Europe’s 5 Best City Beach Breaks

We think choosing a holiday destination is pretty much as fun as going on the holiday itself -- although that’s not to say it’s easy. But, one back and forth you won’t need to have with your holiday partner is whether to go on a cultural city break or laid-back beach holiday...at least not after seeing our list of Europe’s best city beaches. Read on to discover where you can traipse sand through cathedrals, alternate cocktails and beach volleyball, and party in the UK’s ‘London-By-The-Sea.'

Barcelona


The Catalan city of
Barcelona is a prime European hot spot, thanks in no small part to its urban
beach. Because if there’s one thing better than being able to eat tapas and go
dancing till the early hours, then it’s having a sandy beach to head to for
some rest and relaxation the next day. In between the late nights and lazy days, there’s the Sagrada Familia cathedral to explore, the
crazy hustle of La Rambla to negotiate and, of course, the Museu Picasso to get your fill of stunning artwork.

With the beach so
close to the heart of the city, it is easy to reach from most locations. We
would recommend the Gothic Quarter where a stay in the upscale Hotel Neri
Relais & Chateaux
is the perfect base from which to explore — once you’ve
torn yourself away from its gorgeous rooftop garden, that is.

Amsterdam

Head to the urban beach after cycling around the Jordaan neighborhood

Head to the urban beach after cycling around the Jordaan neighborhood

Besides its meandering canal system, beautiful architecture, world-class
museums and, ahem, famous “café culture,” Amsterdam has urban beaches. Often
overlooked due to the city’s numerous other attractions, the beaches are an open
secret among Amsterdammers who would rather stay in the city during summer. For
outdoor cocktails, volleyball, and a pool party atmosphere, the beach at Strand
West is best. However, you can’t swim there so if a dip is a must, you’d be best heading to Ijburg Strand where the vibe is bohemian and swimming
is A-OK. And if being by the water is your thing then why not stay on the water? The Amstel Botel is a floating concept hotel that will literally rock you to sleep.

Lisbon


Perched on a hilltop
overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, Lisbon is a city of contradictions. Considering that it’s steadfastly
traditional yet forward thinking, it’s a surprise that its ancient cobbled
streets don’t vibrate by night to the sound of the city’s warehouse clubs.

There is a lot to see in
the old town but when you’re done with exploring the quaint streets, head to
one of the sandy beaches on the outskirts of Lisbon. The waves at Praia De
Guincho make it popular with surfers but if you’d rather hang ten from the edge
of your towel than the edge of a surfboard, there’s plenty of space on the sprawling
sandy beach for that too. Bear in mind that some beaches are around a 25-minute
car ride from the centre of Lisbon so if you prefer immediate views of the
water, then the modern boutique Altis Belem Hotel & Spa on the edge of the
Tagus river would be an ideal place to stay.

Brighton

Peter Sigrist via Flickr

Peter Sigrist via Flickr

If 25-minute car rides to the beach don’t gel with your idea of a city-beach
break, then the myriad appeals of Brighton on England’s south coast might.
Nicknamed ‘London-By-The-Sea’ with good reason, here everything is within walking
distance. Ageing hippies, artists, and musicians
(Nick Cave is a resident) are at the vibrant heart of the place and when the
sun comes out it seems like the entire population heads for the beach. With
miles of coastline available, to avoid the crowds the insider tip to is to head
towards the shore from the city’s Kemp Town neighbourhood. Just beware the
nudist beach in the area — you’ll know it by the nudity on display! 

Dubrovnik

The beach at Hotel Bellevue Dubrovnik.

A Mediterranean
lifestyle abounds in the Eastern European city of Dubrovnik and if you’ve never
visited then you’re in for an eye-opening treat. Surely there’s nobody left in
Europe who hasn’t been told emphatically by friends that they need to visit Croatia! Dubrovnik has the
best of what the country has to offer. The slow pace of life makes this the
most relaxed city-beach break of all and with the Adriatic Sea lapping at its shore,
it has some serious beach game. The sparkling blue sea isn’t quite enough to
keep you from the sights you’ll find in the Old Town, but it’s a close run
thing. Make the most of the Dalmatian coast and choose accommodation with an
ocean view, like the Hotel Bellevue Dubrovnik with its stunning cliffside
location and private cove.