Sand and cities don't naturally go together, but they're matched to perfection at lidos, pop-up beaches and metro lakesides from Paris to Prague, via sandy Vienna.
Unless otherwise indicated, these urban beaches are free and open year round.
Strandbad Wannsee, Berlin
Best for: Sun-worshippers
A 20-minute train ride from central Berlin, on the banks of the Wannsee Lake, gets you to the largest inland lido (urban public swimming spot) in Europe -- the swimming and sunbathing areas together cover around 35 hectares.
Berliners have been heading here with their beach towels since 1907 to kick back on the 1,275-meter stretch of sand, shipped in from the Baltic Sea.
There's beach volleyball and giant chess games, a water slide into the lake and a nudist area.
Strandbad Wannsee; open until September 29, 2013; admission €4.50 adults, €2.80 children.
Lido di Venezia, Venice, Italy
Best for: Celeb spotting
Venice has its own version of Palm Beach in the form of the Lido (after which many, generally less impressive European swimming areas are named), an 11-kilometer-long sandbar, reached by ferry, that separates the Venetian Lagoon from the Adriatic Sea.
One of the loveliest areas is the WWF-protected sandy dunes at Alberoni. Rare bee-eater birds are often seen here.
Visit the Lido during August and you may spot George Clooney or Helen Mirren -- big Hollywood names come for the Venice Film Festival (August 28 to September 7, 2013), held at the grand Palazzo del Cinema.
For more about Venice and the Lido de Venezia, visit Turismo Venezia.
Barceloneta, Barcelona, Spain
Best for: Beach architecture
At Barceloneta, the city's former fisherman's quarter, you'll find Barcelona's largest, most centrally located and most popular beach.
At a mere hint of sunshine, locals beeline for the three-kilometer-long ribbon of sand.
Arrive early if you want a decent spot.
The beach is lined with strange architectural wonders, including a giant golden fish sculpture by celebrated American architect Frank Gehry, and a three-story-tall leaning tower of steel boxes, the work of German sculptor Rebecca Horn.
For more about Barcelona and Barceloneta beach visit Barcelona Turisme.
Blijburg aan Zee, Amsterdam
Best for: Night owls
Amsterdammers come to this wide stretch of sand when they want to feel the sand beneath their feet, but don't want to schlep all the way to the coast.
The beach is on IJburg, a collection of artificial islands east of the city center.