If you love to spend time by the seaside, but you don’t have the cash to explore some exotic sandy shores, then you might want to think about a beach vacation a little closer to home. A lot of people who live in England automatically disregard it when they’re looking for a beach spot to relax and unwind during the summer months. However, the truth is that the UK has plenty to offer if you’re willing to give it a chance. From soaring white cliffs to golden sands and pebbly beaches where you can find a host of interesting wildlife, there’s something for almost everyone at UK beaches.
Here, we’re going to take a look at just 10 of the UK’s best beaches in depth, from the most exciting, to the most culturally rich, and those with the cleanest sands and waters too.
1. Blackpool Beach, Lancashire
Perhaps the most iconic beach in Britain, Blackpool is a place full of soft sands, bright lights, and exciting rides. There’s few things like a day at the seaside, and Blackpool is one of the most impressive beach resorts you’ll find in the UK. It was recently awarded its first blue flag, which puts it on course with other world-renowned places like the Pacific coastline and Mediterranean Sea.
On a trip to Blackpool, the whole family is sure to enjoy relaxing in the sunshine, soaking up the sea, and enjoying an ice-cream on the promenade. There’s also plenty of room for games, sunbathing, and sandcastles too. Blackpool is the only resort in Britain to come with three incredible piers, so make sure that you take the time to pay each one a visit as part of your trip. And you can even head down to the Great Promenade show, where some of the top artists in the country have developed two kilometers of amazing lighting and sculptures. It’s a fantastic break from the norm for Blackpool, and something that visitors love.
Additionally, there’s plenty of rides to enjoy at Pleasure beach, and exciting games to play for families and youngsters alike. If you’re looking for a beach that’s more about activity than relaxation, then this could easily be the best beach in Britain for you.
2. Polzeath in Cornwall
If you’re familiar with the Cornish language, then you’ll know that Polzeath stands for dry-creek, which doesn’t necessarily seem very welcoming when it comes to describing a beach. However, if you consider the beautiful blue oceans that lap the shore at this location, you’ll quickly realize that the name is more irony than anything else. The long-reaching and sloping beachfront is ideal for families who want to soak up the sunshine and enjoy the ocean air.
If you’ve ever wanted to swim with dolphins, this could be the beach for you, as dolphins are frequently spotted off the coast of Cornwall. What’s more, if you feel like going for a walk and taking in some of the sights, then you can follow the coastal road away from the sand and through to Daymer Bay. Here, the waves are much smaller than they are at Polzeath, which makes the location an ideal spot for windsurfers and swimmers.
Though it might surprise you, Polzeath has actually become a bit of a haven for beach lovers and surfers alike. Today, there are lifeguards spotted along the sand during the summer daytime, so if you feel like taking up a new hobby, you could always sign up for a few surfing lessons with the full family. Just remember that the waves can get vicious sometimes, so be careful.
3. Birling Gap, East Sussex
The seaside stop in Birling Gap lies just on the South Downs of Sussex, not too far from Beachy Head. It shares the same stretch of famous white cliffs that have featured prominently in many books, movies, and television shows across the years. In fact, Beachy Head was the host of the 1994 Quidditch World Cup in Harry Potter.
The beach at Birling Gap can be seen at the base of the sheer chalk cliffs that are known more commonly across the world as the Seven Sisters. Although it’s set between two well-known resorts, in Brighton and Eastbourne, Birling Gap is one of the longest un-developed stretches of coastline within the southern coast of England. Access to the beach is possible through a sturdy tower staircase, and at the top, you’ll find a National Trust café along with car parks and a row of cottages.
4. Rhossili Bay, Swansea
Voted the best beach in Wales for 2017, and recognized as one of the UK’s top ten beaches for more than five years running, Rhossili beach in Swansea was the first beach to be awarded best Beach in Britain for two years in succession. The awards cabinet for this particular beach is seriously filling up, and Rhossili has been described as one of the most beautiful beaches around in Britain. It’s won a host of accolades from UK Travel writers for being one of the best spots around for a picnic, and it’s also a super dog-friendly location too.
This breathtaking beach, with its three-mile long patch of sand, is overlooked by the most popular national trust holiday cottage, the Old Rectory. During low tide hours, you can see the remains of the Helvetia on the beach – a ship which was wrecked in 1887. From the top of Rhossili Down, the highest point in Gower, views of the peninsula can allow you to see all the way to the sea of Western Wales, the north Devon coast, and even Lundy Island.
5. Crosby Beach, Merseyside, Liverpool
If you’re taking a trip to Liverpool, then you shouldn’t overlook a brief stop in Crosby Beach. This location is a must-see for any trip to the Liverpool city area, not just because it’s got plenty of beautiful views to offer, but also because it’s home to the “Another Plane” collection of spectacular art sculptures created by Antony Gormley. The “Another Place” collection consists of 100 different life-size cast-iron figures that are spread artistically along three kilometers of shore, and stretching around one kilometer out to sea.
