I’m a sucker for a day trip or holiday centered around the beach and find that over the years my favourites have quickly turned into a well-rehearsed list of the best 5 beaches in the UK.
It’s no surprise that Britain’s beaches are starting to getting busier as we all countdown to those precious summers annual leave days and I know I find myself starting to think about heading off on a few road trips to the beach every weekend.
Yes, I know.. Millie and I planning a road trip to the beach – who would’ve thought!?!?!! We’re certainly no strangers to a beach trip and having grown up in Scotland surrounded by beautiful beaches, spent several holidays searching for those idyllic beaches.
So whether you are looking to plan a family holiday around the beach, a coastal weekend away or merely looking for inspiration for a day out, the UK has a large number of beaches to choose from and I have my best 5 beaches in the UK to share with you. From world-class surfing to remote and unspoiled, we have it all here on our doorstep – grab a cuppa and enjoy!
Best 5 Beaches in the UK
#1 Crantock Beach, Cornwall
I can’t thank my friends Maria and Sue enough for introducing me to Cornwall over the last couple of years. This beach immediately shot up to my favourite in the UK after just one visit.
Yes, I know for most of us that it will take hours to get there, particularly in the summer, but think white sand, large dunes with enough space to shelter if there are winds and the most beautiful sea. There are so many options with walks along the beach and along the headline coast or you could perch yourself at The Bogie Inn for some food and a stunning view over the beach. Sunrise, long days out, watching surfers and sunsets – I could literally spend a whole holiday just on this one beach.
Whilst I visited a number of other beaches during two separate holidays in the area, we kept coming back to this beach time and time again.
Top Tip – Did you know you could go lego hunting on the beach? A container filled with millions of Lego pieces fell into the sea off Cornwall in 1997 and rumour has it that they are still washing up on the beaches today. Read the BBC news story here. Why not spend the afternoon lego hunting then grab a pew and watch the sunset on Crantock beach.
Accommodation – I’d recommend checking out its self-catering options in Crantock village itself. There is a huge range of options via Crantock Village Cottages (view HERE). With discounts for smaller bookings out of season and every option you can think of accommodating from 2 to 10 people – you won’t’ be disappointed to find this beach on your doorstep. I’ve stayed at the Great Weston Farmhouse out of season using just 2 of its bedrooms for our party but having the benefit of this large house sitting rooms, kitchen, and garden – think hot tubs and outdoor showers – bliss!
Find out more info via the Visit Newquay website HERE.
#2 Lunan Bay, Angus
Overlooked by Red Castle, a crumbling 12th-centruey fortress, whilst Scotland may not see all of the temperature soars of southern coast beaches, it certainly delivers on high-quality beaches. Lunan Bay is a firm favourite of mine, at nearly two miles long with great dunes for those four legged friends to enjoy!
Whilst I’m not a bird spotter, I understand it’s the perfect place to spot several varieties though I personally enjoy watching surfers and horse riders make use of this great Angus coastline.
Top Tip – Lunan Bay and the village itself make a great walk. This great article featured as Scotland’s “Walk of the Week” sets out a 3.5 to 4-hour walk plus shorter options to help make the most of your time there.
Accommodation – Gordon’s Restaurant has five guests rooms in nearby Inverkeilor which are great for those who may be looking for a ‘foodie’ addition, though there are a number of cottages around Lunan Bay itself including this one just a few steps from the beach via Owners Direct HERE.
Find out more Info via the Visit Scotland website HERE.
#3 Holkham, Norfolk
Millie’s first ever trip to the beach and it really didn’t disappoint! As horses cantered the past, it was impossible to work out where the beach started and ended – it’s huge and the views are endless.
There are wooden boards through the dunes taking you out to the beach and plenty of spots to pitch a beach tent or walk over to the neighbouring Wells-next-to-the-Sea. Whilst I visited in early October, I understand there are dog restrictions at other points of the year and I can imagine this will be one very busy beach during high summer!
