The most glamorous coastal cities serve up a bewitching blend of stunning beaches, mouthwatering cuisine, and vibrant nightlife – and it’s all best experienced in summer. Whether you’re drawn to glitzy Saint-Tropez, energetic Rio, or laidback Sydney, here are the coastal cities that embody summer glamour.
Set in the heart of the French Riviera, Saint-Tropez is synonymous with glamour and luxury. What was once a quiet fishing village is now a summer paradise, with its reputation for glitz firmly established by Brigitte Bardot in the 1960s. In the summer, beautiful beaches like Pampelonne Beach come alive with people soaking up the Mediterranean sun.
The city’s marina boasts an impressive array of lavish yachts, and the waterfront is lined with high-end boutiques, terraced cafes and gourmet restaurants offering the finest French cuisine. Saint-Tropez is also renowned for its lively nightlife, with world-famous clubs like Les Caves du Roy attracting celebrities and socialites from around the world.
Despite its flashy reputation, Saint-Tropez hasn’t lost its magic. The old town, La Ponche, provides a quaint contrast to the city’s glamorous side. The narrow, winding streets, traditional Provencal market stalls, and historic Citadel add a touch of old-world charm to the city.
Experience it: Ultimate Southern France
Dubbed the Pearl of the Adriatic, Dubrovnik perfectly blends history with modern glamour. The UNESCO-listed city’s medieval walls and historic Old Town back onto the city’s gorgeous beaches, like Banje Beach and Sveti Jakov. They become a playground for sun-seekers in the summer months, with the turquoise water enticing swimmers and snorkelers to the shores.
The city’s gourmet restaurants are the ideal spot to enjoy al fresco dining in the balmy evenings and savor delicious Dalmatian cuisine and fresh seafood. You also can’t resist the city’s nightlife on a warm summer night, with wine bars and exclusive clubs adding another alluring layer to Dubrovnik.
Experience it: Croatia & the Dalmatian Coast
No list of glamorous coastal cities would be complete without mentioning Monaco. This tiny yet affluent city-state on the French Riviera is the embodiment of summer glam. The sparkling Mediterranean Sea makes a stunning backdrop as you explore the iconic marina filled with superyachts, lush gardens, upscale cafes and Michelin-starred restaurants.
Head to the beautiful Larvotto Beach or try your luck at the elegant Casino de Monte-Carlo. You could even time your visit with high-profile events like the Grand Prix, Monaco, for the ultimate luxury coastal holiday.
Experience it: Ultimate Southern France
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Rio de Janeiro is undeniably one of the most glamorous and energetic coastal cities in the world. The iconic Copacabana and Ipanema beaches are the city’s crown jewels, with golden sands, warm waters and people pumping music and playing football. At sunset, the beachside bars and restaurants come alive with locals and visitors enjoying the unique culinary scene.
Unwind with a caipirinha, Brazil’s national cocktail, or dive into Rio’s vibrant nightlife in the Lapa neighborhood. From chic rooftop bars to buzzing samba clubs, you can’t help but have a blast in Rio. Stick around for Carnival, and you’ll really see the city light up, with two million people descending on the city for the greatest party on earth.
Experience it: Classic South America
Isle of Capri, Italy
It may not be a city, but the Isle of Capri is the queen of summer glamour. Set off the Sorrentine Peninsula in Italy, Capri is renowned for its crystal blue grottoes, luxury beach clubs, upscale hotels, and designer shopping. It’s also home to a remarkable culinary scene, with restaurants offering fresh seafood and authentic Italian cuisine. And it’s all best enjoyed with an Aperol Spritz in the summer months.
Here you’ll walk in the footsteps of the most famous artists, socialites, and dreamers who were all captivated by the charms of Capri. From classic icons like Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Sophia Loren and Elizabeth Taylor to the modern-day glitterati like Beyonce, Jay-Z, Tom Cruise, and Leonardo DiCaprio, Capri goes hand-in-hand with stardom.
Experience it: Ultimate Italy
Summer in Sydney conjures up images of lavish boat rides on Sydney Harbor and iconic beaches like Bondi and Bronte. With plenty of music and art festivals and a remarkable dining scene, summer is the best time to soak up the glamour of Sydney. You could catch a performance at the world-renowned Sydney Opera House and enjoy international cuisine in hotspots like Surry Hills, Newtown and Haymarket. Take the ferry to laidback Manly or have a picnic at the Royal Botanical Gardens. You could even head out of the city to the beautiful Blue Mountains to soak up the Australian bush scenery.
Plan your summer holidays over New Year’s Eve, and you’ll witness one of the world’s most impressive celebrations with a spectacular fireworks show over Sydney Harbor.
Experience it: Inspiring Australia
With a unique combination of sun, sea, and stunning architecture, Barcelona is one of those effortlessly glamorous coastal cities. Spend your mornings exploring the icons of Barcelona like the Gothic Quarter and Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia and Parc Guell. In the afternoon, relax on sunny beaches like Nova Icaria and Barceloneta.
As evening falls, delve into the city’s gastronomic scene, from mouthwatering tapas bars to Michelin-starred restaurants. After dark, you can’t resist the vibrant nightlife. With glitzy nightclubs, jazz bars, and a thrilling atmosphere filling the streets, everyone comes together to celebrate summer in Barcelona.
Experience it: Spain & Portugal in Style
Cape Town, South Africa
World-class winelands, golden beaches, and vibrant nightlife – Cape Town is the epitome of summer glamour. Start by exploring the city’s exceptional natural beauty. Take the cable car to the top of Table Mountain or wander around the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. Go swimming at Clifton Beach and Camps Bay, or meet the resident African penguins at Boulders Beach. Venture into the Cape Winelands for the most remarkable wine experiences. Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, and Paarl are all within easy reach of the city and offer stunning vineyards and wine tastings.
You’ve also got to explore the culinary scene. Dive into local specialities at the Neighbourgoods Market at the Old Biscuit Mill. Or ask your Travel Concierge to make a reservation at a gourmet restaurant to try traditional South African dishes. You can also head to the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront for high-end shopping and dining experiences or check out Long Street for bustling nightlife.
Experience it: Spectacular South Africa
Read more: A Gastronomic Guide to Cape Town