While it’s true there are beaches within the Barcelona city limits, many locals actually leave the city proper to hit the beach. While some people may venture far from Barcelona, to the Costa Brava to the north or to any of the Balearic Islands (some of my friends go to Menorca with their families), you don’t have to catch an AVE or plane to enjoy the beauty of the Mediterranean. I want to be able to go in the ocean for long swims out to shore and not having to worry about where my bag is every second (TRUE STORY: my first time on the Barceloneta, my group of friends and I had a very sophisticated bag-watching system and we took turns getting in the water to make sure we didn’t get robbed).

On the Costa Dorada (or Gold Coast) south of Barcelona, there are some great options for getting away from the rush of BCN, all a Rodalies (commuter train) ride away on the R2 Sud line, less than an hour from the Passeig de Gràcia station. This line begins at the Estació de França and also makes a stop at Sants (where you get the AVE) on its way down the coast.

So here are three beautiful Costa Dorada beaches, all just a short train ride away from Barcelona: Castelldefels, Sitges, and Vilanova i la Geltrú. While all three have the beach in common, they all have different personalities. Enjoy!

1. Castelldefels

Things to do in Barcelona: Costa Dorada beaches: Castelldefels

Castelldefels is the closet of the three towns to the city of Barcelona and is probably best known for being the town where Messi lives. Castelldefels has two Rodalies stops: Castelldefels and Castelldefels Platja. Be sure to get off at Castelldefels Platja to be at the beach within five minutes. The beach in Castelldefels is wide, but since it is the closest to the city, it’s pretty crowded. Castelldefels is perfect if you don’t have the whole day to spend on the beach, but still want to be able to relax. While I didn’t get the peace and quiet of other beaches, I was excited to have plenty of room to lay my towel and get my tan on. The day I went to Castelldefels was pretty windy, thus making it a little bit harder to swim far out to the buoys, but it did the job: clean stretches of golden sand, the Mediterranean blue, and one happy camper. The best part? I made it back to L’Eixample in about a half-hour!

2. Sitges

Things to do in Barcelona: Costa Dorada beaches: Sitges

Sitges is known for being a gay-friendly destination, but Sitges is a city with a lot to offer not just during the summer, but all year round. The city hosts a well-known Carnival celebration before the start of Lent and a reputed international film festival. It also has some great beaches. While the beaches in the center of town are not as wide as those in Castelldefels and are quite crowded, there are plenty of beaches within the city limits for you to choose from. There are also some beautiful ones that you can see from the Rodalies train nearby, but for those you would need car access. When you want a break from the sun and sand, there are plenty of sites to explore in the town of Sitges itself, including houses that were built in the 19th century by Sitges residents who made fortunes in the Americas (FACT: the Bacardi family is from Sitges). In addition, the path all along the coast of Sitges is absolutely breathtaking, especially at sunset. Don’t believe me? Here’s proof:

Things to do in Barcelona: Costa Dorada beaches: Sitges sunset
Sunset in Sitges

If you want to stay until the last train leaves the station, the Port d’Aiguadolç area (pretty pijo to be sure) has a variety of restaurants with semi-enclosed seating to end a wonderful day in Sitges.

3. Vilanova i la Geltrú

Things to do in Barcelona: Costa Dorada beaches: Vilanova i la GeltrúVilanova i la Geltrú main square

Vilanova i la Geltrú is the least well-known of our three featured towns, but it is my favorite in this area because it’s the most relaxed. It’s where I felt the most comfortable spending the day in my bathing suit and staying on the beach for hours on end. The end of the train ride to Vilanova will take your breath away as the tracks hug along the coast, and you won’t be disappointed. Vilanova has lots of beaches to choose from, some a longer walk from the train station than others, but my favorite is Platja del Far, only a 15-minute walk from the Rodalies station. If you take the underpass at the station, it will get you directly on the side of the train station you want to be on in order to get to the beach. The xiringuito (beachside restaurant) at Platja del Far has an excellent menú option of grilled sardines on top of grilled pa amb tomàquet (a Catalan gastronomic staple) for lunch an dinnertime. The café cortado is also excellent. Vilanova i la Geltrú is the hometown of Francesc Macià, an iconic politician. The farther away from the entrance to the beach you go, the better spots to lay out in the sand you’ll find.

Ready for your day on the beach? Here are the links to the Rodalies schedules and the tourism bureaus of all three municipalities:

Passa t’ho bé a la platja! (Have a good time at the beach!)

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