Barcelona is one of the most visited cities in Europe. Its modernist architecture, Mediterranean climate and cosmopolitan ambience attract millions of tourists from all over the world, and not just in the summer. Many choose to sail in Barcelona to admire the city’s most iconic landmarks from the sea, chartering motorboats, sailboats and catamarans.
For most visitors, a sailing trip in Gaudi’s city starts from the old port in the Barceloneta district. At Port Vell you will see plenty of luxury yachts, as the city has become a major boating destination for the great and the good who love to sail in Barcelona and Costa Brava. The port’s landmark is the Clock Tower, next to the Montjuic cable car. Built in 1772, it was turned into a clock at the beginning of the 20th century. It has a special place in the history of mankind, as it was here where the Frenchman Pierre Mechain made some of the calculations that would later give us the meter as a basic unit of measurement.
Another major attraction here is Rambla del Mar, a walkway with futuristic steel bars hanging over it, linking the port to La Rambla. Sailing next to this wooden piece of art you will enjoy a wonderful view of Barri Gòtic, Barcelona’s most picturesque neigbhourhood. The walkway stretches from Moll de la Fusta to the Moll d’Espanya and has the equally splendorous Maremagnum shopping centre on the background, full of restaurants and shops. In a way, it is an extension of La Rambla on the water.
Opposite to Rambla del Mar is another landmark of the city, the famous Sideroploide. It’s a sculpture made from irons recovered from the sea by sculptor Salvador Aulèstia, commemorating the achievements and predicaments of valiant seafarers. Not coincidentally, it is located at the Moll dels Pescadors (Fishermen’s Wharf).
Not far away from there is the impressive sail-shaped Hotel W Barcelona, cutting a futuristic figure at the edge of a thin slice of land. You will then pass the Moll de Llevant (Dock of the Levant) where you will admire some of the world’s most luxurious yachts.
To wave goodbye to the port you will sail below Puerta de Europa, a drawbridge that was completed in 2000, reminiscent of its much bigger sister in San Francisco.
Out of the port and sailing southwards, you’ll admire the magnificent view of the Montjuïc hill on your left, with the splendorous castle towering over the hill. Then turn north to admire the modernist buildings along Passeig Colom. Just behind the Olympic port you will feast your eyes on the gracious Torre Mapfre and Torre Marenostrum, two modernist skyscrapers close to the Olympic city. One your way you will encounter one or more Golodrinas, a type of local traditional boat – think of it as a Catalan gondola – that is quite popular among those who love to sail in Barcelona.
Farther north is Parc del Forum, a waterfront complex with modern facilities for concerts and sports. Its multi-shaped buildings epitomise the combination of Barcelona’s long history and state-of-the-art, modern architecture. From there you can sail the extra mile to the small city of Badalona, equally appealing to sailing aficionados.
Sail in Barcelona and explore Catalonia and the Balearics
If you are not short on time, you can continue your trip along the northwest coast of Spain up to the French border. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit Cap de Creus, a rugged peninsula just 25km from the French coast that famously inspired the surrealist painter Salvador Dali. You will find here several peaceful coves and beautiful fishing villages, such as Cadaques and Sa Tuna, to dock for a few hours or days.
If you opt to head south, you can sail to the city of Tarragona, a UNESCO World Heritage city. It is famous among other things for being home to the ruins of a Roman circus with a chariot-racing track. The city is surrounded by the famous Costa Dorada (Golden Coast), full of sandy beaches and hidden calas to explore. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit Cambrils, a small town with one of Spain’s most beautiful beaches: Platja de la Llosa, a long stretch of sandy paradise. If you aim to sail farther south, we highly recommend a stopover in L’Ametlla de Mar and El Perelló, both picturesque fishing villages. The first one has a spacious harbour where even fairly large yachts can dock.
Your other option is to sail from Barcelona or Tarragona to the Balearic Islands: Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera. The biggest one, Mallorca, is 133 nautical miles from Barcelona, so an ideal destination for a boat trip if you charter a motorboat or a catamaran in Barcelona. Marina Port de Mallorca in the capital of the island, Palma de Mallorca, has been recently refurbished and is equipped with 200 berths, taking up yachts of up to 50 meters.