Travelling in the UK this summer? Here are 34 of the best British beaches that should be at the top of your holiday bucket list.

You may have missed the news but we’ve had something of a heatwave in Great Britain the last few summers.

When the sun is shining and the temperature is rising – what better time to grab your bucket and spade and make the most of the best beaches in the UK? From the dramatic white cliffs of Dover to the wide sandy beaches of Cornwall, there’s a beach in the UK for everyone.

It sometimes surprises people when I tell them that Great Britain has some pretty spectacular beaches.

For a nation so obsessed with our weather (talking about it, checking it, moaning about it when the forecast is wrong), we can do a pretty poor job of convincing the rest of the world that yes, we do have summers, and actually, they’re pretty fabulous.

The next time that someone questions how wonderful a British beach can actually be, I suggest you start by showing them these beauties.

The Best Beaches in the UK

Durness, Highlands, Scotland


Dramatic doesn’t begin to cover it. Durness beach is the most north-westerly point on the British mainland and boasts a pristine beach with azure blue waters framed by dramatic cliffs.  The perfect beach in Scotland to get away from it all and soak up some of Scotland’s finest views.

Portreath, Cornwall, England

Portreath Beach

Portreath’s large beach boasts soft, golden sands and miles and miles of beach for you to flop and drop on. The beach is also popular with surfers thanks to the break created by the harbour wall and rocky. 

Top Tip

Climb the steep path to the top of the cliff to appreciate the full scale of the shoreline.

Porthcurno, Cornwall, England


Porthcurno is an award-winning beach in Cornwall. Tucked in Cornwall’s far west, the UK beach is a popular summer spot, thanks to the fine white sand and turquoise water for which it is famed. In fact, Porthcurno has been voted one of Cornwall’s best beaches by TripAdvisor users on more than one occasion. 

The beach is sheltered by the high cliffs on either side, making it a cosy spot to spend the day soaking up the sun. It’s also the real-life location of Poldark’s Nampara Cove – Aidan Turner not guaranteed.

Sennen Cove, Cornwall, England

Sennen Cove

​​If you’re looking for a remote beach that feels like you’ve found a hidden gem, Sennen Cove is the place for you. Located in Cornwall’s far west, this beach is only accessible by foot and there are no facilities – so make sure you take everything you need with you! 

The long sandy beach can get busy in the summer, but when the sun is shining, there are few places in the world we’d rather be. Gaze at the large rollers heading towards the coast (the reason Sennen is such a surfer’s paradise), take a dip or just bask in the Cornish sun. 

The white sand and crystal clear waters make it a popular spot for swimming, sunbathing and snorkelling, and with towering cliffs on either side it really does feel like you’re a world away from civilisation. 

Fistral Beach, Cornwall, England 

Fistral Beach, Newquay
Fistral Beach, Newquay

Located on Cornwall’s north coast, Newquay is home to one of Britain’s best beaches – Fistral Beach. The wide expanse of sand stretches two miles long and offers spectacular views across Saint Columb Porth towards Gwithian Towan Head at Godrevy Lighthouse when walking along it at sunset or sunrise.

Fistral Bay is a renowned surfing spot and the long, sweeping bay is reached by walking down one of two steep paths. 

Top Tip

A favourite with surfers from around the world, it’s also known for its great bodyboarding conditions which are best enjoyed during low tide when there’s plenty of space on the sand to enjoy some fun in the sun!

Camber Sands, East Sussex, England

Camber Sands

Camber Sands is one of the few sandy beaches in East Sussex. 

Not only one of the finest beaches on the south-east coast, Camber Sands is a wind- and kite-surfing hotspot and the perfect location for a spot of beachcombing (the particularly adventurous can try a spot of clam-gathering). 

The large beach makes for an easy day trip from London – that’s this weekend’s plans sorted then.

West Wittering, West Sussex, England

West Wittering

The Blue Flag beach of West Wittering is a popular summertime destination for families or those looking to catch a bit of the British sunshine. 

The beach also boasts snap-worthy views of Chichester Harbour and the South Downs. Pack a picnic, or grab a bite to eat from the cool Beach Cafe, and get into your costume, the water’s so wonderful it would be a shame not to go in.

Saunton Sands, North Devon, England

Saunton Sands

There are over three miles of golden sands at Saunton Sands in Devon, so it’s not difficult to find the perfect spot, even on the hottest days when it feels like the whole country has headed to the seaside. 

Devon’s famed for its beaches and Saunton’s a great example why: the beach is framed by pretty sand dunes and is also a great spot for surfing.

