10 of the best beach resorts in the UK

Best UK beach resorts

There’s nothing like dreaming of golden sands to cheer yourself up in the dreary winter months. The UK might not be the first place you’ll think of when booking your beach holiday but it’s actually home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Europe, you just have to know where to find them. We asked fellow traveller and Anglophile Petal Mashraki to pick her 10 of her favourite British beach resorts… 

Tenby, South Wales

Tenby

The picturesque harbour town of Tenby in Pembrokeshire, Wales can be found perched on a hilltop overlooking beautiful beaches. Surrounded by the remains of the original medieval walls and filled with cobbled streets lined with independent restaurants, historic buildings, traditional pubs and shops, Tenby is easily one of the best beach resorts in the UK. The beautiful coastline has made Tenby the place to visit since the early 19th century and exploring the surrounding landscapes is a de rigueur visitor pastime. From here you can follow the famous Pembrokeshire Coastal Path, relax in the sidewalk cafes or even take a cruise from the harbour out to Caldey Island. Activities in Tenby include kite-surfing, riding on the beach, visiting the local water park and exploring the 2,000 year old Carew Castle.

Falmouth, South Cornwall

Falmouth

Cornwall is where to head to find some the UK’s most beautiful and cleanest beaches and the thriving university town of Falmouth is a good place to start. It’s been a famous port since the 17th century and it enjoys a strategic location at the entrance to the world’s largest harbour. Luckily it doesn’t feel overdeveloped feel but still offers a great selection of wine bars, restaurants and bistros. It’s surrounding blue flag awarded beaches are great for swimming and family fun and nearby Helford and Fal Rivers and Roseland Peninsula Falmouth has been awarded Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs).

Brighton, East Sussex

West Pier, Brighton ©GlobalGrasshopper.com 2009

Brighton is the large seaside city with a small town feel. As far back as the 18th century, day-trippers from London have enjoyed the chance to bath in the waters which wash up on Brighton’s pebble beaches. The lively British resort has a seafront lined with restaurants and cafes, an historic pier with attractions and eateries and a broad promenade above the beaches. The city is geared towards visitors of all tastes with a range of accommodation options, restaurants and attractions. There is a thriving nightlife scene, several great museums and regular festivals and special events. Make sure you wander the narrow lanes (The North and South Laines) to discover an eclectic mix of cool alternative shops, up-market boutiques and typically British tearooms.

Abersoch, North Wales

Abersoch

This village seaside resort on the Llyn Peninsula of North Wales is known for its fine sailing waters, water sports and excellent calendar of events including the Abersoch Jazz Festival, Wakestock wakeboard competition, July music festival and the annual West Coast Surfing Open Contest. There are several beaches including the Abersoch Main Beach (which faces the Tudwal Islands), the Aberdaron Beach which is popular with with families and Porth Oer or “Whistling Sands” where the sand particles have a unique shape causing them to “whistle” when you move your feet.

Bournemouth, Dorset

bournemouth

This is a perennially popular beach-side town. It’s a lively and fun place located on the south coast of England not to far from the famous World Heritage site, the Jurassic Coast. The cosmopolitan university town has excellent facilities, restaurants, an up-tempo nightlife and a huge range of great Bournemouth hotels to choose from. It’s award winning beach is obviously a part of the big attraction and the city is home to 7 miles of golden sand and sparkling turquoise sea. Other attractions along what is affectionately known as the English Rivera include water-sports, pretty gardens, museums and plenty of traditional seaside fun. Just be warned the summer months can get extremely crowded.

Woolacombe, North Devon

Woolacombe

This popular North Devon resort has many accolades to its name – it came first in the best family resort category in the VisitEngland awards for Excellence and gained a place on Mail of Sunday’s list of Best British Beaches. Woolacombe has three miles of award winning sandy beaches, which are used for water-sports, surfing and swimming. The village is laid back and friendly with facilities and activities for the whole family. From here you can take a cruise out to Lundy Island or charter a boat to explore the clear blue unspoiled waters.

Southwold, Suffolk

Southwold

This pleasant town on the coast of the Northern Sea in Suffolk is surrounded by gorgeous countryside which is part of the Heritage Coast. Time seems to have stood still in the quaint town where you can take an 1879 arrow-gauge train to see the lighthouse (which dates back to 1890 and still operates), enjoy beer from the nearby Adnams Brewery opened in 1872, visit the country’s only Amber Museum, wander along the 1900s Southwold Pier and visit the Electric Picture Palace Cinema opened by Michael Palin in the style of original 1912 town cinema. The typical English beach resort town has 300 colourful beach huts and a seaside promenade.

Poole, Dorset

Poole

Located in Dorset, England this famously beautiful large seaside town has a natural harbour, cross-channel ferries, 3 miles of Blue Flag beaches, a long Quay on the seafront lined with pubs and restaurants, large urban parks, many historic buildings and the largest arts complex in the UK outside of London. The classic beach resort has been welcoming visitors for over 100 years. Other highlights include the chocolate box pretty Old Town, the water sports facilities, following the cockle Trail along the town’s interactive heritage trail and the large Tower Park Leisure Entertainment Complex which will keep the kids happy.

Newquay, North Cornwall

Newquay Fistral

Attracting both a family-orientated and a youthful crowd Newquay is one of the most fun – and most beautiful – beach resorts in the UK. It’s also one of the most popular and although thousands of visitors head to Newquay each summer to make the most of the 7 miles of gorgeous sandy beaches and vibrant town it still manages to retain a very laid back feel. This is probably due to its large surfing community and slightly alternative vibe. Perched across Cornwall’s Atlantic Cliffs there are eleven gorgeous beaches within easy reach (with Fistral beach being one of the best) and a fantastic calendar of events and festivals.

St Ives, South Cornwall

St Ives Cornwall

This is another of Cornwall’s finest – a beautiful award winning resort with an unusually mild climate. Its location probably helps, it enjoys a position at the end of the Gulf stream, close to the tip of Cornwall which means it enjoys much milder weather than the rest of the UK. It’s beaches are beautiful too with fine golden sands, natural green vegetation and bright light which turns into spectacular sunsets. It’s this unspoiled natural beauty which has attracted the world’s greatest painters, ceramists and sculptors to St.Ives for decades. Expect excellent galleries, al fresco cafes, top notch eateries and a picturesque working harbour.

Born in England, with a few family roots from Bavaria, and a heart in Scandinavia I've always been a bit of a restless soul. My first true adventure began as a six month voyage around South East Asia as a fresh faced backpacker and ever since I've lived a semi nomadic existence, clocking up over 40 countries on trips and living in Dublin, South East Asia and Australia. I'm a lover of US Road Trips, deserted beaches bathed in warm glow of a sunset, Cuban mojitos, easy-on-the-eye travel destinations far away from the tourist crowds and all things Scandinavian - from cloudberry liquors to Scandi Noirs. When not wandering the world, you'll find me walking my rescue dog in leafy South West London, strolling around the Brighton Laines on random day trips, hunting for photogenic landscapes or daydreaming about returning to my all time favourite places in the world; Havana, Copenhagen, Italy, Thailand and the frozen landscapes of a wintry Iceland. Follow Becky on Twitter and Google+.

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