There’s just something magical about feeling the mist of the water, a refreshing coastal breeze, and the warmth of the sun as you stare out over the water and hear the crashing waves. There are many beautiful coasts on this planet of ours, and cities tend to be built in these advantageous and impressive locations.
Coastal cities have always had an important role in trade, transportation, the economy, and the environment. And they also tend to make lovely places to live and visit for vacation. These are 11 of the most beautiful coastal cities in the world to spend some relaxing time by shore.
Venice, Italy (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Venice is known as a “floating city” because it was actually built upon islands in the Adriatic Sea. This is a beautiful coastal city that is brimming with history, arts, architecture, and culture. To take advantage of its ideal coastal location, you can get around town via gondola or water taxi. This is a place with an unparalleled charm and sense of enchantment, so it’s perfect for a romantic getaway or trip for a special occasion. To get a taste of life as a local, cross over the Grand Canal to visit the Dorsodouro and San Polo neighborhoods. If you’re looking to avoid crowds in Venice, plan to visit in the fall between September and November. You’ll need to pack some warm clothes for chilly days, but you’ll also find much more reasonable hotel rates at this time.
Istanbul, Turkey (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Istanbul was built on the sides of the Bosphorus Strait and has a coastal location off the Sea of Marmara. This unique stretch of land ensures that you’re never far from the coast when you’re in Istanbul. A visit to Istanbul takes you back in time and across more than 2,500 years of history and culture. The Blue Mosque, which is pictured here, is a big attraction for tourists, as well as the Turkish baths and the local markets. Like the culture itself, Istanbul embodies the perfect mix of Eastern and Western cuisine. So, try the delicious mezes, Turkish deserts, raki, and local Turkish wines. There are vibrant shopping and nightlife scenes here too. Most the nightlife venues are by the Bosphorus, and the Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar are fun places for tourists to shop.
Edinburgh, Scotland (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Edinburgh is one of the largest cities in Scotland, and it has an exciting arts and culture scene. The Fringe Festival takes place every year to highlight performing arts acts from around the world. You can visit Edinburgh Castle, pictured here when you visit and also hike to the top of an extinct volcano called Arthur’s Seat. Other top attractions are the Real Mary King’s Close, the Blair Street Underground Vault walking tour, the Edinburgh Dungeon, and the National Museum of Scotland. There are lots of fun places to visit here with kids too, including the Camera Obscura and World of Illusions.
Perth, Australia (Hotel Prices & Photos)
As a continent that’s also an island, most of Australia’s cities are located along the coast. Perth is one of these coastal cities that often stands in the shadow of cities like Sydney and Melbourne. However, Perth is an ideal destination in Western Australia that offers excellent access to the Indian Ocean. In and around Perth, you can attend music festivals, visit national parks, and spend time at the beach.
Honolulu, Hawaii, USA (Hotel Prices & Photos)
The Hawaiian Islands obviously have many stellar coastal locations, but one we’ll mention here is Honolulu. This city was once an exclusive retreat for Hawaiian royalty, but now the Waikiki Beach area is a premier resort destination for the rest of the world too. The region enjoys near-perfect temperatures throughout the year, and you’re never far from the beach. Honolulu also has rich flora and fauna and is a great place to visit for foodies looking to sample local cuisine. Take a surfing lesson here if you’ve never tried to catch some waves before, or hike to Diamond Head for incredible views of the city and coastline. Yet Honolulu is also a center for business and commerce that’s packed with skyscrapers and busy streets as well.
Ilulissat, Greenland (Prices & Photos)
On the large island of Greenland, most of the cities and towns are situated along the coast. Ilulissat is known for its uniquely colored buildings that date back to the 1700s. Buildings used to be color-coded to designated which ones were hospitals, fisheries, and other types of businesses. Yet still today, these colorful buildings provide an interesting contrast to the snow and ice that surrounds them much of the year. You can see the Ilulissat Icefjord and the Eqip Sermia Glacier when you visit and learn more about the region at World of Greenland and the Ilulissat Museum. Ice cap tours, arctic adventure tours, and dogsled tours are also popular here.
Camden, Maine, USA (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Maine has a uniquely craggy coastline that is home to many of the state’s big cities and small towns. One of the most idyllic New England coastal towns here is Camden, which used to be a manufacturing village. It’s located along the Penobscot Bay, and it’s common to see lots of boats in the city’s harbor. There’s a cute downtown area in Camden that was rebuilt after a fire in the late 1800s. The best scenery and nature can be experienced at Mount Battie, Camden Hills State Park, and the Camden Harbor Park. Boat tours are popular here, and the High Street Historic District is a great place to walk around and discover the town.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Rio de Janeiro is known as a top beach destination and has around 25 miles of shoreline for locals and tourists to enjoy. It’s a place that’s famous for the Carnival celebration and skimpy swimsuits. But the Rio skyline is nothing short of impressive next to the rocky Dois Irmãos peaks. You can get amazing views of the city, the port of Rio, and Copacabana by taking a gondola ride up to the top of Sugar Loaf.
Kotor, Montenegro (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Another stunning coastal town is Kotor, which is the oldest town in Montenegro that’s over 2,000 years old. Its history involves stories of traders and sailors, and the city has many narrow streets and public squares. This is an ideal place to visit for architecture and history buffs, as well as outdoor enthusiasts who love landscapes and natural scenery. It’s located along the Bay of Kotor and offers views of the water and Mount Lovcen. The most famous part of this city is called Old Town, which is where the bulk of the cathedrals and museums are. This is also a great place to visit boutique and trade shops to pick up souvenirs. But you should also make a point to visit Perast to check out the summer festivals and preserved palaces. Other sights to see are the Island Gospa Od Skrpjela (Our Lady of the Rocks) and the Fortress Sveti Ivan.
Oslo, Norway (Hotel Prices & Photos)
The city of Oslo is located on the coast of an inlet and is a wonderful destination for tourists. It’s walkable, great for picnics in the many green spaces when the weather is warm and has a fun Viking Ship Museum to check out. Other top places to visit in Oslo are the Vigeland Museum, the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet, the Fram Polar Ship Museum, and Vigelandsparken. The Akershus Fortress is a nice place to learn about the history of Oslo. This is also a fun city to wander around on your own to check out the local street art. For a little exercise and expert advice getting around town, sign up for a food walking tour or bike tour.
Barcelona, Spain (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Barcelona is a large Spanish city that sits on the Mediterranean Sea and is the capital of the Catalonia region. This is a place to come for endless tapas, football games, bull fights, and historical architecture. Barcelona has an exciting nightlife scene and Barceloneta Beach, which was revitalized for the 1992 Olympic Games. This is a very popular beach where you can rent bicycles or just lounge under an umbrella and watch the locals and tourists pass by. Don’t miss La Rambla between the coast and Plaza Catalunya to check out the street performers, architecture, shops, and restaurants.