City tour or beach vacation? In many European cities, you don’t have to choose. From sandy strips to medieval architecture, there’s something for everyone. Here are our favorite destinations.
Paris is considered the birth place of the urban beach. In 2002, “Paris Plages” (Paris beaches) was opened to give everyone who couldn’t leave the city the feeling of being on vacation. Since then, the streets along the River Seine are transformed into a sandy, sunny strip every year from mid-July to mid-August.
The beach is open from 20 July to 20 August.
Container ships and dockside cranes aren’t what you’d expect from a day at the beach. But practically no other city in Europe is shaped by its harbor as much as Hamburg.
“Strandpauli”, the city’s harbor-side beach, has its own unique style. There you can chill out in a lounge chair with a cocktail in your hand, leave your cares behind and enjoy the view of the Elbe River.
Beach bar Mitte was the first to open in Germany in 2002. Nearly 13 years later and Berlin has over 30 beach bars, which cater for every taste. Try the elegant atmosphere at Ku’damm Beach in Charlottenburg, where you can hire one of the VIP lounges. Or – for those who like to dance – visit the Strandbar Mitte, which offers regular salsa and tango evenings.
But only one swimming pool from Berlin promises a particularly unique bathing experience. At the “Badeschiff” (bathing ship), swimmers can catch a view of the Berlin skyline. The former tug boat was transformed into a pool that now floats on the River Spree. In the winter, it’s converted into a Finnish sauna thanks to its custom roof.
Brussels’ beach – along the Canal of Brussels – is open till 15 August, when the city goes all-out for its events, which include culture, sports, a kids’ area and concerts.
3,000 tonnes of sand is imported from the North Sea, and poured onto the site off of Avenue du Gros Tilleul to build this beachy Brussels paradise. They also offer free wi-fi connection at the Quai de la Voirie and an urban aperitif.
In Copenhagen, there is “Hafenbad Fisketorvet”, which is lovingly referred to as “Copencabana”, but also the Ofelia Beach in the harbor.
Amsterdam’s newest city beach is Strand West with a panoramic view of the river IJ, where guests can relax in hammocks.
Other beaches are at the science centre NEMO – a massive green boat-like structure in the centre of Amsterdam – where you can get some of the most spectacular views of the city centre. A family day can be enjoyed or a more quiet evening watching the sun go down.
Smíchov is a former industrial zone in the Prague 5 area, and home to the famous Staropramen brewery. In the last few years this area has becpme one of the most up-and-coming in Prague: its reputation furthered with the first artificial beach in the city, the Smichovska Plaz.
A massive 700 tonnes of white sand were imported to cover a 200 metres stretch along the west bank of the Vltava river. A floating swimming pool was added (as the river water isn’t clean enough for swimming) and next to that, facilities for other sports like volleyball, badminton and pétanque.