While the UK may not have a tropical climate, it is home to some beautiful beaches, offering a variety of landscapes and fantastic coastal experiences. Whether nestled in national parks or overlooking historic castles, these beaches offer a diverse tapestry of natural beauty.
From the sheltered bay of Blackpool Sands in Devon to the dramatic chalk sea cliffs of Seven Sisters in Sussex, here are the best beaches in the UK.
1. Blackpool Sands, Devon
Devon’s Blackpool Sands Beach is a Blue Flag beach surrounded by lush evergreen and scented pines that will make you feel like you are in the Mediterranean. Being a privately managed beach, it has kept its standards high, making it one of the UK’s most popular beaches. Its location along the Southwest Coast Path has also made it an ideal place to take scenic walks by the coast.
Renowned for its pristine water quality, Blackpool Sands proudly holds multiple awards as a beach destination. In the summer, lifeguards are on duty to ensure a safe environment for you and your little ones. The expansive sandy shores provide ample space for kids to indulge in playful activities like building sandcastles, making Blackpool Sands an ideal choice for memorable and safe family beach getaways. Aside from the presence of lifeguards, Blackpool Sands has the usual toilets, showers, and disabled facilities.
If you have kids who want to add a little adrenaline to your beach getaway, Blackpool Sands offers the perfect setting for them to try exciting water sports like kayaking and paddleboarding. As one of the UK’s most popular beaches, there are plenty of great accommodations close to Blackpool Sands, giving you plenty of options on where to stay. You can stay at B&Bs, self-catering cottages, or guest houses. Many of these give you easy access to the beach.
2. Walberswick Beach, Suffolk
Loved by families, dog walkers, and swimmers alike, Walberswick Beach in Suffolk stands out as an outstanding destination for a UK beach getaway. This unique combination of stone and sand offers a wild, windswept charm, complemented by its strategic proximity to the Walberswick Nature Reserve. With captivating vistas stretching from Southwold to the north and Sizewell to the south, it is a haven for surfers, kite surfers, canoeists, and other water sports enthusiasts. Whether you seek serene walks, refreshing swims, or thrilling water sports, Walberswick Beach is a fantastic place to visit.
While most visitors would come here for the beach, feel free to explore Walberswick. The picturesque coastal village is home to delightful pubs, shops, and cafes. You will also find art galleries, vintage shops, and stalls selling local arts and crafts. Head to the Southwold side of the river Blyth, where you’ll find harbour huts selling freshly caught fish.
Overlooking the village, St. Andrews Church is worth checking out. Constructed at the close of the 15th Century, the church faced a decline despite its initial prosperity, losing its tithes. Consequently, it underwent partial dismantling to fund much-needed repairs and restoration, focusing on the south aisle.
3. Crackington Haven Beach, Bude, Cornwall
Located along Cornwall’s North Coast, Crackington Haven is part of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, making it one of the prettiest beaches in the UK. The unspoiled sand and shingle cove sits between imposing cliffs, offering an ideal setting for fun family days out. It has also become a favourite spot for surfers and beach bummers who want to enjoy the sunshine while relaxing on the sand.
When the tide goes out, numerous enchanting rock pools emerge, unveiling a hidden world of sheltered sea life. Crackington Haven is a well-equipped beach with a charming bistro café, a welcoming family pub, convenient toilet facilities, and a quaint outlet offering various beach essentials. This coastal haven not only captivates with its natural wonders but also provides the convenience of amenities and eateries, enhancing the overall beach getaway experience. There is also some fantastic group accommodation for family and friends, allowing them to extend their stay and fully immerse themselves in the beauty of Crackington Haven.
Being a year-round destination, Crackington Haven is a great place to visit any season. In the spring, the surrounding cliffs and hills are blanketed with vivid green grass and thick carpets of wildflowers. In summer, the beach comes to life as beachgoers flock to bathe in its warm Atlantic waters, providing the perfect conditions for swimming and enjoying water sports.
4. St Cyrus, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Nestled in the north-eastern coastal expanse between Dundee and Aberdeen, St. Cyrus is a quaint fishing village in Scotland. It’s home to some of the UK’s most stunning sandy beaches, stretching over three miles and bordered by a scenic nature reserve.
The village maintains a connection to its maritime roots, with fishing still playing a pivotal role in the local economy. It’s known for exporting lobster, showcasing the village’s enduring ties to the sea while contributing to the local livelihoods.
The St. Cyrus National Nature Reserve is considered one of the UK’s richest nature reserves. It’s home to a golden beach with imposing volcanic cliffs around it. Aside from swimming and enjoying the views, you could spot marine life like dolphins, porpoises, and whales. And if you get closer to the land, you could catch a glimpse of seals and other varieties of birds.
5. Seven Sisters, Sussex
Located at a point where the South Down meets the sea, the Seven Sisters are a series of stunning chalk cliffs in the English Channel. Its iconic white chalky appearance and breathtaking natural beauty are unlike anywhere else. At the foot of the cliffs, you’ll find gullies and ridges along with varied marine life like sea anemones and sponges.
The Seven Sisters are now part of the Heritage Coast, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Thus, the area’s unspoilt beauty remains protected for generations to come.
The Seven Sisters is the most famous stretch of coast within the South Downs National Park. Aside from spotting wildlife, people would come here for activities like birdwatching, walking, and cycling, ideally starting at the visitor centre at Cuckmere Haven.