7 waterfront cities that are the perfect getaway

Amazing Europe, North America | | August 10, 2010 at 1:09 am


What’s common to San Francisco, Rio de Janeiro, Ipanema and Venice? Go on, we’ll give you a minute to wrack your minds. Once you’ve given up, venture further down this article. The one thing common to them, if you’re observant, is not just the fact that they are waterfront cities but that there is a fun factor to them all that is hard to resist. Very often you will find haute design meeting the hot and happening in these cities, but they are well-known tourist destinations. How’s about we spice up your knowledge bank with some more waterfront cities you might not know about?

San Sebastián, Spain

At the edge of the Bay of Biscay is San Sebastian and the promenade stretches from one edge of the arcing coast to another littered with a number of parks, cafes, hotels, pavilions and boardwalks. Even as the city expanded further and further away, San Sebastian has never lost its unique characteristics associated with the waterfront. The throbbing heart of the area, the waterfront is the hub of all commerce and entertainment and there is so much energy bubbling over, it’s hard to miss even as an outsider looking in. But that isn’t it. Almost every Spaniard you pose the question to says the same things; that San Sebastian is the most elegant area in all of Basque and that it is a culinary paradise. Partake of the fine food at any tapas bar or restaurant of your choice and you’ll see why culinary commoners and elite flock to San Sebastian, an intersection of the leisurely and laconic in its pleasures.

San Sebastián

Stockholm, Sweden

The capital of Sweden is without a doubt one of the most beautiful cities you will find anywhere in the world. It’s a beautiful tapestry of richly colored buildings set against azure skies and the crystalline waters all summer and when winter sets in the city is covered with snow and lit up with so much so that make it a festival of bright lights. But as a city of islands, the waterfront here really is where the action is at and over the years it has quietly evolved along with Stockholm, reinventing itself several times over. It is the waterfront that defines Stockholm, for its most spectacular vistas are reserved for when you’re passing along a canal or bridge and it is the best way to take in its myriad architectural styles. The 24,000 rocky isles that together form the archipelago is one of the fiercest points of local pride and like its large immigrant population, the city itself is a diverse bundle of attractions and holds its own against any other major world destination.


Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki’s cobbled streets line up alongside the harbor’s edge and run past restaurants, cafes and market squares of a sea-town that ranks among the very best in the world. Its role as a regional hub for everything from ferries to ocean liners underlines its importance to commerce, but at the same time you shouldn’t underestimate its popular significance. The waterfront is a popular spot for the locals since it boasts parks and esplanades besides the square’s open-air market. No matter whether you’re just looking out over the Gulf of Finland or just observing the Finnish world pass you by, Helsinki serves as an excellent example of what makes a waterfront city tick. The craggy coastline is an important part of the city’s character and its sprinkling of inlets and bays is an important part of the whole Helsinki experience. Everything seems to slow down in winter but by spring the natural beauty of the city lures them out again, and as the sun beats down on the city life springs anew, the circle of life complete.


Hamburg, Germany

There is a certain amount of dynamism about Germany’s largest port city that imbues everything. Of course, the fact that it has been an enthusiastic hub of business certainly helps to keep things lively but its hedonism goes beyond just that. Perhaps that is what drew the Beatles to this city back in the 1960’s. Berlin and Munich might be more famous across the globe, but Hamburg is a thriving harbor city that more than holds its own domestically or otherwise. Lose yourself among the cosmopolitan masses flocking to the Portuguese, Turkish and Asian eating joints lining the city or lounge on the artificial river beaches along with the rest of the hipsters. The choice is yours, but this is not what its limited to. The architecture of the city, delightfully immune to modern day styling and progress, is a joy unto itself and the bridges lining the canals lead to a variety of destinations touristy or otherwise. The only thing limiting the amount of fun you have here is your own imagination, and we suggest you let it loose before you touch base with Hamburg.

Hamburg Germany

Nice, France

Now here’s a name that’s perfectly appropriate for a city. Well, actually it isn’t. It’s more c’est magnifique than anything else and compared to the pomp of Paris the Côte d’Azur is more humble in its offering although it is no less enchanting. Nice is a bit of everything, the perfect medley for all tourists to take a swig of, and no one will walk away from here feeling as if they were sold short. Robustly energetic, you will find some people couldn’t care less and place their parasols carefully as they line up along the pebbled shores. Others more given to bravery will test the waters of the Baie des Anges (Bay of Angels) as palm fronds do their Mexican wave along the promenade des Anglais. The promenade itself follows the Mediterranean around this picture perfect town and carries on until the airport. Once in town, the promenade follows the beachfront as island of palm trees sway and fountains gurgle their happiness about nothing at all.