The figures in “Another Place”, each weighing around 650 kilos, are made from casts of the Artist’s body, when he was standing on the beach and staring out to sea. According to the artist himself, the artistic creation is designed to harness the natural movement of the tide, and outline the relationship that man has with nature. He explained that the seaside is the perfect place, in his mind, to look into the relationship between man and nature.
For those who love art and culture, this an obvious and wonderful beach to visit. However, you’re sure to find things to enjoy regardless of why you’re drawn to this beach in Liverpool. There’s free parking available at Cambridge road, Mariners Road, and Hall Road, and dogs are welcome to come along for the trip too.
6. Hunstanton, Norfolk
A very popular beach destination for Victorian-style holiday makers, or vacationing families that are searching for a little bit of history and culture as part of their trip, Hunstanton, which is known better by locals as simple “Hunston” beach, offers everything you could possibly want from a typical British seaside town. From colorful beach huts, to fresh fish and chips and fairground rides, you’ll find something for everyone.
The elegant Hunstanton resort is the perfect way to explore the magic and beauty of the coastline in Norfolk. It’s renowned for its incredible striped cliffs, and beautiful sunsets, and the whole experience that you’ll have on this exciting beach is sure to be made extra special as its position as the very only west-facing resort on the eastern coast.
The charming little seaside town began its life as a resort during 1846, and today, it retains that old-fashioned character, remaining a popular destination for visitors of all ages and backgrounds. From activities for the whole family like crazy golf, to pitch-and-putt, and tranquil gardens to explore, there really is something for everyone. What’s more, the town’s garden arrays are particularly appealing during the summer and spring months. You can grow yourself a self-guided horticultural trail to make sure that you experience everything in full.
7. Tenby, Pembrokeshire, Wales
There’s a lot of history to be found in this unique seaside town. From the thirteenth century walls that are all around Tenby, to the Tudor merchant house in the middle, you can learn plenty about local history, and visit many of the cultural buildings all around Tenby. During the summer, you should expect the beach to be covered in stripy deck chairs, as it’s a popular destination for day trips. There’s also a host of cafes and seafront pubs to visit nearby.
Trains from Birmingham and London Paddington will take about five hours to get there, so you might want to think about stopping somewhere over night. Additionally, if you find that the sands are too crowded for your tastes, you can set sail on a tour to Caldey island by boat, there are plenty of sea-based journeys to explore from the harbor.
In recent years, Tenby has received a number of blue flag awards in recognition of its amazingly clean beaches and water. As the main holiday resort in Pembrokeshire, Tenby is proud of it’s high-standard beaches, which offer a range of facilities and great environmental rewards.
8. Saunton Sands, Devon
Saunton Sands in Devon is made up of three and a half miles of golden sand, backed by one of the most impressive and unique dune systems in the entire country. Saunton sands is bound to the south by the combination estuaries of the rivers Torridge and Taw.
One of the reasons why Saunton Sands is so well-known among holiday-goers, is the fact that it’s been visited by a range of famous people, including Olly Murs and Robbie Williams, who chose the beach for their music video location. Additionally, this small seaside town is also very popular with surfers and long boarders too.
If you feel like trying out a new hobby, you’ll be able to grab a board and hit the waves with one of the local surf schools. On the other hand, if you would prefer to move at a slower space, you can simply hire a few deck chairs on the sea front and enjoy some seasonal food at a local café.
9. Luskentyre, Isle of Harris
Luskentyre is regarded to be one of the most spectacular, and largest beaches in Harris. It was named one of the best beaches in the UK by the TripAdvisor Travelers’ choice awards, and it boasts miles of stunning white sand combined with beautiful blue/green water.
Despite being located within the UK, Luskentyre offers vacation-goers a very exotic experience for their time on the beach. So if you’re looking for all the beauty of a Caribbean destination at home, then this is probably the best place for you. Scenery includes everything from huge sand dunes, to the island of Taransay, which was the setting of BBC’s Castaway.
If you’re looking for something interesting to do that doesn’t involve exploring the sand or laying on the beach, activities that are available nearby range from cycling to hillwalking and more. The location is found on the west coast of South Harris.
10. Aldeburgh, Suffolk
Finally, if you’re looking for a spot to sit in peace on a shingle-covered beach and tuck into a pot of mussels or cockles, then you’re not going to get any better than Aldeburgh. This stony beach has been awarded a blue flag for its environmentally friendly efforts, and it’s an all-around beautiful place for any holiday-goer or family to visit.
While you’re here, make sure that you check out the Scallop, a four-meter tall sculpture of a scallop shell dedicated to one of the most famous residents in Suffolk and Norfolk, composer Benjamin Britten. The simplest way for you to get here is probably by train, but there are options available for those who want to visit by car too!