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Two birds with one stone! 11 ideal cities to enjoy both a beach and city holiday

Do you pin importance on determining what type of holiday you want and how best to utilize your time? Do you want to an adventure-filled holiday getting lost in every corner of a city? Or do you fancy exploration paired with relaxation, soaking up the sun on a beach? In either case, it’s best to opt for a city by the sea, that way, in between city adventures you can rest and restore your energy on a sand swept beach. We have compiled a list of ideal city destinations situated by the seashore for you to explore. Antalya and Izmir in Turkey, Miami in America, Phuket in Thailand, Zanzibar in Africa, Barcelona in Spain, Lisbon in Portugal, Nice and Marseilles in France, Amalfi Coast in Italy and Athens in Greece, are some stunning destinations for you to fulfill your city escape and relaxing beach requirements.

1. A perfect destination all year round: Antalya

Offering both relaxing and adventure-filled holiday options, Antalya draws in millions of tourists annually, with a seashore that stretches for miles, rich history, vibrant scenes, and city life, there is much to explore. Dive into pristine seawater at the private/public beaches of Lara and Konyaaltı, situated in the city center. 40 minutes away from Antalya, fulfil your sun, sea and sand needs at nearby cities, Alanya, Side, Boğazkent, Belek, Kundu, Beldibi, Göynük, Kemer, Tekirova, Çamyuva, Çıralı, Olimpos, Adrasan, Kekova, Kaş, Kalkan and Patara. Depending on your preference, you can choose to stay at a 5-star hotel, a bungalow, or camp at certain campsites. When it comes to tourism and history, one of the best places to explore the city is Kaleiçi, where you can find Saat Kulesi (Clock Tower), Yivli Minare (Minaret), Hadrian’s Gate, Kesik Minare (Minaret) and Hıdırlık Tower. There are also plenty of tours on offer in this area. Don’t forget to explore the hidden historical gems of Antalya. The Ancient Site of Olympos is a good start. Myra, Phaselis, Perge, Patara and the Ancient City of Side are also well worth a visit. Additionally, there are in city rafting options, in areas surrounded by luscious scenerey, such as Saklıkent Canyon, Manavgat, Uçansu, Kurşunlu, Düden Waterfalls and Karain Cave. Whilst lapping up the beauty of Antalya, whether by the sea or in the city, make sure to try the superb Mediterranean cuisine.

Must-try dishes!

  • Hülüklü soup
  • Piyaz (White bean dish)
  • Turunçgil reçelleri (citrus jams)

2. City and sea combined: Izmir

Another beautiful destination in Turkey for a seaside city experience is Izmir. Situated on the Aegean coast, Izmir is home to beautiful scenery, historical places, cultural diversity, and incredible cuisine. Some great places to discover in Izmir are the Izmir Clock Tower, Kemeraltı Bazaar, Kadifekale, Kordon, Kıbrıs Şehitleri Street, Tarihi Asansör (Historical Elevator), Passport Pier and Cumhuriyet Square, Aziz Voukolos and St. Polycarp Church. Some nearby locations boasting bays and beautiful beaches, approximately 30 minutes away from the city center are Çeşme, Alaçatı, Urla, Dikili, Seferihisar, Karaburun, Gümüldür, and Özdere. Alaçatı is a great location for surfing and if you visit during the spring you may catch the Alaçatı Ot (herb) Festival. This festival hosts a variety of exciting events that celebrate the delicious flavors of Aegean cuisine. You can also visit the ancient site of Ephesus in Selçuk or Bergama, just South of Izmir. Everywhere you go you will come across humble establishments that serve the local food of Aegean cuisine.

Must-try dishes!

  • Boyoz
  • Ege otları (Aegean weeds)
  • Kumru

3. Explore the cinematic city of Miami

Many films have been shot in Miami. The vibrant atmosphere, sweeping beaches and unique architecture lend to its aesthetically pleasing allure, making it the perfect location for a city adventure and beach holiday wrapped in one. There are plenty of city activities to enjoy when you are not sunbathing on Miami Beach and South Beach. The 2 km long Ocean Drive with scenic views and interesting buildings, is a prime location in Miami. There are plenty of hotels, restaurants and shopping centers to be found on Ocean Drive as well as beaches. Visit the lively locations Lincoln Road, Bay Side, Key West and Bayfront Park for shopping and American cuisine. Stop by America’s third largest reservation area Everglades National Park where you can go on a tour of crocodiles and take pictures from the observatory tower. Enjoy the beauty of nature at Jungle Island and Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. At Little Cuba, also known as Little Havana, there are countless events concerning music and cinema along with art galleries. There are organized tours that take you on tours of world-famous celebrity houses. As most cities in America there are tons of outlet shopping centers where you can find world-famous brands for reasonable prices.

Must-try dishes!

