Aug 10, 2015

Posted by in Features, Trip Advice | 40 Comments

Find out more about

From Blackpool to hidden Huisinis: Britain’s best beaches

Not managed to get away yet this summer? The good news is you don’t have to board a plane to dig your toes into golden sand or paddle in the sea.

From cheery hotels to holiday parks, Britain has a great range of coastal accommodation. Or you could visit our sandy gems on a day trip if you live within striking distance by rail or car.

Our round-up of the best British beaches includes the cream of the old favourites as well as some luscious, more hidden coves around the country.

Brighton, south-east England

shutterstock_104357894 brighton

Peerless pier: Brighton

This fun-time south coast town is one of the originals. Today it’s just as much a piece of London by the sea as it is a beach resort, with many treating it as an increasingly stylish but more laidback escape from the big city.

Explore the pier and shingle beach, swim in the English Channel or head into town for a whirl around the quirky and decadent Brighton Pavilion, built as a seaside home for George, Prince of Wales. The Lanes area is packed with cute boutiques, cool bars and great places to eat out.

Hop on the Brighton Wheel for wonderful views and a commentary on the history of the area.

Find hotels in Brighton in all price ranges.

Blackpool, Lancashire

shutterstock_57221737 blackpool

Enjoy a donkey ride on a quintessentially British break

Blackpool is THE place to go for everything making up a traditional British seaside resort.

There’s ice cream, candy floss, kiss-me-quick hats and rock candy to get stuck into. There are also world-class theme park rides at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, a long sand beach, three piers and wall-to-wall entertainment from the immense Comedy Carpet – a concrete art work incorporating jokes and music hall catchphrases – at the foot of Blackpool Tower, to West End shows such as Mamma Mia! at the Opera House in the Winter Gardens complex.

Add in sea front trams, donkey rides, horse and trap trips, a superb zoo, fortune tellers and the Illuminations light show in early autumn and you have the UK’s premier resort.

Stay over in Blackpool for a fun and quintessentially British break.

Scarborough, North Yorkshire


Scarborough Castle’s shadow looms over the ‘Queen of the North Sea Coast’

The so-called Queen of the North Sea Coast, Scarborough has refreshing sea breezes, fantastic views of the coastline and three wonderful beaches, including Cayton Bay for surfing.

Set on a cliff overlooking the bay is atmospheric Scarborough Castle; the town is packed with gift shops and, on the run down to the harbour, some of the best fish and chip shops in Britain. The beach front is packed with the amusement arcades and funfair rides no self-respecting seaside resort would be without.

Or you could hop on the Miniature Railway within the zoo or see the sharks, seahorses and turtles at the Sea Life aquarium.

Choose from a big range of Scarborough hotels.

MORE: Europe’s most beautiful beaches

Great Yarmouth, Norfolk

Summer in Great Yarmouth on the beach

Make the most of the 15 miles of golden sand

This East Anglian resort is located close to the Norfolk Broads waterways, making it an ideal place to combine the beach with the countryside.

There are 15 miles of golden sands, among them the central Golden Mile packed with amusement arcades, gift shops, fish and chip shops and ice cream parlours. On Britannia Pier you can take a spin in the mini theme park, Joyland, or head to the Pleasure Beach for bigger rides, burgers and shakes.

For culture vultures there’s the Tollhouse museum, with its original dungeons, the Potteries for exhibitions of historic clay pot throwing and the Time & Tide fishery museum.

Find a Norfolk hotel for your seaside stay.

Newquay, Cornwall

shutterstock_186272552 newquay

Surfer’s paradise… in Newquay

The surfing capital of the UK is also rapidly becoming a culinary hotspot with restaurants from chefs such as Jamie Oliver and Rick Stein in the area.

The quality of the beaches make this Cornish resort a delight. Fistral for surfers, Crantock to get away from the crowds, Polly Joke reachable only on foot or two mile-long Watergate Bay. Porth Beach is good for families – a sedate spot suitable for sandcastles and beach games.

If you want to learn surfing, body boarding or the skiing-surfing hybrid known as wakeboarding, the Cornwall Surfing Academy and other schools within the resort will soon have you mastering the waves.

Find hotels around Newquay.

