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13 Best Beaches in the United Kingdom

Having grown up in the United Kingdom, I’ve had my fair share of British seaside vacations over the years. And, while the United Kingdom may not be the first destination that comes to mind when you think of beach holidays, there are plenty of beautiful spots here from the north to the south and everywhere in between. From rugged cliffs and rocky coves to golden sands and turquoise waters, the United Kingdom has some of the most stunning beaches in Europe, no matter what your ideal trip to the seaside includes. Read on for all of the best beaches in the United Kingdom!

Bournemouth Beach, Dorset Bournemouth Beach, Dorset
Credit: Bournemouth Beach, Dorset by © Pathikorn Sinlamat | Dreamstime.com

Bournemouth Beach, Dorset

Bournemouth Beach in Dorset, a gem of the English countryside, is definitely a top contender for the title of the United Kingdom’s best coastal treasure. This expansive shoreline offers a continuous stretch of soft sands meeting the calm waters of the English Channel. Its well-maintained promenade comes adorned with picturesque beach huts and inviting cafes and provides a serene space for leisurely strolls no matter who you’re visiting with. It’s a top choice post-sunset, too, and as daylight fades, the beach transforms into a hub of vibrant nightlife, offering plenty of different opportunities for evening entertainment. Bournemouth Beach brings together everything you need for an ideal beach experience, no matter who you’re visiting with.

Rhossili Bay, Swansea Rhossili Bay, Swansea
Credit: Rhossili Bay, Swansea by © Ian Woolcock | Dreamstime.com

Rhossili Bay, Swansea

Rhossili Bay, nestled in the stunning locale of Swansea, is renowned for its breathtaking beauty and unique features that make it a must-visit destination in Wales. The bay’s most striking characteristic is its dramatic landscape, home to towering cliffs and a majestic backdrop that gradually slopes down to meet golden sands down below. A top choice for photographers and nature lovers alike, Rhossili Bay offers an extensive network of coastal walks with diverse flora and fauna. At night, you can enjoy a variety of entertainment options against the backdrop of the bay’s captivating views, with plenty of restaurants and pubs to keep you suitably fed and watered.

St. Ives Bay, Cornwall St. Ives Bay, Cornwall
Credit: St. Ives Bay, Cornwall by © Andremichel | Dreamstime.com

St. Ives Bay, Cornwall

There’s arguably nowhere more beautiful or more romantic for a UK getaway than St. Ives Bay, Cornwall. Renowned for its crystal-clear turquoise waters that rival the hues of the Mediterranean, this beautiful beach creates an idyllic backdrop for relaxation and exploration. With its cobbled streets, charming cottages, and vibrant art scene, you’ll find plenty to do in the area after you’ve finished tanning, swimming, or simply wandering up and down the shoreline. For the adventure-seekers, St. Ives Bay offers an array of water sports opportunities like kayaking, paddleboarding, and sailing, as well as surfing, if you’re prepared to brave the cooler-than-it-looks water. With a selection of top-notch restaurants offering fresh seafood and local delicacies, you’ll find plenty of nearby places to stop for a bite, too.

Whitby Beach, Yorkshire Whitby Beach, Yorkshire
Credit: Whitby Beach, Yorkshire by © Arka Mukhopadhyay | Dreamstime.com

Whitby Beach, Yorkshire

Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, or simply seeking a quintessential seaside escape, Whitby Beach really does have a little something for everyone. Up in the north of England, this gorgeous spot may be a little chillier than its southern counterparts but comes to life in the summer months with both locals and tourists. The sandy shores of Whitby Beach provide the perfect backdrop for leisurely walks, family outings, or simply lying back with a good book. The bustling harbor, lined with colorful fishing boats, never lets you forget you’re in a beautiful British town. The combination of its unique history, natural beauty, and maritime charm means Whitby Beach in Yorkshire will forever be one of the United Kingdom’s best beaches.

Porthcawl Beach, Bridgend Porthcawl Seafront, Brigend
Credit: Porthcawl Seafront, Brigend by © Darryl Sleath | Dreamstime.com

Porthcawl Beach, Bridgend

Porthcawl Beach is a hidden treasure nestled in the heart of Bridgend, home to a delightful blend of family-friendly charm, natural beauty, and a relaxed coastal atmosphere that’ll have you daydreaming of leisurely days spent relaxing with family and friends. Here, the wide expanse of shoreline provides ample space for sunbathing, picnicking, and building sandcastles. The shallow waters make it perfect for paddling and safe swimming, even for less confident swimmers. But Porthcawl Beach has plenty to offer for more active beachgoers, too, thanks to its fantastic conditions for water sports. Nearby surf schools and rental shops ensure you have everything you need for a fun afternoon out on the water.

Luskentyre Beach, Isle of Harris Luskentyre Beach, Isle of Harris
Credit: Luskentyre Beach, Isle of Harris by © Helen Hotson | Dreamstime.com

Luskentyre Beach, Isle of Harris

Sure, the Isle of Harris might not be the most well-known beach in the United Kingdom. But that’s all part of the charm, and once you’ve set up camp at this beautiful spot for an afternoon, you’ll never want to venture back to the popular beaches again. This beach is a true masterpiece of nature, offering a serene escape that showcases the untamed beauty of the Scottish coastline. The untouched surroundings and the sense of isolation create a unique sense of serenity that’s difficult to find elsewhere and make this one of the most spectacular places to visit in Scotland. Those who’re lucky enough to call this beach their local spot tend to be fond of beachcombing or birdwatching, thanks to the number of unusual species who call this part of the United Kingdom their home.

