City Breaks: Europe’s Best Urban Beaches

The end of summer is almost here and if you’re lucky enough to get away before autumn overtakes us, the beach is most likely to be your port of call. Fresh sea breezes can whip all the cobwebs away and by the time you get back to the daily grind, you can do so feeling all the better for it. What to do, though, if you can’t escape the city? This time of year can still be humid, hot, and sticky, and after an early September heat wave, you could be ready to pack the whole thing in.

But hold off for just a minute. Urban beaches are on the rise, and across the world, the most popular capital cities are rewarding their local citizens with a taste of the seaside, no matter their working schedule. If you’re stuck in the city, try checking out any of these urban beaches. Almost as good as the real thing, they’re guaranteed to help you cool down.


Not content with being the unofficial coolest city in the world, Berlin has taken on the urban beach scene and the results are not to be scoffed at. Lining up countless bars and chill-out points along the border of the Spree, Berlin kits its beach out in palm trees, deck chairs, and shady spots. While you might want to spend the day sunning yourself, the evening is what it’s all about. Bars and clubs pop up along the side of the river, so if you’re looking for a taste of the city’s famous nightlife with a tropical twist, you’re well covered.


Taking in one of the most beautiful views in Eastern Europe, Warsaw’s summer beach popup is a sight that should not be missed. Located in prime position in Poland’s capital, the sprawling bar scene is the place to spend your evenings in the city. While not a beach per se, the riverside area is one of the most picturesque places to play out the hot end-of-summer days. With the sounds of the river at your feet, you would be hard-pressed to find a more relaxing spot in Warsaw. Pull up a pew in any of the beach bars and spend a few hours; you might just leave feeling like a different person.


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When the sun comes out in Copenhagen, locals flock to the riverside in droves in a bid to soak up a few rays. With water clean enough to swim in, the city’s river plays host to the urban beach scene, helping locals to cool off when the temperatures get too high. The harbor baths are the place to be during any hot day and even if you don’t take a dip, you can profit from the cooler riverside atmosphere and laid-back vibe.


Home to one of the coolest urban beaches this side of anywhere, Amsterdam is well worth checking out. Located in the arty eastern area of the city, the urban beaches come equipped with sandy stretches, market stands, and venues for film screenings. The whole space has become something of an unofficial summer hangout, so if you’re heading to Amsterdam in the coming days, make a beeline for the area while the sun is still shining.



Already planning ahead to next year? One of the original urban beaches, located in the French capital, hosts a festival known as the Paris Plages pop up, which is renowned across the world. Taking place every summer from July to August, the riverside beach festival spans a central stretch of the Seine, offering locals and tourists alike the chance to kick back and relax. Kitted out with deckchairs, stretches of sand, ice cream stalls and misting stations, this city beach is the perfect place to spend the weekend, offering a taste of the tropics without the need to leave town. Each weekend, Paris Plages hosts a range of sporting and creative events, helping you to make the most out of your summer in the city.


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Hannah Lamarque
Hannah is a freelance writer and copy editor living in Europe. She writes about travel, art, design and culture and loves discovering hidden places in the cities that she visits.