Barcelona’s platges (beaches) have improved and multiplied in number from Barceloneta north to the Fòrum site at the northeastern end of Diagonal. At Barceloneta’s southwestern end is the Platja de Sant Sebastià, followed northward by the Platges de Sant Miquel, Barceloneta, Passeig Marítim, Port Olímpic, Nova Icària, Bogatell, Mar Bella, and La Nova Mar Bella (the last football-field length of which is a nudist enclave), and Llevant. The Barceloneta beach is the most popular stretch, easily accessible by several bus lines, notably the No. 64 bus (which runs all the way from Pedralbes at the top of the city) and by the L4 metro stop at Barceloneta or at Ciutadella– Olímpica (for the northernmost beaches such as Mar Bella). The best surfing stretch is at the northeastern end of the Barceloneta beach, and the boardwalk itself offers miles of runway for walkers, skaters, bicyclers, and joggers. Topless bathing is the norm on all beaches in and around Barcelona. There are public toilet facilities, but people often stop into a nearby bar to use the facilities. There are showers (free) at the edge of the beach.

North of Barceloneta

Running north of Barceloneta, the first beaches are Montgat, Ocata, Vilasar de Mar, Arenys de Mar, Canet de Mar, and Sant Pol de Mar, all accessible by train from the RENFE station in Plaça de Catalunya. Sant Pol is a good pick, with clean sand, a lovely old town, and the gourmet restaurant Sant Pau (popularly called La Ruscalleda after its chef, Carmen Ruscalleda), one of the best restaurants in Catalonia (or, for that matter, Europe). Another beach with a top-notch gastronomical opportunity is Arenys de Mar, with the famous Hispania restaurant a minute’s walk from the beach across the NII road. Canet de Mar’s beach extends for 10 km (6 miles), and offers rental options for surfboards or windsurfers, as well as beach restaurants such as La Roca (in summer) or El Parador (all year). The farther north you go, toward the Costa Brava, the more pristine the beaches tend to be, though this rocky coast specializes in tiny calas (coves or inlets) rather than lengthy strands.

South of the City

Castelldefels. Eighteen km (11 miles) south of Barcelona is the popular day resort Castelldefels, with a long, sandy beach and a stretch of lively bars and restaurants. A 15-minute train ride from the Passeig de Gràcia RENFE station to Gavà or Castelldefels-Platja (be sure your train actually stops at these stations, or you'll go much farther than you intended; platja means beach) deposits you on a 10-km (6-mile) white sand beach. You can also take a bus from Barcelona. Summer or winter, the Castelldefels beachfront makes for a unbeatable walk: from November through March the sun sets into the Mediterranean, thanks to the westward slant of the coastline here. There are several good places in Castelldefels for lamb chops, calçots (spring onions), and paella. Amenities: food and drink; lifeguards; showers; toilets; water sports. Best for: partiers; sunset; swimming; walking. Castelldefels, Catalonia, 08860.

Sitges. Sitges, 43 kilometers (27 miles) south of Barcelona, is a popular resort with fine white sand and clear water. There are in effect two beaches here, separated by the promontary where the church of Sant Bartolomé i Santa Tecla sits: the longer section, to the south, draws more of Sitges' substantial gay population; the shorter strand to the north is a favorite for family outings and impromptu parties. Trains from the Estació Sants or the Passeig de Gràcia RENFE station in Barcelona reach Sitges in about half an hour. Amenities: food and drink; lifeguards; showers; toilets; water sports. Best for: partiers; swimming; windsurfing. Passeig Marítim, Sitges, Catalonia, 08870.

Platja de Gavà-Castelldefels. The wide white sandy beach at Gavà, a 15-minute train ride south of Barcelona, is a particular favorite with late-night partiers and families on Sunday outings. The water is fairly shallow, the sea bed is clean, and the offshore breeze is just right for beginner-level windsurfing. Alighting at Gavà and returning from Castelldefels allows a hike down the beach to restaurants specializing in local favorites like calçots and paella. Amenities: food and drink; showers; toilets. Best for: partiers; sunset; swimming; walking; windsurfing. Passeig Marítim s/n, Castelldefels, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08860.

