7 Best Cities by the Sea in Europe

Fancy a bit of sun, sea and slacking off? Check out our list of the best European cities by the sea to visit this year.

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  • 01 June 2023
  • • 4 min read

One of the best things about Europe is its 185,000km of beautiful coastline, which bursts to life in the spring and summer months. Over half of the EU's entire population lives less than 50km from the sea, so if you're looking to spend some time relaxing on the coast, there's plenty of destinations to choose from. With so many amazing choices, it can be tough to pick out just a few, so we've put together a list of the best European cities by the sea to visit this year...

Looking for a fun base for your European adventures? Check out our hostels across the continent.

1. Toulon, France

Toulon is one of the French Riviera's most beautiful cities, but unlike a trip to Nice or Cannes, it won't have you checking behind the sofa for change when you get home. Surrounded by crystal clear waters and sandy beaches, Toulon is home to a vibrant port and a bustling market where you can sample some of France's freshest seafood.

Top tip: don't miss the chance to visit Mont Faron , where a cable car ride offers panoramic views of the city and the shimmering Mediterranean Sea.

2. Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona is one of Europe's most famous (and most-visited) destinations, and for good reason. In the Catalonian capital there's sun, sangria and siestas all year round, and it's one of our favourite places to explore by foot! To escape the crowds try visiting in late September when the sea is at its warmest.

Top tip: if you find Barcelona beach too crowded and too urban, head to Garraf (about 30 minutes away by train) for a more relaxed vibe.

3. Newquay, United Kingdom

Whilst Newquay isn't technically a city (fine, you caught us), it feels like one in the wilds of Cornwall. Known for its world-class surfing, Newquay is home to a whopping eleven beaches which stretch for over seven miles. That's seven miles of golden sands perfect for sunbathing, swimming, fishing or watersports.

Top tip: if you're going to try classic British fish and chips, you've really got to try them in Newquay. Head to Flounders for the local's favourite.

4. Salerno, Italy

The gateway to Italy's famous Amalfi Coast, Salerno is undoubtedly one of Europe's best cities by the sea. With it's award-winning beaches, amazing seafood restaurants and warm weather pretty much all-year round, it's a bit of a hidden gem for most tourists in Italy. If you're not much of a city slicker and prefer a quieter way of life, the amazing towns of Positano and Amalfi and easy to get to for a day trip.

Top tip: take the ferry from Salerno to Positano for a more relaxing, cheaper travel alternative.

5. Amsterdam, Netherlands

You might not think of Amsterdam as one of Europe's best cities by the sea, but it's up there with the very best in the summer months. If you know where to look, there's a great mix of city beaches and wild seafronts in and around Dam. If you're after a party, start off at NDSM Wharf in the trendy Noord district, where you'll find PLLEK beach, or check out Bloemendaal beach for Ibiza-style clubs.

Top tip: if you're after something quiet, or you're in need of a break from the raving, try Zandvoort .

6. Albufeira, Portugal

With its golden beaches, towering cliffs, and famous nightlife, Albufeira has become one of Europe's favourite beach party destinations. By day, you can explore Praia dos Pescadores and discover it's hidden grottoes and caves by boat or try your hand at cliff jumping (make sure you do it with someone who knows the area, please). After the sun goes down, head back in to town for endless entertainment in Albufeira's many bars, pubs and clubs.

Top tip; Albufeira is one of the best places in Europe to go dolphin spotting - but book a spot on a boat well in advance as these can get busy!

7. Kalamata, Greece

You might of heard of Kalamata, but not necessarily as one of Europe's best cities by the sea; it's known around the world for its famous olive groves. The capital and central port of Messinia, Kalamata is surrounded by history and perfect, azure water. It's off the main tourist trails and is pretty cheap to explore, so this is the perfect destination if you're trying to save some money. Temperatures here can easily hit 40ºC in July and August, so visit in spring to avoid the worst sunburn ever.

Top tip; Head to Santova beach (12km from Kalamata) for beach bars, parties and watersports.

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