Kingsgate Bay, Broadstairs, England

Kingsgate Bay Margate

Forget about Joss Bay and Botany Bay and head to the much quieter and even more picturesque Kingsgate Bay on your Broadstairs beach day. 

The sheltered sandy cove features dramatic white chalk cliffs and sea caves that are great for exploring when you’ve had enough of lying in the sun. Look out for Kingsgate Castle overlooking the beach, built by Lord Holland in 1760.

Top Tip

Broadstairs is a great UK beach day or weekend trip from London too.

Lulworth Cove, Dorset, England

Lulworth Cove

Colloquially known as Lulworth, this beach is located on Dorset’s Jurassic Coast – England’s first natural World Heritage Site.

There are stunning views across West Bexington towards Kimmeridge Bay when walking along the shoreline at sunrise or sunset which makes it a great spot for a romantic stroll.

Explore the rock pools during low tide – some visitors even say they have seen dolphins in the bay! Not only that, Lulworth Cove is also a great spot for finding sea glass, so keep your eyes peeled for these colourful pieces of debris and maybe begin a new hobby.

With golden sands stretching more than half a mile, there really is something for everyone.

Walberswick, Suffolk, England


Walberswick is a cute little village on the Suffolk coast, made even cuter by its sand-dune framed beach. 

Walk along the seashore until you find a quiet spot then soak in the views out to the North Sea. The beach backs onto a nature reserve, the famous setting for the “British Open Crabbing Championship” – where punters try their hands at catching the largest crab.

Top Tip

You can grab a rowed ferry across the estuary to Southwold as well, home of Adnams Beer – one of my face breweries.

Woolacombe Beach, Devon, England

Woolacombe Beach

It would be pretty controversial to make a list of Britain’s best beaches and not include Woolacombe Beach. 

Woolacombe is consistently voted as the UK’s best beach and wins a number of awards each year for its golden sands, clean waters and excellent facilities. One for the sun-lovers and surfers alike.

Killinallan Beach, Islay, Scotland

Killinallan Bay

Located in the Outer Hebrides, Islay’s stunning white sand beaches are almost always quiet thanks to their remote location. Islay is most renowned for its annual whisky festival and the eight whisky distilleries that call the island their home, but it’s home to some equally impressive beaches. 

Killinallan Point’s white sand bay also boasts an impressive view out to the islands of Mull, Colonsay and Skye.  

Portrush Whiterocks, Northern Ireland

Portrush Whiterocks

Portrush Whiterocks is Northern Ireland’s hidden gem.  Tucked away just off the Causeway coastal route – the beach is an alluring mix of limestone carves, white sand beaches and water sports. 

How often do you hear people talking about the amazing beaches in Northern Ireland? We’re going to guess that’s pretty much never. Still, I’m happy to let you into the secret that the locals have been hiding away.

Rhossili Bay, Wales

Rhossili Bay

Rhossili Bay is constantly voted as the the best beach in Wales and pretty much always features on any roundup of the best beaches in the UK.  Pick a spot from over three miles of sandy shore and muck about in the golden sand and bluer-than-blue Atlantic sea. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a dolphin or two.

Located in Swansea, South Wales, Rhossili Bay boasts stunning views of the Gower Peninsula – England’s first designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – as well as the Bristol Channel.

The wide open sands make it perfect for sunbathing, or even a game of Frisbee, while there are also plenty of rock pools to explore at low tide. If you’re feeling brave then take a walk along the nearby Worm’s Head where you can enjoy some truly spectacular views. 

Hunmanby Gap, North Yorkshire, England

Yorkshire’s been keeping quiet about Hunmanby Gap, the area’s best beach. 

You’ve got to get the timing right (the beach pretty much disappears when the tide is in) but if you do, you’ll be rewarded with a secluded cove and plenty of beach to explore.

You’ll see a couple of old World War II pillboxes just above the cliffs, these were built to ward off the threat of invasion from German forces in Scandinavia, and there’s a lovely seasonal cafe that offers some awesome eats, drinks, and ice creams to accompany your stroll along the sand.

Bournemouth Beach, Dorset, England 

Bournemouth Beach

The busiest beach in the south of England, Bournemouth is a great place to spend a day with the family. The wide promenade offers plenty of space to spread out and there are several amusement arcades, cafes and restaurants located nearby should you need some refreshment. 

The golden sands stretch for more than seven miles but the busiest section is from Boscombe Pier to Hengistbury Head. During low tide there are plenty of rock pools to explore. With Blue Flag status, it’s also one of the cleanest beaches in the country.

