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best seaside towns uk

The best seaside towns in the UK offer a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, with their laid-back atmosphere and picturesque scenery.

With almost 19,500 miles of coastline in the UK, we are spoiled for choice when it comes to seaside towns. Whether you’re looking for a fun-filled family holiday or just a peaceful day out by the sea, there’s a seaside town in the UK for you!

Think of fish and chips on sandy beaches, catching glimpses of endearing wildlife, and basking in the sunshine!

Discover the best seaside towns in the UK below…

1. Tenby

tenby, a seaside town

Kicking off our guide to the best seaside towns in the UK is charming Tenby. Cemented as the jewel in Pembrokeshire‘s crown, this Welsh seaside town has been a popular tourist spot for many years.

When it comes to UK holidays for families, South Wales has become increasingly popular with Tenby being a major draw. With its collection of sandy beaches nearby, a collection of charming coastal architecture and crystal blue water to admire, it’s little wonder why!

Beachcombers will find an array of watersports and activities, including swimming, kayaking, and surfing. The town’s beaches include Castle Beach, Harbour Beach, South Beach and North Beach. However, the seaside town provides access to most of South Wales’ best beaches.

In addition to beachfront activities, Tenby has a rich history, and visitors can explore the ancient town walls, historic churches and a medieval castle. Tenby Castle is a unique castle in Wales with its position on top of Castle Hill, surrounded by the sea!

Whether you’re looking for a relaxing break or an action-packed adventure, Tenby is a wonderful seaside town with something for everyone.

2. St Ives

st ives, a seaside town

St Ives is a charming seaside town in the UK, located on the South coast of Cornwall and has long been considered a top destination for Cornwall holidays.

There are plenty of reasons to visit St Ives, but the thriving art scene is reason enough. Find numerous galleries and studios showcasing the works of local artists and craftsmen. Including St Ives’ top attractions of Tate St Ives and the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden.

Moreover, the seaside town is home to a number of stunning Cornwall beaches, including Porthminster Beach, Porthgwidden Beach, and the world-famous surfing destination of Porthmeor Beach.

When you’re not at the beach, meander through a photogenic jumble of fisherman’s cottages and cobbled streets. Afterwards, head to the picturesque harbour where there are plenty of places to eat. Top picks include Porthminster Beach Cafe and Porthminster Kitchen.

Boasting a combination of natural beauty, cultural richness, and outdoor activities, St Ives is truly a charming seaside town in the UK!

3. Hastings


Located in East Sussex, the English seaside town of Hastings boasts a collection of beaches, a vibrant cultural scene and a rich history.

This seaside town may ring a bell from your history lessons, as it’s famous for being the site of the Battle of Hastings in 1066, which changed the course of English history.

Today, visitors can explore the maze of narrow streets and alleys lined with historic buildings and quirky shops. The town’s most iconic attraction is Hastings Castle, which overlooks the sea and boasts the best views in all of Sussex.

For summer afternoons, Pelham Beach is an established seaside resort, featuring both sand and shingle. Here, you can relax on the sands, swim in the sea or try your hand at windsurfing and kiteboarding.

Whether you are looking to explore the town’s historical attractions or simply relax on the beach, Hastings is an exceptional seaside town in the UK and a great spot for a beach holiday!

4. Portree

seaside town in scotland

Portree is one of the prettiest seaside towns in Scotland and is known as the capital of the Isle of Skye. This coastal destination offers a peaceful holiday retreat for those seeking a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life!

Pastel-painted cottages surround the natural harbour and are fringed by breath-taking cliffs. Spend your mornings watching the fishing boats bobbing at the anchor before trying a range of activities, including swimming, snorkelling, kayaking, and sailing on this Isle of Skye beach.

Come evening, head to the Michelin-starred restaurant, Scorrybreac. This spot enjoys a beautiful location above the harbour. Here, you can look forward to a menu filled with the finest local and seasonal produce.

Other attractions in this seaside town include the Aros Centre, an award-winning theatre showing concerts and film screenings. The surrounding countryside is filled with rugged mountains and tranquil lochs, providing the perfect backdrop for outdoor pursuits while in Portree.

