Who says you have to decide between a beach holiday and a city break? Why not combine both? Head to an amazing city with a beach and combine urban life with the laid-back vibe you can only get by the coast. Swim, sunbathe and sightsee all in one trip – what could be better than that? Here are our top ten cities with beaches to get you started and give you some inspiration for your next city break.
As a world-class city, Barcelona has so much to offer. Cutting-edge cuisine, sandy beaches, architectural wonders and great nightlife are just some of the things you can expect on your trip. Of the seven beaches in the city, our favourites are Mar Bella, Bogatell, Ocata Beach, Barceloneta and Nova Icaria, all of which are man-made. This truly is one of the finest beach cities across the globe. If you only have time for one beach, make it Barceloneta Beach, which is accessible by metro and the most famous. It stretches across 1.6km, so there’s always plenty of space to get settled.
After a long day exploring the Parthenon, the Acropolis and other historic attractions in Athens, you’ll be ready for a beach day. Longing for the blue seas of Greece that you see in magazines? Worry not, because the crystal clear waters are closer than you think. Attica, the Greek region that encompasses Athens, has 18 beaches that have been awarded Blue Flag status, and many of these are less than an hour from the city centre. Astir Beach and Asteras Beach are two of the best. For a peaceful atmosphere, far from the hustle and bustle of the capital, head to Schinias beach, which is bordered by a beautiful pine forest. Closer to the centre of Athens, you’ll find Kalamaki Beach, a large urban beach with lots of nearby bars.
Nice has a range of beaches stretching along the Bay of Angels from Mont Boron to Nice Airport – a distance of 10km. The most famous beaches in Nice – Plage Beau Rivage and Blue Beach – are right in the city centre, along the 5km-long Promenade des Anglais. Walk along the beach, sunbathe or swim in the clear water. The best part? Once the sun has set, you can stroll through the Italian-style Old Town of Nice and discover the city’s numerous boutiques and galleries, cafés and restaurants, and renowned art museums such as the Musée Matisse or the Musée Chagall. For quieter swimming spots, check out Castel Plage, Neptune Plage and Opera Plage.
If you are looking for the top cities near the beach along the Atlantic and Indian coastlines, Cape Town should be on your shortlist. The South African capital is warm year-round and whatever month you choose to visit, one thing you have to do is watch the sun set against the backdrop of scenic mountains at one of the four Clifton beaches. Camps Bay Beach, Llandudno Beach and Boulders Beach are also a must for sunbathers To take your kitesurfing and windsurfing to the next level, head to Bloubergstrand Beach.
Undoubtedly one of the best beach cities in the world, Sydney boasts over 100 beaches – giving you plenty of choice for your next holiday! Some are very close to the city, such as the world-famous Bondi Beach, which is just 20 minutes away from downtown. Bondi, with its many surfers and trendy surrounding cafes and restaurants is synonymous with the laid-back Aussie lifestyle. Visit the beach for booming surf or watch the migrating whales between May and October. Other popular beaches in Sydney are Coogee Beach, Queenscliff Beach, Manly Beach and Balmoral Beach.
Famous for its beaches, nightlife and Carnival festival, Rio de Janeiro is as vibrant as it is beautiful. Bordered by the Serra da Carioca mountains and overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, this really is an idyllic city beach break. The sandy beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema are perfect for lovers of surfing, volleyball, football and kayaking. If you are looking for something a little more quiet, opt for Praia Vermelha, in the Urca district: here you can also reach the top of Sugarloaf Mountain by cable car. In terms of culture, in downtown Rio you can marvel at the exciting architecture and enjoy the world-class museums and excellent shopping the city has to offer. The legendary Maracanã Stadium is also a must for football fans.
The lively city of Dubrovnik is famous for its historic, UNESCO-protected Old Town, but it also doubles as a great seaside escape, thanks to its location on the Dalmatian coast. Admire the beauty of Dubrovnik from the shore while spending the day at Banje Beach or relax on the Lapad peninsula on the aptly named Sunset Beach. With its picturesque backdrop and clear waters, Sveti Jakov Beach is also a must. For the best views over the city and sea, head up to Mount Srđ, which you can reach in a matter of minutes by cable car.
Los Angeles is a beach city through and through, and among the best in California. From Malibu to South Bay, LA beaches draw thousands of tourists every day. Whether you want to bask in the sun, build sandcastles with the family or play at the waters' edge, there are plenty of beaches to choose from. Some great options are found near the Malibu shore and Palos Verdes Peninsula. Alternatively, for something more romantic, check out El Matador State Beach and Leo Carrillo State Beach. Get your surfboard and head to Malibu Surfrider Beach or Santa Monica Beach to catch perfect waves of a sea breeze. And of course, while you’re there, make time for the iconic Hollywood Sign on Mount Lee. If you’re a film buff, a tour of the legendary Universal Studios is also a must, as is a walk along the legendary Hollywood stars on the Walk of Fame. If you're in the mood for some luxury boutique shopping, head to Beverly Hills, and its iconic Rodeo Drive – even if it’s just to window shop!
With idyllic sandy beaches, the tallest skyscrapers in the world and plenty of opportunities for high-end shopping, Dubai is all about luxury. Here, you'll find some of the best beaches in the UAE. One of the most iconic beach spots, the enchanting JBR (Jumeirah Beach Residence), is a must on your stay. Enjoy parasailing, camel rides on the beach and get a view of the city on a ferris wheel. Further along the coast, you’ll find Kite Beach which is great for surfing and diving. If you are looking for tranquillity, Black Palace beach is perfect for the family.
Alongside incredible historical and cultural attractions such as Belém Tower and Castelo de S. Jorge, Lisbon is also home to some of Portugal's finest beaches. Extending along four different coastlines (Costa da Caparica, Oeiras-Estoril-Cascais, Serra da Arrábida and the Serra de Sintra), Lisbon beaches are ideal for sunbathing, swimming and surfing. Many are accessible by public transport and are great for day trips. Less than an hour from the centre of Lisbon, you’ll find Praia de Carcavelos, Praia de Caxias and Praia Velha, all of which promise stunning views, clear waters and soft, fine sand.