The UK is home to some fantastic beaches. From the bright lights of Blackpool to quirky Brighton, there’s a beach suited to every traveller. Dreaming of beaches is all wonderful inspiration for when sandy spaces are welcoming visitors again. Check up on local tourist information before you leave for your holiday.
At all ends of the UK, sandy spaces can be found - and plenty of waves too! From up north in Scarborough and the Isle of Wight to southern favourite Cornwall, the beaches in the UK are some of the best around. Now go grab that bucket and spade - and remember your sun lotion and sunglasses!
Vibrant, quirky and cool, Brighton is one of the country’s most popular seaside destinations. The essence of the city’s appeal is its faintly bohemian vitality. Head down to the seafront and take a stroll along Brighton Palace Pier, its every inch devoted to cacophonous fun. The busiest section of the seafront is between Brighton Pier and the West Pier. Down at beach level underneath the old fishermen’s arches, the Lower Esplanade is lined with cafés, shops, galleries, bars and clubs. By the West Pier, there’s no missing the British Airways i360, the world’s tallest moving observation tower and the Brighton Zip. Brighton is definitely one of the best beaches in the UK. It’s also very close to the capital, so London city breaks aren’t out of reach either and you can combine the two for a fun few days away.
In a superb position on a knuckle of cliffs overlooking fine golden sands and Atlantic rollers, its glorious natural advantages have made Newquay the premier resort of north Cornwall. Its main attractions are the beaches. Close to the centre of town, Towan Beach, Great Western Beach and Tolcarne Beach are some of our favourites and are great for families.
The area immediately west of Padstow has some fine beaches - all within a short walk or drive of the town. On one part of the estuary, round Stepper Point, you can reach the sandy and secluded Harlyn Bay and closeby is Constantine Bay, the best surfing beach hereabouts. The dunes backing the beach and the rock pools skirting it make this one of the most appealing bays on this coast, though the tides can be heavy.
The Isles of Scilly are a compact archipelago of about a hundred islands. And with that comes some irresistible beaches, most notably Par Beach on St Martin’s. The southwest’s greatest concentration of prehistoric remains, some fabulous rock formations, and the impressive Tresco Abbey Gardens.
Falmouth is one of Cornwall’s best attractions. A long sandy bay holds a succession of sheltered beaches: from the popular Gyllyngvase Beach, you can reach the more attractive Swanpool Beach by cliff path, or walk a couple of miles further on to Maenporth, from where there are some stunning clifftop walks.
Cornwall’s northernmost town of Bude is built around an estuary surrounded by a fine expanse of sands. The town has sprouted a crop of hotels and holiday homes, though these haven’t spoiled the magical feel of the town or its magnificent cliffy coast . Of the excellent beaches hereabouts, the central Summerleaze is clean and spacious, but the mile-long Widemouth Bay is the main focus of the holiday crowds (though watch out at low tide if bathing near the rocks). Surfers love to come here and practise their skills!
East of Torquay’s harbour, you can follow the shore round to some good sand beaches. Meadfoot Beach, one of the busiest, is reached by crossing Daddyhole Plain, named after a large chasm in the adjacent cliff caused by a landslide. The coast path leads to a string of less crowded beaches, including Babbacombe Beach, Watcombe and Maidencombe.
Skegness attracts tens of thousands of city-dwellers who come for the wide, sandy beaches and attractions ranging from nightclubs to bowling greens. Every inch the traditional English seaside town, Skegness outdoes its rivals by keeping its beaches sparklingly clean and its parks spick-and-span.
Isle of Wight packs in a surprising variety of landscapes and coastal scenery. Its beaches have long attracted holiday-makers, and the island was even a favourite of Queen Victoria herself. The Isle of Wight is one the top beach breaks in the UK. Head there in summer to really make the most of the pristine island. For a rush of adrenaline, try the watersports – paddle boarding and kayaking are our favourites.
The oldest resort in the country, Scarborough has all the ingredients for a great beach holiday – superb, clean sands, kitsch amusement arcades, tight-knit old-town streets and quiet parks and gardens. This is certainly one of the best sandy beaches in the UK.
The Durdle Door is a key UK attraction. It’s a limestone arch which sits at the end of a long shingle beach , a really lovely place for catching the sun and swimming in fresh, clear water. While you’re in the area, head to St Oswald’s Bay, another great beach with offshore rocks that you can swim out to.
The seaside town of Hastings has everything you need for a perfect break: a picturesque Old Town crammed with independent shops and cafés; a seafront that combines plenty of seaside amusements with a sleek modern art gallery and a shiny new pier. You’ll also find some great seafood restaurants, with lobster, crab, mussels and of course, quintessential fish and chips.
Camber Sands is a two-mile stretch of gorgeous dune-backed sandy beach that has become a renowned centre of wind- and watersports. Perfect for a relaxing stroll, Camber Sands is just the place to go to lift your spirits in the great outdoors. It’s a fantastic way to spend an afternoon looking out to the water - and spotting a friendly pup in the dog-friendly areas. There are plenty of cute shops and restaurants moments away from you to really make a whole day out of Rye.
Think candy floss, fine sands and art installations - Blackpool is traditional beach entertainment at its best. Blackpool Pleasure Beach is where most visitors love to wander around. It’s a hit with kids, especially as it’s home to the UK’s only Nickelodeon Land which is packed full of thrilling rides. It’s not to be missed by family travellers - or those looking to release their inner child! To end the day, kids will love taking donkey rides on the beach. Blackpool is one of the top beach holidays in the UK for sure. Just don’t forget to try a stick of rock!
The little village of Bamburgh has some great things to offer, namely a magnificent castle and two splendid sandy beaches, backed by rolling, tufted dunes. You might be lucky enough to spot the Farne Islands from the beach, if it’s a clear day.
Renowned for its pristine sandy beach and its gardens, Bournemouth is one of the UK’s favourite beaches. It’s home to some great arcades and amusements, plus the world’s first pier-to-shore zipwire, a quick but exhilarating ride with dual wires so you can race down with a friend. Go on, we dare you.
Grimsby has access to miles of safe and sandy beaches, so it’s perfect for anyone travelling with little ones looking to take a splash in the water. Fitties beach is one of the most well-known spots in the area and is home to plenty of vibrant vintage holiday chalets - it’s a great place to spend a weekend. Spot ships and boats leaving the port nearby, relax with a book on the beach or just listen to the crash of waves.
One of Wales’ finest beaches is Barafundle Bay. It offers soft sands which are fringed by gorgeous wooded cliffs. Follow the path to Broadhaven South, where a pleasant little beach overlooks a handful of rocky islets. There are also three beautifully landscaped fingers of water known as Bosherston Lakes (which are also free!) located nearby. Enjoy looking out onto the twinkling water and spotting boats on the horizon. After a day of fun, why not try a plate of cawl? A traditional Welsh dish, it’s made of meat, plenty of vegetables and stock - it’s a hearty meal for sure!
North Uist is the place to be for sheer peace and quiet. Traigh Hornais, also known as Clachan Sands, has a breath-taking landscape that can’t be missed. Our favourite thing to do on this unspoiled island? Walk for as long as you can and take in the views and fresh air. If you’re into photography, you’re in for a treat. Every part is picture-perfect. It’s one of the most beautiful beaches in the UK for sure.