Given its prime location on the Balearic Sea, there are plenty of beaches to frequent in Barcelona. With popularity, however, come large crowds and throngs of tourists. So, if you’re looking for a seaside escape on the Spanish coast, we’ve got you covered. These are the best seaside day trips from Barcelona.
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The 7 Best Seaside Day Trips from Barcelona
The first coastal town you’ll discover if you travel south from Barcelona is Tarragona. The beaches of Tarragona are popular for their shimmery golden sands, earning this area the nickname of ‘the Gold Coast’ ( in Catalan). In contrast to other coastal areas in Spain, the sand here is super-fine, making for a very enjoyable experience to sunbathe as well as swim.
The waves here are gentle and the slopes gradual, making it a great spot to bring the children.
There are a number of beaches on Costa Dourada. Some of the most popular are Platja del Miracle, Platja de l’Arrabassada, Platja de Savinosa, and Platja dels Capellans. Platja de l’Arboçar and Platja de Becs are personal favorites, as they have a more wild feel to them than some of the area’s more popular options. Whatever beach you find yourself at, you’ll enjoy the feel of warm, soft sand between your toes and the salty Balearic water on your skin.
In addition to the many beaches of Tarragona, there are quite a few historical sites. You can find a number of different churches and even a Roman Colosseum, which is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.
There are also a lot of town squares that are encompassed by terraces and cafes to enjoy afternoon or evening tapas and cocktails.
To reach Tarragona by train from Barcelona takes a little over one hour. If you travel by car, you can shave a bit of time off and arrive in under an hour.
Calella is a lovely spa town situated on the Maresme Coast. This area is just north of Barcelona. A seaside day trip from Barcelona will take approximately one hour by train. Similar to Tarragona, if you travel by car you’ll save a little time.
Though not as popular as Costa Brava, Calella has its fair share of gorgeous beaches to enjoy. It’s less popular with tourists, meaning there are far fewer crowds to contend with. Come to Calella and the Maresme Coast to enjoy more golden sands, sparse crowds, and gentle waves.
One of the best beaches in Calella is Gran de Calella. Running adjacent to the beach is a lovely promenade with plenty of leisure activities for the whole family to enjoy. There are also a number of shaded bike paths if you’re looking to get some exercise in.
You can also discover some of Calella’s gorgeous coves, which are ideal for those who are looking for a more intimate setting. The prettiest of the coves, by a landslide, is La Platgeta. Here, amenities are more sparse, with only an old cafe and a small area of prickly pears.
Water activities abound. You can kayak, snorkel, dive, or jet ski.
Before or after a sun-filled day at the beach, check out the other activities that Calella has to offer. These include an art museum, a Spanish Civil War shelter, and a Museum of Tourism.
Sitges is one of the more popular options on this list, particularly with the LGBTQ crowd. With almost 20 beaches, it’s also a great option for a seaside day trip from Barcelona. Situated on the renowned Costa Brava, Sitges offers silky-soft sand, turquoise waters, and stretches of gorgeous coastline.
With over 300 days of sunshine per year, it’s a great city to visit year-round. Popular beach options include Platja de Sant Sebastià, Sitges Beach, Platja de l’Estanyol, among others.
Platja de la Ribera is a popular option for beachgoers in Sitges. After heading to the beach, you can enjoy some leisurely shopping or seafood tapas at one of the many restaurants. Running parallel to Platja de la Ribera is a quaint promenade, littered with small shops and plenty of restaurants.
After the beach, if you continue to walk along the shore, you’ll reach Iglesia de San Bartolome y Santa Tecia. This is a picture-perfect church on the coast, with waves lapping at its foundation during high tide.
Premia de Mar
One of the most underrated seaside day trips from Barcelona is the sleepy town of Premia de Mar. This small, historic town retains its original charm while welcoming a bit of a hipster vibe.
Platja dels Vinyals, Platja de les Moreres, and Platja de Sant Simo are among the most popular Premia de Mar beaches. For the most relaxing experience, however, definitely check out Platja Montgat Nord. All of the beaches exhibit gorgeous turquoise waters with white, frothy waves, and ultra-soft golden sand, perfect for burying your toes.
Most of the Premia de Mar beaches have nearby amenities, including a plethora of quaint, semi-grungy beach bars. Don’t let their tattered appearance fool you, however. You can grab some delicious drinks and yummy seafood tapas here. If you head down further to the marina, you can find some more formal offerings for lunch and dinner.
