Battle of the Beaches: Barcelona vs. Valencia

Spain has plenty of beaches along its beautiful coast, however there were two that stood out amongst the students and staff of Nebrija University: Barcelona and Valencia.

Barcelona’s one of the most touristy city’s that Spain has to offer, with many people from around the globe coming for weekend trips there. Valencia is not as popular to the world, but has captured the heart’s of many Spanish locals. I was blessed enough to be able to visit both beaches while studying abroad, and I would recommend both but for different reasons. Here, I will rate both areas on different criteria so you can make up your mind on what beach you’d rather visit.

#1: Beach

Barcelona Beach = 6.5/10. I gotta be honest with you, I was very disappointed with the beach in Barcelona. There were some qualities that I enjoyed, such as the strip of night clubs that were right on the beach… and that’s kind of it. The water was dirty with lots of trash floating around and there were big rocks when you walked into the ocean, making the experience painful. There were also a lot of vendors constantly walking along the beach trying to sell anything from cocktails, to towels, to massages. While I do understand that’s how people make money, being repeatedly asked by the same people if we wanted the same services eventually made us irritated– no matter how many times we’d say “No” they’d keep on asking. The beach was also pretty crowded, but not more than a typical beach in America. Overall, it was nice to get a tan, however there were so many elements that made me not want to go back there again.

Valencia Beach = 9/10. This beach was gorgeous! The water was so clear and definitely not dirty. It was not as crowded as I thought it’d be, making a very relaxing experience. I was impressed by the buildings that surrounded the coast, the yellow and orange hues gave the beach such a good ambiance. This is the beach I would definitely recommend if you want more of a serene beach experience.

#2: Food

Barcelona = 9/10. I do have to preface that I spent a weekend in Barcelona (and only a day in Valencia) so I did have more time to explore the food scene here. But the food here was delicious! There were great tapas at restaurants and drinks were inexpensive. My favorite place we ate there was La Taqueria, it had fantastic tacos! Whether we were getting sandwiches for breakfast, or McDonald’s at night, the food was great! The rating isn’t as high only because at one restaurant when we asked for water, there were things floating around in it (don’t know what they were and don’t wanna know) so couldn’t really order that anywhere. Overall, great dining experience.

Valencia = 7/10. Since I was only in the area for a day, I did not have as many opportunities to try many different restaurants, but I did try three. The breakfast sandwich we got was not like anything I would expect being from New Jersey, and the dinner was decent. I did enjoy the calamari at Restaurante Enclave de Mar, the rings were HUGE it looked like it came from a giant squid! Compared to food I’ve had in Barcelona and Madrid, the food in Valencia was not as good but was valid for the day trip.

#3: Aesthetic

Barcelona = 8/10. While Barcelona can be a beautiful city, there was a lot of construction going on in numerous different neighborhoods. That definitely disrupted the beauty that the city has. However, the beach itself was gorgeous to look at, and the architecture of the buildings were as beautiful as they are in Madrid, with immaculate detail engraved in each structure. There was also a cute park that we passed on our walk to the beach, which was a welcomed surprise that close to the coast. If the construction was not there, the city would be breathtaking.

Valencia = 9/10. This area was so pretty! The palm trees surrounding the city landscape was so pretty, it made walking around so enjoyable. The lack of construction made me like the area way more than Barcelona, since I could enjoy the area’s landscape as it should be. The city was not as packed as the others, and the particular beach we were at, Port Saplaya, had an adorable town surrounded by docks filled with boats that was amazing to see. Valencia was gorgeous and amazing to explore.

Both beaches were definitely worth it to visit, and both has advantages and disadvantages for different reasons. I would recommend going to these areas to anyone, so if you’re ever in Spain do check out either of these beaches, or both if you have the time!

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