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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 too, alongside interesting restaurants as well as great value places to stay. And if you need more reason to go, Margate is part of Kent’s Heritage Coast, which sits at number four in Lonely Planet’s prestigious list of world’s best regions to visit in 2022. In fact it’s the only UK region to be included on the list this year!
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