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Långholmen Beach – Stockholm, Sweden

Sweden's sleek capital may not immediately conjure images of beachfront fun—this is Scandinavia, after all. But consider that this city is actually an archipelago made up of 30,000 tiny islands, many of which are lined with sandy shores, and you'll begin to understand why so many Swedes hit the beach when the mercury rises and summer days stretch to almost 21 hours long. Right in the heart of the city, Långholmen Island housed the country's largest prison until 1975. It's since been partially demolished and converted into a hostel, and a leafy stretch of sand on the northern shore is now one of the most popular swimming spots in the city. Interestingly, the island has the prison to thank for much of its current natural beauty: Shortly after the jail opened in 1724, inmates helped cover this formerly rocky island in mud dredged from area waters, which allowed it to be transformed into the lush garden isle it is today.

(Credit: Flickr / Jess Pac)
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