Where to go
Barcelona is famous for an abundance of pristine beaches, right in the heart of the city centre. But during the busy summer months, these will be packed to the rafters with tourists and locals alike – making it much more difficult to find a peaceful spot to relax. Instead, you can take the train to the suburbs, and enjoy a less ‘crowded’ beach experience.
What to wear
They’re not shy about their bodies in Spain, so don’t be shocked to see beaches packed with topless sunbathers. If you catch a glimpse of some scantily-clad sun worshipers, it’s probably not a good idea to point and stare – at best it’s immature, at worst it’s just plain rude. Instead, just carry on with your own sunbathing.
If you decide to ditch the swimsuit yourself then just remember – although Spanish law says that it’s permissible to be nude anywhere (as long as it doesn’t cause a disturbance) in reality it’s not recommended. There are ‘unofficial’ nudist beaches you can visit, such as ‘Marbella Beach’, if you want to go the whole hog. Just make sure you use plenty of sun cream!
What to eat
The Spaniards are renowned for their delicious cuisine and eating well in Spain doesn’t have to cost the earth. Although restaurants in prime positions are often expensive, just walking a few streets away from the beach can get you a great meal for less. If a restaurant is packed full of locals and it smells good, then you’re probably onto a good thing. Make sure you take a tunic or change of clothes though – skin may be liberal on the beach, but off the beach Spaniards always cover up.
Alternatively, Spanish supermarkets are notoriously good value for money, and it’s not unusual to take a picnic to the beach. La Boqueria is a world-famous food market right in the heart of the city – a great place to pick up some supplies!
What to do
Usually nothing beats a good book, a long sleep, and a dip in the ocean – but if you’re after more excitement then there is always plenty to do on the beach, from renting a pedalo, to playing some beach volley ball. But be aware that nothing is free, unless you bring it yourself. Even those beach chairs cost money to sit on.
It’s also common in Spanish beach culture for sales people to roam up and down the beach, trying to flog their gear. It’s not worth buying beer from sellers unless you are very lazy – the supermarket is much cheaper. Massages, on the other hand, are often surprisingly good value for money and on the popular stretches of sand you will be offered them every five to ten minutes!
TOP TIP: Always watch your belongings and never leave them unattended. Spain is notorious for pick-pockets and thieves!