Top 10 city beaches around the world

City or beach…beach or city. It’s a tough decision when planning a mini break. The good news is there are places where both are rolled into one. Here’s our pick of the 10 best city beaches around the world.

Featured image: Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro courtesy of Visit Brasil / Embratur

Copacabana – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Image: p2bg used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license)

No trip to Rio is complete without a stop at Copacabana. This two-and-a-half mile stretch of sand is busy with sunbathing, kite flying, rollerblading and loads of beach sports. The iconic black and white wave of the Copacabana promenade, which trails the length of the beach, is a hot spot for tourists and residents alike. From the beach there are great views of Sugarloaf Mountain, the Corcovado and the azure waters of the Atlantic Ocean. And if the sun gets too hot, there are plenty of places to cool off with a caipirinha (Brazil’s national cocktail). Other beaches to check out in and around Rio de Janeiro are Ipanema, Prainha Beach and Praia Vermelha.

Camps Bay – Cape Town, South Africa

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Camps Bay, Cape Town, South Africa (Image: nickgraywfu used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license)

Just 10 minutes outside the city sits Camps Bay, the most popular of the beaches of Cape Town. Camps Bay has a little bit of something for everyone, including surfing spots, places to scuba dive, grassy picnic lawns, upscale seafood restaurants and open air markets. Victoria Road is the main street along the beach, and it has tons of pubs, restaurants, hotels and shops. If you’re looking for other places to catch some rays in Cape Town, check out Clifton Beach, Boulder Beach and Mnandi Beach.

Barceloneta Beach – Barcelona, Spain

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Barceloneta Beach, Barcelona, Spain (Image: Melissa.Delzio used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license)

Barcelona not only offers its visitors world-renowned Spanish culture, cuisine and architecture, but it’s also a great spot to sit and relax along the Mediterranean Sea. Barceloneta is a two-mile stretch of beach located right in the city in one of Barcelona’s oldest neighborhoods. Chiringuitos (beach bars) line the length of the beach along with hotels, casinos, shops and restaurants. And after dark, Barceloneta has an exciting nightlife scene. After you’ve seen Barceloneta, other beaches to visit include Icária Beach and Stiges Beaches.

Waikiki Beach – Honolulu, Hawaii, United States

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Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Hawaii, United States (Image: FHKE used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license)

Located in the heart of Hawaii’s capital city, Waikiki is a year-round spot for the traveler seeking sun and sand. The quintessential turquoise waters of Waikiki Beach have been a popular spot for relaxation as far back as the early 1900s when Hawaiian royalty would visit in search of great surfing. And if sunbathing isn’t for you, the options for beach activities are abundant, including surfing, snorkeling and scuba diving. There are great places for a stroll, including the Waikiki Beach Walk and the Waikiki Historic Trail as well as a number of other popular sites, including Pearl Harbor and Nuuanu Pali Lookout.

Costa de Caparica – Lisbon, Portugal

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Costa de Caparica, Lisbon, Portugal (Image: Alfaltendorf)

Just south of Lisbon lies the Costa de Caparica where sand seems to stretch for endless miles. Despite being a popular spot for visitors looking to soak up some Vitamin D, Costa de Caparica is never overly crowded. There’s a bus from Lisbon that stops five minutes from the beach, and there’s also a local bus that takes visitors from beach to beach along the coast. Once you’re there, be sure to check out the beach bars and live music. If you’re visiting Lisbon and want to check out other beaches, visit Guincho and Carcavados.

Kitsilano Beach – Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

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Kitsilano Beach, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada (Image: Adam Jones used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license)

Vancouver might not seem like a top beach destination, but during the warm summer months Kitsilano is the perfect spot to cool off after taking in the sites of the city. There are a number of beach volleyball courts, a playground for kids and even a salt water swimming pool. If you’re looking for something to do before or after the beach, Kitsilano is close to a number of museums, including Museum of Vancouver, the Maritime Museum and the Planetarium. Other beaches in and around Vancouver include Jericho Beach and Spanish Banks.

South Beach – Miami, Florida, United States

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South Beach, Miami, Florida, United States (Image: Wadester16 used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license)

South Beach isn’t just a beach where Floridians and visitors alike go to sunbathe; it’s a hot spot for top-rated restaurants, world-class hotels, excellent shopping and rambunctious partying. Located in Miami Beach, South Beach has transformed in recent decades from run-down to extremely wealthy. But don’t let your budget stop you from visiting as there are plenty of budget-friendly accommodations and restaurants. And while you’re there, be sure to check out the Art Deco district, Casa Casuarina and Espanola Way.

Bondi Beach – Sydney, Australia

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Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia (Image: TheGirlsNY used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license)

Bondi Beach is all surf and sun. Less than four miles from the city centre, this beach is the heart of the laid-back lifestyle so many visitors associate with Sydney. If surfing isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other activities like beach volleyball and scuba diving, or visit the Bondi Beach Icebergs where there’s a rock swimming pool and restaurant and bar. If you’re looking for other Sydney beach experiences, also check out Manley Beach, Tamarama and Bronte Beach.

Venice Beach – Los Angeles, California, United States

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Venice Beach, Los Angeles, California, United States (Image: vmiramontes)

Most visitors don’t go to Venice Beach for the sun; they go for the people watching. Littering the boardwalk along the beach are fortune tellers, snake charmers, artists and musicians. If that doesn’t sound exciting enough, stop by Muscle Beach where there’s an outdoor gym and bodybuilders showing off their stuff to anyone who will watch. All summer long there are plenty of festivals, art shows and celebrations, so even if you aren’t sunbathing there’s always something to do or someone to watch.

Stanley Beach – Hong Kong

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Stanley Beach, Hong Kong (Image: rmlowe)

Hong Kong is a mecca for business, finance and technology, and its fast-paced culture never seems to take a break. But if you hop on a bus and travel just a little south to Stanley, you’ll find a much more laid back lifestyle with beautiful beaches, boardwalks, shopping and restaurants. Stanley Beach is also a hot spot for windsurfing and other watersports. There’s also the slightly smaller St. Stephen’s Beach nearby and the Stanley Plaza where free concerts are sometimes held.

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