The UK offers some of the world’s most breathtaking landscapes and beaches despite its reputation for being a little chilly and windy. Ever ponder the origin of New South Wales’ name? There are vast expanses of gorgeous white beaches in England, Scotland, and Wales, as well as a tiny island with water of the colour of the Caribbean rocky cliffs and enormous sand dunes.
The best beaches in the UK are unexpectedly beautiful, even though the historic sites are an attraction. You should take the time to explore some breathtaking coastlines, whether you go to the windswept coasts of Wales or Scotland or Norfolk’s otherworldly white beaches.
Sure, there are the quaint, kid-friendly Woolacombe sands and the beach houses painted in rainbow colours on Summerleaze, but did you know that you can glimpse porpoises from the pristine sands of Scarista Beach? Or the unrivalled picnic location with a view of Lulworth Cove?
1. Best Beaches to Visit in the UK
With this list of the 26 best beaches to visit in the UK, you may choose the ideal gorgeous patch of sand for your upcoming holiday.
1.1. Holkham Beach, Norfolk
Holkham Beach is a four-mile stretch of golden sand that is wild, free, and almost lunar in appearance. It is bordered by pine forests and enormous sand dunes that are held in place by wildflowers and marram grass.
A lagoon is formed when a half-moon basin fills up during high tide. Since it is a protected area within the Holkham estate and nature reserve, no fires or grills are allowed there. It is also an excellent place for beachcombing.
This enormous beach is bordered by a lush nature preserve, which is home to a maze of clearly marked walking trails. Explore the pine forests and salt marshes to spot uncommon birds, orchids, and sea lavender.
1.2. Portstewart Strand, Derry, Northern Ireland
Between Portstewart and the River Bann‘s mouth, rolling dunes and pristine sands can be seen. The two-mile length is one of the remaining locations in Ireland where cars are still permitted to drive directly onto the beach, so authorized drivers may celebrate.
It might not be to everyone’s taste, but families looking to have picnics on the coastlines find it very interesting. Once finished, head to the Three Kings Coffee Company for a real flat white sourdough sandwich and some excellent pancake stacks.
In the grassy dunes, hide-and-seek games are very enjoyable.
1.3. North Shore Beach, Llandudno, Wales
North Shore Beach in North Wales has a classic British seaside feel.
You may take a donkey ride, enjoy some ice cream, listen to a live band, or watch a beloved Punch and Judy show before passing out on a striped deckchair at this beach with soft sand and a long traditional pier.
1.4. Durdle Door, Jurassic Coast, Dorset
Durdle Door is the name of the limestone arch that separates St. Oswald’s Bay and Man O’War Cove, two beautiful beaches on the Jurassic Coast. They won’t be congested even on the hottest summer days; you must descend several hundred cliffside steps to get here.
But the ascent is worthwhile. It is such a stunning place that Pink Floyd artwork, Cliff Richard, Bruce Dickinson, and Tears for Fears music videos have all been shot there, along with scenes from the films Far From the Madding Crowd and Wilde.
Even the toughest swimmers shiver in the sea’s shockingly cold waters, which are unexpectedly blue and clean.
1.5. Luskentyre Beach, Outer Hebrides, Scotland
The Outer Hebrides’ most atmospheric scenery can be found on the Isle of Harris. It has a genuine sense of solitude because of the gloomy, sombre backgrounds and lunar-like landscapes.
Perhaps the best is Luskentyre Beach, which features stunning, crystal-clear waters that are more often associated with the Caribbean than with Scotland and are framed by a long, white coastline.
Otters, seals, dolphins, eagles, and deer are just a few examples of wildlife that can occasionally be seen grazing along the dunes in Harris.
1.6. Barafundle Bay, Pembrokeshire, Wales
Barafundle Bay is another prize-winning beach. The most beautiful coastline and sand can be found in southwest Wales. Try the stunning Barafundle Bay, which can only be accessed after an exhilarating half-hour gallop across the clifftops, ensuring that it is still largely uninhabited even during summer.
Aside from a few surfers who are brave enough to face the chilly Irish Sea year-round, you may frequently find the beach to yourself when it’s not in season. However, during the summer, the water is uncharacteristically blue for the Irish Sea and has been compared to the Caribbean Sea. Since there are no stores around, bring a picnic.
1.7. Rhossili Bay, Gower Peninsula Coast, Wales
These beaches are unbelievably pristine, and the sapphire blue sea gave this region its moniker.
The main drawback is that the sea is too choppy and cold to appreciate, but going in the summer will be an unforgettable experience.
1.8. Formby Beach, Merseyside
It is the best place to see red squirrels on a wild walk from the shore to the woods.
The lovely, family-friendly Formby Beach is embraced by a network of dunes that shift at an alarming rate of four metres per year. The tides reveal prehistoric footprints; take a stroll down the beach to find them and gaze out to sea for breathtaking vistas of the Irish Sea.