Platja de Sant Sebastià. Barceloneta's most southwestern platjas (to the right at the end of Passeig Joan de Borbó), Sant Sebastià is oldest and most historic of the city beaches; it was here that 19th-century barcelonins cavorted in bloomers and bathing costumes. Neglected (and a bit disreputable) during the Franco years, it's had a rebirth of popularity since the pre-Olympic redesign of the city's waterfront. Between the beach and the Torre Sant Sebastia cable car terminus is the Club Natació Atlètic de Barcelona; the Hotel W Barcelona is at the far south end. Amenities: food and drink; lifeguards; showers; toilets. Best for: partiers; swimming. Passeig Maritim de la Barceloneta s/n, Barceloneta, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08003.

Platja de la Barceloneta. Just to the left at the end of Passeig Joan de Borbó, this is the easiest Barcelona beach to get to, hence the most crowded and the most fun for people-watching—though itinerant beach vendors can be a nuisance. Along with swimming, 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. Amenities: food and drink; lifeguards; showers; toilets; water sports. Best for: partiers; surfing; swimming; walking; windsurfing. Passeig Marítim de la Barceloneta s/n, Barceloneta, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08003.

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 (although clothed 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. Amenities: food and drink; lifeguards; showers; toilets; water sports. Best for: partiers; nudists; swimming; windsurfing. Passeig Marítim del Bogatell, Barceloneta, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08005.

Platja de la Nova Icària. One of Barcelona's most popular beaches, this strand is just east of Port Olímpic, with a full range of entertainment and refreshment venues close at hand. (Mango and El Chiringuito de Moncho are two of the most popular restaurants.) The wide white beach is directly across from the neighborhood built as the residential Olympic Village for Barcelona's 1992 Olympic Games, an interesting housing project that has now become a popular residential neighborhood. Vendors prowl the sand, offering everything from sunglasses to cold drinks to massages. Amenities: food and drink; lifeguards; showers; toilets; water sports. Best for: partiers; swimming; walking; windsurfing. Passeig Marítim del Port Olímpic s/n, Barceloneta, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08005.


Exploring Barcelona on wheels, whether by bike or on skates, is a good way to see a lot, and to save on transport. Bicycle lanes run along most major arteries.

Barcelona By Bike. Gather at the meeting point next to the main entrance of the Barcelona Casino for a three-hour guided bike tour (€22 with a complementary drink en route) of the Old City and the Port. Calle Marina s/n, Port Olímpic, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08005. 671/307325;

Bike Tours Barcelona. This company offers a three-hour bike tour (in English) for €22, with a drink included. Just look for the guide with a bike and a blue flag at the northeast corner of the Casa de la Ciutat in Plaça Sant Jaume, outside the Tourist Information Office. Tours depart at 11 am daily; there are additional tours at 4:30 pm Friday–Monday, April 1–September 15. The company will also organize private guided tours through the Barri Gòtic, parks, the Port Olímpic and Barceloneta, the Ruta Moderniste, and other itineraries on request. Touring on your own? The company also rents bikes by the hour or the day, at its shop in Carrer Esparteria. Carrer Esparteria 3, Barri Gòtic, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08003. 93/268–2105;

Classic Bikes. Just off pivotal Plaça de Catalunya, bicycles are available for rent here every day of the week from 9:30 am to 8 pm. The 24-hour rate is €15; take a bike in the morning and return it by closing time for €12; ride for two hours for €6, or four hours for €10. Calle Tallers 45, El Raval, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08001. 93/317--1970;

Fat Tire Bike Tours. Four-hour guided city tours with this company start in Pl. Sant Jaume daily at 11 am and 4 pm (from mid-October to mid-April, morning tours only), covering—with a lunch break—the usual suspects: the Barri Gòtic, Sagrada Familia, Ciutadella Park, the port, and Barceloneta. No reservations necessary, but call to confirm where to find the guide. Calle Sant Honorat 7, Barri Gòtic, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08002. 93/342--9275; €24.