Huisinis, Outer Hebrides

shutterstock_107822615 huisinis

Huisinis: the Scottish Caribbean?

A little further afield than these traditional resorts, on the west coast of Harris in the Outer Hebrides, you’ll find the remote beach of Huisinis. Get the weather right here and, with the clear blue waters and golden sands, you could be forgiven for thinking you’re in the Caribbean – all that’s missing is palm trees.

Along with many beaches in this part of Scotland, the appeal of Huisinis lies partly in what you won’t find here. No fish and chip shops. No gaudy amusement arcades. No entertainment, apart from what nature provides – eagles, deer, cormorants and maybe even seals, dolphins and whales are among the attractions.

A ferry operates from the mainland to and between the islands of the Outer Hebrides.

Rhossili Bay, Wales


Wales’s world-class beach

To the west of the Welsh county of Glamorgan is this little beach beauty. Not as isolated as the Huisinis, Rhossili Bay was voted the best beach in Britain in 2014 and the ninth best in the world by TripAdvisor reviewers.

If you love coastal walks and superb sunsets, then you’ll be in heaven in this little nook of the UK. Like Huisinis it lacks big resort facilities, although a National Trust visitor centre will help you to get the most out of the area.

Consider staying in a country cottage to really enjoy this corner of Wales.

Tenby, Wales


Take the temperature of Tenby, a more traditional Welsh resort

A traditional Welsh resort this time, 90 miles west of Cardiff and combining a medieval town with three sandy beaches and lots to see and do. Harbour beach has won awards, beating competition from across Europe for its beautiful setting.

Once you’ve had your fill of the beach, cafes and gift shops, you can visit places out of town such as the Dinosaur Park, for kids, Saundersfoot beach for crabbing, Pendine Sands to visit the site of many a land speed record attempt, and Laugharne, home to Dylan Thomas’s writing shed and currently celebrating 100 years of his Under Milkwood novel.

Find a hotel in Tenby today.

Woolacombe Beach, Devon

Woolacombe in the evening

Woolacombe was voted the UK’s best beach this year by TripAdvisor users

This three-mile stretch of golden sand on the north Devon coast was voted the UK’s best beach this year by TripAdvisor users.

Whether you’re after clear water for little ones to paddle in, crowd-free stretches for a spot of beach cricket or waves to surf in, you’ll find it here. And there are coastal walks galore as well as pubs, cafes and restaurants to refuel in afterwards.

And, from holiday parks and B&Bs to hotels, there are accommodation options for all budgets.

Please note: This is an updated version of a previously-published article.

Where’s your favourite British seaside spot? Share your thoughts below

For more travel inspiration, follow us on Twitter

  1. Anonymous says:

    You left out Woolacombe Bay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. winston omero says:

    how can anyone put stoney beach Brighton ahead of half a dozen beaches (SANDY)on the ISLE OF WIGHT ?????

    • John Davies says:

      BRIGHTON!!!!. Britain’s worst beach maybe.

    • randy says:

      Brighton beach is stony (note correct spelling) but at least you don’t get sand everywhere you don’t want it! Also this resort has atmosphere and loads of entertainment other than lying on a beach all day whereas the Isle of Wight offers nothing and is full of OAPs.

  3. Ivan Rowe says:

    You don’t have a clue. I could take you to the Uk’s finest beaches and they are all here in Cornwall. In fact at least 5 of the 10 are virtually tourist free and that is in July and August.
    However, I am not going to tell you where they are otherwise the beaches will be destroyed with thousands of unwanted visitors.

  4. Thanks for not including any of the fantastic beaches in Nortthumberland, they are much better for being unspoilt.

  5. John Hadland says:

    Why is Great Yarmouth’s flag upside down.

    My favourite is Llanddwyn Island.

  6. Margaret Terry says:

    How could anyone possibly think Scarborough north beach is one of UK’s best beaches? It is small, crowded and usually grubby! Further down the east coast is Bridlington, with miles of golden sand which is cleaned every day. You won’t find a better beach anywhere.

  7. Laurence Woolcott says:

    Woolacombe Bay is fantastic….miles and miles of soft sand, and the tide goes out nearly half a mile.
    Great for kids, a very safe gently shelving beach..
    Kite Boarding, Surfing and Wind Surfing.
    Rock-pools galore on the Northern end of the Beach.
    National Trust land behind the Beach.

