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The Coolest Beach Cities in the World

Copacabana, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil | Filipe Costa / © Culture Trip
Picture of Jessica Jones
Updated: 26 March 2019
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Combine urban exploration with a relaxing beach holiday by visiting a city with its own beach. From Hollywood glamour to the heart of Spain’s gastronomic scene, discover the coolest beach cities in the world.

Barcelona

Barcelona has a fascinating history, world-famous architecture and a buzzing, cosmopolitan atmosphere and that’s before you discover its beaches. La Barceloneta is the main city beach, where locals and tourists come to top up their tans and eat some quality seafood in one of the many beachside restaurants. While La Barceloneta might be Barcelona’s most famous beach, there are plenty more to choose from if you fancy going a bit further afield – check out the peaceful Nova Icaria beach or Mar Bella, a favourite with watersports fans.

El Born, Barcelona, Spain
Tara Castillo / © Culture Trip

Rio de Janeiro

The view of Rio de Janiero’s coastline and the dense green forests beyond is one of the most iconic vistas in South America. The city is world-renowned for its beaches, from the Copa, Copacabana (sorry), Rio’s most famous and energetic beach, to the perhaps equally famous Ipanema Beach. The city is also home to plenty more under-the-radar beaches if you prefer peaceful sunbathing to samba-infused beach parties. Take a cable car up Sugarloaf Mountain for unforgettable views of Rio’s beaches.

Copacabana, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Filipe Costa / © Culture Trip

Miami

Fashionistas have long flocked to Miami and the city’s legendary beaches. Hang out in South Beach, the city’s Art Deco neighbourhood, where buildings are painted beautiful pastel colours and the nightlife is pumping well into the early hours. Haulover Beach is a completely different atmosphere; the 12 mile stretch of white sand has a laid-back, local vibe and hosts a popular food truck gathering on Tuesday nights.

Miami beach, Florida
© Cindy Hopkins / Alamy Stock Photo

Valparaíso

A port city on the coast of Chile, Valparaíso was named ‘the jewel of the Pacific’ by sailors during its heyday as an important port during the late 19th century. The city’s colourful houses cling to its hillside, and funiculars take locals up and down the steep slopes. Don’t miss a visit to La Sebastiana, the home of Nobel Prize-winning Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. While Valparaíso is more port city than beach city, it has five decent beaches and the neighbouring town of Viña del Mar is one of Chile’s most swanky beach resorts.

Vina del Mar, a popular resort area on Chile’s Central Coast, near Valparaiso
© Nicholas Gill / Alamy Stock Photo

Sydney

As well as its opera house and harbour bridge, Sydney is renowned for its beaches. The city has a huge range of options, from the world-famous Bondi beach, one of the biggest tourist draws in the whole of Australia, to laid-back hidden gems and popular nudist beaches. One thing is for sure, the golden sand and idyllic weather will make it one of the best days at the beach you’ve ever had.

Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia
Harry Vincent / © Culture Trip

Tel Aviv

Whether you’re after an evening stroll along the coast to watch the pink-coloured sunset or fancy indulging in some serious surfing, Tel Aviv has you covered. This hip coastal city is Israel’s coolest hub and draws young professionals out for a good time.

Fisherman Beach, Tel Aviv, Israel
Kimberley Grant / © Culture Trip

Cape Town

From culture and cuisine to its rugged coastal charm, Cape Town is one of Africa’s most exciting cities. Whether you want to get stuck into some sports at Clifton Beach or take the family penguin spotting at the magical Boulders Beach, the city really does have something for everyone.

Kalk Bay, Cape Town, South Africa
Jessica Stafford / © Culture Trip

Dubrovnik

Banje Beach, right in front of Dubrovnik’s Old Town, is one of the Croatian city’s most picturesque seaside spots. Rent a lounger from the beach club or find a spot for your beach towel on the sand. For a more rugged and less packed beach, walk around 20 minutes from Banje to the local favourite, Sveti Jakov.

Beach in Dubrovnik, Croatia
© philipus / Alamy Stock Photo

San Sebastián

This city, on Spain’s northern Basque coastline, is often touted as the country’s gastronomic capital and its pintxo bars (Basque tapas bars) are a must for foodies. While nights are spent bar-hopping and trying as many tantalising morsels as possible, days are spent lazing on one of the city’s beautiful beaches. La Concha is a shell-shaped cove popular with families, while the nearby Zurriola is a longer stretch of beach popular with surfers and body-boarders.

La Concha Beach at San Sebastian, Spain
© Neil Setchfield / Alamy Stock Photo

Singapore

Singapore might not immediately bring to mind pristine beaches, but the skyscraper-heavy city-state is made up of 63 islands, so definitely has its fair share of sandy shores to explore. Changi Beach, one of the city’s oldest natural beaches, is a popular picnic spot with families, while the man-made East Coast Park Beach is a good swimming spot. Another great place to check out is Sentosa Island, home to some of Singapore’s prettiest beaches.

Siloso Beach on Sentosa Island, Singapore
© travelbild.com / Alamy Stock Photo

Los Angeles

Pretend you’ve stepped right into the movies on one of LA’s beaches, always popular thanks to the city’s balmy year-round weather. Surfrider Beach is, as the name suggests, a favourite of surfers thanks to its three point breaks while Venice Beach is the place to indulge in a bit of people-watching (don’t miss the Schwarzenegger wannabes at Muscle Beach) or go all-out LA and strap on a pair of roller blades.

Beach in Los Angeles, California
Skyler Dahan / © Culture Trip
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