The Stroomi rand beach in Tallinn, Estonia, offers biking, picnics, and more. (Photo: Annina Närhi)
By Bart van Poll
In Europe, city beaches are all the rage. It seems every European city adds one or two city beaches a year for its local hipsters. And visitors, of course.
Our locals in 47 European cities have spotted some great urban beaches. I’m happy to share some of their favorites here.
Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, is a seaside city. But because of military planning in the Soviet era, you have to walk a while to get to a real beach. It’s worth it though! Stroomi rand is a full-blown beach where you can bathe in the sun, play ballgames or ride your bike / rollerskates along the cycling paths.
Tip from our Tallinn local Annina Närhi: “Take some food for a barbecue picnic, as they have nice fireplaces.”
Foz beach in Porto. (Photo: Vasco Vigueiredo Teles)
Porto, the second-largest city in Portugal, was built by the sea and has a real sand beach. The climate is often excellent – great for a day at the beach.
Tip from our Porto local Vasco Vigueiredo Teles: “In summer, Foz can get crowded. There are, however, better beaches just close to Foz, like ‘Matosinhos Sul’ (‘south’), just a short walk north from Castelo do Queijo and Edíficio Transparente.”
Hietalahti beach in Helsinki. (Photo: Terhi Ruuskanen)
Hietalahti Beach, Helsinki
The capital of Finland contains many small islands, but surprisingly few really good beaches.
According to our Helsinki local Terhi Ruuskanen: “Hietalahti Beach is known as the only decent beach in Finland. It is the only large beach in Helsinki, where you will get feeling that you are in some really warm country where beach-life is everyday life.”
Beach at Weißen See in Berlin.(Photo: Sarah Curth)
Beach at Weißen See
Berlin is located far away from any sea, but there is a vivid beach life. One of the last oases in the concrete jungle of Berlin is just 20 minutes by tram straight from Alexanderplatz.
Tip from our local Sarah Curth: “After 5 p.m. the entrance is only $1.30 for the terrace and beach! If you just want to relax without lounging at the beach you can access the upper terrace for free until 5 p.m.”
Poniatówka Beach in Warsaw.(Photo: Ola Synowiec)
The capital of Poland had no city beaches until a few years ago. Now there’s a full-blown “wild and wide” beach in the city where you can have a bonfire, sunbathe, play volleyball and have the best hot summer parties in the city.
Tip from our Warsaw local Ola Synowiec: “If you’re quiet, you can spot wild animals like otters and deers. My friends even saw boars and elk!”
Trnovski pristan in Ljubljana.(Photo: Jost Derlink)
In Slovenia’s capital Ljubljana people love to relax around the lake with a bottle of wine or beer from the local supermarket. If you’re lucky, you’ll see musicians playing their instruments (maybe even the author of the article Jost, who plays the guitar!).
Tip from our Ljubljana local Jost Derlink: “Lend a book from the free ‘outside public library’ by the waterside.”
Bygdøy Sjøbad in Oslo.(Photo: Emily Woodgate)
One of the most northern capitals in Europe has a beach. Of course! Actually Bygdøy Sjøbad has been there since 1880, but it was recently rehabilitated by bringing in more sand and adding diving platforms.
Tips from local Emily Woodgate: “The car park fills up really quickly. Get there by bike! It’s a pretty 2km cycle through forest and farm trails along the Bygdøy peninsula from the main highway. You’ll usually find a vendor or two selling waffles and ice cream, so remember to bring some change!”
Roest in Amsterdam.(Photo: Martin Sollmann)
Amsterdam is full of canals, but the beaches are concentrated around the outskirts of the center. There are many of them, but the trendiest at this moment is probably Roest – situated around beautiful rundown industrial era buildings. All of the beach sand was brought in by trucks, and there’s just a little bit of water. But it’s a perfect beach!
Tip from an Amsterdam local (me!): Take a swing into the water from the big rope hanging from the big crane in the back. It’s not easy, and probably not legal either…”
Related: 7 Museums for 7 Days in Amsterdam
Zlaté Piesky in Bratislava.(Photo: Eva Lelkesova)
The capital of Slovakia has some great lakes, and the biggest has the best beach. Zlaté Piesky means Golden Sand). And in a city like Bratislava, one without a seaside, this lake and its area are really worth gold during hot days.
Tip from Bratislava local Eva: “The “free of charge” side of the lake is hardly accessible without having a car. However, if you prefer to enjoy the sunshine naked, you’d better get to THAT side (the one further from the centre).”
Quarantine beach in Rotterdam. (Photo: Michael Afanasyev)
A secluded beach in the second-largest city in the Netherlands. Yes, it exists!
The Quarantine on the Heijplaat, an architectural monument, has a dark history. It was built in the 1930s for sailors with dangerous tropical diseases. Before World War II it housed Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany, followed by the German Navy during the occupation years and later elderly psychiatric patients. Today it’s home to a lively artists’ community, that together with the schoolchildren of Heijplaat neighborhood take care of the beach.
Tip from Rotterdam local Michael: “Officially, swimming is prohibited, but no one seems to ever mind it at this remote spot.”
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