If you’re torn between blissful relaxation on a sun-kissed beach, or a big city break, why not combine the two? You can catch some rays without ever having to leave the city. From artificial pop-up beaches in Paris and Vienna, to beautiful sandy expanses of coastline in Barcelona, you can enjoy the best of both worlds at Europe’s urban beaches.
Blijburg aan Zee, Amsterdam
Blijburg is an urban beach that is located in the residential neighbourhood of Ijburg, east of Amsterdam city centre. Ijburg has been created from artificial islands built in the IJ Lake. Blijburg aan Zee is 250 metres long and 40 metres wide, and frequently hosts live bands, DJs and evening campfires. With its distinct bohemian vibe, it’s a popular spot for the locals during the summer. It’s ideal for a family day out, or for night owls looking for a beach party. You can find out about upcoming events at Blijburg aan Zee on their (Dutch only) website. When you’re not lazing on the beach you can cruise the canals or visit Amsterdam attractions like The Van Gogh Museum, Anne Frank Huis, and Rjiksmuseum: and return to your Amsterdam holiday home to relax ready for another day at the beach.
Varkiza Beach, Athens
The Greek Islands are home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, but if you’re spending your holiday in Athens, you’ll still have some great urban beaches to choose from. There is sandy Votsalakia, less than 6 miles from the city centre, beautiful Astir, or Vouliagmeni, which has a children’s play area and volleyball area. One of the best public beaches is Varkiza, located in a suburb of greater Athens, around 16 miles south of the city centre. You’ll find excellent facilities here including snack bars, a children’s play area as well as volleyball and tennis courts. You can spend the morning exploring sights like the Acropolis, the Parthenon and the historic Plaka district, before heading to the beach for an afternoon of sun, sea and sand. It’s the best of both worlds.
Sand in the City, Vienna
During the summer, along the banks of the Danube River in Vienna, you’ll find fantastic little pop-up beaches complete with sand, parasols and deckchairs. Popular spots include Strandbar Herrmann, where you enjoy drinks with friends overlooking the canal, and Strandbad Gänsehäufel, which is located on an island in the Donau, and is the perfect beach for swimming and water sports. One of the liveliest spots though, is Sand in the City, the biggest beach club in the city where you’ll find sand, palm trees, volleyball courts, numerous bars, as well as DJs who create a vibrant atmosphere.
Lido di Venezia, Venice
If you get thrills at the idea of celeb spotting on the beach then Lido di Venezia is the urban beach for you. It’s the Italian version of Palm Beach, and during the Venice Film Festival (28 August – 7 September 2013), you may just spot some of Hollywood’s biggest stars soaking up the sun on Lido di Venezia. The Lido is formed by an 11km sandbar overlooking the Adriatic, and is a hot spot with holidaymakers who have come to Venice. There are several beaches on the Lido, including Alberoni, Bluemoon beach and Caribe beach. When you’re not on the beach you can visit iconic Venetian spots like Piazza San Marco, Basillica di San Marco, Galleria dell’Accademia and Rialto Bridge.
Paris Plages, Paris
Each summer the banks of the River Siene are transformed by temporary, artificial beaches, known as Paris Plages. Over 2,000 tons of sand creates an oasis for sun-worshippers in the city. It’s the ideal place to get a tan and although you can’t swim in the Siene, you can always hire a rowboat or kayak. The beaches are located along the River Siene in the centre of Paris, and along the Bassin de la Villette in the northeast of Paris. Just make sure you arrive early to get a good spot, because the Paris Plages get very busy. When you can tear yourself away from your deckchair, you can explore the city’s top attractions like the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre Dame Cathedral and the Palace of Versailles.
The Spanish coastline is home to some beautiful beaches and the city of Barcelona is no exception. If you want the perfect combination of sun, sand and city you can’t go wrong choosing a holiday rental in Barcelona. You don’t have to leave the city to find a good beach, with great beaches like Barceloneta right on your doorstep. The 3km long sandy beach is the largest and most popular beach in the city, and its central location makes it easily accessible. In the morning you can visit attractions like Park Güell, Sagrada Familia, and the Picasso Museum; in the afternoon you can work on your tan on beautiful Barceloneta Beach, and in the evening you can party the night away at one of Barcelona’s trendy clubs.