The Ultimate Guide to Surfing in Barcelona

by Nuno D'Angelo

Surfing in Barcelona – yep you can do it. It won’t be the best in Spain, but this Catalan metropolis has some nifty spots.

Surfing in Barcelona

The surfing in Barcelona at a glance

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The good

  • Surf near one of Europe’s funnest cities
  • Some surprisingly hollow waves, sometimes!
  • Nightlife

The bad

  • Uber-flat summers
  • Really bad localism in the city spots especially
  • Relies on Mediterranean windswells

This guide is just one part of our complete guide to surfing Spain

What’s in this guide to Barcelona surf?

An introduction to surfing Barcelona

Surfing in Barcelona, you say? As in La Sagrada Familia, Las Ramblas, Gaudi Barcelona? That Barcelona? Yes…we know, this city on the Spanish Mediterranean coast is hardly up there with the world’s top surf towns. But there are waves to be had. Some are even within a walk of the happening hostels and the millennia-old Gothic Quarter. Others meanwhile are about surfing in Catalonia coastal villages up one rugged Costa Brava or down with the wide, sandy bays en route to Valencia.

A few disclaimers before we begin: Barcelona is NOT a good place to come for a full-on surf trip. It’s an enthralling city-break destination with some of the world’s most amazing sights and nightlife and flavours. But the waves are nowhere near the best surf in Spain. For starters, they’re really sporadic and fickle, with only a few rideable days a month, even in autumn and winter. They also rely solely on windswells, which keeps the period really short and whitewash the modus operandi. Then you’ve got the localism when things are working. Gah!

On the flip side, surfing in Barcelona can be a true bucket-list experience. You’ll hit the waves on buzzy Barceloneta Beach with the spires of La Sagrada Familia in the distance and the hazy sierras overhead. The water is clear and relatively warm. And sometimes, just sometimes, the stars align and you’ll have a hollow wedge rolling in.

Where is Barcelona?

Come on! Barcelona is one of the most iconic cities in all of Spain. It sits in the northeast of the country, on a stretch of coast that runs south-west across the Med. The Costa Brava – one of the rockiest parts of the Spanish Mediterranean – is to the north. Beach resorts like Sitges and Valencia beckon to the south. High sierras and olive-dotted hills roll all around the city on its land side. More generally, Barcelona is the capital of the region of Catalonia.

A guide to Barcelona surf spots

Surfing in Barcelona is a whole different kettle of fish to surfing in northern Spain and on the Portuguese Atlantic. The breaks here feed off windswells in the Mediterranean (AKA – they have the reliability of a paper balloon!). When things do work, they also suffer from localism that’s notoriously aggressive. Our advice? Rent a car and be willing to search for other surfing in Catalonia, or else stick to Barceloneta, where there tends to be less bad mojo.

Surf spots in Barcelona itself

Barceloneta Beach

Barceloneta Beach is unquestionably the most popular beach in Catalonia as a whole. It drags all the way along the south side of Barcelona, a mere 30-minute stroll from Las Ramblas and even less from the Gothic Quarter.

Windswells are the only ticket to waves here, so it’s usually midwinter riding days, but you can grab something in fall and spring. Northerly winds will help no end, so watch out for those mountain gusts coming down from the sierras.

Wave wise, Barceloneta has a whole run of pretty unpredictable sandbars. They’ll rarely wall up to anything over 4 foot and love to get mushy. When it’s on here, it’s super busy but the localism is tempered by the presence of a few surf schools and tourists. You can also surf, then hit the tapas bars and nightlife in a jiffy – no car required!

Tyson

Look for the Wounded Star Sculpture (known locally as The Cubes) on Platja de Sant Miquel at the north-west end of Barceloneta Beach. That’s where the spot known as Tyson offers some of the rarer hollow waves in the city. Again, it needs punchy windswells to work, which means you’ll often be out here in a storm. Tyson harnesses the power of the nearby groins to add a bit of steepness to the shoulder, which can even barrel over, though pitted rides are very rare indeed. Locals will always be out in force when working and they don’t like being snaked.

Killer Point (Killers)

Killers is hotly protected by the local crews and bust ups in the lineup are not uncommon. It’s a shame really because it’s the best wave in town. That’s down to the extra exposure to the Med, which comes when the coastline bends a touch further west than at any point in the town. With the ability to hold up to around five foot clean and maybe seven with some wobble, it’s the closest you’ll get to an Atlantic wedge in Barca. A-frames make an appearance too, but good luck getting em’ with your teeth intact.

Surf spots around Barcelona

Masnou

Masnou is about 45 minutes by train from Sants Station in the heart of Barcelona. It’s a trip that’s often done by the local surf crowd on account of the long rides that are on offer on this more south-facing part of the city’s surrounding coastline. The change in direction means more exposure to southerly winds, which rip off the harbor walls to give some pretty fun right-hand points that can clock up 20-60 meters. No Raglan, but it’s decent for the Med.

