We’re all in need of a bit of a break – don’t you think? And just because we aren’t able to holiday abroad, that doesn’t mean we can’t have one helluva staycation filled with sandy beaches, treat-yo-self dinners and glorious sunshine. Whether you’re searching for bucolic escapes in Northern Ireland or quirky cities on the south coast of England, here are the best seaside towns in the UK.
There's a seemingly never-ending list of things to do in Brighton, whether it's stocking up on vintage clothing over on North Laine or trying your hand at the arcade games on the pier. You can also sink a few pints at The Hope & Ruin, sip on cocktails at beachfront bar OhSo Social or boogie down at one of the many, many live music venues. And let’s be honest, it wouldn’t be a trip to Brighton without a few lovely moments on the pebble beach shovelling chips into your mouth – just keep an eye out for the seagulls.
If you’re looking for England’s answer to the Mediterranean, Bournemouth is as close as you can get. Boasting world-class stretches of golden sands, some of the warmest water temperatures in the country and a bustling city centre to boot, this seaside sensation is ideal for weekend breaks in the UK. After lazing by the sea or pottering around the shops, finish the day at Brewhouse & Kitchen with a spot of classic pub grub and refreshing craft beer. If you fancy dancing the night away to the tunes of live bands and DJs, Sixty Million Postcards are raising the roof every weekend.
One of the best seaside towns in the UK, Tenby is a popular destination for those who need an escape from city life. Not only does this Welsh beauty spot have pastel-coloured buildings, spectacular views of the skyline and postcard-worthy shores, but there's also plenty of fun activities to fill your day. Take a boat trip to the nearby Caldey Island, go on a scenic walking trail or tuck into locally-caught fish alongside jazzy cocktails at The Cove.
Kent's Margate oozes quirkiness, with unique architecture, vintage shops and a mysterious Shell Grotto. The main beach is perfectly positioned, close to places offering takeaway pints and delicious fish and chips. It's not far from Dreamland Summer Social either, the gigantic suntrap of a beer garden which is located in the famous amusement park. But there are also plenty of lesser known shores for you to discover, such as the famed Botany Bay, so pack a picnic and make sure to explore the coastline.
A quiet, picturesque town in Essex, Southend-on-Sea is an idyllic spot for UK beach holidays. Discover art galleries, eclectic shops and bucolic cafés on Old Leigh’s cobbled streets, or head to one of the seafront’s award-winning sandy beaches. With plenty of pubs to keep you cosy on colder days, such as The Crooked Billet, the coastal town is a great visit whatever the weather. If that wasn’t enough, Southend is also home to the longest pier in the world, which holds Adventure Island Amusement Park, Sea Life Adventure Aquarium and more.
Robin Hood’s Bay
Once a small smuggling and fishing village, Robin Hood’s Bay has transformed into popular visit for relaxing, seaside holidays. The North Yorkshire town feels quintessentially British, with traditional pubs, cobbled streets, cosy cottages and a small, sandy beach backdropped by craggy cliffs. To complete your countryside experience, we recommend heading to Fish Box, where you can tuck into award-winning fish and chips while nestled on a clifftop with panoramic seascapes.
As one of the best coastal towns in the UK, Plymouth is hub for delectable dining, brilliant bars, art galleries and watersports. When you next visit, enjoy alfresco dining at Rockfish or tuck into pizza and craft beer at The Stable. If it’s sunbathing you’re after, there’s plenty of beaches to check out, from bustling local favourite Bovisands to secluded haven Meadowsfoot.
If you’re looking for the perfect place for a weekend break in the UK, Portree should be next on your list. The quaint Scottish village is made up of colourful houses surrounded by rolling hills, with a shimmering bay just below. A great venture for holidaymakers, the capital of Skye boasts scenic boat trips, historical tours, beautiful churches and fantastic places to eat. Expect everything from seafood extravaganzas from the likes of Sea Breezes to Michelin-recommended restaurant Cuillin Hills Hotel, which boasts breathtaking views of the harbour.
Under an hour's drive from Belfast, with plenty of historic attractions and fun activities, Donaghadee is one of the best seaside towns to live here in the UK. Head to the shore and admire the famous lighthouse, moat and churches, then dig into grilled plates at Pier 36 or get your caffeine fix at Saints N Sinners. As The Northern Ireland icon is the closest point to Scotland, if you keep your eyes peeled (and squint a little) you can spot it from the harbour.
While there are many gorgeous, fun-filled places to visit in Norfolk, we thought Blakeney deserved a special mention. With astonishingly beautiful beaches, seal-watching boat trips and the Broads National Park, this coastal village is a blissful getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city. Not just a relaxing destination to recharge your batteries, there’s also some top spots to whet your whistle or grab a bite to eat, with The Anchor in Morston serving up some of the best clam chowder in the county.
Still in search of the perfect staycation? Explore our handpicked guide of the top 10 pretty cities to visit in the UK here.