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By Regina W. Bryan in Barcelona—
I’ve said many times that I don’t swim in the waters splashing up on Barcelona’s beaches. I spend a lot of time along the city’s shoreline but rarely in a bathing suit. Some of my friends swim in Barcelona’s stretch of Med regularly and they think I’m overly concerned.
Am I? When it comes down to it, I don’t like swimming with plastic bags and other things that I won’t describe here. So, when I go to the beach to take the waters, I head out of Barcelona. Here are a few swim-friendly destinations I’d stick a big toe in:
I’ll admit that Sitges beaches are a bit packed in the summer months, mostly with men (this is a gay getaway). It can be hard to find a plot of sand upon which to lay. Get a sun umbrella and a chair for €5-€10 a day and enjoy.
Sitges also makes my list because it’s close to Barcelona (45 minutes to the south), easy to get to by Renfe train, and is basically just a really fun little city. Lots of choices here for eating out, bars, nightlife and cafes. Makes for an excellent day-trip or weekend away from Barcelona. Read more here.
I looked at houses here and imagined moving to Garraf, a small village a couple train stops before Sitges, snug in the mountains and overlooking the Mediterranean.
Sigh. It’s lovely.
Alas, the issue with Garraf is that not all trains stop in this petite beach town, so be careful to get a Renfe train that hits all the stops or you might chug right on by. Also note that Garraf is a village, but also a region. In the village there are two main beaches: one which is large and more popular, and another which is much smaller on the other side of the port. It takes about 35 minutes to get to Garraf from Barcelona’s Pssg de Gracia station.
Sant Pol de Mar
About an hour north of Barcelona in the Maresme area of the Catalan coastline, Sant Pol is about as charming as Mediterranean fishing villages come.
Does it have all the boutiques and cafes that Sitges does? No, not even close. It’s tranquil, not crowded and I recall the sand being especially fluffy (that may just be me). An ideal day-trip for those who want to swim, read, nap and snack on a picnic lunch.
Farther away from Barcelona and only accessed by bus and car, I recommend the Costa Brava, especially Cap de Creus, Tamariu and Begur. To the south try some of the many beaches around Tarragona. Tarragona, the city, also has an ample beach (Tarragona is reached by train).
Also in our guide: If you’re planning a trip to Barcelona and looking for the perfect affordable place to stay, make sure you check out our budget hotel recommendations. Our editors have scouted out the best deals on accommodation in the city’s historic center. Read more in our Barcelona guide.