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17 Best Beaches in the United Kingdom to Visit

Beaches in the United Kingdom offer fantastic vacation options for every traveler from families to honeymooners.

Situated on thousands of miles of breathtaking coastline, you’ll find quaint getaways, lively nightspots, and everything in between.

Accommodations range from luxe to cozy, but they all live up to the charm and utter Britishness of the rest of Great Britain.

Indulge your active side with an outdoor adventure on beautiful beaches or take in the spectacular views from the rugged coasts of Wales.

Whatever your UK beach vibe might be, you’ll find it on one of the sandy beaches that make up thousands of miles of British seacoast.

Here are the best beaches in the United Kingdom grouped and ranked, for the ultimate British beach vacation.

Best Beaches in Central England

17. Best Beach Near London: Ruislip Lido, West London

London beaches are perhaps the best way to maximize your time in the sand and sun if the city is your vacation base. Ruislip Lido is a golden sand beach that’s only a tube ride away from the city center.

The 60-acre lake is on the edge of the bucolic Ruislip Woods National Nature Reserve–726 acres of an ancient forest.

The lake and the golden sand beach area are at the end of a short, beautiful hike through the woodlands.

It’s a hugely popular spot with local families because there are also playgrounds, an ice-cream shop, and a miniature train for trips around the lake. 

The journey to Ruislip takes only an hour from the center of London, including the tube ride to Ruislip Station and a bus ride to this London paradise.

Ruislip Lido, West London
Image by Dudley Miles used under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

Be aware though, while the lake is scenic and the sands are warm, swimming is not permitted. But entry is free for a lovely beach day while in London.

16. Camber Sands, Sussex

For more sandy beaches near London, check out the Sussex coast. Camber Sands in East Sussex features the area’s only sand dunes. For only a two-hour drive from London, enjoy pristine sands, kitesurfing, and windsurfing.

Kitesurfing for all abilities, kite buggying, and land boarding lessons can be taken here daily between March and November.

The flat, sandy terrain of rolling dunes is perfect for beginners to learn and the water is only about waist-high up to 300 meters out. The dunes of Camber Sands.

15. Priory Bay, Seaview, Isle of Wight

The last of our London beaches is Priory Bay beach. Located on the Isle of Wight, this beach is a well-kept secret.

You’ll always find a quiet corner even in the middle of summer. Its gently sloping, sandy, the tree-lined beach makes it perfect for sunbathing. Swimmers love the calm waters too.

The sun is brightest in the morning as the beach faces the east, so plan accordingly. You’ll also need to pack in your provisions, including drinking water.

The Isle of Wight is just off the southern coast of England and is an approximately two-hour journey by train and high-speed ferry from London.

Priory Bay, Seaview
Image by Debnigo used under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

The entire island is known for its sandy beaches and chalk cliffs so it’s worth exploring. Go for the day or overnight.

These make for great holiday destinations in the UK.

Beaches in Northern England

14. Bamburgh Beach, Northumberland, England

Bamburgh Beach is one of the best-known beaches in the Northeastern United Kingdom but still in England.

Known as having existed here from the 6th century something castle can be found today that dates back to the 13th century. The North Sea water is rather cold throughout the year but it can provide warmth in particular warm summers.

Close to the beach sit the outer Falkland Islands once the home of monks and hermits and today the breeding grounds for a fantastic variety of seabirds.

The beach is a wonderful source of surfing and kite surfing with the opportunity of rock-pooling near the Stag Rocks lighthouse in Northumberland.

It’s also a wonderful place to ride horses.

See Related: Best Affordable Castle Hotels in Ireland

Beaches in Southwest England

13. Nanjizal, Land’s End, West Cornwall

Of all the United Kingdom beaches, this one in Land’s End does feel like the edge of the world, even if it’s only a cliffside away from civilization. This alone makes it one of the best road trips in the United Kingdom.

Lined with sandstone caves, the dramatic shoreline changes with the storms of winter. But at low tide, a white sandy beach is magically revealed.

Swim in the turquoise sea at the Song of the Sea rock arch and contemplate the mysteries of the waters of the ocean beyond. There are several coves south that are also worth exploring along with crystal clear rock pools. Nanjizal, Land's End, West Cornwall

12. Blackpool Sands, Devon

The rather inauspicious Blackpool Sands is located in actual South Devon. A drive through pine trees nearly likened to the Amalfitan coast leads you to a lovely stretch of beach.

Bamburgh beach is made of the smoothest little pebbles making the water remarkably clear.

At the back of the beach, the Venus Café is one stop above your average beach coffee.

It serves sustainably cultivated seafood and local produce. Toad Hall’s Cottages has some lovely holiday properties to rent in South Devon including Salcombe, Dartmouth, and Bigbury-on-Sea.

This hotel features a staggering cliff-top.

