Ibiza, Mykonos, Sardinia and the Dalmatians are famous for their beaches, yes, but you don’t have to travel far from many of Europe’s cities for a relaxing day on the sand. For travelers on city breaks all over the continent, the sea (…or river…or lake) is often just a short ride away on public transportation. Here’s how our locals in Europe enjoy their favorite city beaches.
Barcelona: Sant Sebastià beach
From its quirky modernist architecture to its medieval Gothic Quarter, Barcelona packs a strong cultural punch. Anchored by the central Boqueria market, the city’s fine dining, tiny tapas bars and tacky paella restaurants along the beach are world renowned. Considering all there is to see and do in the Catalan capital, it’s easy to forget Barcelona is located directly on the Mediterranean Sea. Down by Sant Sebastià beach in Barceloneta, spotter Ilse de Ridder points visitors to Surf House Barcelona for its healthy fast food, like fresh tuna tatake. More than a spot to eat and drink, SHB also offers a full beach experience with activities like paddle surfing, jogging on the beach boardwalk, live surfing championship broadcasts and surf lessons.
Berlin: Weißer See
Located just 5 km from Alexanderplatz (20-minute ride on the M4 tram) Weißer See is a small lake located in Berlin’s Weißensee neighborhood. Completely isolated from the city by a park, the Strandbad (lido) on the eastern side of the lake offers a sandy beach, sun loungers and a bar. While the beach is open daily, spotter Sarah Curth recommends visiting in the evening and enjoying a couple of drinks at sunset.
Cologne: Rodenkirchen beach
On the western bank of the Rhine River, a small beach in Cologne’s Rodenkirchen neighborhood is a favorite of spotter Mathias Weidle. The sandy stretch along the river, just 6 km from the city center or a 24-minute ride on tram 16, is the perfect spot to spend a sunny Sunday.
Dublin: Hole-in-the-Wall beach
While Dublin isn’t known as a beach city, its striking beach-scapes are worth exploring. Burrow Beach in Sutton (known to the locals as Hole-in-the-Wall beach) is a stretch of sand 1.2 km long that connects Howth, a popular seaside village, to Dublin. Filled with sandy dunes, Hole-in-the-Wall beach can be accessed by a 20-minute ride on the DART train to Sutton station. From there, spotter Alina Ecke says the directions are simple – just follow the road with the sign reading ‘Beach’ on it.
Munich: Eisbach wave
Munich may be hundreds of kilometers from the ocean, but that didn’t stop the Bavarian capital from becoming the birthplace of river surfing. Since 1972, surfers have been riding chilly waves on the Eisbach (ice brook) wave – a standing wave 1 meter high created by the man-made river that runs through Munich’s Englischer Garten, the largest urban park in the world. While the water temperature never gets above 15 degrees, up to 100 surfers hit the waves daily. Two years ago, they finally got Arts ‘n’ Boards – the surf bar and restaurant they deserve. Owned by Uli Richter – a German surf pioneer and founder of Europe’s first surf school in the south of France – the joint is recommended by spotter Volker Moosbrugger for its late breakfast and its bar with beer, wine and cocktails.
Porto: Matosinhos beach
Spotter Vasco Figueiredo Teles’ favorite part of Porto? Foz, and the seafront. The beach stretches on for 3 km – from the trendy spots like Castelo do Queijo, Homem do Leme, Molhe, Gondarém, Senhora da Luz, Praia dos Ingleses and Ourigo to the more local Matosinhos Beach. Vasco suggests a walk, run or bike ride along the promenade during the week as the beaches become crowded with visitors at the weekend.
Named after the Dutch word for rust, Amsterdam Roest is a city beach and restaurant located, as the name suggests ,admits industrial buildings in the city’s Oostenburg neighborhood. On beach chairs and loungers, locals relax on the sand at this dockside bar and music venue where spotter Martin Sollmann says to try the restaurant’s beers and burgers – perfect for a day at the beach.
Tel Aviv: Southernmost beach
Okay, it’s not in Europe, but Tel Aviv is one of our favorite Mediterranean cities and our locals love its beaches. While there’s a 14 km stretch of 13 official beaches (ranked #9 on National Geographic’s top 10 list of beach cities) spotter Igor Lenivtsev recommends the southernmost beach with no name – located where the Tel Aviv promenade ends and the Jaffa promenade begins – for a more relaxing day on the sand.
Warsaw: Poniatówka beach
Unlike other European cities, Warsaw’s city beach is directly in the city center. Poniatówka beach on the Vistula river allows visitors to have a bonfire, sunbathe, play volleyball or bike along the entire coast. Spotter Ola Synowiec likes the two local beach bars, Temat Rzeka and Plażowa. Both organize events, parties and food trucks.
Zagreb: Jarun lake
A spot on the map since 1728, Jarun lake was forgotten and abandoned until it became the location for a new sports center in 1987 with sailing, rowing and kayak clubs. Beyond its relaxing shores and pristine water for swimming, spotter Milana Martinovic recommends Jarun for its popular bars and clubs, like Aquarius.
Did we miss your favorite beach in Europe? Let us know in the comments and check our Spotted by Locals city guides to find the best spots for relaxing this summer.