Montgat Beach snorkeling
Sant Pol de Mar beach, photo by TijsB (CC BY-SA 2.0).
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Jump on a train on the R1 line in the direction of Maçanet and in just over 20 minutes you’ll reach Montgat where the water is clearer and the sand finer than any Barcelona city beach. While not quite like the picture-perfect beaches of the Costa Brava, but certainly not as crowded as Barceloneta, Montgat’s beach is a perfect location for a lazy summer’s day, with two kilometers of life-guarded beach to enjoy. Soak up the Mediterranean Sea breeze and wander around the cobbled streets of the whitewashed town, set just back from the sea, or enjoy a cool beverage in one of the beachfront xiringuitos with sand between your toes.
How to Get There
Plaça Catalunya to Montgat (Zone 1), Line R1, approximately 22 minutes.
Masnou beach, photo by Toni Pérez Padilla (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Wikimedia Commons.
One of the best features of the beach at El Masnou is the view of Barcelona’s jagged skyline in the distance. The W Hotel, Torre Glòries, the Mapfre Towers and other landmarks of the city can all be identified clearly from the shoreline. Sunset makes for a magical time here, when the views can be enjoyed alongside live music, monologues or performances at La Rotonda beach bar. The beach’s proximity to Barcelona makes it a great last-minute escape for families, young people and groups of friends in search of somewhere new.
How to Get There
Plaça Catalunya to Montgat (Zone 2), Line R1, approximately 27 minutes.
Ocata Beach, photo by Ling Travel (CC BY-ND 2.0) via Flickr.
Just a 10-minute walk up the coast from El Masnou, Ocata beach stretches for one-and-a-half kilometers and at some points is up to 170 meters wide, so there’s always somewhere to put your towel. The fine sand is kept immaculately clean and the water is refreshingly clear. Admire the Barcelona skyline in the distance and enjoy the peace and space around you that just half an hour of travel gets you. There’s also a path that runs alongside the train track with regular water fountains and shady picnic spots. If you need to stretch your legs, walk up towards Premià de Mar or back towards El Masnou.
How to Get There
Plaça Catalunya to Ocata (Zone 2), Line R1, approximately 27 minutes plus a 10 minute walk up the beach.
Tres Micos beach at Caldes d’Estrac.
The beaches at Caldes d’Estrac are an excellent example of the flat, broad, man-made beaches of the Maresme. Caldetes, as it is affectionately known, is actually two wide beaches—Platja dels Tres Micos and Platja de la Riera—measuring 800 meters from one relaxing end to the other. Its massive surface area allows people to find their own patch without stepping on anyone. As a bonus, Caldetes itself is a charming little town with some beautiful 19th-century architecture, a fun municipal spa, shady cafés and places to grab a bite. In short, a great place to unwind with family and friends.
How to Get There
Catalunya to Caldes d’Estrac (Zone 4), Line R1, approximately 50 minutes.
Musclera beach, photo by Isidro Jabato (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Wikimedia Commons.
Riccione Beach, Italy
Photo credit: Simone Nencini
The Culture Wok
Tightly packed yellow and red striped umbrellas dot the beach in Riccione by day and if it is clear enough you might catch a glimpse of Croatia across the Adriatic Sea. It’s all classicly Italian beach, but it’s what goes on here when the sun goes down that is the real attraction. Coming from Miami, my pre-conceived view of Italy was a villa sitting on a hill surrounded by a rolling landscape of vineyards, great food, and fashionable people. Italy is ALL of that and more, but what I did not expect to find was a mini Miami Beach in the heart of Emilia-Romagna.
Riccione is a pulsing town by night popular with college kids and young adults alike. Top class DJ’s spin electronic music and high end shops like Swarovski and Gucci line the promenade. Modern sidewalk cafes pump out the flavors of the minute from top class chefs. Even the gelato shops are top class. It’s so enticing that even communist Mussolini couldn’t stay away, making his summer residence in Riccione. Today the house is used for events and exhibitions. While Riccione can be an expensive town, Airbnb is catching on in Italy and there are great deals to be had all within walking distance of the beach. Getting to Riccione is easy by rail as the train station is located at the very end of the pedestrian mall leading to the beach.
Montgat Nord Beach near Barcelona
Me, the Traveling German!
Montgat Nord may not be the most picturesque beach in Europe, but what makes it perfect for me is the proximity to Barcelona (the greatest city in the world). I like taking the train out to Montgat Nord and then walk north until the beach becomes really narrow. There’s a point where the beach will only fit one “line” of towels, so there are rocks behind you and water in front of you. That makes it feel very cozy, and aside from the train passing by every half hour, it’s pretty quiet.
It’s an awesome place to escape the crowds of tourists in Barcelona. Bonus point: It’s budget friendly, a normal zone 1 metro ticket will get you to Montgat Nord and the beers are only half of what they cost in the city.
Ksamil Beach, Albania
Photo credit: Ksamil, Albania, by Artur Malinowski, licensed under Creative Commons 2.0 Check out his album on Flickr for many more pictures of Ksamil!
Did you expect to find an Albanian beach on this list? Ksamil beach is on my bucket list, and I plan to make it there fairly soon before too many people discover it. Ksamil is a part of Butrint National Park on the Southern Albanian Riviera. What I love about it is the views – crystal clear waters and a few small islands, only accessible by boat. I really want to go there and explore the islands with a small sailing boat or kayak! Wouldn’t you?