20 of the best beach towns UK edition

Being an island nation, you’ll find abundant coastlines filled with the best beach towns in the UK. The towering cliffs, pristine beaches, sweeping bays, and dramatic headlands offer natural coastal splendour to explore on holiday.


Dotting these coastlines are stunning villages and towns, filled with plenty of activities to try. From artsy Cornish towns to characterful Welsh fishing villages, the UK's seaside communities showcase incredible diversity alongside their inherent natural beauty. These coastal havens offer cutting-edge museums, destination-worthy restaurants, plentiful sunshine, sandy shores, and invigorating sea breezes. No matter whether you’re holidaying as a couple, a family with a dog, or solo, you’ll find a beach town to suit you! Here are what we consider the most beautiful and exemplary seaside towns across the UK

Cornwall beach towns

Some of the best beach towns in the UK are in the beautiful county of Cornwall, so let’s explore:

St Ives image

St Ives

H3 1. St Ives St Ives is a picturesque fishing village known as ‘the dazzling jewel in Cornwall’s crown’. This seaside town on the north coast of Cornwall is full of golden beaches. With its maze of narrow cobblestone streets and tiny fishermen's cottages huddled around a sheltered harbour, it exudes a classic Cornish charm.

Find out more

The town's biggest draw is its stunning beaches - Porthmeor, Porthgwidden, and Harbour Beach, amongst many others – which offer golden sands and excellent surfing conditions. In this village, you’ll also find the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden and the Tate St Ives Gallery which showcases the work of modern British artists who were inspired by the area's striking light and landscapes. All of these things and more make St Ives one of the best beach towns in the UK, so it’s a must-see holiday visit!

Ideal for: Anglers, hikers, and art lovers.

Newquay image


Known as the surfing capital of the UK, Newquay has been a popular seaside resort since the Victorian era. Sitting on the rugged Atlantic coast, this gorgeous beach town boasts over 7 miles of beaches from sheltered bays to high cliffs and world-class surf breaks like Fistral Beach.

Find out more

beaches from sheltered bays to high cliffs and world-class surf breaks like Fistral Beach. With its lively vibe, Newquay offers beachside bars, restaurants, and surfing schools catering to the steady stream of surfers of all abilities and sun-seekers. Beyond the beaches, attractions include the fishing village of Crantock, the South West Coast Path for hiking, and easy access to other areas of Cornwall.

Ideal for: Surfers, families, and walkers.

Bude image


Bude is a laid-back coastal town bordered by beaches and the River Neet and Stangat estuaries. With its Mediterranean-style microclimate, Bude enjoys a relaxed, sunny atmosphere. The town's main beaches are Summerleaze and Crooklets – wide sandy stretches perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and building sandcastles with your little ones on holiday. 

Find out more

Bude also has an inland sea pool called the Sea Lock where you can bathe in the high tides. Other highlights include the South West Coast Path running along the dramatic cliffs, the Bude Canal for walking and cycling, and quirky shops and cafes to explore with your loved ones.

Ideal for: Swimming (and other watersports), boat enthusiasts, and relaxation.

Falmouth image


One of Cornwall’s best beach towns, Falmouth has a prime location at the entrance to the Fal Estuary. With its deep natural harbour, the town has an established maritime heritage and has become famous for it. Together with Carrick Roads, it forms the third deepest natural harbour in the world and the deepest in Western Europe.

Today, Falmouth combines that history with modern attractions like the National Maritime Museum, Pendennis Castle, the bustling town centre, and four beaches - Gyllyngvase, Swanpool, Maenporth, and Castle. Gyllyngvase is the largest and most popular Blue Flag beach with soft golden sand and seaside amenities. Falmouth is also a prime jumping-off point for exploring the Fal Estuary and artsy Cornish villages like St Mawes.

Ideal for: Shopping, maritime history lovers, and watersports.

Penzance image


This was the hidden gem of Cornwall, but now Penzance is one of the best hotspots here! As one of the best beach towns in the UK, you’ll find a subtropical microclimate that serves as the major gateway for exploring this corner of the county. 

While the mostly shingle Promenade Beach is small and rocky with fantastic rock pools to discover, Penzance gives easy access to larger sandy beaches nearby at Marazion, Perranuthnoe, and Porthcurno. Top attractions include the famous open-air Minack Theatre set into the cliffs, the historic fishing village of Mousehole, and the National Trust site, St Michael's Mount – a tidal island crowned with a medieval church and castle.

