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Why chose between a beach break and city stay when you can have both? Head to these sunny spots to get two holidays in one

No need to sacrifice a few days lounging on the beach just because you’re going on a city break. Europe has plenty of sandy stretches where you can spend the day relaxing and soaking up some rays before heading into town for all the nightlife, culture and activities that the continent’s coolest cities have to offer. 



Nice

The Baie des Anges (Bay of Angels) curves right from the airport to the Chateau Hill, and as far as views go, is a real winner, with boats zipping about in the sparkling blue seas, and palm trees lining the Promenade des Anglais.

It’s a two-minute walk from the promenade to the city’s main square, the Place Masséna, where there’s always plenty of buzz during the summer months. The square is at the centre of the new town and surrounded by restaurants, bars and shops.

Further inland Nice’s multitude of contemporary art galleries and museums are enough to keep anyone busy – stop in at the MAMAC (Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain), which showcases American and European avant-garde work, and the Théâtre de la Photographie et de l’Image.

Do: Wear big hats and small cossies to fit in with Nice’s chic residents – that goes for gents as well as ladies.

Don't: Hit the coast without a thick towel – the pebbly beach takes some getting used to.

Get there: Fly from London Gatwick to Nice from £46 return with easyJet .



Barcelona

Don’t expect to avoid the crowds here during the warmer months as Barcelona’s beachy brand of urban cool brings tourists flocking.

In other words: the restaurants are full, the bars are full and as for the beaches – well at Barceloneta, the closest to the city centre, every last inch is crammed with sun-worshippers, ice-cream sellers, drummers and people playing volleyball and football.

It’s all pretty manic, so when you need a break from beach life, take yourself into the city (about half an hour’s walk) for a tour of the iconic art nouveau architecture – no one should leave Barcelona without a peek at Gaudi’s famously unfinished church, La Sagrada Familia. 

Do: Keep your wits about you – with that many relaxed (and often half-cut) tourists in one place, pickpocketing is rife and there are heaps of scammers that hang around the beaches.

Don't: Miss out on a night on Las Ramblas, the city’s busiest street for drinking and clubbing.

Get there: Fly from London Stansted to Barcelona from £157 return with Ryanair.



Berlin

Beaches are rarely mentioned as one of Berlin’s top attractions – which is a good thing really, as they’re one of Europe’s best-kept secrets. Manmade, obviously, there are stretches of sand to be found by canals, rivers and even on rooftops, but don’t picture yourself lying around in the blazing sun for days on end.

For a start, there isn’t that much blazing sun in Germany’s capital, but more pertinently, these sandy stretches are more of a backdrop for trendy beach bars – how very Berlin.

YAAM, which stands for Youth African Art Market, is a relaxed beach club and community centre, while Strandgut has a more polished vibe, with deckchairs and DJs playing on the sand. Of course the bonus of an urban beach is that you’re always just minutes away from the city’s sights.

Snap a pic of yourself at the Brandenburg Gate, or go up on the roof of the historic Reichstag, home of the German parliament, to get panoramic views of the city.

Do: Bring an umbrella, just in case.

Don't: Ask where the sea is.

Get there: Fly from London Gatwick to Berlin from £54 return with easyJet .


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Europe's best beach city breaks: Where to holiday for sun, sea, sand and city
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