  • Picadillo
  • Ropa Vieja
  • Pasteles de Coco
  • Miami Burger
  • Manuelita
  • Tostones
  • Medianoche

4. Swim with monkeys and feed elephants and tigers!

When it comes to Thailand, the beautiful island of Phuket makes for a dream beach holiday, that is also full of culturally rich places for you to explore. For shopping and entertainment, Chalong Bay is a great location in Phuket. On your visit to Chalong Bay, make sure to stop by Big Buddha, one of the most significant and respected places on the island. The temples in Phuket are a must-see, particularly Wat Chalong Temple. Old Phuket is a completely different scene, as it is home to many historical buildings and a great place to purchase local goods. On the subject of local goods, there are nightly markets in Phuket. Phuket Fanta Sea is a theme park in the city. Spend time with elephants that roam freely in wildlife and take safari tours at the Phuket Elephant Sanctuary. Learn about and observe tigers at the Tiger Kingdom. Promthep Cape and Karon Observatory Point are some great spots to watch the sunset and the sunrise over Phuket. Phuket is home to must-see beautiful beaches, such as Karon Beach, Kata Beach and Monkey Beach, a beach where you can swim with monkeys. Enjoy the sea at Nai Harn and Patong Beach during the day then take part in events and enjoy local delicacies at famous restaurants by night. Don’t forget to explore the famous Phi Phi Islands of Phuket and Ko Tapu.

Must-try dishes!

  • Blue crab
  • Khao Khai Chiao
  • Khao Tom

5. Diving has never been this much fun!

Zanzibar, one of the hidden gems of the Indian Ocean, has much to offer with city life, beautiful beaches, historical sites, lush scenery, and wildlife. Zanzibar is home to more than just white sandy beaches; it is also steeped in a rich history and boasts many historical sites. One of the best places to discover Zanzibar's past is Stone Town. One of the most important tourist destinations in Tanzania at large, Stone Town was known for its slave and spice trade back in the day. A region filled with 19th-century architecture, and a fusion of Arabic, Indian, Persian and European cultures. Shop at Stone Town and visit Old Fort, Old Dispensary, Anglican Cathedral, Roman Catholic Cathedral. Visit Queen soloist Freddie Mercury’s house on your Stone Town adventure and see Darajani Market. You can also explore Beit El-Sahel, Beit El-Ajaib and Forodhani Gardens in Zanzibar. Check out the spice bazaars of Zanzibar, famous among spice merchants. On the farm, you can learn how to grow herbs such as anise, cloves, and peppers. Dive into the natural wonder of Zanzibar on the daily or weekly wildlife tours. Be amazed by the red Colobus monkey, Servaline Genet, and Zanzibar leopards. Then there are the beaches. Each more beautiful than the next, you will be mesmerized by Bwejuu, Michamvi, Nungwi, Kendwa, Matemwe-Kiwengwa, Pongwe, and Paje/Jambiani. You can try diving here amongst a handful of other water sports. After a peaceful day at the beach, you can dine at a restaurant atop a rock, that is frequently on social media. Just one of many restaurants in which you can enjoy the Tanzanian culture and cuisine.

Must-try dishes!

  • Biryani
  • Zanzibar pizza
  • Sorpotel
  • Pweza wa nazi
  • Urojo

6. A vast coast, an endless city: Barcelona

Barcelona is ideal for city holidays entwined with relaxation on the beach. The vast coast of Barcelona runs for miles and is filled with private and public beaches, with plenty of places for you to enjoy local Spanish delicacies. Just 15 minutes South of the city center enjoy sand sea and sun at Castelldefels. Outside of Barcelona, you can enjoy the Costa Brava beach. Barcelona is a wonderful city to explore full of endless discoveries. One of the most important examples of the Art Nouveau architectural style, Antoni Gaudi works are among the first things you should view in the city, such as Sagrada Familia, Casa Mila, Casa Battlo and Park Guell. Catalunya Square, Tibidabo, Barri Gotic, Montjuic Hill, Poble Espanyol, La Rambla Street, fruit and vegetable market La Boqueria, Camp Nou Stadium, Picasso Museum, Barcelona Cathedral, Catalonian International Art Museum, Parc de la Ciutadella and Santa Maria del Mar Basilica are some must-see locations. You can enjoy flamenco performances on the streets, at contracted hotels, or, at more affordable prices you can watch short shows at bars and restaurants on side streets.

Must-try dishes!

  • Paella
  • Tapas
  • Arros Negre
  • Pa amb tomaquet
  • Niu
  • Picada

7. Time to ride the yellow tramway!

Lisbon, the city where Europe meets the sea, is another ideal location for beach and city fun. The beaches of Lisbon offer up many water activities to enjoy, from surfing to swimming. On the route from Lisbon to Cascais you will find a variety of beaches to enjoy, bathe, swim and surf on. Setubal and Almada, on the opposite coast also host a variety of water sports. Lisbon is comprised of three regions Baixa, Bairro Alto, and Alfama, which boast a rich history and culture. There is a passionate musical genre named fado dedicated to the scar that the city carries after an earthquake in 1775, in which people trying to escape from the natural catastrophe took to the sea to escape, never to return. The old region of Alfama you can find restaurants that play fado music. Another must-see destination in Lisbon is Praça do Comercio. There you can find Trade Square and enjoy yourself at several cafes and restaurants. Rossio Square and Largo do Carmo square are also enjoyable spots to visit. Make sure to visit Sao Jorge Castle, the Santa Justa Elevator, Lisbon Cathedral, Padrão dos Descobrimentos Memorial, Belem Tower, Jeronimos Monastery, Pena Palace, The Pink Street, Time Out Market, Sintra International Palace, and Regaleira Palace. Don’t forget to see the famous number 28 tramway and Lisbon’s oldest bookshop Bertrand bookshop. If you have spare time, make sure to visit Sintra, not too far from Lisbon, then the Cabo da Roca, just 30 minutes away.

