01 Langholmen Stockholm
Forget imported sand — this is a real beach on a tiny city-centre island, just a 10-minute walk from the subway. The scenic spot is ideal to enjoy a picnic or a refreshing dip, but it can get crowded. Stay at the STF Långholmen Hostel nearby (a former prison) to be able to lay your beach towel down early.
02 Roest Amsterdam
Open year-round, this trendy waterside complex has a beach area, terrace bars, concert hall, theatre and exhibition space. Head along for barbecues, beach volleyball and a party vibe, plus cheap local beer on tap.
03 Royal Docks London
On a sweltering summer’s day, this engineered sandy oasis has cool river breezes, watersports and relaxed fun on the fake beach. Join in art workshops, watch theatre performances, listen to live music and arrive in style via the Emirates Air Line cable car. Open mid-July to end of August.
04 Plages Paris
Every summer the banks of the Seine are taken over by makeshift sandy beaches bedecked with sunloungers and parasols. Swimming is prohibited at the main stretch between Pont Neuf and Pont de Sully; for watersports, head to the lakeside beach at Bassin de la Villette. Open 18 July-21 August.
05 Le Bain Brussels
Palm trees, truckloads of fine sand, cocktail bars, massage pagodas and food huts transform the area around the Sainctelette into an exotic beach resort. Settle down on a deckchair to watch films and concerts or, for something a little livelier, jump aboard a party boat. Open 1 July-7 August.
Published in the June 2016 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)