whose beach is considerably quieter. It's easily accessed from the station and has good facilities.
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Half an hour away from Barcelona city center, gay-friendly Sitges' city center sands are pristine but can get noisy and quite windy, while the area to the north of the seafront church is better sheltered and a bit quieter.
Read about how to get from Barcelona to Sitges.
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Further Afield in Catalonia
Calella de Palafrugell
It can get packed in high summer but, hemmed in between cliffs and a pretty fishing village, Calella's beach has one of Catalonia's most attractive seaside settings.
A ten-minute train ride from Tarragona, Altafulla is one of the highlights of the Costa Daurada, with miles of white sand and a gorgeous, secluded cove beneath a ruined Roman fort.
Steep, golden cliffs, marvelous crystal clear waters and one of Catalonia's best campsites. Cala Llevadò is located on the Costa Brava, between Tossa and Lloret de Mar on the Costa Brava.
Tossa de Mar
Tossa might have a cheap 'n' cheery package holiday reputation, but its beaches are easily as good as anything in Catalonia, presided over by a medieval castle on the southern bluffs.
Cala de Sant Francesc
Just north of Blanes is this pristine spot surrounded by exclusive villas perched in the pine woods.
If in search of something a little wilder try this pebbly beach, situated... in the volcanic otherworld of Cap de Creus Natural Park. A short walk from Cadaquès, the beach is reached via a stony scramble through olive woods.