Ultimate guide to Europe’s best beach city breaks

Can’t decide whether you want sand between your toes or a jam packed culture vulture adventure? On your next minibreak have both with our guide to the best urban beaches in Europe. 

1. Dubrovnik, Croatia

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Sitting on the Adriatic, the stunning architecture and winding, storybook streets of Dubrovnik are the perfect compromise between city and sea. From ancient picturesque castle walls to insane panoramic views, this location famous for its appearance in Game of Thrones, has it all. Spend mornings getting lost in the hustle and bustle of the busy Old Town and lounge away the afternoon on the glistening shores of Banje Beach for the ultimate hybrid holiday.


Flights to Dubrovnik 

2. Barcelona, Spain

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Boasting over two miles of sandy beaches a mere ten minute stroll from the centre of the city, Barcelona is definitely a front runner when it comes to Europe’s best beach city breaks. Not only is it home to beautiful beaches, it also has a thriving culinary scene that’ll make foodies go weak at the knees. Head to La Boqueria, the famous food market to pick up bits for a seaside picnic and lay your towel down on one of the city’s four main beaches. Whether you soak up the sun on Barceloneta Beach, Icaria, Mar Bella or Sitges, you’ll be greeted with some of the best urban beaches in Europe.


Flights to Barcelona

3. Amsterdam, Netherlands

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A melting pot of cool and quirky, Holland’s capital has a lot more to it than canals and cafes. Despite what you might think, Amsterdam has a plethora of real sandy beaches so you can dip your toes in the ocean in between museums trips. Venture to the IJburg islands and set up camp on Blijburg aan Zee to catch a tan and some waves while you’re at it.


Flights to Amsterdam 

4. Berlin, Germany

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Home to Europe’s largest beach volleyball court and floating swimming pool, when the sun hits the banks of the River Spree, the waterside of Berlin transforms into a sandy paradise. Taking the urban beach trend to new heights, spend the hotter months sipping mojitos on colourful deck chairs, dipping in and out of the water and exploring the cultural metropolis that is Germany’s capital city.  


Flights to Berlin 

5. Warsaw, Poland

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Taking tips from neighbouring Deutschland, urban beaches have wiggled their way on to the promenades of the Vistula in Warsaw turning the landlocked city into a surprising seaside haven. See one of the most atmospheric locations in the historical city covered in artificial sand and trendy beach bars. Complete with wooden decking, parasols and sun loungers to match, you’d never know you were smack bang in the middle of a working metropolis.


Flights to Warsaw 

6. Nice, France

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No list of the best beach city breaks could be complete without mentioning the glitz and glamour of the French Riviera and where better to experience vie à la mer than in the capital of the region itself, Nice. A rare concoction of Italian and French culture, the cosmopolitan seaside city is packed full of bougie boutiques, five star restaurants and quality coastline. Pack your biggest sun hat, lather on the factor 50 and sunbathe in style at one of the best urban beaches in Europe.


Flights to Nice

7. Bodrum, Turkey

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Wander through white washed houses, gorge on seafood at one of many oceanfront restaurants and bake on the beach when you spend your next minibreak in Bodrum. This Turkish hotspot is made for cosmopolitans looking for a little sea to go with their shopping and is the cream of the crop when it comes to Mediterranean getaways. Featuring twin bays backed by idyllic rolling pine forests, Bodrum and its sparkling blue ocean is a real sight for sore eyes and not to be missed.


Flights to Bodrum 

8. Valencia, Spain

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The city that brought us paella, Valencia is spoilt for choice when it comes to stretches of golden sand, historical centres, museums and a culinary scene to rival anywhere in the world. A stone’s throw away from the city centre, swim at Las Arenas or venture out a little further to the picture-perfect La Malvarrosa Beach for a day of pure relaxation. A nightlife to be reckoned with and unique culture waiting to be explored, there’s no doubting Spain’s Valencia is one of the best beach city breaks in Europe.


Flights to Valencia 

9. Split, Croatia

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Spend a few days staying in an ancient palace and visit the glistening shores of Croatia’s Split. Home to one of the best preserved pieces of Roman architecture, this urban oasis has a little something for everyone. whether you’re a history buff, party enthusiast or sun, sea and sand seeker, this city on the Adriatic will not disappoint. Step off the plane to turquoise waters backed by dramatic coastal mountains for a city break with a difference.


Flights to Split 

10. Bournemouth, England

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Nicknamed the coast with the most, Bournemouth is at the centre of Dorset’s seven mile sandy stretch and makes south England look like the Med on a sunny day. Tucked away beneath a breath-taking cliff line, the city’s bay boasts its own micro-climate meaning it’s an ideal destination no matter the time of year. Hire out a colourful beach hut, try some of the attractions on the pier or take advantage of the buzzing nightlife on offer in the city’s centre.


Flights to Bournemouth 

11. Lisbon, Portugal


With four different coastlines in close proximity to the city centre, you’re spoilt for sandy choices when you visit Lisbon. Portugal’s capital is rich with historical landmarks, quirky hidden gems and clear waters to beat the band. Boasting a top notch climate guaranteeing plenty of sunshine, this cosmopolitan corner of the continent is a force to be reckoned with.  


Flights to Lisbon 


Planning a beach getaway soon? Make sure to tag us in your photos of the best beach city breaks using the hashtag #ryanairstories for the chance to be featured on Ryanair’s Instagram feed.


- Lucy Norris