5. Salcombe


Next on our guide to the best seaside towns in the UK is Salcombe, located in South Devon. Perfectly situated on the Kingsbridge Estuary, this seaside town enjoys a rich maritime history, turquoise waters and sandy shores.

The seaside town’s natural beauty is apparent from the moment you arrive, with stunning views of the estuary and rolling hillsides. Its superb position on the estuary also means that it has a sheltered harbour. This means it’s an ideal location for water-based activities!

One of the most popular activities in Salcombe is sailing. The town is home to several sailing schools and clubs, making it an ideal location for both experienced sailors and those looking to learn.

Also within the town, you will find North Sands and South Sands, where there are opportunities for canoeing, sailing, windsurfing and diving. Other Devon beaches are also easily accessible from Salcombe, where there’s surfing and sunbathing aplenty.

In addition to beaches, Salcombe offers a range of cultural and historical attractions. These include the Salcombe Maritime Museum and Overbecks House and Garden.

Confident walkers can take to the South West Coast Path, which passes through the seaside town. On this path, you can look forward to panoramic views of the coastline and catch glimpses of local wildlife, including seals and dolphins.

6. Conwy

conwy castle

Conwy is our next Welsh seaside town and rests on the coast of North Wales, on the banks of the River Conwy, overlooking Conwy Bay and the Irish Sea.

Upon arrival at the seaside town, you will be welcomed by the imposing 13th-century castle, built for Edward I between 1283 and 1287. The castle is the town’s main attraction and is one of the best-preserved medieval examples in Europe. You can explore the castle’s many towers, walls, and gatehouses, and take in stunning views of the surrounding coastline.

Afterwards, explore the town centre which is filled with an array of shops and plenty of places to eat and drink. A favourite spot among tourists and locals alike to eat in Conwy is L’s Coffee & Books, where mouth-watering food awaits!

After refuelling, venture to Conwy Quay, where views across the estuary and towards the castle await. There are many waterside attractions here, including the smallest house in Great Britain and the Mussels Museum.

Look forward to a visit filled with rich history and stunning coastal views when in this seaside town.

7. Whitby

an english seaside town

Positioned on the North Yorkshire coastline, Whitby is without a doubt one of the best seaside towns in the UK. It’s a charming location, littered with ornate cobbled paths and Gothic culture.

Aside from the stunning views across the harbour and sea, one of Whitby’s most iconic landmarks is the ruins of the abbey. Whitby Abbey dates to the 7th century and is said to have inspired Bram Stoker’s classic novel, “Dracula”.

Spend your seaside break around 16th-century harbour. Home to a bustling fishing industry, the harbour is a departure point for many pleasure boats and fishing trips. Visitors can stroll along the quayside and watch the fishing boats come and go, or take a boat trip to explore the coastline from a different perspective.

In addition to its seaside beauty and historic attractions, Whitby is also renowned for its lively events calendar. Throughout the year, the town plays host to a range of festivals, concerts, and other cultural events.

One of the most popular events is the Whitby Regatta. This is a four-day celebration of maritime heritage that features sailing races, music, and fireworks.

8. Weymouth

weymouth, a seaside towns

Known for its traditional seaside attractions and rich maritime history, Weymouth is undoubtedly one of the best seaside towns in the UK. Located on the south coast of Dorset, it is a charming coastal town with much to offer visitors.

Weymouth Beach is one of the many Dorset beaches that you have to visit. Promising a traditional English seaside escape, the Georgian seafront overlooks soft golden sands and crystal clear waters.

In the summer months, the beach is a hive of activity, with deckchairs and beach huts available to rent. There is also a range of seaside attractions such as donkey rides, mini-golf, and amusement arcades to keep everyone entertained!

From the harbour, visitors can take a boat trip out to explore the Jurassic Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Families can also look forward to a day at the SEA LIFE Centre, where they can catch glimpses of a variety of sea creatures, including sharks, turtles, and stingrays. Exploring Dorset has more exciting ideas on what to do on your next visit to this picturesque county!