1.9. Porthcurno Beach, Cornwall, England
A stunning coastal cliff range surrounds the beach in Porthcurno Bay. At its foot is the crescent-shaped wedge of sand that makes up one of England’s finest beaches. Porthcurno is a visual treat and has inspired many landscape artists and photographers.
In addition to its breathtaking surroundings, Porthcurno Beach is renowned for its distinctive Minack Theatre, an outdoor theatre with panoramic views of the coastline that was hewn out of the cliffs. Various theatrical organizations put out shows from May to September.
Beachgoers can use a car park at the cliff’s peak, which is staffed by a café and restaurant during the peak tourist season.
1.10. Bournemouth Beach, Bournemouth, Dorset
The expansive stretch known as Bournemouth Beach, which spans more than 11 miles of gorgeous golden sand, actually encompasses some locations, from Hengistbury Head in the east, through Southbourne, Boscombe, Bournemouth town, and westward into Poole.
Bournemouth Beach, known for its iconic pier, has a variety of family-friendly recreational opportunities, such as the thrilling pier-to-shore zipline.
One of the nicest beaches close to London is Bournemouth Beach, about two hours southwest of the English city. It becomes a gathering place in the summer for Londoners seeking a peaceful, sandy weekend getaway in South England.
1.11. West Wittering Beach, Sussex
The settlement of West Wittering Beach hugs the shore not far from the ancient city of Chichester. This adorable location is well-known for its A-list celebrity residents.
West Wittering Beach is a popular spot for visiting families to bring their buckets and spades.
While visiting, visitors will understand the significance of the nearby wetlands, an environment renowned for its biodiversity, birdlife, and breathtaking beauty.
The sea, which is renowned for its great water quality, attracts kitesurfers. Kids and adults of all ages will find a succession of shallow lagoons present during low tide to be an interesting region of adventure that is irresistible to explore.
A well-liked beach café, a practical shower building, and a water sports club are included in the recreational amenities.
1.12. Bamburgh Beach, Northumberland
The massive Bamburgh Castle, whose ominous ramparts overlook one of northern England’s most spectacular beaches, inspires this gorgeous stretch of sand. Although it is believed that a castle formerly stood here, most of what you see today originates from the 12th century.
The Bamburgh Beach is a beautiful expanse of sand backed by a swaying bank of flower-topped dunes and is a popular spot for kiteboarding and surfing.
The inner Farne Islands, formerly inhabited by hermits and monks and now home to an amazing diversity of seabirds, are located across from the shore. It is also known as Bamburgh Castle Beach.
1.13. Brighton Beach, East Sussex
The most vibrant and culturally varied town in England is Brighton. Brighton has a fantastic 5.5-mile shingle beach in addition to its popular tourist attractions.
Brighton Beach‘s base is rather rocky, so wear your shoes and bring a large towel or beach chair.
The location draws beachgoers from all over the country, water sports aficionados drawn by the availability of kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding, and traditional beach games like extreme Frisbee and volleyball.
Brighton has a wide variety of dining establishments, sporting venues, amusement parks, and year-round entertainment.
1.14. Woolacombe Beach, Devon
Woolacombe Beach, a three-mile (4.8-kilometre) stretch of charming, sandy beach in Devon, is popular with tourists, families, and residents who come to enjoy a classic British seaside experience.
In addition to swimming, surfing, kayaking, kitesurfing, and jet skiing, many other activities are available.
Although numerous beach huts are available for day rentals, there are plenty of seaside stores, cafes, and restaurants to keep you busy.
1.15. Compton Bay Beach, Isle of Wight
This Compton Bay Beach lies at West Wight and lacks any notable recreational features. Therefore, visitors should bring everything they need for a day to one of the island’s most stunning beaches.
A contrasted expanse of black and golden beaches covers Compton Bay Beach, bordered by choppy waters and occasionally unpredictable breezes. The honey and caramel-coloured sandstone cliffs that form a pleasing backdrop add more colour. Seabirds fly overhead on rising thermals there as well.
The majority of the beach is gentle and softly shelving. However, a few sections of submerged rock extend out to sea and remain concealed during high tide, so you need to be cautious of these. Shallow water is a safe place to paddle.
Beginner paleontologists can reserve trips on the beach to witness dinosaur footprints at Hanover Point that are exposed at low tide on the sandstone ledge.
1.16. Scarista Beach, Isle of Harris, Scotland
Even on a cloudy day, Scarista Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in the Hebrides, is stunning; nevertheless, on a sunny day, you’ll find it difficult to tear yourself away from the enticing ocean’s sugary soft sand. Some of the best gastronomic destinations are close by despite their distant setting.
1.17. Giant’s Causeway, Ireland
You’ve probably seen pictures of Giant’s Causeway, which, while not technically a beach, is undoubtedly the most famous section of coastline in the UK.
The tens of thousands of stone columns sculpted by wind and sea over the years make the UNESCO World Heritage site a well-known geological marvel.