Steel Donkey Bike Tours. Groups up to eight people can take four-hour "alternative" bike tours with this outfit, on Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday mornings, meeting at the shop on Calle Ample at 10 am. The tours (€35, including bike and helmet rentals) are quirky, offering sights and experiences a bit off the beaten path from the standard itineraries. Call for reservations. Calle Ample 53, Barri Gòtic, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08002. 657/286854;


Weekday golf outings to one of the 22 golf courses within an hour of Barcelona are a good way to exercise and see the Catalonian countryside. Midweek greens fees range from €50 to €85; weekend prices double. Midweek availability is excellent except during Easter vacation and August. Call ahead to confirm a tee time, and remember to bring proof of your USGA handicap or membership in a golf club or you may have trouble playing.

Club de Golf de Sant Cugat. This hilly 18-hole course, in the upscale Barcelona satellite of Sant Cugat, is one of the oldest—and most challenging—in the area, and the nearest to the city. Laid out by renown course architect Harry S. Holt, the fairways are relatively short for the most part, but bunkers and water hazards make for tricky play. Former world No. 1 Seve Ballesteros made his professional debut here in 1974. Calle Villa 79, Sant Cugat del Vallès, Catalonia, 08173. 93/674--3908; Oct.--May, €90 weekdays, €125 weekends; June, July, and Sept., €70 weekdays, €100 weekends; Aug. €45 every day .

Club de Golf Terramar. This breezy seaside course has fine views of the Mediterranean from the early and final holes (the toughest to play), and lots of water hazards and woods to challenge your game. Essentially flat, it's an easy course to walk; book online 48 hours in advance for a course-savvy caddy to walk it with you. Ctra. del Golf s/n, Sitges, Catalonia, 08870. 93/894--0580; Weekdays €49 8--9 am tee-off, €60 11--4, €45 after 4; weekends €135.

Club de Golf Vallromanes. Thirty km (19 miles) north of Barcelona, between Masnou and Granollers, this challenging course designed by H. W. Hawtree in 1971 requires a handicap of 28 or less to play. Players have been know to weep over the fiendish water hazards, woods and bunkers guarding the short par-3 12th hole. The club is closed Tuesday. Passeig Torre Tabernera s/n, Vallromanes, Catalonia, 08188. 93/572--9064; Weekdays €90 (€40 after 2 pm), weekends €140.

Real Club de Golf El Prat. Located roughly between the towns of Terrassa and Sabadell, about 30 km (19 miles) north of Barcelona, Real Club de Golf El Prat is a lovely but extremely difficult course—actually five 9-hole courses that can be combined in different ways—designed by Greg Norman. Long fairways (some 300 yards or more) favor the power hitters, but a range of highly technical holes, through pine forests, call for accuracy, strategy, and a command of all the clubs in your bag. Plans de Bonvilar 17, Terrassa, Catalonia, 08227. 93/728--1010; Mon. July 15--Aug. 31, €60; Tues.--Sun. July 15--Aug. 31, €65; otherwise Mon. €65, Tues. €95, Wed.--Fri. €114, weekends before 2 pm €228, after 2 pm €114.

Farther Afield

Club de Golf Costa Brava. Hedged in by forests, this pretty club has two courses, a red and a green, each 18 holes (choose from the club's three 9-hole layouts). The Red Course is the more difficult; the front nine on Green Course is quite technical, and the back nine opens out to gentler, wider fairways. Urbanizació Golf Costa Brava "La Masía", Santa Cristina d'Aro, Catalonia, 17246. 972/837150; Weekdays Nov.--Feb. €56; weekdays Mar.--July, Sept., and Oct. €64, Sat. year-round; Aug. 1--30 and Dec. 24--Jan. 6 €80, Sun. €64.