Ideal for: Theatre lovers, romantic getaways, summer loving.

Essex beach town

If you’re looking for an Essex holiday, why not visit this beach town in the UK that will provide you with everything you want and more from a beach holiday:

A view of the beach through some long grass at Mersea Island, Essex.

West Mersea

Sitting on the northern part of Mersea Island, this UK beach town is separated from the mainland by a narrow channel called the Strood - the island is accessible by road via the Strood causeway at low tide. Twice every 24 hours Mersea has a high tide, which sometimes covers the road and prevents anyone from entering or leaving this magical island.

Find out more

West Mersea has a long maritime history and was an important fishing and shipbuilding town in the past. Even today, its economy relies heavily on oyster fishing and sailing/yachting. Its sand and shingle beach is popular for swimming, sailing, windsurfing, and other water sports when the tide is in - the perfect traditional resort beach! Alongside the beach, you can visit Cudmore Grove Country Park on the east side of West Mersea, which has beautiful woodland walks, a long sandy beach, and salt marshes that attract many bird species – perfect for a dog-friendly day out with the family!

Ideal for: Dog walkers, watersports, and fishing.

North Wales beach towns

Travelling to North Wales? Here are a few of the best beach towns to visit here:

Barmouth image


Barmouth is a picturesque seaside resort town located in Gwynedd, North Wales, and is southern Snowdonia’s most popular seaside beach – you’ll understand just why when you visit! It sits where the River Mawddach meets Cardigan Bay on the northwestern Welsh coast and is sheltered between two hills and a long sandy beach that stretches out in front of its promenade. 

Find out more

The wooden viaduct bridge carrying the Cambrian Coast railway line across the estuary is an iconic sight in Barmouth, and there’s still a small harbour here where fishing boats operate. Alongside the beach, the towering hills of Cader Idris and the Mawddach Trail provide excellent hiking opportunities through beautiful Welsh countryside scenery.

Ideal for: Families, swimming, and nature lovers.

Conwy image


Located in Conwy County, Conwy is on the north coast and rich in history. It's dominated by the medieval Conwy Castle, one of the most impressive fortresses in Wales built for/by Edward I in the 13th century. Walking the complete circuit of the castle walls and towers provides breathtaking views.

Find out more

The town itself is a World Heritage site with narrow winding streets lined with a diverse array of shops, pubs, and historical buildings like Plas Mawr, the finest surviving Elizabethan town house anywhere in Britain. The Smallest House in Great Britain can be found along these streets as well. Plus, you can find Conwy Morfa Beach, which is a large sandy beach that’s great for fishing, with a marina and a nearby golf course. What else would you expect from one of the best beach towns in UK?

Ideal for: History buffs, nature enthusiasts, and bird watching.

An image of Llandudno, a wonderful Victorian seaside town with masses of history!


Llandudno, about a 30-minute drive from Golden Sands Holiday Park, is the largest and most developed seaside resort town in North Wales. Situated on a flat isthmus between the Great Orme and Little Orme headlands, it has two superb beaches - the North Shore and the West Shore. The Victorian-era North Shore promenade is lined with shops and the iconic Happy Valley gardens. 

Find out more

On the West Shore side, the wide sandy beach is backed by the sloping 19th-century promenade. A traditional pier juts into the sea here as well. With its grand historic architecture, attractions, and beaches, Llandudno has been a popular seaside getaway and one of the best beach towns in UK for decades!

Ideal for: Families, snowsports (yes, snowsports), and walkers.

Lincolnshire beach towns

You’ll find plenty of beautiful beaches in and around Lincolnshire, so here are a few beach towns to add to your holiday itinerary:

Skegness image


Skegness is a classic English seaside resort town located on the Lincolnshire coast. It's best known for its long sandy beach lined with traditional amusements, fish and chip shops, and arcades. Signature attractions include the Skegness Pier, Fairy Dell Paddling Pool, Natureland Seal Sanctuary, and Gibraltar Point Nature Reserve. 

Find out more

The Blue Flag beach offers all the quintessential seaside entertainment, from donkey rides to crazy golf courses. Water sports like sailing and kite surfing are popular as well. With its mix of nostalgic charm, sandy coastline, and plentiful amusements, Skegness has been drawing holidaymakers for decades and will only continue to do so!

Ideal for: Family fun, coastal walks, and animal lovers.

