Top Five European beach cities

With the ‘staycation’ trend seemingly over and British holidaymakers being once more keen to explore exotic destinations this summer, thanks to the improving economy, it’s the traditional combination of sun, sea and sand that’s winning many people back to enduringly popular coastal cities in Spain and beyond.

When it comes to the Spanish islands, visitors are really spoiled for choice, but can’t go wrong with Majorca, which is home to some of the finest beaches in the Mediterranean. Wherever travellers head across the island, from capital city Palma to the rugged outskirts, they’ll find endless opportunities to relax in a deckchair or enjoy a more active break with water sport activities in the clear sea. Those looking for a lively time on their holiday are equally well catered for, with nightclubs and beach parties at the island’s vibrant resorts.

Heading inland, Spain’s north and south coasts are both home to some of Europe’s biggest beach cities, whether holidaymakers choose to head to the Costa del Sol in the south or Barcelona in the north. Previously best known for its small local communities and traditions, the Sun Coast has exploded into a bustling seaside destination over the past few decades, making cities such as Málaga household names that are synonymous with sunny breaks.

Barcelona also holds its own as an emerging seaside destination, even if the Catalonian city tends to be seen more as a cultural destination by international visitors. The Spanish people certainly aren’t in the dark when it comes to Barcelona’s excellent beaches, spanning 2.5 miles of white sand on the Mediterranean coast – and thanks to extensive redevelopment of Barcelona’s seafront for the 1992 Olympic Games, its beaches now attract around seven million visitors every year.

While Spain may boast the most famous beaches, other European destinations such as Portugal are also enduringly popular for beach breaks, particularly the holiday region of the Algarve. The subtropical climate of Portuguese capital Faro makes it a favoured destination year-round for sun-seekers, while cultural explorers also have much to discover in the city’s fascinating historic architecture.

For all the high temperatures and exotic experiences of mainland Europe, those looking for a beach break closer to home can still find much to satisfy when staying in the UK, especially when heading to the seaside capital of Brighton. Long a favoured destination for Londoners looking to get out of the city, Brighton has come a long way since the heyday of the mods and rockers in the 60s, and is now a top family destination with fantastic entertainments on offer. So whether you prefer city breaks in England or further afield in Europe’s top beach cities, the traditional summer holiday is alive and well in 2010.

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