Beach and City breaks in Europe

Many of Europe’s most exciting cities lie along the coast, meaning you can enjoy the buzz of a bustling metropolis before kicking back on a sun lounger – all in the same day. Take Galway, which might be best known as a wonderfully walkable medieval city, but also boasts spectacular beaches along its Atlantic shoreline. Or The Hague – a culture-rich hub that’s home to the world-famous Girl With a Pearl Earring, but also features 11km of pristine golden sands, with the seaside resort of Scheveningen boasting lots of beachside bars and cafes to choose from. Then there’s the classic French Riviera destinations of Cannes and Nice; which are both beautifully idyllic spots by the cobalt-blue Mediterranean. Can’t decide between a city break or a few days spent lying on the sand? With these European escapes, you can have both!

Beach and City break in Nice, France

A lure for sun seekers since holidaying first became fashionable in the 19th century, the French coastal resort of Nice is as popular as ever, and it isn’t hard to see why. The largest city in the Cote d’Azur, Nice is blessed with glamorous good looks that seem to improve over time.

You can hardly find a more romantically named place than the Bay of Angels, and the bewitching blue waves certainly don’t disappoint while taking a sunset beach walk down the world-famous Promenade des Anglais. The allure of this Mediterranean city extends through the meandering cobbled streets of the old town, many of which are lined with fabulous restaurants boasting the best seafood on the French Riviera.

But don’t think Nice is all style and no substance. Over the generations, celebrated poets, writers and artists such as H.G. Wells, Pablo Picasso and Aldous Huxley have flocked to the city, captured by the magic of the landscape.

Beach and City breaks in Galway, Ireland

Found along Ireland’s idyllic Wild Atlantic Way, Galway is a patchwork of quirky shops, lively music venues and illustrious eateries – making it the perfect spot for a weekend getaway. The city, often referred to as Ireland’s cultural beating heart, is a hub of activity that’s crammed full of innovative art, theatre and stand-up comedy.

Galway’s network of cobbled streets are best appreciated on foot, and a joy to explore for all ages – while away the day listening to traditional folk music, sample the area’s famous fresh oysters at the local restaurants, and party up a storm at the famous Latin Quarter. Before you leave, be sure to head to the coast to enjoy its abundance of beaches – many of which are found close to the city centre. Dogs Bay, with its spectacular horseshoe shoreline and white sand is especially beautiful, and its tame currents afford plenty of swimming and other water based activities.

Beach and City breaks in Cannes, France

Found in the glamorous French Riviera, charming Cannes is famed for its film festival, which sees stars of the silver screen descend on the city each May. But whatever time of the year you visit, the city’s inescapable wealth and glamour can hardly fail to impress. Walk through Le Suquet, the city’s old quarter (all cobbled alleys, buzzing food stalls, jazz bars and painterly cottages), and you’ll find yourself at Cannes’ picturesque marina, where you’re almost sure to see a superyacht or two. The nearby La Croisette promenade is well worth the trip to Cannes alone. Take a walk along this swish seafront, and be sure to stop in one of the restaurants that sweep the bay.

The city’s famous beaches have had a serious upgrade in the last few years, so those who’ve visited before will find there’s now acres of space to sunbathe on the signature striped sun loungers. The beaches also make for the perfect place to engage in some celeb spotting – an enduring Cannes pastime.

Beach and City breaks in The Hague, the Netherlands

Heralded as the Netherlands’ ‘Royal City by the Sea’, The Hague is full of pleasing contradictions. On one hand, it’s a corporate metropolis that hosts both the Dutch parliament and its monarchy, and on the other, it’s home to a stunning 11-kilometre stretch of sand on the North Sea coast, as well as deer-filled parks and densely wooded forests.

Head to the city’s Antique and Book Market on Lange Voorhout for a bargain or two before taking in The Hague’s most popular sites – including the Grote Kerk, an impressive church with a 280-step tower which offers outstanding vistas as far as the eye can see.

Once you’ve explored the city, be sure to head to the shoreline for some sunbathing and well-deserved R&R – the pier is full of small restaurants and cafes that sell ice cream, coffee and iced drinks to cool off with. Close to the city, you’ll find Meijendel, an area of sand dunes surrounded by a tranquil nature reserve. Great for cyclists and walkers alike, it’s a real wildlife haven – there are over 250 species of bird alone to spot.

Book your city break with P&O Ferries.