Golf Platja de Pals. This windswept seaside course, about an hour north of Barcelona, was built over the dunes of a huge pine forest on the Costa Brava–-much of it left intact. Designed by British links architect Fred Hawtree, Platja de Pals dates as a regulation 18-hole course to 1970. Fairways are tight until the 13th hole, when vistas open up to the north as far as the Castle of Montgri in nearby Torroella. Carrer del Golf 64, Pals, Catalonia, 17256. 972/667739; Weekdays Sept.--June €78; weekends, July and Aug. €89.

Golf Peralada. This relatively flat course is notable for its broad fairways and greens, but beware: the back nine—especially the par-3 12th hole, with the green surrounded by bunkers, and the water hazards on the par-4 16th—can test even a scratch players skills and concentration. Carrer Rocaberti s/n, Peralada, Catalonia, 17491. 972/538287; From €60 to €80, depending on season.

PGA Catalunya. A mountainous marvel an hour from Barcelona, PGA Catalunya is ranked one of Europe's top 10 golfing venues. Even seasoned pros come to grief here on the Stadium Course, beset with bunkers, lakes and uphill greens; the Tour Course is a bit shorter and more forgiving, but water hazards abound. Carretera N--II Km 701, Km 701, Caldes de Malavella, Catalonia, 17445. 972/472577; Weekdays €88--€114, weekends €88--€158, depending on season; day ticket (36 holes) €127--€206; early bird and twilight rates €65.

TorreMirona Golf & Spa Resort. This 18-hole rolling inland course is in the town of Navata, an hour north of Barcelona, between the medieval fortified town of Besalú and Figueres. The front nine is technically challenging (the green on the par-3 5th hole is entirely surrounded by water); the back nine is easier, with broad fairways and greens and spectacular views of the Pyrenees in the distance. Ctra. N--260 Km 46, Navata, Catalonia, 17744. 972/553737; Dec.--Mar. weekdays €65, weekends and holidays €74; Apr.--Nov. weekdays €74, weekends and holidays €79.

Gyms and Spas

DiR. The DiR network has more than a dozen branches all over Barcelona. The minimum one-week membership costs €45 and includes fitness classes and the use of the sauna, steam room, swimming pool, and (at some branches) paddle tennis courts. Day passes cost €20 at the flagship facility just above Diagonal near Turo Park, where the palm-shaded lawns bracketing the Olympic-length indoor-outdoor pool are coveted summer chill-out spaces. DiR Diagonal, Carrer Ganduxer 25–27, Sant Gervasi, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08021. 93/202--2202;

Seven DiR. Off Passeig de Gràcia near the hotel Condes de Barcelona, this center-city fitness club has a gym, sauna, indoor and outdoor pools (outdoors in summer only), and squash and paddle tennis courts. Nonmembers pay €15 from 7:15 am to 1 pm, €20 for a full-day pass. Passatge Domingo 7, Eixample, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08002. 93/215--2755;


The Collserola hills behind the city offer well-marked trails, fresh air, and lovely views. Take the San Cugat, Sabadell, or Terrassa FFCC train from Plaça de Catalunya and get off at Baixador de Vallvidrera; the information center, 10 minutes uphill next to Joana (now the Jacint Verdaguer Museum), has maps of this mountain woodland just 20 minutes from downtown. The walk back into town can take two to five hours depending on your speed and the trails you choose. For longer treks, try the 15-km (9-mile) Sant Cugat–to–Barcelona hike, or take the train south to Sitges and make the three-day pilgrimage walk to the Monastery of Montserrat.