Montgrat

A series of smaller beach breaks that get the same south windswell hits as Masnou, only a little closer to the city. The spot’s a little rippy and very busy but sometimes fast and fun. Waves peak up nicely when the sandbanks are good. Wait for N winds and sets of 4 foot min. Holds well in winter storm swells.

The Cemetery/Sitges

Surfing in Sitges is uber-popular with the Barca crowd and the best spot in the little resort to the south-west of the city is unquestionably The Cemetery. It’s not a death wish a la the North Shore – don’t worry. The name comes from the location, which is right in front of the town graveyard. There are several peaks to pick up and down the coast from there, mainly mushy beach peaks that are fun for loggers. Shortboarders will more likely be drawn to the harbor walls at Aiguadolc, where eight-foot winter swells can bring peeling waves that sometimes let rip with an overhead curl. Localism can be an issue but the vibes are generally better than in Barcelona town.

Where to stay when surfing in Barcelona

Barcelona has yet to get the same dedicated surf camps you get in other cities like Lisbon, but there’s one of the world’s best array of backpacker hostels on offer…

Where to stay in Barcelona

St Christopher’s Inn Barcelona ($-$$)

Surf-hotel-top-pick

The tried-and-tested St Christopher’s Inn Barcelona is up there with the best-known hostels in the whole of Barca. We always have oodles of fun when we drop in, and leave with way more friends than when we arrive. Especially love the happy hour in the bar and the chilled-out backpacker vibes that make us feel 20 again!

Hostel One Ramblas ($)

Best for: Affordable stays near the party areas

Hostel One Ramblas is one of the highest-rated budget accommodation options in the city. It certainly doesn’t feel budget, though, what with pod beds covered by private curtains, an uber-modern minimalist deign throughout, and a location close to Las Ramblas. Surf beaches are a short metro ride away, but you’re also super near the nightlife for post-surf fun.

H10 Port Vell 4* Sup ($$$)

Best for: Surfing couples looking to be pampered.

There’s something super slick about the H10 Port Vell 4* Sup. It sits just above the marina behind Barceloneta Beach, so you can literally stroll to the surf breaks if you want. However, you’ll to pull yourself away from the luxuries of the hotel itself. They include a gorgeous rooftop pool and a fancy noir cocktail lounge.

When to surf in Barcelona

We’d say knowing the seasons is the single most important thing if you’re planning to go surfing in Barcelona. Why? Well…there’s really only one that offers conditions consistent enough for regular sessions.

Wind on the Barcelona surf

Summer (June-August)

Our advice? Don’t even bother packing the board to surf in Barcelona in the summer months. Things are flatter than a Catalan flat bread for much of the season. They just won’t be working and you’ll look like a fool paddling out. Better for SUP and sunbathing and tapas on Barceloneta Beach.

Autumn/Fall (Sept-Nov)

Autumn doesn’t really kick in until November in this sun-splashed part of the Med. You might catch some surf earlier than that but it’s rare. You’re basically waiting for sea storms to roll through and the wind to get pumping. It’s bad weather surfing 100% and very unreliable, though still better than summer.

A strong sunscreen is a must for both surfing in Barcelona and lazing on the sands of the Costa Brava. Take a look at our guide to the five best on the market right now to get what you’re after – AKA a block with zinc oxide that’s okay for both your skin and the ocean!

Winter (December-March)

Winter is the only real surf season in Barcelona. This is when the gusts that go N-NE across the Costa Brava have enough in them to whip up windswells that are worth riding. It’s still usually better on stormy days but the local crowd will be right on it. Prime conditions are five feet and N winds early on the in the morning. Wetsuits are required.

Spring (April & May)

It’s a tale of two halves in Spring on the Barcelona surf. The very early weeks of the season can be bigger than even the middle of winter but they’re just as unreliable. May, meanwhile, might just as well rename itself August. To sum up: hot, flat, mainly for sunbathing.

Surf shops in Barcelona

Barcelona might be more mad on football than surf, but you still get a pretty decent array of places selling gear. Most will be concerned with concrete surfing (skating) more than salty stuff, but basic hardware and even some boards can be had…

La General Surfera

On Carrer de Balmes, a little to the north of Eixample, La General Surfera is a well-known surf and skate stockist. It’s mainly skating, but there’s also some crossover gear like GoPros and surf-skate wear. Also a great range of winter sports gear.

Tactic Surf Shop

Tactic Surf Shop has a lovely cave-like interior and a prime location in the mist of popular Eixample neighborhood. Most of the stock is skate fashion and surf wear, but there’s also a decent board rack and some friendly guys at hand to give advice. SUPs are sold too.


We might use affiliate links in this post. Basically, you click em’ and we get a little something from your booking or purchase. They help us keep offering more and more in-depth surf guides to awesome places all around the globe. So, thanks for that!

This article is just one part of our complete guide to surfing in Spain

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