These are the best destinations for a city break with a beach
The maxim goes that you cannot have your cake and eat it, but when it comes to planning the perfect holiday, we beg to differ...
There really is no time like the present to book your next holiday. Alongside beating the expensive rush that awaits unlucky jet-setters who hold off booking until summer — getting your plans in place now means that you have a sun soaked glow in sight at the end of this winter-month tunnel.
Yet, there is a dilemma to be faced for those getting ahead of the game with their plans: do you opt for a chic city break or a relaxing beach holiday? Fortunately, there are a shiny handful of locations out there which mean that you don’t have to choose.
Once again, we’ve called on friends at two world-renowned luxury travel agents, Abercrombie & Kent and Black Tomato, to give us their top recommendations for unusual winter destinations.
Here are the hotspots which offer the best of both: a buzzy urban life right next to stretches of golden sand.
For a cultural gem: Barcelona
Running from Passeig de Gracia down to Platja de la Barceloneta, a trip to Barcelona can take you from a private tour of Gaudi’s La Pedrera to a luxury yacht sailing down the coastline in a heartbeat. A stunning ocean-side city that pulsates with vibrant energy and bursts with rich colours and jaw-dropping design, each corner in the city belies something different.
Within equal walking distance, you can choose between quaint hole-in-the-wall tapas bars in El Bron, to Michelin-starred Catalan gastronomy at La Mesa. By day, enjoy taking in world famous art and architecture — or head to the beach and spend your afternoons surfing.
Confident and full of character, here is a city with an immediate answer to every possible craving.
For a slice of history: Dubrovnik
Discover the beauty and elegance of Croatia’s most popular city on the Abercrombie & Kent Dubrovnik city break. Their expert guides will take you into the heart of Dubrovnik’s exquisite old town, which is ringed by medieval city walls.
As you explore the narrow alleyways and squares on our Dubrovnik tours, you’ll come across an enchanting collection of Baroque and Renaissance architecture. Head to the harbour where small vessels take you out to nearby islands.
And, if the beach beckons, choose from Banje Beach by the city walls, or the longer stretches on the neighbouring districts of Lapad and Babin Kuk.
For a far-flung escape: Sydney
A hotbed for Aussie surf-culture, Sydney and its beaches bear an almost irresistible pull. Experience the balance of adventure and relaxation that makes this coastline one of the most legendary in the world as you go straight from the harbourfront hangout of the Park Hyatt into the Tasman Sea for a private surfing lesson — all before hanging up your wetsuit over a laid-back lunch at the renowned Bondi Iceberg restaurant.
For the perfect city-to-beach contrast, the evening can then see you switch from board shorts to coat tails with a night at the world-famous Opera House (complete with VIP backstage access and dinner at the much-lauded Bennelong should you book with Black Tomato). Walking back along Circular Quay in the evening with the city skyline lit up around you, enjoy a rare moment of tranquillity in this pulsating city.
For keeping ahead of the Zeitgeist: Cartagena
Every year sees a new Latin American destination coming into the spotlight. This year, according to Black Tomato, it’s Colombia’s turn in the spotlight. And, more specifically, the vibrant city of Cartagena. Oozing with romance, but also touting buzzy nightlife, top shelf fresh catch and surprisingly impressive wellness offerings, the colonial city is also well-placed for a quick island-hopping adventure through the Caribbean sea.
After a couple of nights getting to know the best cevicherias and learning to salsa in the best clubs, hop aboard a private yacht to the Colombian idyll of Las Islas where the waters of the Parque Nacional Natural Corales del Rosario y de San Bernardo are at your fingertips and unfettered relaxation is the order of the day.
For unbeatable skylines: Dubai
Rising out of the desert, the city of Dubai is a place that is constantly reinventing itself. Huge skyscrapers, the world’s best shopping malls and ancient Bedouin heritage combine to create a unique Dubai city break experience.
Enjoy a private half day tour with one of the expert guides at Abercrombie & Kent, and stay at a selection of excellent hotels. Bookings will include return flights and a concierge service, which can book additional private tours, restaurants and spa treatments, to tailor your Dubai tour to cater to all your needs.
For incomparable luxury: Cape Town
Whenever struck by a bout of indecision as to the next travel destination, Cape Town can always provide the answer. Long-haul but with none of the jet lag, this vibrant city at the very tip of the African continent has everything to offer.
Aside from the sprawling plains of the Kruger and Sabi Sands to the North (not to mention the refined vineyards of Franschhoek and the Constantia Valley), Cape Town is paradise for city slickers looking to go straight from the street to the surf.
See the ocean in whatever way you like best: on a hike from Cape Peninsula up to Lions Head; from the waves on a private surfing lesson; from the rooftop pools of The Silo and Cape Grace – or on a paragliding adventure with a panoramic perspective.
For the celebrity treatment: Miami
A city that swings to its own rhythm, from Key West to South Beach, a couple of days exploring Miami offers a taste of extravagance and energy that you’ll never forget. United under the shine of the Southern sun we see so little of, this city is everything you imagine it to be.Head to Miami for its honeycomb beaches, lofty palms and beautiful people.
Bright scenes of Old Havana or the Wynwood Art District will always make for good places to begin — each flooded with colour and life. Then, spend time in the company of the locals and artists, before hitting the beach and watching the world go by.
The best beaches in Miami, however, aren’t always found on your doorstep. So, for something extra special, take to the skies on a private Havilland plane and head for lunch on a private island. Leave it to Black Tomato to organise the finer details!
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