Numerous guided tours are available to properly explore the region, as well as a few cafes and shops, so you should not worry about that. It is not a site for swimming or other typical beach activities.
1.18. Studland Bay, Dorset
Best for developing a complete tan. Studland Bay may have a few beach balls in sight as one of the UK’s most well-known naturist beaches. If skinny-dipping isn’t your thing, stay to the south, where there is lush heathland and a forested area with walking trails where you can see wild deer and birdlife.
The tiny town of Studland, which was the inspiration for Noddy’s Toytown because it is so ridiculously adorable, has a variety of dining establishments, including the Michelin-recommended Pig on the Beach, where hearty British dishes are prepared using ingredients that are either grown on-site or that are sourced within a 25-mile radius.
1.19. St. Bees, Cumbria
St Bees is a wonderfully lovely stretch of shingle and sand that is bordered by several low cliffs and is a great area to spend a quiet day of reflection.
Here, you may select an amazing variety of shells and stones, many resulting from the cliff face’s ongoing erosion.
1.20. Pentle Bay, Isles Of Scilly
The Isles of Scilly are frequently referred to as the UK’s answer to the Mediterranean, but don’t anticipate this stunning destination, ‘Pentle Bay,’ to be effortless.
It’s common for only one ferry every day, leaving Cornwall at six in the morning and arriving at the island three hours later.
Its magnificent white sand beaches and clear, blue sea are beautiful because they are typically uninhabited.
Although there are other beaches on the Scilly, it is worth spending a few days there to visit the communities, harbours, and, most importantly, some of the most beautiful beaches in the UK.
1.21. Kynance Cove, Cornwall
It’s understandable why Kynance Cove is among Cornwall’s most photographed beaches, given its soft white sand, deep blue waters, and striking rock formations.
The bathing pool and the drawing room are only a couple of the fascinating networks of coves and sea caves that are entirely hidden by the rising tide if you time it right.
The 10-minute descent from the parking lot is steep, so proceed with caution and treat yourself to some crab sandwiches from the popular Kynance Cove Cafe when you reach the bottom.
1.22. South Bay, Scarborough, Yorkshire
According to legends, Scarborough Beach, located in North Yorkshire, was one of the first spas in the world. As early as 1611, travellers would travel great distances to take a dip in the sea because it was believed that its waters had strange therapeutic characteristics.
The beach is still beautiful today and has many activities to keep you busy. Make sure to see Scarborough Castle’s 11th-century ruins, which stand between South Bay and its equally breathtaking brother, North Bay.
1.23. Saunton Sands, North Devon
Southwest England’s best coastline comprises Devon and Cornwall, and Saunton Sands in North Devon is one of the region’s well-known beaches.
It is ideal for swimmers and beginners to water activities like surfing because the sea is tranquil and the beach is long.
There are several cafés and businesses, and a walking path leads to Crow’s Point, where you can get a birds-eye perspective of the neighbourhood. Additionally, this beautiful beach is the most wheelchair-accessible in North Devon.
1.24. Blackpool Sands, South Devon
South Devon is home to the somewhat unlucky-sounding Blackpool Sands, which is a lovely surprise. You arrive at an incredible stretch of beach after driving past pine trees that nearly feel like they belong on the Amalfi Coast.
Despite its name and distant look, the beach is really made up of the tiniest, smoothest pebbles, which causes the water to be remarkably pure. It is one of the pebble beaches.
In hot weather, the pontoon off the coast is the coolest spot to be, perfect for jumping into the bay’s clear waters.
The Venus Café, located at the back of the beach, is a cut above your typical beach caff. It serves locally grown food, including lobster, steak, and ethically obtained seafood. It is open every day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
1.25. Three Cliffs Bay, Wales
Due to the difficulty of climbing the dunes in Three Cliffs Bay, which is unquestionably one of Britain’s most picturesque shorelines, the area is usually quiet year-round.
Nevertheless, the climb is worthwhile. An undulating stretch of sandy coastline with numerous picture-perfect beaches transitions from rough green cliffs.
Naturalists and horseback riders enjoy Three Cliffs Bay; you can frequently see them racing down the sand. If you’re lucky, you might even see a rare peregrine falcon flying overhead.
1.26. Bantham Beach, South Devon
Located in the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, this beautiful beach is one of Devon’s greatest beaches. Bantham Beach is accessible by a winding country road lined with cowslip and foxglove hedgerows, which you must squeeze through to pass VW surf wagons.
The sand is light and fine; there are lovely rock pools and a small estuary to discover. Because the waves break here long and low, both experienced and novice surfers like it. There is a huge sand area when the tide is out.
If you wear your shortest shorts and arrive at Burgh Island at the correct moment, you might be able to walk there. Dunes and steep cliffs provide wind protection.
The UK is home to some of the best beaches in the world. From the white sand beaches of the Isle of Wight to the wild coastline of Cornwall, there is something for everyone.