9. Cromer

Cromer Beach

A guide to the best seaside towns in the UK wouldn’t be complete without Cromer! A quintessentially English resort, Cromer enjoys Victorian architecture, a long sandy beach and a picturesque pier.

Visitors from all over the UK flock to this seaside spot, with the main attraction being the long stretch of golden sand. Colourful beach huts and traditional seaside promenades back the sand, making it a favourite with families.

Wrap up your afternoon on the beach and head to Cromer Pier, another popular attraction. Here, you can look forward to stunning views out to sea and a range of entertainment options. Catch a show at the Pavilion Theatre which hosts a variety of performances throughout the year!

Alternatively, enjoy a range of traditional seaside amusements, such as a funfair and arcades, providing plenty of entertainment for all ages. For walkers, the North Norfolk Coast Path passes through the seaside town, where you can soak up the best of the coast and countryside.

10. Portmeirion

Portmeirion, a seaside town

In Wales, you are truly spoilt for choice when it comes to seaside towns! However, Portmeirion is a seaside destination that you wouldn’t believe is in the UK!

Located on the outskirts of the Snowdonia National Park, the Italianate seaside resort is a must for anyone visiting North Wales. With pastel-coloured villas and sub-tropical gardens, your visit will have you believe that you’re in Northern Italy.

One of the main attractions of Portmeirion is its stunning gardens, which cover over 70 acres and are home to a range of exotic plants and flowers. Visitors can explore the gardens on foot, following a network of paths that wind through the trees and around the lakes.

Another highlight of Portmeirion is its beach, which is a small cove of sand and rocks, surrounded by cliffs and wooded hillsides. The beach is perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and rock pooling, making it a superb beach in North Wales.

Portmeirion also has a range of restaurants, cafes, and shops, offering a variety of Welsh and international cuisine, as well as local crafts and souvenirs.

11. Wells-next-the Sea

Wells-next-the-Sea Beach

Perched on the north coast of Norfolk is our next seaside town that you must visit! It is a charming location, littered with lots to see and do, with something for all ages here.

Spend your days at the quay and harbour, cemented as the town’s centre of gravity and focus of activity. Families will try their hand at crabbing on the quay before tucking into fish and chips, whilst sat on the harbour wall.

From the harbour, you can access the Salt Marshes, which is an environmentally protected nature reserve. Enjoy never-ending horizons and the unique habitats of birds and plants.

In the town centre, you will find a leafy Georgian Square and Staithe Street, home to a collection of shops and eateries. However, the main attraction of Wells-next-the-Sea is its beautiful beach.

Bordered by pinewoods and colourful beach huts, this seaside town’s beach is easily one of the best Norfolk beaches. Here, you will find a superb spot to relax and enjoy the sea air. Choose to paddle in the shallows, play ball games on the sands or tuck into a picnic from your very own beach hut!

12. Tobermory


Concluding our guide to the best seaside towns in the UK is the Scottish gem of Tobermory. Located on the Isle of Mull in the Inner Hebrides, Tobermory is known for its brightly coloured houses, bustling harbour, and stunning natural beauty.

Lining the waterfront as a collection of colourful houses, giving the town a distinctive charm. The colourful buildings are said to have been painted to help the fishermen identify their homes while returning from sea.

Stroll along the waterfront and admire the houses, before browsing the shops and galleries that are dotted along the street.

Continuing to impress, the town’s proximity to the sea makes it an ideal location for marine life enthusiasts. Here, you can spot an abundance of Scottish wildlife, including otters, seals, dolphins, basking sharks and a variety of seabirds.

Tobermory is also a popular destination for sailing enthusiasts. Several sailing schools and charter companies offer trips around the island. The waters around the Isle of Mull are also home to several shipwrecks, making it a popular destination for divers!

Ready to Rock

Feeling inspired by our best seaside towns in the UK? Take a look at our UK beach holiday guide for even more coastal gems! Alternatively, find your ideal holiday cottage by the sea and book with us today!

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