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Top 10 urban beaches

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IMAGINE THE feeling of sand between your toes, the soothing sound of water lapping at the shore, yet you’re right in the centre of the city! This week we’re looking at urban beaches to relax and chill out on.


This July and August a two-mile stretch of the River Seine once again turned into a beach, an annual event since 2002. Complete with white sand, palm trees, sun beds and parasols so that residents and visitors alike can make believe they are on the Côte d’Azur. The River Seine is not suitable for swimming but you can enjoy dance lessons, climbing walls and games. Swimming (in floating pools, not the Seine) is there for the active or if you prefer, just collapse on a beach chair under a parasol. Pack your bikini by all means but remember this is Paris, so make sure your swimwear is couture.


The sea may be a couple of hundred kilometres away but that doesn’t stop Berliners donning their bikinis at the first sign of sunshine. Every summer beach bars spring up along the River Spree in Berlin complete with palm trees, sun beds and sand. They are the perfect place to watch the sun go down with a cocktail while digging your feet in the sand. Some have pools, such as the Badeschiff, which is a floating open-air swimming pool on the river and you can opt for a game of volleyball if you fancy being a bit more energetic.


It would only be the very brave that would tempt swimming in the sea in Iceland, but the quirky Icelandic people have come up with a solution. The man-made Nautholsvik Beach is Reykjavik’s very own heated beach where natural geothermal waters flow out into the sea. The sea temperature is around 20°C and the beach is open from May 15 until September 15.

New York

Lucky tourists and residents have been able to surf ‘legally’ in New York, since the city opened its first official surfing beach, Rockaway Beach, two years ago. This is the first time people have been allowed to surf at the city’s beaches or stretches of water since it was outlawed in 1850. In fact, Rockaway Beach is the largest urban beach in the States.

London, UK

Shoreditch is right in the heart of London’s east end, but that doesn’t stop city workers longing for a bit of lunchtime beach fun. In order to accommodate them, the City Beach Club ( at Truman Brewery, E1, is temporarily transformed into a giant sandy area with music, drinks and food served among the imported palm trees.


Over the summer months, there are a number of beaches open to the public across Amsterdam, such as Blijburg aan Zee on the new IJburg Island complex. It is just 15 minutes from Centraal Station and features funky bars, DJs and picnicking families. Probably the most popular beach in the city is Amsterdam Plage, but venture a little further out of town (30 km: a 20-minute train journey) and you’ll find the in-the-know coastal resort of Bloemendaal, known as the ‘Ibiza of the North Sea’.


Hailed by many as one of the best seaside resorts of the whole upper Adriatic, the golden sands of the Venice Lido offer peace and quiet only a few minutes away from the crowds. The island that stretches between open sea and lagoon is only 10 minutes away from St Mark’s Square and it is sandy, soothing and relaxing.

If you fancy an urban beach holiday, call your local travel agent now. They can organise all aspects of your city beach break.