The Greek, Croatian, Spanish & Italian islands 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.
Every knows cities like Barcelona have great city beaches, but you might not know the following cities have very cool – often little-known – urban beaches. Sometimes you have to take the concept “beach” with a little grain of salt (or sand?)…
In an effort to spread tourists around the city, the tourist board of Amsterdam now calls a beach that is far away from the city borders of Amsterdam (Zandvoort) “Amsterdam beach“…. Well yes, Zandvoort is a real beach with a sea, but Amsterdam has some great beach-like places within its city borders!
Gaasperplas lake is in the southeast of Amsterdam and is not really well-known and popular with locals from the city center — undeservingly so according to our Spotter Bart van Grevenhof.
“In the summer, when BBQ weather is there, it is definitely worthwhile to extend your stay at the beach of Gaasperplas till dinnertime. Families from Amsterdam Southeast will fire up their BBQs and some of the best Surinamese and African BBQ smells will fill the air accompanied by music and dance this will create an atmosphere found nowhere else in Amsterdam.”
Bratislava: Zlaté Piesky Lake
In a city that’s not right next to the sea, like Bratislava, lakes like the Zlaté Piesky Lake are welcome and refreshing spots for the locals. Zlaté Piesky means golden sand, the name already implies how beloved this place is. According to our Spotter Eva Lelkesová this lake is the biggest in the city. This side of the lake is well kept and has plenty of pretty trees to provide some shade in the hot summer. Next to that there is also plenty of opportunity here to participate in a nice watersport.
Cologne: Blackfoot Beach
“The Blackfoot Beach is in the north of the city on one of seven lakes. The area used to be a gravel-pit, groundwater filled it up and it has been used for leisure for more than 85 years! It is made up with white sand and is an official public pool of the city of Cologne. That’s why you only have to pay the official entrance for public pools.
It will take you about 45 minutes from the main station to get there, but you can spend the whole day there and it has a lot to offer!” — Stephan Wehrle
Dublin: Shelley Banks Beach
Our local Alina Ecke loves Shelley Banks Beach. “One of the most undiscovered – even by local Dublin people – this spot is one of my favourite getaways in this small but vibrant city. I love the sea and northern type of beaches and appreciate the uniqueness of Shelley Banks beach, i.e. its isolation from the city centre and it having – wait for it! – some of the best water quality around. Isn’t it surprising, considering that the location is very central and is next to the Dublin Port?”
Edinburgh: Peatdraught Bay
Getting to Peatdraught Bay can be quite a hassle. We’re lucky that our Spotter Mark Gorman even found the place after reading his tricky description of how to get there. Although it can be a bit difficult to find the place, it is well worth it. Let yourself be surprised by gorgeous bays, beaches, dunes, a castle and just in general amazing nature. Not many people know of this place, and make the effort to get there, so it’s almost like a private piece of nature just for you!
Podgorica: Galeb beach
Podgorica is a city that has five rivers going through it. The biggest one is Moraca, which used to be known for its nice beaches, and Galeb beach was the most popular one. During the ’80s and ’90s, this beach was often crowded by local people who were swimming in the cold waters of Moraca. I still find this a nice place for having a beer in the summer nights, close to the water and with the nice view of Podgorica bridges. – Maja Markovic
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.
Riga: Ķīpsala River Beach
“I’m walking on sandy Ķīpsala River Beach, sipping a mojito. Calmly, waves arrive at the coast caressing the rocks. A cruise ship named Romance is slowly passing by. Children are laughing, playing and running around. Sunshine spills over the river. Half-naked, tanned bodies are chasing a ball. Lovers are talking, kissing and getting tipsy. Only Riga’s church towers and skyscrapers across the water stand still and silent. I’m happy or sad, who can tell.” – Elvita Rakstite
Rotterdam: Quarantine Beach
Quarantine Beach is a remote urban beach in Rotterdam. It’s usually not too crowded since not many people are aware of its existence. Because the beach is pretty secluded it can be a bit hard to reach. But it’s definitely worth it, especially in summer. The view over the city is well worth a little exploring. Officially you’re not allowed to swim here, however no one seems to care at this secluded spot. According to our Spotter Michael, it’s best to cycle here, and the nature during the trip is amazing.
Saint Petersburg: Seashore under the pines
Saint Petersburg is a seaport with plenty of seaside places to enjoy the water and cool air. Beach Laskovyi is recommended by spotter Olga Samoilova, considering this is her favorite beach. Notably, this relaxed spot is easy to access by public transport and makes for a good walk, where you can eventually enjoy a break over a nice meal or beverage in one of the restaurants and cafes in the area. This place has guaranteed peace and solitude with a nice atmosphere of people enjoying themselves swimming, sunbathing and playing beach volleyball on the upcoming warmer sunny days.
Warsaw: Ciszyca Beach & Poniatówka beach
Ciszyca is a cute, small village about 25 km away from the center of Warsaw. Ciszyca Beach is a little bit of a secret, discovered by our Spotter Magda Przedmojska. Because it is a hidden gem it is more peaceful and quiet than other city beaches in Warsaw. Even during high season, it’s not too crowded here. This beach is also located next to a great bike route, so it’s easy to combine with a day of biking.
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.
Have a great summer!