Anderby Creek image

Anderby Creek

A tranquil and unspoiled village on the rural Lincolnshire coast, Anderby Creek is located between Skegness and Mablethorpe. Its main draw is the wide, sandy beach that stretches for miles in both directions when the tide is out. At low tide, Anderby Creek beach is ideal for long walks, beach fishing, kite flying, or just taking in the serenity.

Find out more

This historic coastal town, Lyme Regis in West Dorset, is renowned for its fossils, dramatic cliffs, and old harbour. The town hugs the cliffs along Lyme Bay and has a picture-postcard scenery. Its wide curve of sandy beach is bordered by historic buildings like the Cobb Harbour Wall and Lepers' Well. The town's beaches and coastline are part of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, one of the best places in the world for finding prehistoric fossils embedded in the cliffs and shores.

Ideal for: Fossil hunting, coastal walks, and boating trips.

The dunes and marshes behind the beach are a nature reserve teeming with birdlife. There is very little development, making Anderby Creek the perfect spot to get away from it all and enjoy Lincolnshire's serene coastline – the perfect relaxation holiday!

Ideal for: Coastal walks, relaxation, and cloud spotting.

Cleethorpes image


Cleethorpes is a seaside town located on the estuary of the Humber River in northeast Lincolnshire and one of the most popular resorts on this stretch of coast. The resort's main draw is its gently sloping sandy beach, which extends for miles at low tide and is about a 10-minute drive from Cleethorpes Pearl Holiday Park.

Find out more

The beach is lined by a traditional seafront with fish and chip shops, arcades, a paddling pool, and Cleethorpes Pier. Other highlights include Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway and Cleethorpes Boating Lake. The Meggies Burn Valley is a scenic green space perfect for walking and cycling trails. Cleethorpes seamlessly blends its heritage as a Victorian seaside resort with modern amusements and a lively streetlife centred around Sea View Street. It appeals to both families and younger crowds alike.

Ideal for: Boating, walking, and cycling.

Dorset beach towns

The county of Dorset is known for its beach towns. Discover a few of them today:

Lyme Regis image

Lyme Regis

Lyme Regis has a lively creative arts scene and hosts annual fossil festivals and literary events. Its compact town centre is filled with independent shops, galleries, cafes, and pubs, making it one of the best beach towns in UK!

Find out more

This historic coastal town, Lyme Regis in West Dorset, is renowned for its fossils, dramatic cliffs, and old harbour. The town hugs the cliffs along Lyme Bay and has a picture-postcard scenery. Its wide curve of sandy beach is bordered by historic buildings like the Cobb Harbour Wall and Lepers' Well. The town's beaches and coastline are part of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, one of the best places in the world for finding prehistoric fossils embedded in the cliffs and shores.

Ideal for: Fossil hunting, coastal walks, and boating trips.

Bournemouth image


Bournemouth is one of England's largest and most popular coastal resort towns, known for its vast sandy beaches, lively atmosphere, and many attractions. The town's huge curving beach stretches for over 7 miles along the English Channel coast. Facilities include beach huts, piers, watersports hire, and the famous art deco-style beach pavilions and theatres.

Find out more

Inland from the beach, you can explore the Victorian gardens, shops, restaurants, and nightlife of the town centre. Top attractions include the Oceanarium Aquarium and Boscombe Chine Gardens. With its warm microclimate, golden sand beaches, and cosmopolitan feel, Bournemouth will continue to be a staple location for holidaygoers!

Ideal for: Beach days, nightlife, and cliff walks.

Weymouth image


H3 15. Weymouth This ancient seaside town on the English Channel coast in Dorset is known as Weymouth. Its sandy beaches, picturesque harbour, and seafront promenades make it a classic British beach destination. Weymouth Beach stretches for 3 miles, with level sands ideal for families.

Find out more

Weymouth Beach stretches for 3 miles, with level sands ideal for families. The old town centre has winding streets with Georgian townhouses, Weymouth’s number 1 museum, the Nothe Fort, Brewers Quay, and the Tudor House Museum. Sandsfoot Castle and Lodmoor Country Park provide green spaces near the town. Other things to do in Weymouth, include the lively restaurant/bar scene, Weymouth Pavillion theatre, Sea Life Adventure Park, and departures for scenic Jurassic Coast Cruises. With its rich heritage and modern amenities, it’s a must-visit beach town!

Ideal for: Naval history buffs, countryside walks, and boat trips.

