Vilassar de Mar - coastal charm in the heart of Maresme

An Insider’s Guide to Vilassar de Mar

A flat landscape full of flower plantations, former fisherman’s houses and independent shops and restaurants next to the Mediterranean welcomes you to one of the towns with the strongest maritime traditions in Maresme. This vibrant coastal town of around 20,000 residents is rich in architecture and unique products sold by local artisans. Just 25 minutes by train or car from the centre of Barcelona, a short drive to the beautiful Parc Serralada Natural with its numerous hiking and biking options, it also boasts quirky bars, restaurants and shops on its doorstep, so it is no wonder that Vilassar de Mar has become one of the most sought-after destinations to live and visit in all Maresme.

Vilassar de Mar has the community feel of a village but the amenities of a small town. The streets full of traditional ‘casas de pueblo’ and a pedestrianised main street bustling with life, make up the picturesque village centre. There’s a good choice of cafes and restaurants serving everything from Catalan cuisine to sushi and some of the best chiringuitos in the Maresme are within walking distance. My go-to eateries include the Sushi restaurant Yume, the chiringuito Oblikue and the restaurant Verdeguer.
Jane Mitchell

History & Economy of Vilassar de Mar

Carrer d’en Saura

There are many remnants from the Roman era in Vilassar de Mar including a necropolis which was discovered close to Via Augusta and which can be viewed in the town’s Museu Marina on the seafront. From the 3rd century onwards, a period of decline began which was prolonged during the invasions of the Visigoths and Arabs, and which benefited the population in sheltered areas.

From the end of the 15th century to the end of the 17th Century, with the weakening of feudalism, the inhabitants of Vilassar de Dalt, Cabrils and other nearby inland areas went to the coast to dedicate themselves to agriculture and fishing. To protect themselves from Turkish piracy, they built three defence towers and so the first streets and the beginnings of a seaside neighbourhood were created.

During the 18th century, the  neighbourhood experienced great demographic growth linked to agriculture, fishing and the production of wine and brandy. In 1726 a licence was obtained to build a church (San Joan) which was finished in 1745. If you visit the Old Town you can still hear the original bells that go off at the top of the hour. In 1784, this neighbourhood, then made up of around approximately a thousand people, separated from the original nucleus and became an independent municipality.

The expansion continued during the 19th century with the textile industry, the navy and trade also being key industries alongside agriculture (mainly vineyards). The navy then had the most important role in the town due to their voyages to America where they traded agricultural and industrial products. The economic power derived from this overseas trade and the American influence changed the face of the town. Whilst strolling along the seafront, it is hard to miss the beautiful Modernista homes known for their detailed columns and arched, stained glass windows. The architecture in this region focuses heavily on its entrance doorways.

Vilassar de Mar began the 20th century with around 3,000 inhabitants. Faced with the decline of the navy and the stagnation of the textile industry, farmers began to grow potatoes and flowers which grew well in the unique soil created from sea and mountains. Gradually, the town also became a popular summer resort. After the war and post-war hiatus, there was a notable recovery and, in the 1960s, immigrants arrived from all over the peninsula, most of them to work in the flower industry. Flowers and plants were then exported  all over Europe. In the 1970s, the town experienced great demographic growth, linked mainly to the arrival of new residents from Barcelona.  Agriculture boomed thanks to the proliferation of flowers and plants which were sold through the Catalan Flower and Ornamental Plant Market (Mercat del Flor) , which was created in 1983 and still exists today. The town now boasts a good services industry and is increasingly becoming one of the most desirable places to live in Catalonia.

To learn more about Vilassar de Mar’s maritime history, a visit to the museum of the Mina Vella is the perfect place to start. The museum is located in an old hydraulic mill, built at the beginning of the 19th century. This mill was the headquarters of the Mina Vella water company, one of the oldest in the region. Currently, the mill houses a permanent exhibition of  tools for the construction of wells and mines.

Property in Vilassar de Mar

Property for sale in Vilassar de Mar

The doors of these classic homes are a feature of Vilassar de Mar

Property in Vilassar de Mar is highly sought-after especially in the post COVID era now that homeowners value space and accessibility to the city even more. Prices have risen significantly in recent years due to this and homes get snapped up quickly. It’s worth getting to know some of the local estate agents (of which there are a growing number) so they can contact you as soon as a relevant property comes onto the market. Properties in the town includes classic townhouses close to the seafront (highly in demand, especially when renovated) to modern apartment blocks. If you are thinking of investing, it’s worth bearing in mind that rental licences are available unlike in Barcelona city and year round rental is possible given its highly desirable location.

Local estate agents include Viure a Vilassar, Premium Houses and Vila Prime.

