You can’t beat a beautiful beach… But then who doesn’t love a good city to explore? Combining the two into a great beach city experience is the best way to get the best of both worlds. Get your culture fix in the morning, surf or sunbathe in the afternoon, then enjoy the sunset from a cool bar overlooking the sea.
If you’re looking for the ultimate beach and city experience, we’ve rounded up some of the best city beaches in the world. If you’re a fan of fun in the sun, make sure to add these to your bucket list.
Rio de Janeiro
With some of the world’s most famous beaches, it had to be Rio at number one. Ipanema, Copacabana, Leblon… The names alone conjure up images of sunkissed golden sands, beautiful people and samba dancing. The nightlife is wild and Cariocas (as the locals are called) are a notoriously friendly and laid back bunch. Easily the world’s number one beach city.
Although there are other cities in South Africa that get all the press, Durban is blessed with an abundance of great beaches. The Golden Mile is a hotspot for surfers and sunseekers and the city is an incredible melting pot. Add in the fact that you can head to Hluhlue Umfolozi for a great safari experience too and you’ll understand why Durban is a top travellers pick.
If Rio has some of the world’s most famous beaches, Sydney probably has the others. Manly and Bondi are the best known of the bunch, but you’ll find a beach for all types within Sydney’s sprawling city limits. Although Sydney is a renowned surf haven, you’ll also find plenty of quieter coves where you can snorkel and sunbathe before heading to Darling Harbour for a sundowner.
Sexy Miami is a beach lovers dream. Lined with cool Art Deco buildings and a laid back tropical vibe, Miami is unlike anywhere else in the states. The city also attracts the cream of the crop of the music industry for the Winter Music Conference in late March. It’s also a popular Spring Break hang out, so if a party is your thing, book a trip to Miami.
France isn’t short of a beach or two, but this gem nestled in the far south west of the country makes our pick of the best. For starters, the beach is sand, so it’s better than Nice, and it has a more cool surfer vibe than the Mediterranean coast. Add in a casino, great food and vibrant nightlife and a trip to Biarritz looks likely.
Although many head to Barcelona for the art and architecture, having a great beach in the centre of the city is a also a big draw. Barceloneta is a cool district all of its own, a short wander from Las Ramblas and the heart of Barcelona. As well as the beach, the city is home to one of the world’s best football teams, making this a big draw for sports fans too.
Hawai’i is of course blessed with plenty of fabulous beaches. But if you’re looking for a great city beach experience, Honolulu has it in (bucket and) spades. When the surf is up, this is probably the best place on earth to hang ten. But with choices from Waikiki bay to sleepy Lanikai, Hawaii is one of the best beach destinations you can find.
The White Island is best known for being the Mecca for partygoers. But Ibiza town has plenty of great beaches on it’s doorstep. In honesty, most of the best beaches are slightly further out like Benirras and Cala Bassa. So although this isn’t a city beach destination, strictly speaking, its one of the best beach hangouts with an unmissable nightlife culture.
There’s a lot of coast in Vietnam, but Nha Trang is probably the most popular city beach in the country. If not in Asia! If you’re looking to scuba or snorkel, sunbathe and maybe even surf, then Nha Trang is a great option. The food is also incredible, the nightlife pretty immense and if you’re looking to keep the costs down, it’s also a bargain!
Although Bali’s capital city Denpasar isn’t the nicest city in Asia, the beaches surrounding it are certainly world class. Kuta is probably the most developed and popular, but there are options scattered around the coast of Bali for everyone. From diving haunts such as Amed beach, to lazy resort haunts such as Sanur. Bali is truly a beach city break dream destination.
Of course there are plenty of awesome city beaches across the world that we probably missed. But if you’re looking for the perfect combination of sun, sea and sand, these are some of our top picks!
Oliver Lynch is a travel writer who edits GoneTravelling and GlobalPlayboy, as well as writing for a wide range of publications. You’ll usually find him snorkelling or snowboarding somewhere around the world.