Some major cities are so intrinsically linked with their beaches that a traveler wouldn’t dare plan a vacation there without setting aside some major time to hit the sand and soak up some rays. But these aren’t the only urban hubs with a scenic stretch of sand to call their own.

From Chicago to Mumbai, Stockholm to Hong Kong, some of the world’s biggest cities are blessed with shockingly accessible beaches, often only a short ride from downtown on public transportation. And we’re not talking about some underwhelming patch of sand hidden in a maze of urban sprawl. These are authentic beach hangouts with gorgeous views that feel like they’re worlds apart from the hustle and bustle that’s often only a few blocks away.

So what makes an urban beach a surprise? Some towns made it onto the list because of their geography. Who but a local would know that a city like Vancouver, that hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics, also has a thriving beach scene? Or that Cape Town, which regularly sees penguins in its waters, attracts its fair share of sunbathers? Others, like Montevideo, Uruguay, seem to simply get overshadowed by their bigger, more famous neighbors. And finally, in places like Hong Kong or Mumbai, the beaches can often get lost in the shuffle of everything else the major metropolis has to offer.

With beaches this accessible, there’s no excuse not to grab your sunscreen and hit the sand.