Nice, France

Baltimore, USA

Part of the first wave of waterfront renewal, Baltimore is the archetypal waterfront city with a moderately sized but richly diverse harbor always keeping visitors and locals engaged. A lot of cities try hard to impress and be something it isn’t but Baltimore is like that glib-talking side attraction on your favorite sitcom that soon wins over your heart. Timeless and full of a quirky appeal, Baltimore has all the grim pathos of struggling middle class and the celebration associated with positivity and belief. A wide boardwalk cuts a beautiful figure as it forms a semi-circle around the harbor with ships from across the years docked at the wharf. Buildings with glass sides show off residential complexes and restaurants while the boardwalk itself marches relentlessly on towards closed-off piers with even more commercial and residential complexes. Outdoor seating lets you take everything in with the National Aquarium not far off. Also close at hand is the working port just to remind you where the wild things and the heart of Baltimore really are.


Porto, Portugal

The hilly locales of Porto are a palette of styles drawn from different eras, some modest, some magnificent but all entirely assimilated in what is distinctly its own image now. Accorded World Heritage zone status by UNESCO, Porto’s winding lanes, pert squares, sprawling boulevards and zigzagging alleyways will spin you around before bringing you down to Earth as you realize that many parts of the city centre are crumbling away into nothingness, left in their state of dilapidation as the young and the affluent make a beeline for the sea-facing suburbs. Porto is a mosaic of past and present tumbling into the Douro River. Across the river lies the Vila Nova de Gaia where port wine cellars lie, a creation of Porto to which it obviously lends its name. The busy waterfront is always bubbling over with life and architecture buffs come for the sights and stay for the heck of it. Maddening and intoxicating, it’s a good idea to unravel Porto at leisure while you sip on some wine. So what if it takes more than a few days to do exactly that?

Porto, Portugal

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  1. Yjee says:

    Towns are full of people, houses are full of tenants, hotels full of guests,trains full of travelers, cafes full of customers, parks full of promenaders, consulting rooms of famous doctors full of patients, theaters full of spectators and beaches full of bathers, what previously was, in general, no problem, now begins to be an everyday one, namely, to find a room!

  2. Abigail Austin says:

    We often love to think now of the life of men on beaches,at least in mid-summer, when the weather is serene,their sunny lives on the sand,amid the beach grass and bayberries, their companion a cow, their wealth a jag of driftwood or a few beach plums and their music the surf an the peep of a beech-bird.
    Thanks for the great post :-)

  3. Ekeope Queus says:

    They commonly celebrate those beaches which only have a hotel on them, not those which have a humane house alone. But I wish to see that sea-shore where man’s works are wreaks, to put up at the true Atlantic house, where the ocean is landlord as well as sea-lord, and comes ashore without any dock for landing!

    Glad reading your post :-)

  4. Tina Makeba says:

    Dear Ekeope Queus,
    Wildness and silence disappeared from the countryside, sweetness fell from the air, not because anyone wished them to vanish or fall but because throughways had to floor the meadows with cement to carry automobiles which advanced technology produced.

    Tropical beaches turned into high-priced slums, where thousand roomed hotels elbowed each other for glimpses of the once famous surf not because those who loved the beaches wanted them there but because enormous jets could bring a million tourists every year-and therefore did.

    Thanks for the post!

  5. Digg Sail says:

    Dear Tina Makeba,

    Total physical and mental inertia are highly agreeable much more so then we allow ourselves to imagine. A beach not only permits such inertia, but enforces it, thus neatly eliminating all problems of guilt.It is now the only place in our overly active world that does!
    COOL post!

  6. Hans Oppenheimer says:

    A great post on the top waterfront cities which act as a perfect getaway.. Found the post really informative..Thanks! :-)

  7. Wallace D'Costa says:

    AMAZING post! I’ve bookmarked your page for further reference and also asked friends to take a look here! SOME GREAT STUFF you have!
    Keep posting :-)

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