1. Paris Plages, Paris
Every summer, about 5,000 tonnes of sand shipped from Normandy, 550 deckchairs, 450 beach umbrellas and 50 palm trees are deposited along the banks of the River Seine in Paris to form temporary urban beaches. They’re located between Pont de Solférino and Pont Alexandre III on the left bank, and between Pont de Sully and Pont Neuf on the right bank. Along the Parc Rives de Seine on the right bank, things like tai chi sessions, dance workshops and a pop-up library have been spotted.
Unfortunately, swimming in the Seine is forbidden; however, if you’re craving a dip, head to the artificial lake of Bassin de la Villette in the 19th arrondissement, where you’ll find three specially erected swimming pools.
2. Amager Strandpark, Copenhagen
Copenhageners have been flocking to this beach park since 1934, which was extended in 2005 with a 2km-long artificial island. Its serene northern end features sand dunes and winding paths, as well as the Helgoland baths, which comprise three saltwater pools (two single-sex and one unisex). Don’t be alarmed if you spot a bare derrière – swimwear is only mandatory in the mixed pool.
In contrast, the southern end, with its marina and broad promenade, is ideal for activities like rollerblading, sailing, kayaking and windsurfing. Kids will love splashing about in the shallow lagoons too.
3. Blijburg aan Zee, Amsterdam
“Blij” is the Dutch word for “happy” (Blijburg aan Zee can be translated as “happy castle by the sea”), and indeed, it’s hard to be anything but merry when kicking back on this beach. Located on Amsterdam’s IJburg, a collection of artificial islands east of the city centre, it is known for a distinctively bohemian vibe.
Days can be spent swimming, lounging on the sandy stretch or enjoying the delicious fare at the beach restaurant – they whip up dishes using organic ingredients and locally sourced vegetables. Come nightfall, the place transforms into party central, with DJ sets and campfires galore.
4. Barceloneta, Barcelona
A mere 20-minute walk from the city centre, this is Barcelona’s most popular beach. Once the mercury hits 20ºC, you’ll find locals out here in full force – sunbathing, swimming, surfing, playing beach volleyball and enjoying tapas at the beachside restaurants.
Stroll along the beach and admire a variety of intriguing architectural structures. Frank Gehry’s gilded fish sculpture, which towers at a height of 35m and spans 56m in length, is a sight to behold with its stainless steel scales shimmering in the sun.
5. The Fulham Beach Club, London
Much like Peter’s Pan’s Neverland, London’s urban beach club is all about celebrating your inner child. The Fullham Beach Club opens in May 2022 on the banks of the River Thames in Fulham. The place is decked out like a pastel-coloured dream with fairy lights, cabanas and beach huts. There’s a full line-up of events too, including beach yoga, glitter art and sand-sculpting events, table tennis, croquet and even fancy-dress parties. Feeling peckish? Head to pop-up restaurant Jimmy Garcia’s BBQ Club, or book a spot at their bottomless bubbly brunch on Sundays.
Fees apply; until 31 August
6. Isar River, Munich
When locals yearn to escape the summer heat, they often flock to the banks of the Isar. The river, which is fed by water from the Alps, flows through the centre of Munich and offers miles of idyllic shoreline. Here, you’ll find several open grassy spaces, islets and sandy inlets where you can sunbathe, swim or picnic. Barbecues are also allowed at certain locations.
One of the most popular stretches of the Isar is the Eisbach, a small channel with an unlikely feature – a manmade wave that swells and spans the length of the brook. Here, surfers can hone their skills all year round. Surfing competitions are occasionally held too.
Please check the establishments’ respective websites for opening hours as well as booking requirements before visiting, and remember to adhere to safe-distancing measures while out and about.
The information is accurate as of press time. For the latest travel advisory updates, please refer to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ website.
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Updated version of post from August 2018