Lucy Thackray
Lucy Thackray



The world’s hottest beach cities right now

What could be better than a summer city break? One with a side of breezy beach living, that’s what. Sunday Times Travel Magazine’s commissioning editor, Lucy Thackray, shows us how to splash out in the coolest beach cities for 2019

01 Barcelona

Barcelona, Spain

Ever cool and coveted, Barcelona’s hip ’hood Sant Antoni is the place to base yourself – not least for its 19th-century market, Mercat de Sant Antoni, which reopened last summer to great fanfare. Or make early reservations for Enigma, the sculptural, surreal restaurant from Albert Adrià, not far away. Tapas should be nibbled on at Gula Bar; lattes sipped at Satan’s Coffee Corner; cocktails downed at Antigua Compañia de las Indias; and don’t forget to nose around Gaudí-designed Casa Vicens, which opened to the public last year. After all that, make your way to Ibiza-feel Barceloneta Beach for seafront aperitifs.
Must-stay: Two new designer numbers with glam rooftops opened within the last year: rarefied Ian Schrager creation The Edition and modernist stunner Sir Victor.

02 Cape Town

Cape Town, South Africa

No longer merely the gateway to South Africa’s wider charms, the Mother City is stealing the spotlight. The most wow-factor hotel is still 2017 opening The Silo, which is part architectural curiosity, part bold interiors project with huge windows overlooking Table Mountain and the South Atlantic. But April opening Gorgeous George might just be vying for its title. Food-wise, trendsetters should head to FYN for octopus maki with ink mayonnaise, while chintzy Athletic Club & Social is made for a nightcap. Next morning, a sunrise drive to Boulders Beach will have you lounging with a colony of beady-eyed African penguins (there’s an £8 entry fee); or drive the 20 minutes to one of the four Clifton Beaches, instead.
Must-eat: The Alba, the city’s first floating restaurant, which departs for lunchtime and sunset cruises from the elegant V&A Waterfront.

03 Split

Split, Croatia

Stealing Dubrovnik’s tourism crown is Split, the hub of the Dalmatian coast with just as many antique wonders, a handful of Game of Thrones locations, and boats out to pretty little islands. It’s so popular a new airport terminal, opening this month, has had to be built. Sample modern Croatian cuisine at muralled restaurant Articok, with its graffiti-scrawled bar and signature baked squid with artichoke, before heading to gleaming white Bacvice Beach, your sandy stop for those diamond-clear Adriatic shallows – a luxurious pad, Hotel Villa Harmony, has just opened there this month. Or stay at 2017-opened Hotel Salona Palace for its free shuttle to Kasjuni, a pine-fringed scoop of sand with beach-club cabanas. All that and new flights from super-central London City? Easy-peasy.
Must-do: Arrive in true Adriatic style – by boat. In May, the city launched a 20-minute catamaran link from Resnik – where the airport is – to central Split (£11.50 one way).

04 Los Angeles

Los Angeles, USA

LA’s having a hotel boom, but zone in on the rising star Arts District and you'll discover design dream Firehouse Hotel. Its minimal spaces are themed around colour, including the intriguing ‘Black Room’ and its red-brick restaurant, set to be a brunching hotspot. Make sure to shimmy over to Downtown to buzzy new foodie spot Manufactory, where you can taste different roasts in its Coffee Lab, grab a take-away ice cream or tuck into pasta at the elegant Alameda Supper Club. From here, it’s less than an hour on the Metro Expo train line to Santa Monica, the beach hangout of choice for LA’s young trendies. You might even spot a Hollywood star at its Farmers’ Market, open Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.
Must-do: You’ll have to wait for autumn for the much-hyped Museum of Motion Pictures, so in the meantime, take to the theme parks for Jurassic World: The Ride and Warner Bros Studio’s Aquaman exhibition.

05 Porto

Porto, Portugal

Not everyone knows this northern Portuguese gem for its beaches, yet they’re just a 15 to 20-minute drive from its ever-building food and arts scenes. Try the vanilla sands of Lavadores, sheltered by huge boulders, or photogenic Miramar, with its petite chapel on the rocks. But dig into the city before you hit the sands: get your caffeine fix at minimalist, heady-scented Combi Coffee, then wander the ‘arts block’, Bombarda, for galleries such as Serpente and Trindade. Nearby, try pancakes topped with crumbled Oreos at happening brunch spot Zenith. Don’t leave without a taste of this city’s world-beating fine-dining restaurants – recent opening Almeja is obsessed with Portuguese produce.
Must-stay: For a room overlooking the Atlantic, book into newbie Vila Foz, a palatial design hotel with a spa and indoor pool.

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This article has been tagged Destination, Travel Tips