Britain's Top Coastlines: Best Beaches to Visit in the UK this Summer
With summer in full swing and the school holidays finally here, you may well be considering where's best to take a dip in the dazzling, deep blue! Thankfully, there are countless beautiful beaches scattered all across England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales that provide a perfect location for a refreshing summer's day out, mini weekend break or even a week-long, fun-filled family beach holiday. Since coastal destination possibilities are endless – a real upside of Britain being an island – we thought we'd make your travel plans a little easier; we've done our homework in order to bring you a narrowed down list of some of the best beaches in the UK. From unmissable sandy beaches to those with the best sea views, the cleanest waters or unrivalled rock pools, read our location inspiration and discover your new favourite British beach! Trust us, you're sure to find at least one perfect place listed below to while away those long summer days.
What is the nicest, most beautiful beach in the UK?
The UK has a treasure-trove of diverse coastal landscapes, making it nigh-on impossible to rank one beach above them all! But, here's a little line-up of some of the prettiest seaside spots. The Seven Sisters in Sussex is a natural wonder, with its steep white chalk cliffs that loom over the English Channel. Likewise, St. Bees Beach in Cumbria is bordered by dramatic red sandstone cliffs, from which the Isle of Man can be viewed on a clear day. Another iconic coastal location and awe-inspiring landmark is Durdle Door – a rock archway along the coast of Dorset that opens out to sea. Though the beach here is formed of shingle and shelves steeply (making it a potentially hazardous bathing location) this place really is a natural masterpiece, particularly at sunrise and sunset. Less majestic but quaint nonetheless, Whitby Beach in Yorkshire is notable for its pure waters and classic seaside feel – donkey rides can even be enjoyed along this sandy Blue Flag award beach, making it a top spot to take the kids! Southwold, another sandy beach situated in Sussex that has also been repeatedly crowned with a Blue Flag award, similarly overflows with traditional seaside charisma thanks to its pier and colourful beach huts. Meanwhile, Whitstable Beach in Kent is a charming pebbled alternative, equally lined with brightly coloured huts and a promenade that gives access to a small, lively harbour.
A famous few from every home nation: Where are the best sandy beaches in the UK?
England: A classic seaside destination for domestic travel, it will come as no surprise that Cornwall has many popular sandy beaches to offer. Renowned for being one of the best surfing beaches worldwide and famous for its jagged cliffs, Watergate Bay is one English sandy beach that's especially deserving of a visit. Its gleaming sands run for 2 miles at low tide, and it's a family favourite thanks to the fact it has many rock pools and caves to explore.
Wales: If you're in search of a particularly picturesque sandy beach, you'd be wise to head to the Gower Coast. Named an 'Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty', its largely untouched coastline is simply stunning and includes 30 beaches, so there's plenty to choose from! For an invigorating walk that exposes you to spectacular sea views, head to Three Cliffs Bay Beach and scale the age-old limestone rocks. You'll want your walking shoes on for this outing though! Otherwise, for total tranquility, Swansea's Rhossili Bay tops the list, having won countless awards, including the accolade of best beach in Europe and Britain's best picnic spot. With towering cliffs that offer extensive sea views and a chance to catch a glimpse of dolphins, this exceptional beach is a must-see!
Ireland: Wildlife lovers may also like to add Northern Ireland's Portstewart Strand to their travel bucket list. Along with dolphins, whales and seals can often be spotted from this glorious strip of beach and, if you fix your gaze in the opposite direction, you'll catch sight of an array of wild flowers and butterflies dancing among the dunes that run alongside the unfolding sands.
Scotland: Bonnie Scotland also has some jaw-droppingly beautiful sandy sights, particularly among its islands. For ultimate serenity, we recommend travelling away from the mainland and heading to Scarista on the Isle of Harris. With its glinting, tropical-looking blue waters, this quiet beach may dupe you into believing you're somewhere far more exotic. Rich in wildlife and amazingly peaceful, you won't regret marking this place on your map! Just keep in mind that you might experience all seasons in one day on this Scottish isle, so packing your windbreaker wouldn't go amiss.
Splish, splash, splosh... What is the warmest British beach?
In reality, it's a little tricky to pin-point Britain's warmest beach as the sea temperatures change year on year. Nevertheless, if you're seeking warmer waters, you're generally better off heading south. And, geographically benefiting from the warming influence of the Gulf Stream, the south west coast of England is really where you want to brave the waves. Nicknamed the 'English Riviera', Torbay in south Devon is home to several must-see, warm sandy beaches. With a rainbow of beach chalets, a safe shoreline and a fascinating collection of rock pools in low tide, Meadfoot Beach is one that’s particularly worth a visit. Torquay's principal beach, Torre Abbey Sands, is another to add to your travel agenda, with easy access and water sports opportunities galore. To name but a few more, Godrington Sands and the more secluded Maidencombe Beach won't disappoint – just make sure you have your swimwear and sandals at the ready! Alternatively, venture further afield and head to the Scilly Isles; Pentle Bay is a great find, with its gleaming white sands and swimming-friendly, warm waters.
Head to southern England for Britain's longest beach
Stretching an impressive 18 miles, Chesil Beach – sometimes called Chesil Bank – in Dorset is the longest beach in the UK. However, this rugged, shingly coastline is not like your generic beach; although often referred to as a tombola (a landform that connects an island and mainland together), it is in fact considered a rare example of a barrier beach. It forms part of the Jurassic Coast, a UNESCO natural world heritage site, and is a popular destination that's well and truly worth visiting if you want to witness nature in all its majesty – wild and untamed. This expansive southern coastline is not necessarily suitable for swimming, but it's a great spot for fishing and bird-watching!
Let the sea set you free
There you have it – a whistle-stop tour of some of the UK's most idyllic beaches. Nothing beats a burst of fresh seaside air, along with the sound of lapping waves and gulls overhead! Plan a fun-filled trip for all the family and discover what mesmerising wonders the shores of the UK have in store for you this summer!