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best beaches uk

Our guide to the best beaches in the UK features 23 beautiful stretches of sand and shingle, offering scenic days out without needing to leave the country.

The UK’s coastline is the longest in Europe, so it has plenty to offer, including this range of marvellous shores. These UK beaches are the best for a reason, whether that be their access to amusements or walking trails, dog-friendly sands or the panoramic views that await.

From Norfolk’s pristine havens to Scotland’s secret sands, find your favourite UK beaches today!

Continue reading to discover the best beaches in the UK…


Jump ahead to:

UK Beaches FAQs
Beaches in Scotland
Beaches in Wales
Beaches in England
Beaches in Northern Ireland
Best Beaches UK Map


UK Beaches FAQs

What is the nicest beach in the UK?

There are a plethora of amazing beaches dotted around the UK, however, my favourite has to be Southwold Beach (also known as The Denes Beach). I’ve visited many times growing up, so it holds a special place in my heart. You can uncover even more about the beach in this blog.

Where is the best sandy beach in the UK?

When it comes to finding the best sandy beach in the UK, we recommend heading to Cornwall. Here, you’ll find Perranporth Beach along with several other sandy delights, including Porthcurno Beach and Crantock Beach.

Where is the clearest water in the UK?

Porthcurno Beach in Cornwall is known to be a beach with the clearest water in the UK, however, you can also find clear waters on the beaches of Pembrokeshire and Devon!


Beaches in Scotland

1. Cullen Beach, Moray, Scotland

Cullen Beach

Tucked away behind ‘The Three Kings Rocs’ and looking like something out of a film, is the delightful Cullen Beach. With easy access to plenty of coastal walks and resting adjacent to Cullen Golf Course,  this is one of the UK beaches that is perfect for outdoor lovers of all ages.

Cullen Beach additionally boasts superb views over Cullen Bay, where visitors can spot Moray dolphins and the unique rock formations that make the beach so special. In the summer, ice cream vendors set up shop on the beach’s fringes, perfect for rewarding yourself with a sweet treat after surfing or rockpooling.

Resting within easy reach of Cullen Harbour are the village’s eateries and sights. This beach makes for an idyllic day out and is a great addition to this list of best beaches in the UK!

Type of beach: Sandy
Dog-friendly: Yes
Car park: Yes, free
Public toilets: Yes
Postcode: AB56 4SL

2. Nairn Beach, Highlands, Scotland

Nairn Beach

Boasting immaculate sands and enjoying the calming waves of Moray Firth’s turquoise waters, Nairn Beach encapsulates the feeling of ‘tranquillity’. It easily made this list of best beaches in the UK! Soak up the views by walking along the promenade, where you can spot the coastal wildlife and the pleasure boats bobbing on the waves as they leave the harbour.

The beach, despite being quaint, features plenty of activities to keep everyone entertained, from a play park for kids to championship golf courses! If you’d prefer to unwind here, wander to the sands for a spot of sunbathing; which you can do many times throughout the year, thanks to the area’s microclimate.

Don’t forget to pay Sun Dancer a visit, a highly-rated bar/restaurant offering panoramic sea views and seafood cuisine; a superb way to end a visit to one of the best beaches in Scotland!

Type of beach: Sandy
Dog-friendly: Yes
Car park: Yes, for a charge
Public toilets: Yes
Postcode: IV12 4EA

3. Westport Beach, Argyll & The Isles, Scotland

Westport Beach

This six-mile beach in the UK not only enjoys panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean but also backs onto the scenic Machrihanish Dunes, the largest sand dune area in Argyll and a Site of Scientific Interest.

This stretch of sand isn’t just great for its scenery, it’s also popular with surfers for its consistent surf, as well as walkers and beachcombers. Westport Beach also enjoys the bonus of being dog-friendly, so your canine companion can enjoy these fantastic sands with you.

The sandy beach also rests within close proximity to the Machrihanish Golf Course, where you can tee off over the beach before stopping in the on-site bar/restaurant for a well-earned pint.

