a beach with rocks and water

Be quiet, British people. We know you’ve been saying how lovely your beaches are for years, but for decades we just haven’t quite believed you.

Blame Guy Ritchie for the scene in cult classic “Snatch” where Cousin Avi says “we’ve got sandy beaches” and Dennis Farina replies “yeah, well who the hell wants to see them”, but there’s just always been a tremendous amount of doubt that a place known for grey clouds and cold rain could be a preeminent beach destination.

It turns out, British people, you were right all along…

a beach with rocks and water

Porthcurno Beach, Cornwall

This small beach exudes so much natural beauty; the turquoise waters, soft white sand and dramatic cliffs surrounding it make this little spot truly heavenly. It can get busy on hot summer days, but going slightly off season can do wonders.

About a 6.5 hour drive from London, it’s definitely worth going down for a few days or a week and exploring the area. With lots of picturesque beaches and scenery all around, it’s hard to beat for an easy UK holiday, and there are great houses to rent, for cheap!

a beach with a rocky cliff and water

Man O’War Beach, Dorset

As part of the Jurassic Coast, Man O’War Beach is a mixture of sand and fine pebbles. A walk along the rugged coastline unveils gorgeous turquoise blues glistening from the waters below, especially if the sun is shining.

And depending on the temperatures or if you’re brave enough, it also is lovely for a little swim or a paddle. If you’re renting a car it’s about a 3.5 hour drive from London, or you can get the train to Wool, which is the nearest station, followed by a bus or taxi.

a rocky beach with blue water and a sandy beach

Achmelvich, Scotland

When people think of Scotland they certainly don’t imagine soft, white sandy beaches set against clear waters and beautiful scenery. But that’s exactly what you’ll find here, and some.

Come for the peace and quiet and pretty walks, no matter the season. But obviously, if that “season” is anything other than mid summer, just pack accordingly. From Inverness Airport it will be about a 2.5 hour drive to reach this truly charming spot.

a sand dune with grass and blue sky

Camber Sands, Sussex

Unlike many shingle beaches in the same area, here you can expect golden sand and even some epic sand dunes. With a 5 mile stretch of gorgeous beach  just a couple hours from London, this can be a perfect spot to hit, even in the summer.

Also, just a few miles away is the beautiful, old, quaint town of Rye; with cobbled streets, charming pubs and inns and fun, quirky little shops. It’s a wonderful place for a classic English day out, even if the weather at the beach isn’t perfect.

a grassy hill with a body of water in the background

Rhossili Bay Beach, Wales

It’s hard to know what’s better, the 3 miles of golden, sandy shore, or the walking routes from the cliffs above offering spectacular views. Fortunately, if you’re spending the day at this beautiful spot you should have time for both.

Bring a picnic on a sunny day and relax whilst enjoying the scenery, or if water sports are more your thing you may even find some impressive waves. Dogs are also welcome, so bring your favourite four legged friends for a lovely walk, any time of year. From London the drive will be about 4.5 hours.

a close-up of a beach

Walberswick Beach, Southwold

This beautiful, quaint coastal village can be quite popular in the summer months thanks to the low key celebrity set which have adopted it, but with an endless stretch of beach and some deliciously fresh fish and chips just minutes away, it’s always worth a visit.

Its mixture of sand and shingle makes it just as fun off season for brisk walks whilst searching for carnelians among the stones. About a 3 hour drive from London this can make for a fun weekend away. Pro tip: stop in The Anchor for those good fish and chips and a brew, or an unbeatable location near the beach for a nights sleep.

a row of small buildings by the water

Tankerton Beach, Kent

It’s hard to beat rows of brightly coloured beach huts against the mixed blues of water and sky. About a 1.5-2 hour drive from London depending on traffic, it can make for a lovely day away from city life.

Once you’re done soaking up a few rays, having a little paddle or enjoying a walk along the pebbles you can head to Whitstable, the popular beach side town is just a short walk away and a good way to enjoy some much needed refreshment or meal.

Laura Burns

Laura Burns is a frequent traveller with an affinity for fine coffee, delicious food and the world's most beautiful sights. If she's writing about it, it's worth exploring. Happiest in Tokyo, Melbourne,...

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  1. Nice post and helpful on alleviating a misconception. Great movie reference too. All things being equal with the whole global pandemic thing, I’ll steer clear of crowds for a while though. Perhaps next year. How’s the water temperature?

  2. Don’t tell anyone but the beaches in the Outer Hebrides are the nicest in the world (google Luskentyre) but you don’t go there for a sun tan!

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