See Related: Best & Fun Things to do in Colmar, France

Beaches in Southeast England

11. West Wittering Beach

West Wittering in West Sussex is well-known for the presence of celebrities. This sandy beach is one of the leading Blue Flag beaches in the country.

The East Head area and around that area is an excellent way to amble a couple of days a week through nature trails. Low tide exposes a series of shallow lagoons that toddlers, with mom and dad in tow, are in for easy exploration.

The sea is known for its outstanding water quality attracts wind and kite surfers and low tide exposes the beach.

West Wittering Beach
Image by David Dixon used under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic

The national trust manages the surrounding land and the area is known for its wildlife, birdlife, and breathtaking beauty.

Here is our list of the top ten beaches in the United Kingdom

10. Speke’s Mill Mouth, Hartland, North Devon

On our list of best beaches in the United Kingdom, Speke’s Mill Mouth will thrill historians as well as naturists. Close to where a 50-meter waterfall ends its cascade, you can collect pieces of driftwood, from long-ago shipwrecks, pitched onto the shore by crashing Atlantic waves.

Between slabs of rocks, soft sand forms pools where you’ll find unusual shells and other ocean treasures. Sort through your spoils and hear stories of the doomed vessels at one of the nearby pubs or tea gardens.

The South West Coast Path runs along the beach which is one of the world’s greatest walks at 630 miles.

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9. Worbarrow Bay, Tyneham, Dorset

For more history on beaches history, visit Worbarrow Bay which was used for army training during World War II. In 1943, the residents of Tyneham Village were made to leave to make room for the English army.

The beach is about a mile’s walk from the town. The bay is part of the area’s Jurassic Coast and is designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

It’s not accessible for those with limited mobility, but for those who can make the hike, the beach is usually quiet with few others around–a nice spot for those looking for contemplative peace.

There are woods where wildlife abounds, as well as ruins and caves to explore. A car park and toilets are only available in town.

The waves of Worbarrow Bay

Beaches in Scotland

8. St. Ninians Isle Sandy Beach, Shetland

One of the most unusual beaches in the UK is the natural sand causeway, or tombolo, of St. Ninians Isle. As you walk along the sand, you’ll have the sea on either side.

The causeway connects the island to the South Mainland of Shetland’s western coast, with the nearest township being Bigton. If you’ve ever seen promotional photographs of Shetland, you’ve likely seen this gorgeous beach.

Although the beach’s namesake was the first missionary in Scotland, circa the 8th century, Neolithic graves were found within the ruins of the chapel dedicated to the saint in the 12th century, making the island an archaeological site. The chapel ruins can be seen at the end of the tombolo.

This, and other fascinating archaeological finds pointing to the presence of Vikings, pre-Norse culture and the Culdees, draws ancient history buffs.

Swimming is not officially permitted.

St. Ninians Isle, Shetland

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7. Tolsta Golden Sand Beach, Isle of Lewis

On our list of the best beaches in the United Kingdom, Tolsta Beach on the Isle of Lewis is a particular favorite of surfers and hikers. You will find it at the north end of the B895. The golden sandy beach is long at around two miles.

Walkers can reach the end and come back again either along the water or on top of the dunes that line it. At the end of the beach, a series of five caves called the “Caves of Life” can be seen at low tide.

Known as the loveliest of the Hebridean beaches, its history is fascinating as well. A crofting village, Tolsta is a Norse name first appearing in records in 1590.

Norse raiders invaded the early Christians that lived there in the early 9th century.

The colors, views, and wildlife of Tolsta all add up to make it one of the most beautiful beaches on the island.

Top point view of the beach

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6. East Beach and West Beach at Lossiemouth, Moray

Two of the finest beaches in the United Kingdom can be found in Lossiemouth, Moray. This delightful town is a golfer’s paradise located in northeast Scotland. East Beach and West Beach are golden with sands and dunes.

Visitors can take in the beautiful views as they walk along the shore.

West Beach has the landmark Covesea Lighthouse, open for touring. East Beach is popular with surfers and dolphins, seals, and bird watchers.

Lossiemouth itself is a quaint seaside town with a championship golf course, Fisheries Museum, and many cafes. Lossie's Mouth

Beaches in Wales

5. LLanbedrog Beach With Beach Huts, Gwynedd

A list of the best beaches in the United Kingdom wouldn’t be complete without a look at the dramatic coastline of Wales and, particularly, Llanbedrog Beach in Gwynedd.

The sheltered, sandy beach overlooking Cardigan is owned and managed by the National Trust and is a favorite of townspeople and visitors.

It’s probably best known for its row of 70 colorful beach huts and incredible views. Golden sand and shallow water make this spot family-friendly. Booking one of these beach cabanas will cost £450, and you get to own it for a full season.