Type of beach: Sandy
Dog-friendly: Yes
Car park: Yes
Public toilets: No
Postcode: PA28 6QD


Best Beaches in Wales 

4. Rhosneigr Beach, Anglesey

Rhosneigr Beach

Rhosneigr Beach has made it to our list of the UK’s best beaches for several reasons. One of them is that it has been awarded the Green Coast seaside award, which showcases its environmental excellence. It’s amongst the most idyllic beaches in North Wales, with low dunes and flanking rock formations, making it a fantastic place to visit if you’re into watersports.

The beach additionally backs onto some fantastic amenities and sights. From Rhosneigr’s many friendly cafes to its nature-rich waters of Llyn Maelog, a day out here is sure to be fun-packed.

From Rhosnigr, you can explore the many wonders of the Isle of Anglesey. Look forward to golden sands, stunning views of mainland Wales and iconic landmarks, it’s little wonder to see the isle in our guide to the best UK beach holidays.

If you want to find even more coastal gems, we recommend making a detour to the Llŷn Peninsula beaches.

Type of beach: Sandy
Dog-friendly: Yes
Car park: Yes
Public toilets: No
Postcode: LL65 5JP

5. Aberystwyth Beach (North), Cardigan Bay

aberystwyth beach, wales

Boasting Blue Flag status in Ceredigion is Aberystwyth Beach, one of the many gorgeous beaches in the UK. This beach has made our selection of the best beaches in the UK because it makes for the perfect traditional beach outing!

Backing onto a mile-long promenade, you can look forward to coastal strolls and rollerblading excursions. After making the most of the promenade, be sure to make your way down to the beach and make a splash in the waves.

Looking for more fun activities here? You’ll be delighted to find Aberystwyth‘s Victorian pier’s amusements. Beat high scores in the arcade, tuck into delicious pizza or order ice cream.

Type of beach: Sand and shingle
Dog-friendly: Yes, between October – April
Car park: No
Public toilets: Yes
Postcode: SY23 1JX

6. Saundersfoot Beach, Pembrokeshire

Saundersfoot beach

Winner of the Blue Flag Beach Award in 2021, it’s little wonder this Pembrokeshire beach has made it onto the list of the best beaches in the UK! With broad, sandy shores that still offer plenty of space to unwind during high tide, you can easily spend the day sunbathing or beachcombing here.

Thanks to its shallow water, the beach is also perfect for those with a passion for watersports, so you can enjoy canoeing and windsurfing along this lovely stretch of coast. The beach also backs onto a bustling harbour that is home to a range of fantastic events, including the World Rowing Coastal Championships.

After enjoying what Saundersfoot Beach has to offer, head back to the seafront to find a wealth of eateries serving up seafood dishes, including The Stonecrab restaurant. Alternatively, venture out and explore more of the delightful beaches in South Wales.

Type of beach: Sandy
Dog-friendly: Yes, but there are restricted areas between May-September
Getting here: Saundersfoot train station is 1.4 miles away
Car park: Yes
Public toilets: Yes
Postcode: SA69 9AJ


Best Beaches in England

7. Bamburgh Beach, Northumberland

bamburgh beach with the castle in the distance

It’s no surprise that Bamburgh Beach made it onto our guide to UK beaches, thanks to its stunning beauty and rich heritage. Welcoming dogs, this Northumberland beach is perfect for a scenic walk with your furry friend.

The beach enjoys the eye-catching backdrop of Bamburgh Castle; not only does it offer a great view for a picnic date, but it’s a great landmark to visit after your beach day. The fortress dates back to the Norman era and offers amazing panoramas of the Farne Islands.

Alternatively, you can simply relax on the white sands and go for a refreshing dip in the waves before heading out to explore more of what Northumberland has to offer!

Type of beach: Sandy
Dog-friendly: Yes
Car park: Yes, for a charge
Public toilets: No
Postcode: NE69 7DF

8. St. Bees, Cumbria

St Bees Beach

This mile-long mixture of sand and pebble shores enjoys views of the expansive sea and the extraordinary promontory of St. Bees Headland. This impressive vista can be enjoyed from the beach itself or on a walk with your four-legged friend along the extensive promenade.

St. Bees Beach is also home to the famed Coast-to-Coast Walk, which leads you along with the red sandstone buff and through an RSPB Nature Reserve, where you can spot puffins! St. Bees Golf Club can be found behind the sands and is perfect for a round of eighteen holes amid the sweeping views.