Bamburgh Beach, Northumberland Bamburgh Beach, Northumberland
Credit: Bamburgh Beach, Northumberland by © David Head | Dreamstime.com

Bamburgh Beach, Northumberland

If you’re all about the good views, you’ll almost definitely fall in love with Bamburgh Beach, up on the north coast of Northumberland. The beach is part of a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and the diverse marine and bird life (including puffins!) make it a haven for wildlife enthusiasts and birdwatchers. The sweeping views of the Northumberland coastline and the expanse of the North Sea make it a photographer’s dream, while the golden sands provide an idyllic setting for both relaxation and exploration. For history buffs, the nearby Bamburgh Castle offers an extra element of entertainment – although you’ll probably want to explore that before getting sandy on the beach.

Camusdarach Beach, Scottish Highlands Camusdarach Beach, Highland
Credit: Camusdarach Beach, Highland by © Michael Mcguire | Dreamstime.com

Camusdarach Beach, Scottish Highlands

Another northern spot that doesn’t get half as much attention as it deserves, Camusdarach Beach is a Scottish wonder that should definitely take a new spot on your must-visit list. The soft, white sands meet the clear, turquoise waters of the Atlantic Ocean right here, creating a breathtaking setting that’s straight off of a postcard. The rolling dunes and the imposing peaks of the Scottish Highlands provide a dramatic contrast to the gentle waves and soft sands, ensuring all of your vacation snaps come with gorgeous backdrops during your time here. The beach offers excellent conditions for various water sports, including kayaking and swimming while the impressively cool rock formations and tidal pools make it a haven for explorers of all ages.

Woolacombe Beach, Devon Woolacombe Beach, Devon
Credit: Woolacombe Beach, Devon by © Ollie Taylor | Dreamstime.com

Woolacombe Beach, Devon

Devon and Cornwall have some of the undisputed best beaches in the United Kingdom, and their southern location means the weather’s usually a  bit warmer and sunnier, too. And Woolacombe Beach in Devon is one of the finest for that quintessential British vacation experience. Woolacombe Beach boasts a reputation that’s well-deserved. It’s consistently ranked as one of the United Kingdom’s top beaches, thanks to its expansive three-mile stretch of golden sands and crystal-clear waters. Woolacombe is also renowned for its excellent surf conditions, making it a haven for surfers of all levels. Not confident in the water? You’ll find a handful of surf schools here, ready and waiting to teach you the ways of the water.

Tenby South Beach, Pembrokeshire Tenby South Beach, Pembrokeshire
Credit: Tenby South Beach, Pembrokeshire by © Steve Bridge | Dreamstime.com

Tenby South Beach, Pembrokeshire

You’ll want to spend some time in Tenby even if you’re not usually a beach person. With its pastel-colored buildings and winding streets, this picturesque village is definitely worthy of a wander. And the beach itself is pretty special, too, home to all kinds of seaside enchantment like rocky outcrops and tidal pools, shallow waters, and soft, golden sand. The beach’s accessibility is another perk. It’s complemented by a bustling promenade lined with cafes, ice cream parlors, and shops, making it easy to transition from sandy shores to a post-swimming ice cream or fish and chips. This beautiful spot is definitely one you’ll want to reserve a day trip for.

West Wittering Beach, West Sussex West Wittering Beach, West Sussex
Credit: West Wittering Beach, West Sussex by © Jorge Duarte Estevao | Dreamstime.com

West Wittering Beach, West Sussex

The rumors are true: West Wittering Beach is just as delightful as its overly-British-sounding name suggests. West Wittering Beach boasts a pristine expanse of soft sands that seem to stretch endlessly, and its Blue Flag status reflects its high standards of cleanliness and facilities, making it a top choice for families, couples, and solo adventurers. The shallow waters are ideal for safe swimming and paddling, making it a welcoming environment for children to splash and play, while the surrounding sand dunes and grassy areas create a picturesque backdrop, perfect for picnics and leisurely strolls. The beach is also a popular spot for wind and kite surfing, offering lessons and rentals for those looking to catch the breeze and ride the waves.

Formby Beach, Merseyside Formby Beach, Merseyside
Credit: Formby Beach, Merseyside by © Anna Denisova | Dreamstime.com

Formby Beach, Merseyside

Formby Beach does things a little differently when it comes to British beaches. While most beaches come with compliments about the waves and the sand, Formby Beach is famed for a few other things. This area is one of the few places in the United Kingdom where you can spot seriously cute red squirrels, making it a top choice for wildlife lovers. The beach is also admired for its expansive sand dunes, home to an impressive variety of flora and fauna, making it a paradise for nature enthusiasts, too. But don’t forget the beach itself: a spot that’s a little more wild and untamed than your usual beach. But if you’re looking for unspoiled beach views, this is the place to go.

Camber Sands, East Sussex Camber Sands, East Sussex
Credit: Camber Sands, East Sussex by © Lilly Trott | Dreamstime.com

Camber Sands, East Sussex

Camber Sands is often highlighted as one of England’s best beaches, and it’s easy to see why. This endlessly popular spot is a real haven for anyone who loves a beach day, with a family-friendly atmosphere for all to enjoy. The strong sea breeze and the shallow waters make it an ideal environment to learn new skills like surfing, paddle boarding, and windsurfing, while the beach’s towering sand dunes come complete with panoramic views of the sea and the surrounding landscapes. Its lengthy stretch of golden sands means there’s always room to stretch out and relax here, even during the summer months when everyone seems to arrive all at once.

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