  8. CAMPER says:

    Ivan Rowe if you don’t want to say where the so called beaches are then DO NOT COMMENT.
    Combe Martin has a lovely beach

  9. Gillian Crow says:

    Ramsgate has a glorious sandy beach and there are several others in Thanet: Broadstairs, Stone Bay, Joss Bay, Kingsgate Bay and the impressive Botany Bay.

  10. Malcolm Harrison says:

    Northumberland beaches best in the country Bambrough being my particular favourite. Brighton is ghastly need army boots to walk on it.what has entertainment got to do with a good beach?

  11. Malcolm Harrison says:

    Northumberland beaches best in the country Bambrough being my particular favourite. Brighton is not in the running you need army boots to walk on it.what has entertainment got to do with a good beach?

    • Hi Malcolm

      I guess we are all different in what we want from a beach so we tried to come up with a list that covered as many bases as possible. Perhaps we should do a series of articles covering different themes from best beaches for organised activity through to best beaches to ‘escape the world’.

      Kind regards


  12. marge ashley says:

    Beaches of Anglesey – Benllech is just one of them

  13. Robert Stewart says:

    Was at Brighton a couple of weeks ago, forget it, as a beach it does not compare with virtually any other. In Scotland there are beautiful sandy beaches along the East coast, West coast, and the Isles.

    • Hi Robert

      I’m not a fan of Brighton beach to be fair, however as a mass market beach with facilities and ease of access to London it scores well. My personal choice if for windswept remote beaches such as those in the Western isles or Northumbria.

      Kind regards


  14. d kane says:

    So many missed, northumberland, spoilt for choice, little gem at saltburn by the sea has all you could ask for, as does south shields, without being spoilt, real holidays or day trips something for everyone.

    • I agree with you on this one. They are stunning beaches up in the North East, however we only had limited space for our wide ranging round up and it was hard to choose the ones we would write about.

      Thanks for contributing.


  15. spitfire 598 says:

    Rhossili Bay gower no one goes there, only surfers, and the occasional Seal and seagull. rubbish !

    • Hi Alistair

      I hope its not gone downhill since the last time I visited! I found it fairly busy with those determined to find a beach away from the crowds and away from commercialism.




  16. alan griffiths says:

    Barafundel in Pembroke, it’s amazing!

  17. Tony Kennard says:

    I wonder why Clacton beaches have not had a mention as I think they were the sandiest . I spent many happy hours even during the war there and Jaywick was good too There was a Butlins funfare and holiday camp. Another place I enjoyed was the Isle of Wight. Carisbrooke castle and the Alum Bay sands with the myriad of colours. Osbourne House which Quenn Victoria used to stay.It had two holiday camps in Ryde, Puckpool and another one adjacent to it. Cowes with its yatching regatta.

    • Hi Tony

      Loads of choice in there for people to think of. Its so difficult to pick a few when you are covering a wide range of suitability, but I’d agree with all of those you mention. All wonderful places.

      Thanks for your contribution.


  18. Vinyl Richie says:

    As a resident of Brighton, I must stick up for our fair city and its beaches. Yes, the main stretch of shingle between the piers gets horribly crowded and is litter-strewn every weekend by visiting louts who have no idea how to clean up after themselves. That’s why you’ll never find locals on that bit, and it becomes the preserve of the DFLs (Down from London). But head further east or west and there are lovely, quieter stretches at Kemp Town, Hove and Shoereham and the spectacular Undercliff Walk towards Rottingdean and Peacehaven.
    And, of course, if you’re judging resorts by their overall facilities, then Brighton and Hove beats every other UK seaside town for nightlife, culture, arts, food, transport and friendly people: even the bus drivers are welcoming!
    Oh, and BTW Mr Copy Editor, Brighton is in the county of East Sussex, not just “south-East England”

  19. Michael Davis says:

    Dorset has some outstanding, award wining beaches, including Bournemouth, Sandbanks, Studland, Swanage and Weymouth.

    • I had many happy childhood holidays in Swanage where mum and dad used to rent a fantastic beach hut.

      I should go back sometime and take a walk down memory lane.

      Thanks for the contribution.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.