Whilst the Cumbria beach hosts a handy car park, it rests moments away from a train station, so it’s easily accessible for all! It’s one of the many great English beaches you can explore during a staycation.

Type of beach: Sand and pebble
Dog-friendly: Yes, all-year-round
Car park: Yes
Public toilets: Yes
Postcode: CA27 0ES

9. Morecambe Beach (North), Lancashire

morecambe coast, lancashire

The charming town of Morecambe is a must-visit location if you’re after the best beaches in the UK. Morecambe Beach (North) not only boasts extensive sand and shingle, but a great array of things for all the family to enjoy.

If you’re a watersports enthusiast, this is amongst the UK beaches for you. Here, you can look forward to windsurfing and kite surfing! Alternatively, steer clear of the water and enjoy a walk along the stone jetty with your canine companion. The Stone Jetty Café rests at the end of the jetty, serving up tasty treats and sea views for you to enjoy.

There are a wealth of arcades, eateries and stores dotted along the promenade here, too, so you won’t be short of things to do during a beach outing here!

Type of beach: Sand and shingle
Dog-friendly: Yes, between October and April
Car park: Yes, for a charge
Public toilets: No
Postcode: LA4 5BY

10. Formby Beach, Merseyside

Formby Beach

Formby Beach has earned its title as one of the best beaches in the UK thanks to its breathtaking beauty and unspoiled nature. Visitors can enjoy strolling through the nearby forest and grassy dunes with their furry friends by their side, before heading down to the soft sands.

If wildlife watching is your thing, then Formby Beach offers an abundance of opportunities. A red squirrel reserve is located nearby, and many seabirds call this beach their home, including sanderlings and oystercatchers.

As one of the many beaches near Liverpool, you can easily reach this gem by train from the city centre, adding some variety to your UK city break!

Type of beach: Sandy
Dog-friendly: Yes
Car park: Yes
Public toilets: Yes
Postcode: L37 1LJ

11. Runswick Bay, Yorkshire

Runswick Bay

Situated on the famed Cleveland Way is one of the quaintest of the UK’s sandy beaches, Runswick Bay Beach. With its towering cliffs and scattered rocks, it’s easy to see why this beach won the Beach of the Year Award in 2020!

The village behind the beach has been entirely pedestrianised, so you can really immerse yourself in your serene surroundings whilst basking in the sun. Despite the quaintness, there is still a friendly pub, The Royal Hotel, where you can enjoy a crisp pint after a day on the sands.

If you’re into history, the beach is one of many Yorkshire beaches that are fossil hotspots, and they can be discovered when the tide is out.

Type of beach: Sandy
Dog-friendly: Yes
Car park: Yes
Public toilets: Yes
Postcode: TS13 5HU

12. Skegness Beach, Lincolnshire

Skegness Beach

If you’re looking for a day packed with fun on the East Coast, look no further than Skegness Beach! This award-winning beach offers a range of activities, from donkey rides to entertainment on Skegness Pier, ensuring that you’ll never be bored!

However, if you’re in the mood for a more relaxing day, this beach has got you covered. Its expansive sands offer plenty of space to sunbathe, while the Humber to The Wash Cycle Route is nearby, providing a delightful ride along the coast.

This beach also offers wheelchair hire, making it perfect for a multi-generational outing.

Type of beach: Sandy
Dog-friendly: Yes, between October-April
Car park: Yes
Public toilets: Yes
Postcode: PE25 2UE

13. Cromer Beach, Norfolk

Cromer, Norfolk Coast

One of the several beaches in Norfolk, Cromer Beach is a delightful addition to our UK beaches guide. Perched by the Victorian resort of Cromer, this beach is nothing short of scenic!

A great location for a cheap family day out, the little ones can look forward to building sandcastles, swimming and even rockpooling during low tide. It’s a great beach for surfing, too; the beach even offers lessons and equipment for this!

Cromer Beach is kitted out with all the facilities you need for your beach day, including parking, toilets and a slipway. The Cromer Pier & Pavilion Theatre is well worth visiting during your outing here, with live performances and a range of eateries on offer.