Centre Excursionista de Catalunya. The center has information on hiking throughout Catalunya and the Pyrenees, gives mountaineering and technical climbing courses, organizes excursions, and provides guides for groups. Carrer del Paradis 10, Barri Gòtic, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08002. 93/315--2311;


On any day of the week in Barcelona you can see midday regattas taking place off the Barceloneta beaches or beyond the rompeolas (breakwater) on the far side of the port. Believe it or not, Olympic-level sailors are being trained for competition just a stone’s throw (or two) from La Rambla.

Reial Club Marítim de Barcelona. Barcelona's most exclusive and prestigious yacht club can advise visitors on maritime matters, from where to charter yachts and sailboats to how to sign up for sailing programs. Moll d'Espanya s/n, Port Vell, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08003. 93/221--4859;

Ronáutica. Charter a yacht, sailboat, or power craft here, or take sailing lessons in the company's affiliated Escola Port Barcelona . Moll de la Marina 11, Port Olímpic, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08005. 93/221--0380;

Scuba Diving

The Costa Brava’s Illes Medes nature preserve offers some of the Mediterranean’s finest diving adventures. Seven tiny islands off the coastal town of L’Estartit are home to some 1,400 species of flora and fauna in an underwater wonderland of tunnels and caves. Other diving sites include the Illes Formigues off the coast of Palamós, Els Ullastres off Llafranc, and the Balfegó tuna pens off l’Ametlla de Mar, south of Tarragona.

Aquàtica–Centro de Buceo. Aquàtica–Centro de Buceo teaches diving, rents equipment, and organizes outings to the Illes Medes. With top safety-code requirements and certified instructors and biologists directing the programs in English, French, Catalan, or Spanish, this is one of Estartit's best diving opportunities. Aquàtica operates year-round, but winter excursions are suitable only for PADI-certified experienced divers. Camping Rifort, Cami Vell 2, L'Estartit, Catalonia, 17258. 972/750656; 609/311133;

Tuna Tours. The fisheries company Grup Balfegó catches young Atlantic bluefin tuna and raises them for sale in huge pens some 2.5 miles offshore from the port of l'Ametlla de Mar in Tarragona. From June through September, the company offers daily excursions by luxury catamaran from the port out to the pens; passengers don snorkeling gear and jump in. Feeding these 200 kg.-plus creatures and sharing their space is an awesome experience. Excursions are €47 per person in summer high season, €39 in September, with a meal of tuna sashimi en route. Port l'Ametlla de Mar, Barcelona, Catalonia, 43860. 977/047707; Excursions 10 am–noon, 12:30–2:30 and 5–7 pm; weekends only in the off-season, on reduced schedules.


Futbol Club Barcelona. Founded in 1899, the Futbol Club Barcelona has been on a near-unbeatable roll since 2009, when it won its third European Championship, the Liga championship and its 27th Copa del Rey (King's Cup)—Spain's first-ever triplete (triple)—and repeated that astonishing triumph in 2015. Even more impressive, to friend and foe alike, was the way they did it, playing a wide-open razzle-dazzle style of soccer rarely seen in the age of cynical defensive lockdowns and muscular British-style play. Barça, as the club is affectionately known, is Real Madrid's perennial nemesis (and vice versa) as well as a sociological and historical phenomenon of deep significance in Catalonia. Ticket windows at Access 14 to the stadium are open Monday–Saturday and match-day Sunday 10–2 and 5–8; you can also buy tickets at Servicaixa ATMs at Caixa de Catalunya banks, through ticket agencies, at kiosks in the Plaça de Catalunya and on the Ramblas, and directly online. Camp Nou, Aristides Maillol 12, Les Corts, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08028. 93/496–3600; 902/189900;

RCD Espanyol. Things began to look up a bit for this soccer team, long languishing in a tiny stadium above Diagonal, when the club moved west to the suburb of Cornellà and into a new state-of-the-art 40,500-seat home base. Espanyol still struggles to survive in the League First Division but enjoys the support of enthusiastic local fans. Tickets are best purchased at Servicaixa machines. Take the Metro Line 5 from Plaça Catalunya to Cornellà Centre or the FCG L8 suburban train from Plaça Espanya to Cornellà-Riera; the "Power8 Stadium" is a short walk from either. Estadi Cornellà-El Prat, Avda. Baix Llobregat 100, Cornellà de Llobregat, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08940. 93/292--7700;