Budle Bay, Northumberland, England

Budle Bay

Nature and bird enthusiasts will be in their element at Budle Bay, a large bird sanctuary that’s part of the Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve. On a good day, you can drop a towel and do a bit of sunbathing, but the real pleasure here is discovering the nature and birdlife that call the bay’s mud flats their home.

Priory Beach, Caldey Island, Wales

Caldey Island

It’s pretty likely that Priory Beach is the first place you’ll see on teeny tiny Caldey Island, just off the Welsh coast near Tenby as it’s where the boats land from the mainland. 

The isolated location means there’s a good chance you’ll end up with Priory Beach to yourself, even on the hottest days. 

Top Tip

If it all gets a little too toasty, the island’s monks have been brewing a local beer for centuries – the perfect way to cool off.

Ringstead Bay, Dorset, England

Ringstead Bay

Weymouth might have a beautiful beach but it’s developed and crowded. If you’re looking for an excellent beach in Poole, head to Ringstead Bay. 

The swimming is great (and safe) and also has wonderful views of nearby Weymouth and Portland. Grab an ice cream from the shop and cafe, plump yourself down and enjoy some of the finest views on Dorset’s Jurassic Coast.

Sandbanks Beach, Dorset, England 


Sandbanks Peninsula is a stunning beach in the county of Dorset. Located on the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, this sandy stretch of coastline is backed by a series of white cliffs. The beach also has plenty of surf and offers safe bathing for children and families.

There are suggestions that King Henry VIII may have built Sandbank Castle to protect England from invasion after his marriage to Anne Boleyn, which would make it one of the most historically significant beaches in the UK.

It’s also home to one of the UK’s most affluent areas, which is made apparent by the huge houses that sprawl along the local roads.

Oxwich Bay, Gower, Wales

Oxwich Bay

Another one on the Gower Peninsula, Oxwich Bay’s gently sloping sands prove popular during the height of summer. 

While the section of the beach nearest to the village can get a bit busier on sunny days, if you walk eastwards towards the Nicolaston Burrows, you’re much more likely to find a quiet spot. If you are staying in the area for a while, you might like glamping in South Wales.

Winterton Beach, Norfolk, England

Winterton Beach

Winterton Beach is a real haven on the Norfolk coastline. The wide, sandy beach is framed by tufted sand dunes of a national nature reserve. Even at its busiest the beach feels pretty much empty, thanks to the seemingly never-ending stretch of sand. 

Top Tip

Walk towards the Horsey end of the beach to spot the colony of seals that live just off the shore.

Aberlady Bay, Scotland

Aberlady Beach

Aberlady Bay is another beach-come-nature reserve that should be at the top of the list for nature lovers. The area has been a nature reserve since 1952 (in fact it was the first nature reserve in the UK) and is particularly famed for its bird-watching. Easily reached from Edinburgh, on a clear day, the bay offers fine views out to Arthur’s Seat.

Long Sands Beach, Yorkshire 

Tucked away in the lovely North Yorkshire village of Staithes, Long Sands Beach is one of Britain’s best-kept secrets. The vast expanse of golden sand stretches for 3km and has a well-earned reputation as a safe, family beach.

The water is shallow and perfect for paddling, while the raised combers break close into shore, giving children a safe place to play. It’s also only a 20-minute drive from Whitby if you fancy riding the waves instead!

Not only that, you’ll find some of the best fish and chips in the UK here too.

Newgale Beach, Pembrokeshire, Wales 

Newgale Beach

Also known as Newgale Sands, this expansive beach is located in the county of Pembrokeshire on the southwest coast of Wales. Popular with surfers, there are also good opportunities for rock pooling and collecting starfish. 

It’s a great spot to make sandcastles and take advantage of the waves during low tide. There are also stunning coastal walks nearby and on a clear day, you might just catch a glimpse of Ireland in the distance. 

North Shore Beach, Llandudno, Wales 

One of the most popular beaches in North Wales, North Shore Beach in Llandudno offers stunning views over the Irish Sea and is located close to some of the region’s best attractions including Conwy Castle and Snowdonia National Park.

The wide promenade means that there’s plenty of space for everyone – whether you want to sunbathe or take a walk, and with Blue Flag status it’s one of the cleanest beaches in the country.

Top Tip

It’s also a popular surfing destination and you can hire equipment from one of the nearby shops. 