Isle of Wight beach towns

You can’t have an Isle of Wight holiday without visiting at least one beach, so why not visit a few of these beach towns?

Yarmouth image


The second smallest town in Britain, Yarmouth, has a charming historic harbour surrounded by stone Napoleonic-era fortifications and narrow lanes lined with shops, pubs, and cafes. The harbour itself is still working and a popular spot to watch the comings and goings of boats and yachts – a gateway to West Wight’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. 

Find out more

Yarmouth also has a sand and shingle beach popular for swimming and sunbathing when weather allows. At Yarmouth Harbour lies a protected area for wildlife and bird watching, so what will you spot?

Ideal for: Wildlife watching, coastal walks, and family days out.

Sandown image


One of the best beach towns in the UK, Sandown is one of the most popular seaside resort towns on the Isle of Wight, known for its long stretch of sandy beach and traditional pier and seafront attractions. The gently sloping beach is one of the island's most popular for families, with children's playgrounds, beach huts, and plenty of space for swimming and sandcastle building.

Find out more

Dinosaur Isle is a great seafront interactive museum, celebrating the Isle of Wight’s status as one of the world’s top dino sites. Behind the seafront esplanade, Sandown has the typical seaside resort credentials - amusement arcades, adventure golf, restaurants, and more.

Ideal for: Families, dinosaur lovers, and seasonal events.

Ryde image


Ryde is the largest town on the Isle of Wight, known for its grand Victorian architecture, active seafront promenades, and more. The crescent-shaped beach is lined with cafes and attractions like the Ryde Pier. Watersports are also very popular off Ryde's shores, especially sailing.

Find out more

High above the beach sits Ryde's historic town centre of Georgian and Victorian terraces and gardens. Ryde town also serves as a transport hub with rail links, ferries, and even a hovercraft terminal, so you can really explore more of the island and the nearby mainland when holidaying here!

Ideal for: Sailors (of all abilities), family beach days, and boutique shopping.

Ventnor image


A real gem, Ventnor is a charming Victorian seaside resort nestled between downs on the Isle of Wight's sheltered southeast coast. Its location in an undercliff area gives it a subtropical microclimate. The town spreads out along a series of small beaches and coves punctuated by rock pools and small fishing harbours like Ventnor Harbour.

Find out more

You must visit the beachfront coastal footpath, the Botanic Gardens, with exotic plants thriving in the Mediterranean-like atmosphere, and the Winter Gardens. Ventnor town has retained its original charm as a therapeutic seaside getaway, offering quiet beaches, spectacular scenery, and a temperate climate for relaxation.

Ideal for: Nature lovers, fishing, and boat owners.

North Yorkshire beach town

This beautiful part of Yorkshire has plenty of beaches to visit, here’s one of the best beach towns:

Saltburn-by-the-Sea image


Saltburn-by-the-Sea is a charming seaside town located on the Yorkshire coast in northeast England. Its long sandy beach is backed by towering cliffs and the iconic remains of a historic pier that juts out into the North Sea.

Find out more

One of its most unique features is the oldest remaining cliff tramway in Britain - the Saltburn Cliff Tramway, built in 1884, which carries passengers up and down the 120-foot cliff between the town and the beach pier. With plenty of attractions, including the Valley Gardens and the Ship Inn Museum, it’s the perfect location for a fun-filled day out on holiday. Plus, you can get up to plenty of outdoor like surfing, hiking along the Cleveland Way National Trail, mountain biking, and exploring the rock pools and sea caves at low tide.

Ideal for: Watersports, nature enthusiasts, and hikers.

What is the most beautiful beach town in the UK?

After finding out 20 of the best beach towns in the UK, you may be wondering what the most beautiful one is. There are so many to choose from, so it’s impossible to pick just one.

Some of the best include:

  • Weymouth, Dorset
  • Llandudno, North Wales
  • Salcombe, Devon
  • Penzance, Cornwall
  • Ventnor, Isle of Wight

Of course, there are so many more to explore, but here are just a few that you can visit while on your next beach holiday! What are you waiting for? Book your next holiday and explore all of the best beach towns in the UK today…

Take a look at beaches by region:

Hampshire | Scotland | Isle of Wight | Dorset | North Wales | Yorkshire | Lincolnshire | Cornwall

Take a look at related articles

Discovering different...

Whilst you wait... just think about being in your swimmers, the sun's out and the smiles are big