To book one of the cabanas you can download a booking form, fill it and email it between September 1 – December.

Because water temperatures are slightly warmer here, seals and dolphins are easy to spot playing in the sea. The adjacent wild landscape is wonderfully dotted with visible glacier tips and centuries-old fields.

On both land and sea, habitats not found anywhere else in the world mean plenty of options for watching marine creatures and birds, or simply marveling at the extraordinary environment shaped by volcanic activity and thousands of years of cultivation.

Colorful beach huts line the shore.

4. Rhosneigr Beach, Anglesey

Another one of the can’t miss beaches in the UK is Rhosneigr Beach in Anglesey. The seaside village of Rhosneigr is famous for windsurfing, kite-surfing, and sailing.

It also offers 4-miles of warm, sandy beaches lined with shops, ice-cream parlors, and cafes. There’s plenty of access to refreshments and toilets here.

Rhosneigr Beach is a classic family beach on the town’s west side. But you can take a walk from tiny Cable Bay to remote and peaceful Cymyran Beach enjoying lovely views and breezes along the way.

Water sports are enjoyed year-round because of constant westerly wind. Rentals are also available throughout the summers and winters.

See Related: How to Hike the Heart of Wales Line Trail

3. Barafundle Bay, Pembrokeshire

Wondering where to find a beach in the United Kingdom that has crystal blue water? You’ll find tropical-looking seas and golden sands on the remote Barafundle Bay in Pembrokeshire. Lined with dunes and pine trees, this small bay is breathtaking.

It’s only accessible by a half-mile trek from the parking lot and no facilities mean you have to pack in all your essentials. But this swath of shore with Caribbean turquoise water is worth the effort.

Managed by the National Trust, this stunning beach, surrounded by cliffs, has a secret vibe to it. Yet, it’s award-winning and a favorite of adventure travelers the world over.

Its outstanding natural beauty is unmatched anywhere else in the U.K. and beyond. Nearby, charming Stackpole Quay has pub service after a day spent running wild like the winds of Barafundle Bay. The turquoise waters of Barafundle Bay

Beaches in Northern Ireland

2. Benone Beach

Some of the best beaches in the UK are found in nearby Northern Ireland. Find seven miles of unspoiled sandy beach at Benone Beach, one of the longest beaches in Ireland. Families and adventure travelers call this beach a favorite.

The Binevinaugh Mountains create a majestic backdrop as you picnic, swim, walk, or bike-ride along the waterline. There are also amazing views of Donegal and even Scotland. For close-ups of the dunes, take a walk on the boardwalk.

Ride horses, fly kites, fish from the shore, paddleboard or participate in any number of fun activities available year-round. This beautiful beach is also a nature preserve, great for watching birds, porpoises, and seals.

There’s no end to the fun to be had on Benone Beach. Facilities, such as toilets and a cafe are available.

1. Giant’s Causeway

Number one in our list of the best beaches in the UK is Giant’s Causeway located on the ancient island of Northern Ireland. By sheer beauty alone, the beach of Giant’s Causeway is world-class. It’s remote and rugged and utterly breathtaking to see.

It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site formed in the volcanic age, nearly 60 million years ago, of more than 40,000 hexagon-shaped tubes. Get there and you could easily lose yourself in happy exploration. Or simply find a spot to sit and marvel in its raw allure.

Land in Belfast and rent a car to start your journey along the stunning Irish Sea’s North Channel coastline. Many important scenes in HBO’s Game of Thrones have been filmed in this area.

One of Northern Ireland’s most popular landmarks, the causeway is free to see although there’s a visitors’ center if you’d like to pay for a guided tour or audio guide. You can also learn more about how and when the columns were formed.

There’s about a mile between the visitors’ center and the columns but it’s all downhill and you’ll get the thrill of seeing them as they slowly come into view. For the uphill return, you can take a bus for a pound.

Irish folklore says the formations were built by a giant named Finn MacCool who wanted stepping stones to get to Scotland and battle another giant named Benandonner.

The fight didn’t go as planned, but the stones are still there waiting for the inevitable grudge match.

After getting all your photos, you can explore beyond the beach via walking trails that can accommodate almost all levels of ability.

Wear sturdy shoes because the rocks can get slippery. There’s a moderately challenging climb up 162 Shepard’s Steps to the cliff top. Giant's Causeway's unusual lava rock formations.

These beaches show you don’t have to choose tropical vacations to spend time by the sea. Charm, history, fantastic scenery, and quaint villages make these British shores unforgettable.

If you cannot visit any of these beaches, we can recommend these other beaches West Wittering Beach (includes bright beach huts), Bamburgh Castle Beach, Holkham Beach, Scarista Beach, Bournemouth Beach, or the family-friendly Formby Beach.

The next time you go to the UK, make some room in your itinerary for a little beach time.