Tree-shaded squares, fountains and mosaics made from bright, broken tiles are all part of the classic Catalan aesthetic you can enjoy in Barcelona, and nearby La Roca Village – another member of The Bicester Village Shopping Collection, just 40 minutes away. But what sets Barcelona apart? It’s a city with proper beaches. Here’s our pick of the brilliant beach life in and around the city…
La Roca Village, a Village of The Bicester Village Shopping Collection
For seaside cool: Garraf
This crescent of vanilla-sugar sand is just south of the city, at the foot of a national park. Take the train and arrive at a pretty row of white beach huts with green shutters facing the sand and sea. Make a beeline for Little Beach House, the breezy Soho House outpost overlooking the waves.
For a quick dose of sun, sea and sand:
Just a 15-minute stroll from the bottom of Las Ramblas, Barceloneta is an urban beach, created in the run-up to the 1992 Olympics games – not that you’d know it. There’s a W Hotel, too, as well as various seafood restaurants, plus the usual sun loungers for hire and the odd beachside sculpture, including Frank Gehry’s magnificent giant, bronze fish, the Peix d’Or.
For peace: Nova Icària
There is always room at Nova Icària; the most peaceful of Barcelona’s beaches. You can rent sun loungers and umbrellas for the day, and waiters from the beachside bars wander over periodically to take orders, so no need to move an inch.
For local flavour: Ocata
At weekends and in peak season, locals often head north. Follow suit and make for Ocata beach in El Masnou: vast – wide, deep, with golden sand – and lined with chiringuitos selling cool drinks and tasty tapas.