Type of beach: Sand and shingle
Dog-friendly: Yes, but not during the summer months (June – August)
Car park: Yes, for free
Public toilets: Yes
Postcode: NR27 9HP

14. Southwold Beach (The Denes Beach), Suffolk

Southwold Beach

Perched on the edge of the charming town of Southwold and enjoying a restored Victorian Pier, is the popular sands of Southwold Pier Beach. Repeatedly granted the Blue Flag Award, this mixture of sand and shingle is bound to provide an idyllic day out for all.

After spending some time visiting the independent shops on the pier, why not venture on a walk along the colourful beach huts lining the shores? The beach is dog-friendly, so you can bring your furry friend along for a scenic hike, too!

Towards the harbour and below Gun Hill you’ll be able to find ice cream kiosks, so you can enjoy a tasty treat during your visit. Recognised as one of Suffolk’s best beaches, Southwold is a must-visit UK beach!

Type of beach: Sand and shingle
Dog-friendly: Yes
Car park: Yes
Public toilets: Yes
Postcode: IP18 6BN

15. Weston-Super-Mare Beach, Somerset

Weston-Super-Mare Beach

This sweep of stunning sands can be found on Somerset’s North Western coast and is certainly a must-see! A great destination for anyone with kids, the beach has access to the Grand Pier, along with the Water Adventure Play Park.

Additionally, the beach is fantastic for events! The renowned Weston Air Festival takes place here, as well as a range of beachfront races, including The Weston-super-Mare 3k.

With the nearby Main Parade also offering a golf club, ample shops selling coastal souvenirs and beachfront restaurants, it’s no wonder this stretch of sand made it to our best beaches in the UK list.

If you’re interested in exploring Somerset’s coast further, discover even more of the best Somerset beaches. You’ll also be surprised to learn that this lovely set of sand is amongst an array of beaches near Birmingham!

Type of beach: Sandy
Dog-friendly: Yes
Car park: Yes
Public toilets: Yes
Postcode: BS23 1AS

16. Bournemouth Beach, Dorset

Bournemouth Beach

Dorset’s iconic Bournemouth Beach was bound to make it onto this list of UK beaches! It’s not only family-friendly but also offers easy access to the town’s amenities and seven miles of white sands.

The 300-meter Victorian pier takes centre stage here, hosting a fantastic range of attractions. You can enjoy visiting the amusement arcade, watching live entertainment at its theatre, and embarking on boat trips along the Jurassic Coast.

The beach itself is also home to a range of fantastic watersports, including the adventurous activities of diving and powerboating, as well as offering handy bike hire.

Want to discover more of Dorset’s coastline? Be sure to visit the best beaches in Dorset!

Type of beach: Sandy
Dog-friendly: Yes, but there are restricted areas between May-September
Car park: Yes
Public toilets: Yes
Postcode: BH1 3NZ

17. Paignton Sands, Devon

Paignton Beach, Devon

With so much to see and do, this is one of the best beaches in the UK for the little ones! Stretching over half a mile, there’s so much to discover on and near this Devon beach.

Paignton Pier is a fabulous highlight of the beach. Dubbed one of the county’s “top family attractions”, the pier hosts a variety of amusements to keep all ages entertained.

Alternatively, enjoy a spot of sunbathing on the sandy shore before wandering along the Esplanade. Here, you’ll find Pirates Bay Adventure Golf and a cinema. If you venture further into Paignton, you’ll also find Paignton Zoo; the perfect place to visit after your beach escapade.

Type of beach: Sandy
Dog-friendly: Yes, between October – April
Car park: Yes, for a charge
Public toilets: Yes
Postcode: TQ4 6AG

18. Perranporth Beach, Cornwall

Perranporth Beach

Famed for its views of the Atlantic Ocean and its several miles of beautiful sands, Perranporth Beach was guaranteed to make this list of the best beaches in the UK. A set of sand fit for outdoor lovers, visitors can find wildlife-rich dunes and the turquoise waters of Chapel Rock Pool here.

Extending from Penhale Point to Droskyn Point, you and a canine companion can enjoy a two-mile walk as you soak up the sights. The beach itself is home to a bar/restaurant, The Watering Hole, where you can enjoy live music as you watch the tide come and go with a drink in hand.

It is easy to see why Cornwall beaches are some of the best in the UK when you visit Perranporth!