Once the sun sets, the area keeps its livelihood with adults relaxing and drinking, people walking around the bustling squares, and the sound of music coming from local cafes.
Buses leave frequently throughout the day from Barcelona. The shortest ride takes about 25 minutes, with some buses (with more frequent stops) taking about 45 minutes. The drive takes just over 20 minutes.
Begur & Sa Tuna
Begur and Sa Tuna are slightly further afield than some others on this list. Still, taking a seaside day trip from Barcelona to Begur and Sa Tuna will take under two hours. Heading north of Barcelona, along Costa Brava, you’ll find the quaint seaside towns.
The two towns are adjacent to one another and are often visited as a day trip together. Begur is a gorgeous medieval village while Sa Tuna has lots of rocky coastlines and scenic views to discover.
This area is one of the most popular places to visit in Costa Brava, and with good reason. The natural scenery and picture-perfect vistas are sure to take your breath away. You’ll find glasses with sparkling, colored pieces of sea glass, seaside hiking, and jagged coves to explore. Hiking the Cami de Ronda is one of the most popular things to do in Sa Tuna.
The best beaches in the area include Platja Sa Tuna, Platja de Sa Riera, and Platja Fonda. These beaches are more cove-like than some of the others on this list and somewhat more secluded. This means you’ll find fewer amenities, so pack a lunch (and maybe a bottle of Cava) for your day trip.
After you’re done basking in the sun, hit up the whitewashed medieval town of Begur. You can explore the local castle, shop in boutique stores, and get lost in the maze of narrow, cobbled streets. There are a number of worthy restaurants here, so pop into one and enjoy evening tapas. Don’t forget your camera when you visit the castle ruins on the hilltop – the views here are otherworldly.
Despite its popularity, it is still lesser known than other places in Costa Brava, like Lloret de Mar. This is more of a local haunt than a tourist hot spot.
Cadaqués is my personal favorite town to visit for a seaside day trip from Barcelona. It’s truly magnificent, with a steep, hilly maze of streets and whitewashed buildings. It’s reminiscent of Begur in this sense, but Cadaqués has an added appeal – it was the main residence of renowned Surrealist painter Salvador Dali.
Situated on the Cap de Creus peninsula, Cadaqués has quite a few beaches to enjoy. The main beach of Cadaqués is Playa Grande, accessible by promenade only. You’ll find, given the unique coastline of the area, that most of the beaches here are rather small (yet every bit as beautiful as others on Costa Brava).
In addition to its secluded beaches, of course, visiting the Dali museum is a must, particularly if you’re a fan of his work. Because the museum is so tiny, only ten visitors are allowed in every ten minutes. I’d definitely recommend booking in advance if this is on your list. The house (now a museum) is a short walk outside of town.
Unfortunately, getting to Cadaqués with public transportation isn’t very straightforward. You have to take a train to Figueres (also a popular spot for Dali lovers) and then a bus to Cadaqués. The bus ride is rather scenic, however, winding up and down the hills of Catalonia. All in all, expect this route to take around two and a half hours. Alternatively, driving is a good option if you have a rental car.
Tossa de Mar
Finally, the picturesque coastal town of Tossa de Mar. This is a must-visit seaside day trip from Barcelona. The coastline here is rather jagged, but also boasts a beautiful castle.
Platja Gran is the main beach in the area. Its pale, soft sand is very inviting to walk barefoot, and the snorkeling here is fantastic.
Tossa de Mar has other beaches, but they are a little more secluded and difficult to reach. If you’re not looking for an adventurous trek to get to the sea, Platja Gran is the beach for you. In addition to beach and water activities, you also have epic views of La Vila Vella Castle.
Before or after you hit the beach, get lost in the alluring network of narrow streets. The medieval vibes of the walled town (Vila Vella) is perfect for pedestrian-friendly exploring. As you make your way to the top of the hill, you’re rewarded with views that are more and more breathtaking the higher you go. There are a few tourist trains in the area as well, in case you’re traveling with limited mobility (or are simply tired from the sun!).
The best way to reach Tossa de Mar from Barcelona is to drive. This is, of course, contingent on whether or not you have access to a vehicle. The drive takes about an hour and ten minutes. Otherwise, there is a bus that you can take. The bus only takes slightly longer at an hour and twenty minutes.