Most European waterways are not suitable for summer, due to health concerns, but that hasn’t stopped cities from inventing some pretty amazing urban beaches. In order to beat the heat and celebrate the summer, cities have imported sand, created epic pools and decked out busy streets in beach huts and sun chairs. From the capital of Poland to the streets of Paris, these are 11 of the absolute best urban beaches in all of Europe.
11. Poniatówka Beach, Warsaw
The capital of Poland was severely lacking in beaches until only a few years ago and that’s when this beach popped into the spotlight. This wild and wide beach located right in the city offers everything from beach volleyball to nightly bonfires to sunbathing to wild nightly parties. Partying isn’t the only thing this beach offers though; wildlife is plentiful if you can find a quiet spot. Animals such as otters, elk, deer and boar have been known to show themselves to visitors. Make sure to check out Temat Rzeka, an epic beach bar that is home to thousands of customers a night and offers such activities as film screenings, beach volleyball and huge beach parties.
10. Tamariz, Lisbon
Just a half hour train ride away from Lisbon this urban beach is popular with both locals and visitors. The setting here is absolutely beautiful, with 350 meters of beach, sand and open sea. The waters here are calm and tranquil, and the beach is sandy which makes it the perfect family setting. The eastern edge of the beach actually features an ocean swimming pool with slightly warmer temperatures than the sea. Chair rentals can be expensive so many people choose to bring their own along. A beautiful medieval palace overlooks this beach, only adding to its charm and beauty. Plenty of cafes and restaurants are located nearby, making it easy to spend the entire day here.
9. Barceloneta, Barcelona
This exciting city got even better when the Olympics came here in 1992, as it was then that the coastline got a serious makeover. It was decided that the city would open up to the sea and restaurants and public bathhouses were torn down and replaced with first-rate beaches. These sandy beaches were created with beautiful hotels and incredible restaurants lining them and as the years go on, this area only gets better. Day or night, visitors will find the coolest crowds here. There are over 1100 meters of beach to enjoy, along with an abundance of sea activities. One can actually walk to the center of the city via a walkway lined with palm trees, cafes and modern landmarks.
8. South Bank, London
This sliver of seaside charm is located beside one of the city’s busiest stretches of pavement. This corridor of sand skirts along Queen’s Walk, opposite the Southbank Centre and is full of sand, chairs and beach huts. This isn’t a beach you will want to visit if you are looking for a relaxing time but if you are looking to grab a few cocktails, build a couple sandcastles and take in awesome views of the Thames, this is the place to be. This beach is constantly buzzing all summer long with locals and visitors taking in the concerts, events and exhibitions that happen. Enjoy mingling with others, taking in live shows and soaking in the incredible and lively atmosphere.
7. Canary Wharf, London
The people of London and visitors to this city are in for a treat when it comes to urban beaches. The most popular may just be Canary Wharf, a sandy oasis hidden beneath the skyscrapers. The beach is loaded with volleyball courts and the famous KERB food market, where many city slickers head to grab a bite to eat during lunch hours. The beach here is dependent on what events are happening each summer and sand is brought in to create volleyball courts, beach rugby fields and more. Expect something different each time you visit here.
6. Vltava River, Prague
There may be no sea here but that didn’t stop Prague from creating one awesome urban beach on the banks of the Vltava River. With 500 tones of imported sand, over 200 pool chairs and a stunning pool; it’s no wonder locals and visitors flock to this beach. Not just for adults though, this beach has a kid’s playground located directly on it. If you are looking to get some activity in, try your hand at badminton or beach volleyball, with courts located directly on the beach. As the sun sinks and the stars come out this beach transforms into a party, with live music, dancing and special events running all summer long. Open from 10am-112pm daily, there is no bad time to visit this beach as long as the sun is shining.
5. Blijburg Aan Zee, Amsterdam
It is Amsterdam’s one true urban beach, complete with a sandy beach and swimming waters. The beach itself is 250 meters long and 40 meters wide and constantly hopping with things to do. The beach is open from June until September, Wednesdays through Sundays. Activities here include brunches on Sundays, kid’s events on the weekends and DJ’s and live bands throughout the months. The food here is absolutely wonderful and much of it is organic and vegetarian. At nighttime there is always a campfire to curl up around and visitors here will enjoy the laid back vibe of the locals. This beach also happens to host a ton of beach parties, windsurfing workshops and a monthly car trunk sale.
4. The Donauinsel (Danube Island), Vienna
This long narrow island in central Vienna is not just part of the flood protection system but also offers 42 kilometers of beach. In addition to awesome flat beaches with great bathing areas, there are extensive networks of paths for cyclers, joggers and walkers. Barbeque and picnic areas, playing fields, courts for beach volleyball and a variety of restaurants and shops also make up this urban beach stretch. There is no shortage of activities to do and many sports shops have set up along the beach to offer lessons in such water sports as scuba diving and windsurfing. Also located on Danube Island is a nature reserve, home to many plants and animals that depend on the protection.
3. Badeschiff, Berlin
This urban beach is actually comprised of a few different elements, including an old tug boat that has been converted into a pool during the summer months. Swimmers here can catch a great glimpse of the Berlin skyline and take part in some epic beach parties. The floating pool is connected by a wooden footbridge complete with hammocks to relax in. Beach goers can relax on the fine sand or play beach volleyball at one of the sand courts. The beach bar here is known for offering up a variety of summer cocktails and barbecued foods. Peaceful morning yoga classes are offered here twice a week and weekly open air concerts are a norm during the summer months. A separate area for kids to splash and build sandcastles is located just a stone’s throw away from the main area.
2. Paris Plages, France
For just shy of a month in the summer time, the right bank of the Seine from the Louvre to the Pont de Sully is converted into one of the best urban beaches in all of Europe. Sand gets imported into the area, beach chairs are set up, grass is laid down and boardwalk-style cafes and ice-cream sellers set up shop. When the temperature really soars sprinklers are put out as you wouldn’t want to swim in the Seine. Free summertime concerts take place; sporting events are in full swing and everyone who can’t go on vacation flocks to this area to enjoy some sand, sun and relaxation. Entrance to the beach is free and the only thing you will have to worry about is scoring one of the oversized umbrellas to curl up underneath.
1. Brussels’ Beach, Brussels
Every year the banks of the Brussels channel are converted into a real urban beach, complete with imported sand, huts, sun chairs and fountains. This beach only lasts in the hottest months of summer, from July 15th to August 15th and the city goes all out to ensure visitors have the best of times. Activities here range from rowing to soccer to climbing to dancing while the kids will be entertained with magic shows and workshops throughout the day. The nights are meant for adults to kick back and enjoy with an offering of nightly concerts and parties. The city kicks off this month long urban beach with an impressive light and sound show and airs free films throughout the month on the big screen. Join locals and visitors alike at this urban beach, in our opinion, the best in all of Europe.