Type of beach: Sandy
Dog-friendly: Yes
Car park: Yes
Public toilets: Yes
Postcode: TR6 0JN

19. Herne Bay Beach, Kent

herne bay kent

This beach in the UK enjoys the idyllic north coast of Kent! With access to a Victorian seaside resort that’s packed with attractions, it’s the perfect place for a quintessentially British beach day.

If you venture behind the breakwater, you’ll be pleased to find sheltered bathing. Additionally, deck chairs are available, so you can pull up a chair, kick back and unwind.

Not only are your important facilities nearby at this beach, such as a public toilet and parking, but you’ll be within reach of several attractions in Herne Bay. Why not venture to the waterfront clock tower, or explore Herne Bay Pier?

Type of beach: Sand and shingle
Dog-friendly: No
Car park: Yes, for a charge
Public toilets: Yes
Postcode: CT6 8RH

20. Brighton Beach, East Sussex

brighton beach

When it comes to beaches in the UK with lots to do, Brighton Beach is the one to go for. Home to the iconic Palace Pier, there is so much for families to enjoy here.

Once you’ve made a splash in the water or chilled out on the shingle, be sure to make the most of the attractions! A fairground, SEA LIFE Brighton and Volk’s Electric Railway are only a handful of things to do here.

If you fancy a tipple, head over to the Brighton i360. This glass pod offers panoramic views of the sea and city skyline, whilst serving up tasty cocktails.

Type of beach: Shingle
Dog-friendly: Yes, between October – April
Car park: No
Public toilets: Yes
Postcode: BN2 1ET

21. Shanklin Beach, Isle of Wight

Shanklin Beach

The Isle of Wight is famed for its gorgeous coast, and Shanklin Beach is not to be missed, with its esplanade offering families plenty to do during their visit.

If you’re interested in watersports, you’ll be pleased to find that the beach offers hireable equipment, from kayaks to pedalos. If walking’s your thing, the beach has fantastic access to coastal paths, including the Shanklin to Ventnor Walk.

Whether you’re soaking up the vistas of the clear waters, stretching out on a deckchair, or exploring the Esplanade’s amusements, Shanklin Beach is a superb outing.

Uncover more Isle of Wight beaches during your holiday to this part of the UK.

Type of beach: Sandy
Dog-friendly: Yes, between October-April
Car park: Yes
Public toilets: Yes
Postcode: PO37 6BJ


Beaches in Northern Ireland

22. Portstewart Strand, County Londonderry

portstewart strand, ireland

Dubbed one of Northern Ireland’s finest beaches, Portstewart Strand is teeming with wildlife! Stretching for two miles, this UK beach offers plenty to discover.

Whilst you’re here, be sure to explore the 6,000-year-old sand dunes, where a variety of wildlife awaits, including sanderlings and grazing cattle. Afterwards, jump on a surfboard and take to the water!

Once you’ve tired yourself out with walking, swimming, and surfing, you can look forward to resting on the sand and taking in the views of the Mussenden Temple and Inishowen Headland.

Type of beach: Sandy
Dog-friendly: Yes
Car park: Yes, for a charge
Public toilets: Yes
Postcode: BT55 7PG

23. White Rocks Beach, County Antrim

whiterocks beach

Completing our list of the best beaches in the UK is the glorious White Rocks Beach. With its limestone cliffs giving it a stunning yet rugged look, it’s a beautiful place for a beach outing.

The limestone cliffs have eroded throughout time, creating landforms for you to explore, including Shelagh’s Head and the Lion’s Paw.

A very popular beach with watersports lovers, you can easily enjoy bodyboarding, surf kayaking, and surfing here. If you’re a fishing enthusiast, there are plenty of spots to angle here too.

Due to the beach’s distance from the nearby Portrush’s amenities, it’s best to bring along your own food and enjoy a seaside picnic!

Type of beach: Sandy
Dog-friendly: Yes, between October – May
Car park: Yes
Public toilets: Yes
Postcode: BT56 8DF


Best Beaches UK Map


Have your bucket and spades ready? Be sure to view this array of coastal cottages or beach cottages. Alternatively, you can browse our UK beach holiday guide to get more inspiration for a seaside trip.


Image Credits: Reading TomCC BY 2.0

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