‘Oh I do like to be beside the seaside’. There’s nothing more British than walking along a seaside promenade or building sandcastles on the beach. Whether you love the seaside for its amusement arcades, the fish and chips and ice creams, donkey rides, or simply tradition, there’s nothing like a good British holiday. With so many icons, from sticks of rock to colourful beach huts, the seaside really is a part of our Great British makeup. As overseas travel currently seems like a long way away in our quarantined climate, it’s time for a renaissance of the UK holiday. Without further ado, here’s my roundup of the best seaside towns in the UK.
There’s no scenery quite like the beautiful views over Salcombe Harbour which makes it one of the best seaside towns in the UK. A beautiful harbour with aquamarine shades of water, it’s surrounded by pastel coloured houses. A seaside town in South Devon, there are so many beaches to explore in Salcombe, from broad sands to secluded coves. Explore the cobbled streets, pop into the little shops, old seaside pubs, and bakeries to grab some freshly baked scones. Salcombe is great for sailing and boat trips, a perfect activity for the whole family. Take a ferry ride from Salcombe Harbour to distant beaches or to explore the wildlife and scenery. It’s so pretty you’ll forget you’re even in the UK.
St Ives, Cornwall
St Ives has long been one of the nation’s favourite seaside resorts. Thanks to its beautiful golden beaches and clear, aquamarine waters, there’s so much to do in St Ives. It comes to life in the summer, when the beautiful old pubs and restaurants are bustling. Visitors can enjoy the British summertime while walking along St Ives Harbour. Thanks to its subtropical oasis, you can expect temperate weather for most of the year. That makes it perfect for walking the beautiful beaches and trying your hand at surfing. Cornish food is excellent, and St Ives won’t let you down – sample the fresh seafood, Cornish pasties, and fish and chips. Walk the cobbled streets and enjoy the great art scene, from the Tate to the Barbara Hepworth Museum.
Whitby, North Yorkshire
Boasting its very own Blue Flag beach, Whitby has all the premise and ingredients to be one of the best seaside towns in the UK. Visit Whitby for its beautiful coastline walks overlooking the North Sea. It wouldn’t be a true visit without enjoying some tasty fish and chips followed by an ice cream along the seafront. You can walk it all off by meandering the winding cobbled streets of Whitby town centre or along the beach huts. Whitby is a unique seaside town thanks to its intriguing history. On its East Cliff, Gothic Whitby Abbey served as Bram Stoker’s inspiration for Dracula. Nearby, you’ll also discover the Captain Cook Memorial Museum. This is the fascinating house where Cook once lived, featuring maps and paintings.
One of the UK’s favourite seaside towns on England’s southern coast, Bournemouth is a quintessential Victorian coastal break. With over seven miles of golden sandy beach, it’s perfect for taking long walks to get fresh sea air. Enjoy walking past the Victorian architecture and be sure to check out Bournemouth Pier and its amusement arcade. A Bournemouth must-do is eating fish and chips on the seafront. There are plenty of things to do in Bournemouth. Visit the activity centre, stroll along Bournemouth Gardens, or head to nearby Boscombe to surf. Partygoers won’t be disappointed with the nightlife – head to the Triangle for the best bars and clubs.
Looking for a place to party? Check out my guide to the UK’s best party cities.
One of the best seaside towns in the UK, Weston-Super-Mare is also one of the England’s oldest coastal resorts. The main attraction is its long stretch of sand. Take a stroll while stopping off along the promenade for seaside snacks like fish and chips, candy floss, and ice cream. Weston-Super-Mare is perfect for beach activities like building sandcastles, taking donkey rides, and simply sunbathing. Head to the landmark Grand Pier for plenty of rides and attractions to stay amused for hours. Enjoy the beautiful views across the coast, the Bristol Channel, and beyond to the nearby Mendip Hills.
Brighton, East Sussex
Undoubtedly one of the best seaside towns in the UK, Brighton is just an hour’s journey south of London. Head to the pebble beach and relax on one of Brighton’s iconic striped deckchairs. Of course, head to the landmark Brighton Pier, which dates back to 1899. Enjoy the amusement arcade and grab some snacks or fish and chips from the kiosks. Noone can miss the iconic Royal Pavilion, where King George IV once lived. An incredible Indo-Saracenic structure, its ornate building and gardens are well worth exploring. A little further back from the sea, you’ll find the Lanes, a set of winding alleyways packed with antique shops, pubs, and cafes. Brighton’s nightlife is some of the best in the UK. It has a great scene for the LGBTQ crowd, and plenty of fun bars and clubs.
Bamburgh is one of the best seaside towns in the UK thanks to its beautiful, sprawling landscape. Located on Northumberland’s rugged coast, its stunning secluded beach was awarded Blue Flag status. Come to Bamburgh expecting sheer scenery – it has gorgeous countryside, and a long stretch of beach surrounded by dunes. See if you can spot the local wildlife, from puffins to seals. Bamburgh’s surrounding architecture is ancient, making it a fascinating seaside town. Bamburgh Castle is one of the most famous landmarks in the town. Once the seat of the former Kings of Northumbria, it’s a beautiful castle to discover.
Situated on England’s pretty east coast and overlooking the English North Sea, Southwold is one of the best seaside towns in the UK. Southwold offers everything you could want from a holiday, without the need to go abroad. Enjoy relaxing on the sandy beach, and stroll along past its beautifully coloured beach huts. Take a walk along the traditional pier, and of course enjoy seaside food like fish and chips among the sea air. Southwold has an operating lighthouse that visitors can walk to – explore and enjoy the beautiful views across the bay. Don’t miss glorious Adnams Brewery which has been working for over 670 years in Southwold. As well as delicious beer, you can explore the delicious range of bars and restaurants in the seaside town, many on the pretty market square.
Tenby – or Dinbych-y-Pysgod – in its native Welsh, can be translated to mean Fortress of the Fish. It’s also one of Wales’ prettiest resorts, and undoubtedly one of the best seaside towns in the UK. Tenby, in the county of Pembrokeshire, boasts beautiful azure sea lapping up against pastel coloured houses. There are three stunning Blue Flag beaches for long coastal walks, all surrounded by medieval stone walls which date back to the thirteenth century. For pretty views, take the coastal path which travels from Tenby to nearby Manorbier. Explore the ruins of Tenby Castle, which are located on a headland that overlooks the harbour. Another historical artefact includes the Tudor Merchant’s House which recreates home life from the sixteenth century. Tenby’s a fascinating seaside town to explore.
Eastbourne, East Sussex
With a unique pier and a long and beautiful stretch of beach, Eastbourne is one of the best seaside towns in the UK. Stroll along the pretty seafront promenade, and pass its bandstand and grand Victorian buildings. Eastbourne Pier is over 1,000 feet long, and offers great views back across the town. With a historic reputation as a seaside town, Eastbourne boasts an iconic shingle beach with deckchairs along the Grand Parade. Continue walking along the promenade, and you’ll discover the gorgeous beaches of the South Downs. Don’t miss the striking chalk cliffs of nearby Beachy Head, and see if you can see its stripy lighthouse which dates back to 1902.
That’s my list of the best seaside towns in the UK! Where’s yours? Let me know if there are any others you think should be added to the list.