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Sun, sea and city skylines

So many places to visit and not enough time! Ever had that feeling? The decision of where to go next can be particularly vexing. Often it may come down to having to choose between exploring a wonderful city and stretching out on golden beach sands.

But with proper planning you can get the best of both worlds – feel the warm sun, listen to the soothing sound of gently crashing waves in a cool breeze and admire the bright lights of a city skyline in the background, seething with history and rich culture!

The Flexicover Team pick some of the often under-rated urban beach destinations on offer.

Barceloneta Beach, Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona is a wonderful ‘citybreak’ destination, packed with outdoor markets, restaurants, shops, museums, art galleries and medieval churches. The waterfront, transformed for the 1992 Olympic Games, is now one of Europe’s most popular hangouts. From the Olympic Port end of the beach, the famous fish-shaped sculpture rises up and you can find a great variety of entertainment and the Arts Hotel, reportedly Barcelona’s classiest hotel. On the beach itself there are facilities for activities such as volleyball and sumo wrestling (with fat suits), whilst the smooth onshore winds offer perfect conditions for kitesurfing and windsurfing. For those up for a workout, check out the free open-air gym on the beach.

Gordon-Frishman Beach, Tel Aviv, Israel

The Israeli capital boasts 13 beaches that span more than eight miles of the Mediterranean coast. Gordon-Frishman Beach is the closest to the city and as you stroll on the golden sands you will see scores of kite surfers and people playing matkot, a type of beach tennis which is unofficially the national sport. DJs and volleyball courts keep the crowds entertained. Changing rooms and freshwater showers are dotted along its length of the beach. One of the main attractions is the salt water pool, perfect for an early morning workout. On Fridays many locals take a short journey south to Dolphinarian Beach for the weekly music festival to get the weekend off to a rousing start!

Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia

Just as famous as Sydney’s Opera House or the Harbour Bridge are the city’s beaches. Within minutes of the centre of the city is probably the most famous, Bondi Beach, a 1km crescent of sand bounded by a variety of shops, hole-in-the-wall bars and fancy seaside restaurants. It’s a world-class surfing destination, synonymous with the laid-back Aussie lifestyle and a melting pot of crowds. Between May and October keep an eye out and you may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of migrating humpback whales!

Sun City, Kiev, Ukraine

Kiev is a modern capital city but contains many monuments, museums, theatres, libraries and universities – including the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, one of the oldest educational institutions in Europe. Despite being hundreds of kilometres from the sea, the area has 75km of sandy beaches stretched along the banks of the Dnipr River. Sun City is a beach club, easily reachable by metro. Most visitors prefer to tan on the beach and freshen up in the two swimming pools the club features. If you are feeling opulent, try the VIP section. The admission fee is £4 - £5.50 depending on the day of the week and kids go free! Next to the VIP area is a beach where you can play volleyball or just top up your tan and swim - admission is around 10 hryvnas, less than £1!

Jumeirah Beach Park, Dubai, UAE

Dubai, a tax-free zone (some call it “Do Buy”), enjoys a reputation as the world’s premier shopping destination, with numerous state-of-the-art shopping malls featuring popular international brands and where you can stroll through the dazzling gold souks, housing well over one hundred gold, platinum and diamond shops too. After some retail therapy and a trip up the Observation Deck of the Burj Khalifa (at 2,615 ft, the tallest tower in the world), head for the pristine waters of Jumeirah Beach - only 15 minutes away. You can sit in the shadow of the world famous Burj Al-Arab “7-star” hotel and the wide expanse of silver sand and blue warm Arabian Sea offers endless water sports opportunities, with sea temperatures ranging from 22°C in winter up to 35°C in summer. The beach park is scattered with cafes and the picnic spots are equipped with barbecue grills and wooden benches, perfect for families!

Beach London, UK

At the end of this month, the largest man-made beach in Europe is set to open in the shadow of the O2 arena in Greenwich, south London - just in time for the Olympic Games. This ambitious project is built on old industrial site and offers a stunning backdrop of the Canary Wharf skyscrapers. Using tons of special sand shipped from Norfolk, which apparently has just the right consistency so it won’t blow away yet still be fine enough to give ‘a Caribbean white sand’ feel, Londoners and visitors alike will be able to play in the volleyball court, relax in various pop-up restaurants and bars and, during the Olympics, big screens will be showing live coverage of all the events. Roll on London...

Wherever you decide to travel to soak up the sun or amble along to experience the sights and sounds of a city and its beaches, Flexicover Direct, the travel insurance specialist, is committed to providing the highest level of protection to ensure that you are safe and secure, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year when away.

If you are travelling soon, have a great trip!