Gastronomy in Vilassar de Mar

restaurant in Vilassar de Mar

Verdaguer, Carrer de Josep Anselm Calve

Vilassar de Mar has a good variety of restaurant options starting with the promenade chiringuito, Oblikue, which offers beautiful views of the Mediterranean, but is only open in the summer season. Other summer chiringuitos includes la Caracola Negra, Deja Vu and Kaos.  If you are looking for more of a fine dining experience check out Verdeguer  which sources products from local producers, offering daily dishes depending on what the local markets have in stock. If you are looking for a quick bite stop by il Forno for brunch-style food and drinks right opposite the train station. Try out Favela for great tapas and cocktails im the heart of the Old Town.

Sushi lovers should look no further than the popular Yume Sushi but there are many other Japanese, Chinese and also Thai options too.

Global ‘pinchos’ brand Espinaler originated in Vilassar de Mar and is a must, both at its little bar on the seafront and the larger emporium just out of town. In 1896 Miquel Riera i Prat moved from his farmhouse, near ‘Espinal’ bridge in Argentona, to settle in Vilassar de Mar. He opened Tavern Espinaler on the seafront which has a  typical Mediterranean atmosphere: small and cosy with a rustic and warm ambience. Five generations later, this ambience continues to thrive today.

The best lunch spots with terraces in Maresme

Shopping in Vilassar de Mar

Inside No20, Artisans Products

 Artisan products found at No20

Vilassar de Mar has a number of well known supermarkets such as Carrefour City, Condis and just out of town a Mercadona and Caprabo, while also offering organic and locally sourced options such as those provided in Ametller Origen. 

In all other areas of retail, this town has got it covered with pharmacies, hardware shops, hairdressers, beauticians, bakeries, delis, dry cleaners and more. 

There are numerous independent shops as well including Mi & Ca or Nony Marti‘s fashion boutiques, Maluka’s unique satchel bags, and THE SHOP’s surfing gear. If you are looking for more products sold by local artisans check out No20‘s showroom, co-working and events space. 

Beaches of Vilassar de Mar

Vilassar de Mar beaches

 There is a wide choice of beaches from Vilassar to Cabrera de Mar

Right in front of Vilassar de Mar train station you find Platja de Ponent. This beach is pretty small and is better suited for a brief visit. If you are looking for a long beach day, you’d best head to Platja de Cabrera which is 10 minutes walk from Vilassar de Mar’s main town towards the north and is the largest beach nearby. It also has lots of chiringuitos to choose from including La Caracola Negra and Kaos.

Between Platja de Cabrera and Vilassar de Mar, there is also the Club Nàutic, offering sailing courses,  social and sporting activities year-round. It is a private club so you can only enter if you are a member.

For more information on Maresme’s beaches check out our Beach Guide.

Activities in Vilassar de Mar

POC a POC Cerámica y Yoga

POC a POC Cerámica y Yoga

Stroll around The Old Town

There are many ways to enjoy Vilassar de Mar. You can take a stroll around the Old Town where you will find everything from cute cafés to home furnishings. For clothes and accessories you can find beautiful Italian brands in Antonella, hippy chic in Nony Marti and casual bags and jewellery in Nine. Go to Juliette for a great choice of baked goods and Maresme Salut for health food products.

POC a POC Ceramics & Yoga

There is also the wonderful POC a POC Cerámica y Yoga, a little oasis in the heart of Vilassar de Mar where you can disconnect from the world and reconnect with yourself. Quite different on first viewing, ceramics and yoga actually have a lot in common. Both facilitate concentration, being in the present moment and connecting with yourself. Neither can be practiced in a hurry – hence the name POC a POC. Sisters Clara and Paula offer introductory classes in ceramics, ceramics for children and clay and wine Fridays.

Museo Enric Monjo

If you want to admire art the Museo Enric Monjo is perfect. It houses the sculpture collection of Enric Monjo i Garriga, a native of Vilassar de Mar who died in 1976. The ground floor of the museum is a space for contemporary visual arts exhibitions while the second floor is dedicated to the permanent collection. There are around half a dozen contemporary exhibitions each year, which often showcase works of Maresme and Barcelona born artists.

Maresme Training

For something more active head to Maresme Training. Founded by fitness instructor and personal trainer Chris Segovia, Maresme Training offers outdoor fitness for all ages and levels in parks, beaches and private gardens. Sessions are dynamic, effective and fun and include circuits, HIIT, meditation, TRX, Crossfit, kettlebells and kickboxing. Currently, sessions are held in Premià, Vilassar, Mataró, Arenys and Ocata but contact Chris directly for confirmation of days and times.

Festa Major de Vilassar de Mar

Festa Major Sant Joan

Decorated windows during the Festa Major de Sant Joan

The local festa major for this town is the Festa Major de Sant Joan. This annual festival is celebrated in mid June with music, dance, fireworks and so much more. During the festival the different neighbourhoods of the town are decorated with distinct colours. Blue are the Pescadors, orange are the Mestre d’aixa and green for the Gent pagesa. On the last day of the festivities, the colour of the fireworks reveal the winner of the best decorated houses and streets.

An Insider’s Guide to Cabrils

An Insider’s Guide to Mataró

An Insider’s Guide to Sant Pol de Mar