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Barcelona's Best Beaches
Over the last decade, Barcelona’s platjas (beaches) have been improved, now stretching some 4 km (2½ miles) from Barceloneta’s Platja de Sant Sebastià at the southwestern end, northward via the Platjas de Sant Miquel, Barceloneta, Passeig Marítim, Port Olímpic, Nova Icària, Bogatell, Mar Bella (the last bit of which is a nudist enclave), and La Nova Mar Bella to Llevant. The Barceloneta beach is the most popular stretch, easily accessible by several bus lines, notably the No. 64, and from the L4 metro stop at Barceloneta or at Ciutadella/Vila Olímpica. The best surfing is at the northeastern end of the Barceloneta beach, while the boardwalk offers miles of runway for walkers, cyclers, and joggers. Topless bathing is common on all beaches in and around Barcelona.
Platja de la Barceloneta
Just to the left at the end of Passeig Joan de Borbó, this is the easiest beach to get to, hence the most crowded and the most fun for people-watching There are windsurfing and kite-surfing rentals to be found just up behind the beach at the edge of La Barceloneta. Rebecca Horn’s sculpture L’Estel Ferit, a rusting stack of cubes, expresses nostalgia for the beach shack restaurants that lined the beach here until 1992. Surfers trying to catch a wave wait just off the breakwater in front of the excellent beachfront Agua restaurant.
Platja de la Mar Bella
Closest to the Poblenou metro stop near the eastern end of the beaches, this is a thriving gay enclave and the unofficial nudist beach of Barcelona (suited bathers are welcome, too). The water sports center Base Nàutica de la Mar Bella rents equipment for sailing, surfing, and windsurfing. Outfitted with showers, safe drinking fountains, and a children’s play area, La Mar Bella also has lifeguards who warn against swimming near the breakwater. The excellent Els Pescadors restaurant is just inland on Plaça Prim.
Platja de la Nova Icària
One of Barcelona’s most popular beaches, this strand is just east of the Port Olímpic with a full range of entertainment, restaurant, and refreshment venues close at hand. (Mango and El Chiringuito de Moncho are two of the most popular restaurants.) The beach is directly across from the area developed as the residential Vila Olímpica for the 1992 Games, an interesting housing project that has now become a popular residential neighborhood.
Platja de Sant Sebastià
The landmark of Barceloneta’s most southwestern beach (at the end of Passeig Joan de Borbó) now is the ultramodern W Barcelona Hotel, but Sant Sebastià is in fact the oldest of the city beaches, where 19th-century barcelonins cavorted in bloomers and bathing costumes. On the west end is the Club Natació de Barcelona, and there is a semiprivate feel that the beaches farther east seem to lack.
Platja de Gavà–Castelldefels
A 15-minute train ride south of Barcelona (from the Estació de Sants) to Gavà brings you to the broad swath of clean golden sand at Gavà Mar, a popular outing for Barcelona families and beach party aficionados. Gavà Mar extends some 4 km (2½ miles) south to join the busier beach at Castelldefels; returning to Barcelona from Castelldefels allows for a hike down the beach to a variety of seaside shacks and restaurants serving local favorites like calçots (spring onions) and paella.
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