For those of us in search of a summer city break with the added bonus of a few beach days, these fun and vibrant cities will offer that and much more. With parts of Europe reaching mid-thirties in summer, retreating to the beach is often much needed.
Below you can find some of Cities Direct favourites to give you a little inspiration.
Nice is perfect for a short break but also works well for a longer duration as the French Riviera is crammed with charming towns and a sparkling coastline. Probably the most famous promenade in France, the Promenade des Anglais runs for around 5 kilometres along the Baie de Anges and its inviting azure waters. Here you will find a long stretch of shingle beach made up of private and public sections. Private beach clubs provide loungers, waiter service and lockers. Castel Beach at the eastern end offers wonderful views of the bay and calm waters as a result of its sheltered location. It is a public beach but also has a private beach club with a restaurant.
The extensive bus and train network allows visitors to explore the coastline with ease. Villefranche Plage is just a short train or bus ride away and offers a charming sandy beach which is a free, public beach. Take a break from the sun and wander round the beautiful old town with its colourful, winding streets that cascade down to the sea. Menton also has a pretty promenade with a sandy beach and an equally charming old town climbing up the hillside.
For a more buzzing beach scene, visit Cannes just along the coast. The palm-lined promenade full of restaurants and shops and long sandy beach are just a 15-20-minute walk from the train station. Head to the boulevard de Midi for miles of public beach or splash out on one of the private beaches.
Dubrovnik doesn’t offer the long sandy shoreline of many Mediterranean countries but it makes up for it with beautifully rugged coves with fine shingle sands. Banje beach is the most central city beach and as expected has a lively atmosphere with all the usual facilities for tourists and locals. If you are looking for something a little less crowded, Sveti Jakov, a 20-minute walk along the charming, tree-lined Vlaha Bukovca is worth the effort. Buses can also take you most of the way. It is situated in a beautiful bay with views of Dubrovnik Old Town in the distance. The attractive beaches making up the Sumratin Bay on the Lapad peninsular are also just 10-15 minutes by bus running every 10 minutes from Dubrovnik Old Town.
Valencia is a lively city with a beautiful old town and a contrasting futuristic Ciudad de Artes Y Ciencias. The locals and tourists alike enjoy the nearby beaches especially during the heat of summer. It is around 30 minutes by bus to Malvarrosa Beach. There are kids play areas and volleyball nets dotted along the long stretch of golden sand and an array of seafood and tapas restaurants along the seafront for a delicious lunch. With Valencia being the home of Paella, this is a great place to sample a fresh, authentic version with rabbit and white beans.
Barcelona needs little introduction as it is renowned for its stunning Gaudi architecture, alluring plazas and vibrant nightlife. Similar to Valencia, the beach is an important part of daily life for locals and of course a pleasure for tourists to visit. The promenade in Barceloneta has a choice of seafood restaurants serving up the daily catch and at night becomes alive with people enjoying a few beers. It is the closest beach to the Gothic Quarter and is around a 20 to 30-minute walk from here. It is also served by the metro. Marvel at the impressive yachts that fill glitzy marina of the nearby Port Olímpic complex, which is connected to the beach by a long, palm-lined promenade. Carry on past the Port and you will find Platja de Bogatell, another popular sandy beach with a similar vibe.
Although technically not a beach city, Lisbon is just a short train ride from some beautiful beach towns. Only an hour by train from Lisbon and you are in the town of Cascais. A short walk from the station brings you to the traditional Portuguese mosaic streets of Cascais old town. There are various town beaches within walking distance. We spent a few hours on Praia de Rainha. A pretty beach situated in a rocky cove, perfect for a few hours of relaxation.
Although often overlooked and better known for their airports for exploring the nearby coastal resorts, Faro and Malaga are other great cities which combine culture, authentic food and access to lovely beaches.