As someone who views languid beach vacations as only slightly less painful than sunburn, I nevertheless understand that others love flopping around on the sand for days on end. Luckily, if you're in a relationship with someone of the opposite vacation persuasion, there's a full gallery/huge beach umbrella of combo options.
While 2015's twin European capitals of culture – Mons in Belgium and Plzen in the Czech Republic – are not exactly on the beach, the continent has a chin-stroking, tan-topping smorgasbord of choices, especially if you head south.
Barcelona fuses cobbled plazas and grand gothic piles with Speedo-studded hangouts like Barceloneta Beach – head further along the Catalan coastline for less-crowded options. Here in July? Add the city's artsy Grec Festival to your plans.
Alternatively, nip across to southern Portugal's sun-kissed Algarve. Appealing old towns, such as Faro and Silves – plus picturesque stone castles and walled ports – define this region. But it's also sprinkled with azure-lapped beaches, including Praia do Ancao and Praia de Odeceixe.
Keep in mind that Europe's resorts – and its top museums – can be oppressively crowded in July and August; so visiting in June or September is recommended. Considering Italy? Swap the jam-packed Amalfi Coast for an off-peak tour of the gorgeous coves and ancient ruins of Sicily or Sardinia.
Craving less-crowded spots? Often-overlooked, the Mediterranean's Malta mingles handsome historic temples and picturesque ancient sites with rustic white-sand beaches – see maltaculture.com for artsy happenings during your stay.
Or try – perhaps surprisingly – Britain. Cornwall's palm-studded, beach-ribboned coastline includes the delightful town of St. Ives, complete with dozens of artist studios and a waterfront satellite of London's Tate Gallery. Need more sand? The shimmering Isles of Scilly, a boat or plane hop away, echo the beaches of southern Europe.
There's a similar surfeit of sand and artist studios closer to home on British Columbia's bucolic Saltspring Island. On the opposite coast, New Brunswick also offers picturesque shorelines and a culturally fascinating Acadian Coastal Drive, but heading farther south is recommended.
Slap on the factor 45 at San Diego's Coronado Beach, then cool off in the city's gigantic Balboa Park, home to several excellent museums and galleries – see celebratebalboapark.org/celebrate for this year's exhibitions.
California's Central Coast also tempts with artsy waterfront towns, such as Carmel-by-the-Sea and cultural attractions, including Hearst Castle in San Simeon. Need more? Extend your road trip to museum-packed San Francisco or add the beachy temptations of Santa Monica or Santa Barbara.
You're also spoiled for choice in that other hemisphere, of course.
Australia's cultural capital, Melbourne combines excellent museums – National Gallery of Victoria is recommended – with the popular hangout St. Kilda Beach a short tram hop away. Drive the region's scenically hypnotic Great Ocean Road for additional shoreline gems. Sydney, of course, is also a hot spot, offering national museums and fab beaches from Bondi to Coogee, New South Wales.
Alternatively, try Australia's island state, Tasmania. Its celebrated Museum of Old and New Art lures culture buffs while tranquil beaches appeal in Wineglass Bay and beyond. It's a similar story over in New Zealand: Base yourself in Auckland for the cultural scene, then hit the sand in nearby Karekare and Piha.
And while South Africa's Cape Town area is also worthwhile – think penguin-spotting on Boulders Beach plus a visit to Robben Island museum – Asia has some tempting options, too.
Marking the 50th anniversary of its independence in 2015, Singapore is one of the region's most museum-heavy nations but its Sentosa Island also hooks beach and theme-park fans. Over the border in Malaysia, consider Penang: historic Georgetown offers museums and colonial architecture while the wider island is striped with balmy oceanfront resorts.
Finally, don't forget Latin America's charming old town districts. Cuba's Havana, Brazil's Salvador and Colombia's Cartagena each combine World Heritage-recognized architecture with local beaches so alluring you might jettison your chin-stroking bias for a few more hours of sun-soaking torpidity.
