Sun, sea and sand in the city - where to find Europe’s best urban beaches
The British capital is some way from the seaside and yet offers a number of beach experiences. In south London, the Brixton Beach Boulevard is a summer pop-up that channels Miami in 1982 on a rooftop. It offers DJs, food and cocktails, accompanied by sand and palm trees. Camden also gets a beach in the form of sand, beach huts, deck chairs and a bar with plenty of refreshments at the Roundhouse. The South Bank has its own beach in the form of Cabana, paying homage to the famous beach in Rio. There is sand, a Brazilian barbecue in a yellow tram, and Brazil's national cocktail - the caipirinha. This all adds up to a seriously beachy good time. Even Brent Cross Shopping Centre has a sandy beach in north-west London. With jugglers, Punch and Judy shows, ice creams, and deck chairs near an area for paddling, this is popular with families.
The Parisian mayor's office organises Paris-Plages (Paris Beaches) along the Seine each summer to give a taste of a holiday to those stuck in town over the warmest months of the year. With all that concrete, Paris can get really hot; therefore, a place to relax and get a tan is very welcome. The tradition started in 2002 and now extends along a canal basin and adopts an annual theme. Last year's successful theme was Tel Aviv; this year's theme is Tunisian paradise. As before, there will be sand, umbrellas and volleyball, plus wine and food stalls to get everyone in the chic seaside - or rather Seine-side - mood.
The Vistula becomes the site of several beach spots in summer, with the banks of this great river transformed with sand and activities such as volleyball, Frisbee-throwing and badminton. Smart bars have installed decking, scattered sun loungers and hold club nights and film screenings. There are now several party spots along the river, including a tropical club featuring cocktails and Latin-inspired entertainment. One beach bar features seating and an array of entertainment, ranging from performances and social events to dancing.
So cool when it comes to urban design, the Dutch also put together a pretty funky beach in the form of Amsterdam Roest. This is east of the city centre and channels a post-industrial seaside recycling aesthetic. There is sand, which is livened up with art made from unwanted junk, plus lots of events and film screenings and a large market hall.
Not generally known for its beach escapes, the Danish capital now has some well-designed urban beaches and harbour bathing, with four locations in the city where people can swim. The Islands Brygge baths, which are architect designed to make the most of the space for lawns offering sunbathing, food stalls and barbecues, are proving very popular. The Danes love to hang out here during warm weather and combine drinking a few beers with a refreshing swim.