Family Traveller Magazine Spring/Summer 2022. Order online now for free UK postage.

10 best British seaside towns for family breaks this summer

Susie Thorne
18th June 2022

UK families like to be beside the seaside in summer. So whether you’re after a traditional beach holiday with a near-daily diet of fish and chips or you want less bucket-and-spade and more coastal chic, we’ve found the 10 best British seaside towns for you this year.


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Traditional English beach huts, Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk

Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk: beach hut heaven for family breaks

Norfolk is home to some of the best British seaside towns, the Norfolk coast is a designated Area of Natural Beauty after all.  Our best loved of all is Wells-next-the-Sea with its quaint  beach huts big sands and local restaurants serving up super-fresh seafood.

Come summer there’s even a carnival come summer which kids adore. Areas of the sea are often warm enough for swimming in July or August. And if you’re bringing the entire family on holiday, the beach has dog friendly areas. Plus there are plenty of walks around the area if you want to change the view.

Book your stay in Wells-next-the-Sea

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Open air Minack Theatre, Porthcurno, Cornwall

Porthcurno, Cornwall: the beachy home of Minack Theatre

It may be at the end of the UK, but after five minutes in this picturesque village in far West Cornwall you’ll know the journey was more than worth it. With a beach more reminiscent of the Caribbean than England, it’s been described as paradise time and time again. However, what really sets this seaside town apart is the stunning Minack Theatre. Set on a cliff and carved out of  granite this open-air theatre is unlike any other. Add in pretty gardens and panoramic views of the Atlantic, and it’s reason alone to head to Porthcurno this summer.

Book your stay in Porthcurno

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Porthmadog harbour, north west Wales

Porthmadog, Wales: seaside and Snowdonia National Park

If you like your beaches with a side of mountain scenery, choose Porthmadog. The town itself has everything for a classic British seaside break. So you can expect a beautiful harbour, waterfront family hotels and colourful shacks selling ice creams all summer.

But Porthmadog is also a perfect base for exploring Snowdonia National Park so families who like a walk will find plenty of trails to keep them busy. Although younger kids might prefer a scenic train ride on the vintage Ffestiniog Railway. It runs the 14 miles from Porthmadog harbour to the mountain town of Blaenau Ffestiniog and has incredible views all the way.

Book your stay in Porthmadog

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Perfect beach day at St. Leonards, East Sussex

St. Leonards, East Sussex: the English beach town with an arty vibe

Londoners have been flocking to Hastings for years to get away from the city in summer. Meanwhile neighbouring St. Leonards has been quietly attracting a more creative crowd. The town’s understated elegance, artisanal bakeries and independent restaurants are heart stealers if coastal cool is your thing.

The pebble beach is made for family picnics. If you’re feeling bold, you can even swim in the sea. Then to top it all off, there are gallery and museums for days when the weather  won’t play nice.

Book your stay in St. Leonards 

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Llandudno Victorian pleasure pier, North Wales

Llandudno, North Wales: big beaches and Great Orme on the side

Despite its popularity, Llandudno has kept much of its traditional Victorian resort charm. There’s a long sandy beach and promenade with rides, attractions and mountains of candyfloss. Colourful 19th century houses line the waterfront. Plus, you can ride up to the Great Orme. Traditional trams and cable cars take you 680ft up to the top of this limestone mammoth. Alternatively, you can drive the zig zag route yourself. Once at the top, kids can learn about the area’s history at the Great Orme Ancient Mines Bronze Age settlement.

Book your stay in Lladudno

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Tenby harbour, Pembrokeshire Coast, West Wales

Tenby, South West Wales: possibly the prettiest seaside town in the UK

The charming town of Tenby perches on Pembrokeshire’s wild and lovely coast. It’s home to three Blue Flag beaches, but probably best known for pastel-coloured houses and medieval stone walls.

Don’t miss Tenby Castle and the town’s galleries and museums. The Tudor Merchant’s House, is a must-do for its recreation of 16th century life and fun immersive experiences for kids. If you surf, you are so in the right place for waves here. Although dry land is pretty tempting too, as the spectacular Pembrokeshire Coastal Path stretches for 186 miles around Tenby.

Book your stay in Tenby

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Shanklin Beach and Fisherman’s Cottage, Isle of Wight

Shanklin, Isle of Wight: seaside town meets cute country village

Ventnor might be the seaside town you think of first on the Isle of Wight, but our hearts belong to Shanklin. Quirky long before quirky was a thing, this charming village gives you thatched pubs on the beach, dramatic cliffs, sweet places to stay and even sea kayaking.

Mysterious and lovely Shanklin Chine gorge is a near neighbour and a great place for a walk with kids. Head to Sandown Beach for a funfair on the pier. Or drive west for 20 minutes and you’ll come to Blackgang Chine, the UK’s oldest theme park and a riot of fun during summer. If you’re planning the Isle of Wight in July or August, don’t forget kids sail free on Wightlink Ferries during school holidays.

Book your stay in Shanklin

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Beach houses, Whitstable, Kent Coast

Whitstable, Kent: bring your bikes for this iconic English town

Whitstable is the town for colourful beach huts, indie shops and some of the UK’s finest oysters, fresh caught. It’s a firm favourite with Londoners during summer, yet it’s somehow managed to stay a bit bohemian despite that.

There are a couple of excellent beaches to choose from here. The harbour is lovely too and you’ll find mile-after-mile of cycleways along the coast. Although possibly the biggest Whitstable draw is delicious food everywhere from gastropubs to lobster shacks and even stalls at the town oyster festival in late summer.

Book your stay in Whitstable

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Seafront, Southwold, Suffolk

Southwold, Suffolk: seaside traditions and summer festivals

Southwold on the Sussex coast delivers classic English seaside breaks. Think traditional pier, cheerful beach huts, a lighthouse, fish and chip shops as well as ice cream kiosks on the seafront. It also comes with a lovely, sandy, Blue Flag beach so understandably it can get pretty busy in summer. However, the town manages its popularity well and seldom feels too crowded, even during the family-friendly Latitude Festival in late July.

Book your stay in Southwold

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Margate Bay and Victorian promenade, Margate, Kent

Margate, Kent: the fun of the fair and Turner Contemporary too

Pick Margate for timeless seaside quirkiness and a super-artsy vibe. Big attractions here including Dreamland amusement park and the Turner Contemporary Gallery. There’s also a vast mini golf park combined with all the classic sea and sand you want on a UK summer break. You’ll find plenty of independent shops and galleries here too, alongside interesting restaurants and great value places to stay.

Book your stay in Margate


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