LIFE’S A BEACH — some times — in Spain with a stretch of sand in Barcelona packed with locals and tourists.

Although Spain has been in economic crisis over the past few years with an unemployment rate of more than 25 percent, the beaches of Barcelona and beyond keep luring locals and tourists. Lots and lots of tourists, with foreign-visitor numbers topping a record 60 million last year, a bright spot in the Spanish economy.

Barcelona is one of the country’s top destinations, with cultural riches plus sandy beaches just a short walk from the city center.

The in-city beaches bustle with action in summer, with everything from sunbathing crowds and popular beachfront restaurants to beer-and-doughnut beach vendors and late-night raves. Or choose a nudist beach, a gay-friendly beach, a volleyball and kitesurfing beach.

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For a bit of tranquillity, take a half-hour train ride to quieter beaches outside the city. And join the locals for a day of sea, sun and sand.

Kristin R. Jackson is The Seattle Times NWTraveler editor. Contact her at