Porthminster Beach, Cornwall, England 

Porthminster Beach

A short drive or bus ride away from St Ives is Porthminster Beach – voted Britain’s Best Beach after winning TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards three times since 2009. 

With golden sands stretching for more than half-a-mile, this really is your chance to find your very own slice of paradise. The beach is also popular for surfing and there are plenty of rock pools to explore during low tide, while the clear water makes it a great spot for snorkelling too.

Traeth Abermaw Beach, Snowdonia, Wales 

This Blue Flag beach is located in the Snowdonia National Park and offers stunning views of the Mawddach Estuary. 

The wide promenade makes it perfect for a family day out, while there are also plenty of facilities nearby including toilets, cafes and shops. With its white sands and crystal clear waters, Barmouth Beach really is a little slice of paradise!

Windsurfing and sailing are popular activities on this beach thanks to the consistent winds that blow here, so if you’re looking for an adrenaline rush then this could be the place for you! 

Uphill Sands, Somerset, England

Located at the southern end of the sprawling beach at Weston-super-Mare, Uphill Sands has become one of the go-to spots for beach sports in the UK.

With one of the largest tidal waves in the world, the golden sands stretch out for miles and miles at low tide, giving you plenty of space to enjoy some kite-flying and beach surfing while the tide is out, and windsurfing and kite-surfing during high tide.

If you’d rather just sit and relax, no problem. There’s plenty of space for you to lay down your beach mat and relax with a good book in the sun. And, it’s also got some of the most beautiful seaside sunsets in the UK as it faces to the west.

Pentle Bay, Isles of Scilly, England

Pentle Bay, Isles of Scilly, England

Located nearly 30 miles from Land’s End in Cornwall, Pentle Bay on the Isles of Scilly is one of England’s most undiscovered, and beautiful beaches. Set in the midst of the Atlantic Ocean, the climate here is unusually warm for the UK, and with crystalline blue waters lapping against chalk-white sands, you could be forgiven for thinking you were in Antigua or Bali.

The water is completely safe for swimming and sports, while bird watchers and geologists will find plenty to keep them occupied as well. 

Cuckmere Haven, East Sussex, England

Located on the English Channel and mouth of the River Cuckmere, Cuckmere Haven is one of the most beautiful beaches in East Sussex, and one of the quietest. Considered one of the wildest beaches on the south coast, not only can you enjoy beautiful views towards Seaford to the West, but also the beautiful undulating chalk cliffs of the Seven Sisters.

This used to be a favourite seaside gathering point for the Bloomsbury Set in the early 20th century, and it’s easy to see why. 

Top Tip

Just a word of warning, if you want to venture into the undercliff area, be careful as you can quickly become cut off by tides around the river mouth.

Brancaster Beach, Norfolk, England

The North Norfolk Coast is an underrated stretch of UK coastline, yet full of stunning beaches. Indeed, this entire piece of coast has been designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Brancaster is one of the lower-key beaches along the section of coastline, with its dog-friendly beaches perfect for long walks along the sand. Kitesurfers have perfect conditions with flat water, and at load tide, you can spot the wreck of SS Vina which was used for target practice by the RAF during World War II.

Keep an eye out on tidal timetables for swimming, they can be strong so be careful. But the water is stunning. Meanwhile, the Crab Hut near the car park serves incredible freshly caught lobster and crab rolls. Yum!

Tunnels Beach, Devon, England

Tunnels Beach, Devon, England

While all of the beaches to this point in this article have been golden, sandy, and free, Tunnels Beach is different. A shingle beach that is open during the spring and summer, entry is £2.50 for adults.

Yet, the reason for including this beach on my list is that it takes you back to a bygone-era, when the seaside holiday was just becoming popular in the UK with the Victorians. You enter Tunnel Beach through a paved tunnel, emerging into a beach that was handcrafted in the 1820s into two separate areas, the Gentlemen’s beach and the Ladies’ beach. 

Thankfully, no such gender divide remains today, but the tidal pool is still intact and is the perfect spot for a dip long after the tide has disappeared into the distance.

Best Beaches in the UK: Map 

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  1. The UK has an amazing coastline and I think you have show cased the best beaches here really well. You’ve got me wanting to plan a day trip now

    1. Thanks Zena! I totally agree – the more I explore the coast, the more I love it. Let me know if you end up heading to one!

  2. What an awesome list of 20 Amazing Beaches for Your British Travel Bucket. Have bookmarked, and shared it on twitter! I love to have an activity planned each day, makes the hols seem so much easier to cope with!

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