With so many great beaches on your doorstep, you needn’t leave the country to enjoy sun, sea and sand this summer. This list will tell you where to go to the beach near London – all you need to do is set aside a day or two!
It looks like this will be the year of the ‘staycation’ but that doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to the sandy idylls that we look forward to visiting this time of year. There’s an abundance of world-class beaches all within a couple hours of the capital, and each with their own unique charm and appeal! Please check the updates for transport and tourism before setting off.
A swathe of shingle punctuated by weathered groynes and backed by pretty beach huts, Whitstable beach is a glorious place for a stroll, crabbing expedition or lazy day’s sunbathing, with a gentle slope that makes swimming possible in summer. The town itself is made up of fascinating little shops and superb restaurants serving native oysters. One of the nearest beaches to London, Whitstable makes an ideal day trip from the capital.
Five miles west of Margate, near Birchington, the long sandy beach at Minnis Bay is often overlooked by beachgoers, despite its many obvious charms. It’s popular with kitesurfers, windsurfers and sea canoeists, and has good facilities, including showers and a paddling pool, along with a restaurant-bar on the cliff above. There’s also a picturesque walking route, the Viking Trail, that runs from Minnis Bay to the nearby Reculver Towers and Roman Fort – it’s a beautiful walk with a nice bit of history to top it all off.
Since the nineteenth century, visitors have flocked to Margate for its amazing sandy beaches. Though the mass community singsongs that were held here are no more, the town beach, a glorious golden swathe, is a family-friendly delight, with a tidal pool and kiddy rides. Quieter Westbrook Bay, to the west, offers shallow water that’s great for paddling and watersports, especially windsurfing, and an eighteen-hole mini-golf course nearby. The victorians knew what they were doing, Margate Sands is one of the best sandy beaches near London. With its vintage shops and world-class art museum, why not make a trip of it on your next London city break.
Broadstairs’ town beach, sandy Viking Bay, is a lovely golden crescent at the foot of the cliffs, and accessible, in summer, by lift. Then there’s Joss Bay, which, with its long sands and shallow waters, offers the best surfing in the Southeast – it’s home to the Joss Bay Surf School and a refreshments kiosk. Further north are quiet Kingsgate Bay, with its sea caves, and best of all, the stunning Botany Bay with its towering chalk stacks, caves, shallow rockpools and stepping stones of creamy white boulders. For sheer sandy brilliance, Botany Bay is definitely one of the best beaches near London.
Deal beach is a long, uninterrupted shingle swathe, almost entirely uncommercialized and perfect for bracing walks. The wide coastal path, suitable for walkers and cyclists, takes you past a picturesque ensemble of fishing boats, tatty lobster pots and chalky white fishing huts via Walmer Castle, the largest of the three castles Henry VIII had built in the area to defend this strategically important coastline. As well as its landmark pier, Deal town is a thriving hub of shops, cafes and restaurants. Discover this fascinating town with these hotels in Deal.
Three miles east of Rye, on the other side of the River Rother estuary, Camber Sands is a two-mile stretch of sandy beach that’s the stuff of dreams: soft, fine sand backed by tufty dunes, with gently shelving shallows stretching for half a mile when the sea retreats at low tide. The beach is also popular with windsurfers and kitesurfers.
So much more than a beach break, Hastings has all the ingredients for a perfect weekend retreat: some fantastic places to stay; a picturesque Old Town crammed with great pubs, cafés and independent shops; a still-working fishing quarter down on the beach where you can tuck into fish hauled in that morning; a seafront that combines plenty of tacky seaside amusements with a sleek modern art gallery and an architecturally prize-winning pier.
On a summer’s day, with the tang of the sea in the air, the screech of seagulls overhead and day-trippers streaming down to the beach, there’s a real holiday feel to Brighton. The section of seafront between the two piers is where most of the action takes place, where, beneath distinctive turquoise-blue railings, the Lower Esplanade runs west from Brighton Pier along to the i360 tower, lined for much of the way by bars, clubs, cafés, galleries and gift shops. Vibrant, friendly and tolerant, this is a city that knows how to have fun – book your Brighton weekend break now.