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 Visiting Barcelona (3) 

The Barceloneta Beach

Not only in summer but whenever the sun comes out, thousands of people head for Barceloneta (the subway station carries the same name) where the city has its kilometer-long beach of soft fine sand and clean sea water (unless you are unlucky enough to go swimming after a heavy rainfall when the detritus are washed to the shore).
There are lifeguards every few meters and full amenities are provided such as running water for a quick shower, free toilet facilities right at the beach itself and a wooden walkway from the beach to the esplanade to allow your feet to be sand-free (there are low water taps specially designed to help you get rid of the sand on your feet).

Barceloneta beach The Barceloneta beach on 9 June 2011. In the background on the left is Gehry's copper fish sculpture.
If you intend to pass a whole day at the beach it might be worth paying 6 euros for a lounger. You will be able to make use of it from 9h00 to 20h00. (I had to pay the same amount though I used it for just an hour as I needed a safe place to leave my belongings while I swim in the sea.)
If you find that the Barceloneta beach is too crammed you can take a short train ride either to Costa Brava to the north or to Costa Dorada to the south. Such a train will stop at so many beaches along the way that you will not know where to descend.
My own favorite beach to the north (along the Costa Brava) is called Lloret de Mar (click to see map). It is only an hour's coach ride. You can go in the morning and return in the evening though chances are you'll like it so much that you'll want to stay overnight. But be warned that the hotels there are quite expensive and the cheaper ones are all taken up, seeing that bookings are done months ahead.
But if the sea and sun do not tempt you then take a funicular ride up to the Tibidabo Mountain. However once you reach the top you won't find much wandering ground as the hill has been turned into a huge amusement park and you're more likely to run into groups of laughing schoolchildren. But if you have children with you this is the place to take them to.

Useful links:

Turisme de Barcelona
City guide of Barcelona
Museu del Modernisme Català at C/ Balmes, 48 (Barcelona's latest museum opened in 2010 - see pictures on right);
Sagrada Familia (created by Antoni Gaudí);
Plaça de Catalunya at the top of La Rambla is worth a stroll. While you are there the "in" place to have coffee and for people-watching is the spacious Cafe Zurich nearby, a popular meeting-place where you can sit outside in summer and listen to buskers singing and strumming their guitars while waiting for your date;
Montjuic and the Teleferic de Montjuic;
Barri Gotic (the Gothic Quarter) on the east side of La Rambla;
El Raval on the west side of La Rambla. Here there is one road open only to pedestrians (Rambla de Raval) with cafés and restaurants in the middle of the road (in summer at least);
Everything you need to know about Gaudí;
Museu Picasso (for art buffs);
Parc Guell (another of Gaudi's projects).

The above photos are from the Museu del Modernisme Català. The best works of Catalan Modernism are displayed there.
More photos on Barcelona.