The World's Best Urban Beaches

  • 01 of 09

    City Shores

    A skyline view of Chicago's lakefront
    ••• Courtesy of Choose Chicago

    No coastline? No problem. Hit up an urban beach this summer and you can dig your toes in the sand without leaving the city limits. We found the world's best urban beaches for sun-starved city slickers—whether you’re looking for a palm tree-studded patch in Paris or beachside burgers in Chicago. 

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  • 02 of 09

    Chicago

    Castaways Bar Chicago
    ••• Courtesy of Castaways Bar

    Who needs the ocean when you can cool off in Lake Michigan and soak up the sunshine from one of the city's 26 public beaches? North Avenue's Cape Cod-style sand spit and ocean liner-inspired beach house makes it one of the most popular lakefront stretches. After a sunrise yoga session and a dip in the freshwater lake, fill up on beachside burgers from Castaways Bar & Grill. Volleyball courts and free Wi-fi round out the facilities here, which means that you can get fit or stay productive at this urban beach, instead of only getting sun.

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  • 03 of 09

    London

    London's BeachEast
    ••• Courtesy of BeachEast

    A beach in London—who ever would of thought it? Indeed, in the shadow of London's Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, built for the 2012 games, BeachEast is the UK's largest urban beach, with 1,000 tons of sand and a giant splash pool. Hire a deck chair to claim your patch and spend the day hopping between the surf shack-style beach bars and the fun fair rides. Kids will love the daily activities and endless sandcastle competitions. 

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  • 04 of 09

    Philadelphia

    Harbor Spruce Park in Philadelphia
    ••• Photo by M. Edlow for VISIT PHILADELPHIA

    At the edge of the Delaware River, Spruce Street Harbor Park is a favorite summer hangout that combines pop-up restaurants, a floating beer garden, and a hammock-strung lounge. By day you can sip cold brews and play oversized games, including Jenga and chess, and by night the colorful LED lights provide a romantic setting for a riverside stroll. Who knew that Philadelphia was a beach city?

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  • 05 of 09

    Berlin

    Sunbathers on a pier on Berlin's River Spree
    ••• Travelstock44 - Juergen Held/ Getty Images

    Throughout July and August, Berliners make a beeline for the banks of the river Spree for barefoot bathing and beer drinking. There are around 30 sandy spots to choose from and each riverside retreat offers something different. Head to Badeschiff to take a dip in its floating swimming pool made from a 30-meter boat; Rummelsburg for open-air parties, sun loungers and BBQ facilities; and Kufürstendamm to sip cocktails from Ibiza-style day loungers. Make sure, however, not to jump into the water of the Spree—it's definitely not safe for swimming!   

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  • 06 of 09

    Brooklyn Bridge Park, NYC

    Aerial view of Brooklyn Bridge Park's Pop Up Pool and Beach
    ••• Andria Patino/Getty Images

    Combine sun, sand, and skyline views at Brooklyn Bridge Park's Pier 4 beach. Built atop a railroad float transfer bridge, this urban beach doubles as a protected habitat reserve and incorporates an innovative design that mimics natural tidal pools. While you can't swim from the water's edge, you can launch non-motorized boats from here and make like you're in the Hamptons on a luxury yacht. Beach bums who have their hearts set on swimming can visit during the summer, when a seasonal public pool—complete with umbrellas, lounge chairs, and a sandy waiting area—pops up in the park. 

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  • 07 of 09

    Paris

    Paris Plage on the River Siene
    ••• Loic Lagarde/Getty Images

    Channel the Cote d'Azur in the heart of Paris by soaking up the sun on the banks of the river Seine. Throughout July and August you'll find palm tree-studded artificial beaches between Pont Neuf and Pont de Sully, and patches of sand in the 14th and 20th arrondissements. Soak up le sunshine on a lounger or join in with Parisian pursuits including picnicking and petanque. Active types can hit the volleyball courts or take to the water on a kayak. Nice might be Nice, but convenience is the king of France.

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  • 08 of 09

    Toronto

    Bright pink umbrellas on the sand at Toronto's Sugar Beach
    ••• Nino H. Photography/Getty Images

    On the shores of Lake Ontario, Sugar Beach is a pretty patch studded with cotton candy-colored umbrellas, a nod to the nearby sugar refinery from which the beach takes its name. Soak up the sunshine from a cool white Adirondack chair while enjoying the gentle breeze off the lake. There's a tree-lined promenaded for summertime strolls and a grassy mound for outdoor performances.  

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  • 09 of 09

    Vienna

    Strandbar Hermann in Vienna
    ••• MAISANT Ludovic / hemis.fr/ Getty Images

    For schnitzels in the sunshine head to Strandbar Hermann on the banks of the Danube canal. This fun summer spot opens between April and October and is dotted with retro deckchairs so you can shoot the breeze by the waterfront and soak up Vienna's fairy tale skyline views. The bar serves Austrian brews and big sporting events are usually shown on big screens throughout the summer.  Most people associate Austria with the Alps, but thanks to Vienna's urban beach, you might think of it as a coastal country from now on.