| Barceloneta Beach | Nova Icària Beach |
Day three in Barcelona was the day of my 24th birthday! We had planned the day before to see Montjuic, especially the castle and its surroundings as the weather was set to be warm and sunny all day. We started day three with breakfast in Petit Pot, a great little cafe/ bistro with a shabby-chic vibe and tiny open kitchen in the middle. See what we ate here!
After breakfast, we decided to walk down towards Barceloneta and the beach as we had made it as far as the marina on previous days, but hadn’t yet walked the additional 15 minutes to reach the sandy beach. On the way, we stopped at the Santa Caterina Market, a smaller version of the famous Boqueria Market we visited on day two, in a quirky building with a brightly coloured honeycombed roof.
We didn’t stay at the market long before continuing our walk to the beach. The original idea was to walk along the seafront, take some photos, grab an ice cream and then head to the nearest station for the Metro and Funicular train to Montjuic. We reached the beach after 30 hot minutes of winding our way down through the city’s Gothic Quarter and El Raval and, almost immediately, shoes and socks were whipped off and jeans rolled up. After 10 minutes of paddling, we looked around at all the people swimming in the sea or stretched out lazily across the sand in bikinis, cocktail or beer in hand.. and decided that we wanted nothing more than to join them! It was my birthday after all.. In a round-trip that took just over an hour, we got the Metro all the way back to the top of the city to our hostel, so that we could change in to beachwear and leave our phones etc before heading all the way back to the beach.
We’d read online beforehand that Barceloneta beach is often crowded as it’s the closest beach to the city and people often don’t want to walk further down. We had read that Platja de la Nova Icària and the other beaches further along to the right were quieter and usually filled with locals as opposed to tourists. Many guides recommend getting off at the Barceloneta Metro stop (around 25-30 min walk to the other beaches). We found however, it was actually slightly quicker to get off at the Llacuna stop which is a bit further along; it took us just 10 minutes from station to sand. Looking at the map, the Bogatell stop would also work well, but isn’t quite as far along as Llacuna – I guess it depends on which part of the beach you want to head for!
Although only 20 mins or so from Barceloneta, as promised, the Platja de la Nova Icària provided a completely different vibe. Equipped with a stylish restaurant/ bar and a collection of padded sun loungers, the beach was empty in comparison, with much nicer views as the city skyline faded further in the distance. I don’t have any pictures unfortunately as we both left all phones/ cameras at the hostel!
We couldn’t work out whether the loungers were associated with the restaurant or were independent, so set ourselves up agreeing we didn’t want to pay more than €5 for the lounger if we had to. We managed about 10 minutes of sunbathing before a guy waltzed over, armed with a bumbag and a handful of wristbands. ‘€8 Euros!’ he demanded, somewhat aggressively. He had no company logo on his clothes, so nothing placed him in affiliation with the restaurant and we debated the idea he was just trying to scam us, so decided to move on to the sand when he wouldn’t accept our offer of €5.
We later found out as we left that the loungers are free if you buy a drink from the bar – worth noting!! The rest of the day was spent sunbathing, swimming in the sea and drinking €1.50 cans of beer from sellers that drift up and down the shore with cans of coke and beer and bottles of water. Not a bad way to spend a birthday!
To carry on the celebrations, we’d booked a table at the very popular and highly recommended ‘336‘ which was AMAZING! Read all about it in my Cheap Eats and Top Tapas post or check out my TripAdvisor review 🙂
We ended the evening in The Box, a tiny bar selling gourmet hot-dogs and an array of homemade infused rums used to create a selection of cocktails. These cocktails are not for the faint-hearted and are super strong – my rum infused strawberry garnish was so strong it nearly blew my head off! All in all, a relaxing and food-filled 24th birthday 🙂