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Now the summer's closing in, the toughest decision is this: city break or sun-and-sea holiday?

Well don’t fret, because we’ve got this one licked. Some of Europe’s greatest breaks offer the best of both worlds, and are just a couple of hours away by plane. Here are our top picks.

Barcelona, Spain

The Catalonian capital is probably the most obvious choice for the best of cosmopolitan city living and beach-bumming, and with good reason. Stuffed to the gills with sublime art, architecture, gastronomy and nightlife, it’s also a gorgeous seaside destination, with golden beaches stretching along the Mediterranean Sea.

City slicker: Don’t miss the La Sagrada Familia church, an incredible feat of creativity that is still being built more than 100 years after construction work first began. You could spend hours absorbing its decorative details. Las Ramblas is also a must-see, a chaotic central boardwalk crammed with tarot readers and street artists, while the epic Le Boqueria food market pulses at its top. Veer off the tourist trail to Carrer de la Riera Baixa for vintage boutiques and second-hand record shops, and plenty of cheeky beer-stops.

Beach bum: Millions of sun-seekers pile on to Barcelona’s beaches come summer. The busiest is Platja de la Nova Icària, where you’ll find scores of beautiful people catching rays and sinking drinks. A series of beaches spread northeast from the Port Olímpic marina, so have a wander if you’re looking for 
a calmer spot. There’s a small nudist section at Platja de la Mar Bella, if that’s your bag.

Flight time: About 2hrs from London.


Top five: City beach breaks in Europe
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