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What Not to Do in Barcelona

by Suzanne Wales

Don't…
Loll About on Barcelona's Beaches

Well, do, but only during the off-season. Ripping into the industrial waterfront and carpeting it with sand was without a doubt the most inspired of all the civic projects that took place in the run-up to the 1992 Olympic Games, but from June to September the beaches are a sweaty mess of annoying touts, whooping teenagers, throbbing chiringuitos (beach bars), and pickpockets. If you really must, make for the southernmost shore, underneath the W Barcelona, which retains some sort of decorum and is home to a couple of decent restaurants, including the recently opened outdoor paella eatery Pez Vela.

Instead…
Catch a Train Up or Down the Coast

A short commuter-train ride away, heading south, is Sitges (pictured), with its long stretch of golden sand and pretty, whitewashed historical center. A few stations before that is Garraf, which has a string of botigues—an ensemble of jaunty green-and-white beach shacks. Ten miles north of Barcelona, before you hit the Costa Brava, is the coast known as Maresme. Visit Sant Pol de Mar, which has bracing sea views from the promenade and two fine crescent beaches (one nudist); it is home to Sant Pau, Carme Ruscalleda's celebrated temple of new Catalan cuisine. Alternatively, stay in the city and cool off at Barcelona's excellent public pools. Try either the Olympian Piscines Picornell on Montjuïc or the Club Natació Atlètic-Barceloneta, where you'll enjoy beach views from an elevated deck without dealing with the crowds…or the sand.

Next: Stay above ground >

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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