OUR READERS WRITE
- Go to Tel Aviv, a vibrant city with very interesting museums and galleries and white sand beaches along the Mediterranean’s warm waters. Moshe Haber
- Iqaluit [Nunavut] has a museum on the beach. @polarbarrister
- Bali’s Sanur. Sanur is beachy and Le Mayeur Museum – an under-appreciated Balinese art museum – is right on it. It’s also a homestay run by Le Mayeur’s kids. @ryanvb
- San Diego. It’s Balboa Park’s 100th anniversary. @CandiceSD
- Dubrovnik … hands down. Tour the inside walls of the old city and then take the No.10 bus to Cavtat – there are several beaches there. @BadBureaucrat
- Ghana. Absolutely beautiful beaches and cool museums. I loved Bojo Beach – so different from the images normally shown of Africa. The National Museum in Accra is great. Also, although the slave castles aren’t museums they are filled with history – painful but necessary to see. @thetravelguru_
- One option would be to stay in Brighton, England. The museum goer can hop the train to and from London. The day return ticket is also good for London Transport. Richard Clarke
- The Picasso Museum on the Costa Del Sol in Spain. @AnneinVan
- A few favourites: The Amalfi Coast with nearby Pompeii & Naples is perfect. The Côte d’Azur (from Antibes to Menton) has charming, intimate museums/galleries and famous beaches. At Cap Ferrat, explore Villa Ephrussi & Villa Kerylos; end the day with grilled fish at Plage de Paloma. In Spain, Girona & nearby Costa Brava – fabulous. Suji Beckett
- Book yourselves into an all-inclusive just outside Havana, Cuba. Your wife can have a stress-free beach vacation while you take the shuttle bus into Havana to explore the museums and galleries. Hemingway’s house, car and cigar museums, the Museum of the Revolution, vibrant art, great jazz clubs. Life’s a beach, indeed, for both of you. Sandra Warner
- I recommend Los Angeles. You have the LA County Musuem of Art, J Paul Getty Museum plus the secret Matador Beach and of course Manhattan and Santa Monica Beach. John Leonardelli
- I suggest St. Petersburg, Fla. The beach is excellent with pure white sand and the town of St. Petersburg offers a good array of galleries and museums, such as the impressive Chihuly Collection, the Dali Museum, the Morean Arts Centre, Duncan McClellan Gallery and Museum of Fine Arts among other smaller ones, too. Lela Gary
- Bilbao for the Guggenheim. Have some amazing Basque pintxos then jump on the metro for a quick ride to access stunning beaches @nikkibayley
- Tulum, Mexico … if a ruin can be considered a museum @AirbnbSuperhost
- The south of Spain is full of both. Barcelona and Valencia in particular would be perfect for museum and beach vacations @CathyCurrie
- Nice on the Côte d’Azur @tripalong
- How about the Normandy coast in France? Sandy beaches, windsurfing and lots of D-Day historical sites and museums @HolidayFrance
- Barcelona: Barceloneta beach – the main one near the city centre – is lively and easy to reach by transit. I also liked the city’s quirky Museu del Calcat (old shoes) and the Frederic Mares Museum (a nice oasis in a busy tourist area) @OttawaRoadTrips
- Sydney has some excellent convict heritage museums and a couple of others. Los Angeles has the Getty and La Brea. And in New Zealand, Auckland Museum is pretty good – while the area’s west coast black sand beaches are glorious. Finally, Abu Dhabi will also be getting Guggenheim and Louvre outposts soon @mrdavidwhitley
- Los Angeles has it all. Malibu with the Malibu beach, Malibu State Park, the Getty and the nearby Getty Center is my favourite @HolidayBakerMan
- Singapore. There are tons of museums there and you can go to the beach at Sentosa or island-hop @smallandhungry
- Sydney. There are different beaches here for every day of the month plus some of the galleries and museums are fantastic. My faves are the Australian National Maritime Museum and the Powerhouse Museum – great for kids and adults. @mismatchknit
- Crete. One of the best archaeological museums in the world is in Heraklion and the island is loaded with beaches. Or, Marseille where contemporary art meets calanques @alexisaverbuck
- Hoi An in Vietnam – a fab beach, the city is a museum and there’s great food. Also, Sydney or Barcelona @margymaclibrary
- Miami. The St Regis Bal Harbor resort has an art gallery on site. @kevinwoo
- Barcelona and some spots in South East Asia like Thailand and Cambodia @Kmarano
- Barcelona comes to mind. Also, the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida is worth the trip (and the beach) @sebprovencher
- The museum in Lahaina, Maui was surprisingly great. The live-in curator saw a group of us peeking through the stone walls and let us wander around on a Sunday when the museum is closed. Bonus: we made off like bandits with a bag of fresh mangoes. @stefalexandru
- Cayman Islands. Beautiful, gorgeous beaches and different museums to go to @prairiegirlsk
- Dunedin, New Zealand where St Clair has a long windswept beach with a large heated saltwater pool. There's also a nice art gallery in town @activingredient
- Barcelona. The Joan Miro museum plus – you know – all those beaches. Also, Tel Aviv – they’ve got some great art galleries and probably the best Mediterranean beaches @travelsofadam
- Miami. Well, the beach, of course, and also the design district and Art Basel. Oh, And I’ve been to the South Beach Wine and Food Festival three times @RippleMeister
- The Tate St. Ives is right on the beach. It’s one of my favourite places in the UK @LadyEdotMe
- I’d go to Paris for the museums. Wait I am going … there’s got to be a beach somewhere nearby @jeffweddell
- This one could save my relationship – and my boyfriend’s museum obsession! @travelingjourno
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