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There is something really special about a city that’s on the sea. You get the best of both worlds, with beach life jamming straight up against city life, and the two melding perfectly together. You can be shopping one minute and stripping down to your swimmers the next, visiting a museum in the morning, taking a dip in the afternoon. Come evening time you can enjoy the last of the sun with a BBQ in the sand or eat out at a restaurant overlooking the sea.

There are lots of beachside cities in the world, but which one would you prefer? Here at World First we’re big fans of San Sebastian, for all kinds of reasons, not least of all is the fact that it's Spain's gastronomic capital.  However, we thought it’d be good to find out what other travel blogs and experts think. So we did a bit of a trawl and found what we think are six of the best city beaches in the world. What do you think? Where would you go to get your fix of culture and seaside?

San Sebastian, Spain

La Concha is San Sebastian’s famous, shell-like crescent of gorgeous sands around which the city has been built. It’s a hip hang out, with safe swimming and pontoons to dive off when you need to impress the locals. The old city, with its narrow shop filled streets, also has its share of the best tapas (or Pinxos as it’s known locally) anywhere in Spain. Across the river you’ll find Zurriola, San Sebastian’s surf beach. Don’t be surprised to see surfers in wetsuits sharing the pavement with business men in suits. A true cultural mix.


We stay in Spain for National Geographic’s  favourite beachside city. It’s got a fantastic, mile-long seafront at Barceloneta Beach, a legacy of the 1992 Olympics. The city is full of architectural wonders in the form of Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia church, his Park Guell  and the Illa de la Discordia, where five buildings, aeach designed by a different architect, showcase the creativity of the Catalan modernist era. Oh, and Barcelona also has a lively nightlife and plenty of fantastic restaurants. And it’s all just a few hours from the UK.

Camp’s Bay, Cape Town, South Africa

The Luxury Travel Expert, a very popular travel blogger rates Camp’s Bay as one of the finest city beaches anywhere. He says “Having travelled extensively around the world, I consider Camps Bay (and the neighbouring Clifton and Landudno beaches) in Cape Town to be the most beautiful city beach in the world. During South Africa’s summer months, the beach attracts sun lovers from all corners of the globe as it is the ideal location for sunbathing, beach sports, people-watching and relaxing.” Camp’s Bay has surf, excellent diving and a famous market where you can buy trinkets and curios from all over Africa.

Ipanema, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

The girls from Ipanema, according to CNN Travel, makes Rio’s most famous beach one of the world’s best. If you like clean, white sand and the world’s finest people watching that is. It is the stuff of legend. Away from the teeny weeny itsy bitsy bikinis there’s plenty more to Rip to keep you amused, including the Lapa Neighbourhood and arches, the Sugarloaf Mountain and the Christ Redeemer statue, which at 710 metres above the sea, presides over the whole city. Of course Ipanema isn’t the only beach in Rio. Who could forget Copacabana? Not us. Night life abounds…

Sydney, Australia

Fodors Travel rates the Australian city as being among the world’s best. Why? “Sydneysiders are spoiled for choice when it comes to the beach. Once you've seen the Opera House, the Royal Botanic Gardens, and toured Sydney's museums, it's time to hit the beach. Bondi is the closest to the city centre and arguably its best surfing spot. Don't miss the 4 Pines Brewing Company here, and brave souls can dive with sharks at Manly Sea Life Sanctuary. To beat the crowds, try one of Sydney's lesser known beaches such as Balmoral or Bronte. The Adina Apartment Hotel Bondi Beach is just one block from the beach.” The verdict? If you can, go!

Venice Beach, LA

The Rough Guides has some surprising beaches on its list of The Best Cities with Sand, but it also has some firm favourites. One of them is Venice Beach, Los Angeles, where you’ll find a veritable cornucopia of life. They say: “West LA’s Venice Beach is a people-watching paradise. Ocean Front Walk is lined with surf shops, ice cream parlours and street vendors, and a never-ending circus of stilt-walkers, jugglers and fortune-tellers play to the eclectic crowd of power walkers, cyclists, rollerbladers and skateboarders. “  So don’t expect to have it to yourself. No matter, solitude isn’t what you come to LA for.

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