Holidays are fond memories of life. The time to sit back and relax, forget the stress of work and soak up some much-needed sunshine. But do you go for the cosmopolitan appeal of a city break? Or look to catch some sun rays on an exotic beach holiday? It can be a tough decision! So why not try a city break destination that also has a beach?
Here are two of Europe’s most loved city beach break destinations…
Palma is the capital city of Majorca and the Balearics. The cosmopolitan city is an enchanting mix of history and modern attractions, creating a chic buzz for visitors. Being a commercial and cultural center, there is an abundance of nightclubs and restaurants as well as historical and cultural sights to visit, sample and enjoy. The city also enjoys an efficient public transport system in comparison to the rest of Majorca.
There are a constant stream of concerts, exhibitions, festivals, ballet and other events as expected from a capital city, with cultural listings available at Tourist Information Offices. Some essential sights include the Gothic Cathedral, a stunning souvenir of Majorca’s turbulent past. Visitors should also look to visit Oliver Market, a covered food market displaying a vast array of food. A great chance to where you can get to know some of the locals. Again, sights are generally more likely than those of Barcelona to be oriented towards residents than holiday makers, good if you want to experience authentic Balearic life.
Palma offers a variety of cuisines, with many good restaurants located along side streets of Passig d’es Born and Avinguda d’Antoni and the Llotja district. Particularly good for traditional Spanish tapas dishes are the popular La Boveda on Calle Boteria, and Burladero.
Playa de Palma is a 6km stretch of sandy beach between C’an Pastilla to El Arenal. Although it is actually about 10km away from the city of Palma, there are good public transport links between Palma city center and its beach. A wide pedestrian promenade joins Playa de Palma, C’an Pastilla and El Arenal, and there is also a ‘mini-train’ running along the promenade. Around 15 ‘Balnaerios’, small beach huts, are situated along the beach to provide bathroom facilities as well as drinks and snacks. Parts of Playa de Palma are very popular with young holidaymakers spending time in the clubs and bars, so may appeal more to those wishing to join in rather than families. Similarly to Barcelona, the other smaller beaches near Palma offer less crowded spots.
The incredibly lively city of Barcelona showcases a constant stream and variety of cultural events and festivals, with plenty of laid back bars and cafes to relax and spectate from. The party atmosphere is balanced with rich historical and cultural sights, and there are a variety of beaches, some closer than others to the city, with varying levels of activity and peace. Although not known for being the best place to sample traditional Spanish cuisine, there are a multitude of restaurants, some of them excellent.
The unusual Gaudi architecture is at the center of Barcelona’s appeal, the biggest and most popular examples being the playground-like Park Guell and the iconic Temple of Sagrada Familia, where Gaudi is buried. Some excellent galleries show more contemporary work from around the world. A stroll along ‘Las Rambla’ is a good way to get a feel for Barcelona, and experience its laid-back party atmosphere well into the small hours.
Although Barcelona is not known as the most important Spanish culinary destination, there are plenty of smaller traditional tapas bars provide excellent quality and variety, El Xampanyet on Calle Montcada offers homemade cava and a specialty of sundried tomatoes and spicy ‘picante.’ The other great culinary tradition is paella, and most of the best paella and seafood restaurants are situated near the sea front. There are plenty of other cuisines to sample, particularly some good Japanese restaurants, but it is sometimes best to avoid more touristy restaurants, as although they often boast picturesque locations the prices sometimes don’t reflect the quality of food.
Although Barceloneta beach is the closest area of beach to the city center, only about a 20-minute walk from the end of Las Rambla, and is well facilitated with many beach huts offering drinks and snacks and watersports equipment, it can get very busy during summer months. Barcelona also caters for those preferring to avoid crowds, however, with Sitges beach being further from the city but offering a much quieter spot for sunbathing
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