One of the advantages of studying Spanish in Barcelona is the opportunity to alternate the library with a field trip to the beach.
The city is blessed with five kilometers of sandy coastline, which stretches from the glamorous shores of the enigmatic W hotel to the post-industrial Port Forúm area at the city limits. Whilst the ten beaches are punctuated by piers and ports, they are well-connected by paths, bike lanes and public transport routes, and each has their own personality and advantages as a place to study Spanish outside class.
The beaches are mostly well-equipped with showers, lockers and even Wi-Fi at the majority of beaches, which are manned by lifeguards from mid-April to October. You’ll soon choose your own favorite when you arrive, but hopefully this article will help you find the perfect spot to improve your Spanish skills as soon as possible.
Sant Sebastiá, Sant Miquel, la Barceloneta and El Somorrostro
Barcelona’s international visitors often make the southernmost beaches their first port of call, and there are plenty of reasons to make these three spots your place to study. Easily accessed by public transport, there are three landmarks to make meeting up with classmates unfamiliar with the city as easy as possible. The sail-shaped W hotel marks the end of the beach, whilst the Torre Sant Sebastiá links the beach to Monjüic via cable car. L’Estel Ferit is a sculpture more commonly known as Los Cubos, or The Cubes, for obvious reasons.
The beaches are lively and frequented all-year round. There are opportunities to get involved in beach sports, and also some zones where nudism is allowed if you want to hit the books in the buff. Barceloneta is home to the Biblioplatja, or Beach Library, where you can borrow books, magazines and newspapers. If you want to escape from the city between classes to do some simple tasks, or fancy finding other foreigners to socialize with, this area is ideal.
Nova Icària and Bogatell
North of the Vila Olímpica built for the 1992 Olympic Games lie Nova Icària and Bogatell. These beaches generally attract an older crowd, and are more likely to be frequented by locals than the southernmost shores. The locals refer to beach bars and restaurants as xiringuitos, and some of the best are located in this area. Bogatell is the favorite of the adjacent Poblenou neighborhood, and the surrounding parks are incredibly popular at the weekend with families who pitch up to enjoy a picnic in the shade.
These beaches are quieter and so you can expect a little more peace, especially during the week. The xiringuitos are perfect for meeting up with other students from your class, or to organize a language exchange. Sooner or later you should be aiming to immerse yourself in Spanish-speaking environments, and spending time amongst locals at these suburban beaches is your first step.
Mar Bella, Nova Mar Bella and Llevant
The final section of beaches in Barcelona comprises of Mar Bella, Nova Mar Bella and Llevant. Mar Bella is known as a gay-friendly and clothing-optional destination and has recently begun to attract crews of wheeled youngsters owing to the installation of an impressive skate park. If you plan to study with a canine companion, there is a designated zone for dogs to enjoy themselves in the sand at the Llevant beach.
These beaches are the furthest from the center of the city, attracting fewer visitors, so you will be largely undisturbed if you would like to do some reading or exercises on your own.
Zona de Banys – El Parc del Fòrum
The final zone to consider visiting when scoping out seaside study spots in the man-made swimming zone at El Parc del Fòrum. Constructed in 2004, the expansive park contains a concrete promenade bordering a limited sea water swimming area, complete with deck chairs and showers. If you want to keep your laptop as far as possible from the sand of the beaches, this is the perfect place for you to study.
The beach can be the perfect place to study, keep fit, socialize and top up your tan, all at the same time. With a few important precautions, you will happily return time after time.
- Only swim when you’re allowed to do so. A red flag means swimming is prohibited, a yellow flag means be careful and a green one means you’re good to go. Watch out for the occasional jellyfish!
- Protect your skin. UV rates can reach dangerous levels in Barcelona.
- Stay hydrated.
- Look after your belongings. Unfortunately, petty theft is common at the beach, so take advantage of the lockers if you plan to leave your books and to take a swim.