Must-try dishes!

  • Pasteis De Belem / Pastel Da Nata
  • Bacalhau
  • Sardines

8. The best of the Cote d’Azur region: Nice

The Cote d'Azur region, with its beautiful beaches and towns, is the perfect location for those who want to make the most of the city and the sea. Nice, the largest city in the Cote d'Azur region is home to lush scenery, vast coasts, and rich history. There are various things for you to do on the pristine beaches that line the city. The famous Promenade des Anglais Boulevard with the Angel Bay is a must-see. The route from Cannes to the region of Juan Les Pins is a delight with a stunning crystal clear coastline lined with sandy beaches, a favorite amongst yacht owners. At Juan Les Pins you can also visit Antibes, where Pablo Picasso lived. Enjoy the Nice beaches Castel, Ponchettes, Beau Rivage, Galion, and Hi then sample French cuisine at one of the many restaurants on the coast. Cours Saleya is another great spot for French cuisine. After a relaxing day on the beach, you can go on a city tour of Nice. Vieux Nice, Massena Square, Massena Museum, Nice Castle and Flower Market are situated in the old quarters of Nice.

Must-try dishes!

  • Niçoise
  • Pissaladiere
  • Socca
  • Ratatouille

9. Enjoy the beach by day, a romantic dinner at night: Amalfi Coast

South Italy is a beautiful region for city exploration and seaside relaxation. The pastel, picturesque tones of the Italian houses, the untouched historical atmosphere, and the quaint beaches of Napoli, Salerno, Amalfi, Ravello, Positano, Sorento, and the Amalfi Coast will meet all of your beach and city expectations. Each has numerous private or public beaches for you to enjoy. On your Amalfi Coast discovery, you should drop by Capri, Ischia island and of course the ancient site Pompei. Wander the lemon-scented streets of the Amalfi Coast and explore the little squares, where you will come across many souvenir shops. Trace the entire coast by car or on organized ferryboat tours. The Amalfi Coast is home to wonderful interpretations and takes of Italian cuisine. The restaurants on the Amalfi Coast boast a variety of delicious pizza, pasta, and seafood dishes.

Must-try dishes!

  • Scialatielli ai frutti di mare
  • Spaghetti alle vongole
  • Mozzarella
  • Provolone del Monaco

10. A port city doused in a French bohemian spirit: Marseilles

Marseilles, like Cannes, is another ideal spot for strolling and enjoying sea, sand and sun in the Cote d’Azur region. 2,500 years of history, beaches and vibrant atmosphere make it a great destination for city exploration. With approximately 300 days of sunshine the city had copious amounts of private or public beaches on offer as well as beaches stretching 70 km. Bathe and swim to your hearts content before heading to on of the many special French restaurants that line the coast. You can reach the Calanques National Park on a boat tour, and make the most of the turquoise sea water, sand and sunshine. The old harbour is one of the best places to explore in the city, bustling with restaurants all hours of the day. Sit back and feast on the local cuisine, fish soup is a must try local delicacy. Don’t forget to take photos under the mirrored ceiling. Other important locations to add to your list are Notre Dame de la Garde, Marseille Cathedral, Château d’If, Saint Nicolas Castle, Panier Region, Cantini Museum, Europe and Mediterranean Civilisations Museum. You can also explore the city on the Le Petit Train. On your Marseilles travels, don’t forget to pick up some special soap for your loved one. It is also worth getting some cactus and sedum too.

Must-try dishes!

  • Bouillabaisse
  • Navette
  • Moules Marinière
  • Tapenade
  • Panisse
  • Pissaladière

11. The beauty Mykonos and Santorini!

When it comes to Greece, the most popular holiday destinations are Mykonos, Santorini, Corfu, and Hydra. Recently Athens has been stealing the limelight and making the list as an ideal beach and city holiday destination. It’s easy to get to the beach, you just hop on the metro. Vouliagmeni, Glyfada, Varkiza, Lagonissi are popular beaches near the city. They are called the Athens Riviera, which holds the Blue Flag award, promises an unforgettable seaside experience with rocky bays combined with sparking emerald bays. This region offers many alternatives for you to have a pleasant time doing other water activities with its hot springs water sports and sailing opportunities. There are many marinas in the area where you can sail to the beach and small villages, and islands near Athens. Make sure to go on a sailing trip by night and watch the city illuminated by the full moon. You can visit the Temple of Poseidon the Athenian Riviera and tunnels in the Lavrio port. There are plenty of places to eat on the beaches of Athens. The restaurants offer local delicacies, seafood in particular.

Must-try dishes!

  • Koulouri
  • Lathera
  • Mageirefta
  • Gemista
  • Akane