Top Tip – just a few minutes walk to the top of the road from the car park and you’ll find The Victoria Inn. A seaside trip does mean that you need to indulge in fish and chips and you’ll find great fish and chips here! There is lots of seating outdoors if you do have a four-legged friend with you too and water bowls. It was very busy even at that time of year and thus do consider booking in advance.
Accommodation – just a short drive from several beaches and a 5-minute drive from nearby Burnham Market, I stayed at Whitehall Farm. Whilst they offer a B&B, they have a great campsite with fantastic facilities (thing big showers and fridges etc). I was feeling a little nervous taking Millie whilst she was still a puppy camping and instead booked one of their camping pods for two nights. Electricity, camp bed and a camp fire – LOVED! We even met a couple with two other springer spaniels and discovered they lived literally a street away from us at home. It really is a small world!
Find out more Info via the Holkham website HERE.
#4 Botany Bay, Kent
No matter how many photographs I took whilst at Botany Bay, they just didn’t seem to capture how stunning the large chalk stacks are, making this beach one of Kent’s most popular tourist attractions and a Blue Flag beach. Lots of great facilities on the beach including a cafe, toilets, and deckchair hire but do time a visit and your day around the tide and there are great fossil hunting and rock pools whilst the tide is out, whereas the ends will be cut off at high tide (picnic time!). At just 200m long, its one of the shortest in my best 5 beaches, but the scenery is stunning.
Top Tip – avoid the holiday makers and try to visit preschool holidays and summer and during the week. You may be lucky and find that you have the bay to yourself for parts of the day.
Accommodation – if you are looking for something a little bit different, you can choose to camp as a knight at Leeds Castle (no it’s not in Leeds, it is in Kent – Maidstone) and then you can explore all of Broadstairs and other activities in Kent. They have a four poster bed and wood burners!!
Find out more Info via the Visit Kent website HERE.
#5 – Watergate Bay, Cornwall
All those beaches to choose from and two of my best 5 beaches are in Newquay!!! They really just know how to get a beach right, dont they? The sandy beach, ease of access, beach walks and a coastal path, another stunning bay in Cornwall. A firm favourite with surfers, I could sit for hours watching them trying to catch the next wave.
Why a second beach from the same area? Well, this beach isn’t as long as Crantock but has a buzz about it rather than tranquillity you find in Crantock. The gorgeous Watergate Bay Hotel overlooks the bay and you’ll find a surf shop and my favourite hangout – The Beach Hut.
Top Tip – You cannot visit here without spending time in The Beach Hut. Super dog-friendly and a great range of food on their menu. From breakfast to hot chocolates (seriously yum) to Mussels and chips (they were also yum!), expect great service and atmosphere in here.
Accommodation – Whilst you could stay anywhere around Newquay with a short drive to the beach, do check out The Watergate Bay Hotel. Whilst I’m yet to stay, this is on my bucket list having walked past their swimming pool which gazes out over the beach. Serious hotel envy!! You’ll also find the amazing Lusty Glaze Beach a short drive away so do check out the accommodation on offer on this private beach too (Dog Friendly Holiday: A review of Lusty Glaze Beach Cottage).
Find out more Info via the Visit Newquay website HERE.
Still looking for the best beaches in the UK?
Do let me know if I’ve missed your favourite beach in the comments – would love to hear about it and maybe your favourite will inspire my next road trip! I hope my own best 5 beaches have inspired you to visit one of them! But if you are still hunting for that perfect day out, then I’d recommend taking a look at The Beach Guide. The great layout on their website means you can search by region and various categories.
If you’re looking for things to do then there are lots of great articles online if you are still searching for some inspiration, including this great article which covers the 100 best things to do in England. It’s packed with practical tips and advice.
- Britain’s Best Beach Huts for Hire
- Best Kids Festivals in Essex (2018): Days Out with the Kids
- Best Summer Songs: Playlists for the Beach
Time for that Road Trip??
Vicky (and Millie too!) xx