Spain Ticket Bureau. This company can score seats for Barça home games, as well as other sporting events, concerts, and musicals, in Barcelona and elsewhere in Spain. Booking ahead online is a good idea, especially for headliner events, but expect to pay a healthy premium. Rambla 54, Eixample, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08007. 93/461--8170; 93/488--2266;


All fees are €10–€12 per day.

Club Natació Barcelona. Also known as Complex Esportiu Municipal Banys Sant Sebastià, this club in Barceloneta, just opposite the cablecar terminal, has an indoor pool that overlooks the beach. It's open daily 7 am to 11 pm. A one-day pass for the use of the pool, gym, and other facilities costs €12.47. Passeig Joan de Borbó 93, Barceloneta, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08039. 93/221--4600;

Parc de la Creueta del Coll. This huge outdoor pool, built into a former stone quarry, is uphill from Parc Güell. It's open daily from 10 am to sunset, April through October. Passeig Mare de Déu del Coll 77, Vall d'Hebron, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08002. 93/402--7000.

DiR Diagonal. The flagship facility of the DiR group of fitness clubs, DiR Diagonal has a gym with enough state-of-the-art training machines to accommodate a small army; the 8-lane, 50-meter outdoor pool has a moveable glass roof for winter and inclement weather. There are broad tree-shaded lawns on both sides of the pool: early arrivals nab the deck chairs and umbrellas. Full-day passes for nonmembers are €20. Open weekdays from 6:15 am to 11 pm, Sat. 8–9, Sun. 8:30–9. Calle Ganduxer 25–27, Sant Gervasi, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08021. 93/202--2202;

Piscines Municipals Bernat Picornell. The daily fee at this swimming center with indoor and outdoor pools includes use of a sauna, gymnasium, and fitness equipment. The facility is open daily 7 am–midnight; pool hours vary with the season. Avda. del Estadi 30–40, Montjuïc, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08038. 93/423--4041;

Piscina Municipal Can Caralleu. The €13.42 day-pass for nonmembers here includes the use of the gym, the indoor and outdoor pools, the sauna and whirlpool bath, and the tennis courts. The facilities are open weekdays 7 am–11 pm, Saturday 8–8, and Sunday 8–4. Carrer dels Esports 2–8, Pedralbes, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08017. 93/203--7874;

Tennis and Squash

Centre Municipal de Tennis Vall d'Hebron. The Olympic tennis facilities here are open daily 8 am–11 pm. The Centre also boasts a fitness center and an outdoor pool. Passeig Vall d'Hebron 178–196, Vall d'Hebron, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08035. 93/427--6500; Clay courts €18/hr, hard courts €17/hr (lights €5). Daily 8 am–11 pm.

Complejo Deportivo Can Caralleu. A 20-minute walk uphill from the Reina Elisenda subway stop, Can Caralleu has hard surface tennis courts, a soccer pitch and running track, two pools, a fitness center—and even a climbing wall. A one-day membership (€13.42) provides unlimited court time (as available), and the use of all other facilities. Carrer dels Esports 2–8, Pedralbes, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08017. 93/203--7874; Weekdays 7 am–11 pm, Sat. 8–8, Sun. 8--4.

Trofeo Godó – Open Seat. Barcelona's main tennis tournament, held in late April, is a clay-court event long considered a French Open warm-up. For tickets to this event, consult with the Reial Club de Tenis de Barcelona or the tournament website beginning in late February. Tickets may also be obtained at Carrer de Bosch i Gimpera 21, Pedralbes, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08034. 93/203--7852; Qualifying rounds from €7, semifinals and finals from €52.