Craving some sunshine, sea and sand? There’s no need to hop on a plane when there are so many brilliant beach resorts located right here at home! Whether you want to catch some waves during a surfing lesson or ride rollercoasters and gorge on ice cream at a seaside funfair, here’s our round up of the best coastal towns for a UK staycation.
Location: North Yorkshire
Best for: Surfing and ice cream sundaes
One of the UK’s original seaside resorts, Scarborough offers a real throwback to the Victorian-era with its elegant period buildings and traditional fairground attractions. The attractive town on the North Yorkshire coast is blessed with two sandy beaches, one lined with colourful beach huts and the other with fish and chip shops, ice cream parlours and amusement arcades. Scarborough is particularly well-known for its great surf too, especially on North Beach that’s home to several surfing schools.
If you do one thing: Visit Scarborough Castle on the headland between the two beaches for a dose of history and spectacular sea views.
Place to stay: Wake up to sea views out your window at cosy and quirky Hook’s House in the heart of Scarborough.
Location: East Sussex
Best for: A never-ending list of things to do
Brighton is one of several great seaside towns on the South Coast and it’s jam-packed with attractions, from the ornate Brighton Dome to the charming independent shops and cafes in the Lanes. Brighton’s Blue Flag pebble beach stretches out for over four miles, providing ample space for you to relax and soak up some sunshine. There’s also a huge programme of events hosted throughout the year in Brighton, including the biggest Pride festival in the country!
If you do one thing: You can’t visit Brighton without taking a stroll along its world-famous Palace Pier!
Place to stay: Cool interiors, Brighton-themed artwork and a location in the Lanes makes Corner Cottage a fantastic staycation option.
Location: Isle of Wight
Best for: Tea rooms and nature trails
You’ll find the traditional seaside town of Shanklin tucked away on the Isle of Wight. It’s the perfect pick for a family-friendly staycation thanks to its array of sweet shops, tea rooms and casual cafes lodged inside picturesque, white-washed buildings. There’s also heaps of activities on offer, from swimming to kayaking, along the town’s two beaches. If you’re feeling energetic, make sure you head up to Shanklin Chine. It’s a lush woodland ravine featuring glittering waterfalls and fascinating links to the island’s WWII history.
If you do one thing: Stroll along Small Hope Beach for ocean vistas and pictures next to pretty beach huts.
Place to stay: Perched above a shop in Shanklin’s old town, Old Village View is brimming with Victorian features and cosy decor.
4. St Ives
Best for: Art and culture
St Ives’ remote location at the very western tip of Cornwall makes it ideal for a real escape from reality. It’s one of the best coastal towns in the UK and it really does have it all – think Blue Flag beaches, brilliant food venues and a plethora of art galleries. If you want a dose of old-world Cornwall, venture away from the sea and get lost in the town’s web of cobbled lanes lined with quaint fishermen’s cottages.
If you do one thing: Take a break from the sunshine and pop into the St Ives branch of the Tate.
Place to stay: Fall asleep to the sound of the sea at Neptune Cottage, a fabulous former fisherman’s cottage minutes from the beach.
Best for: Delicious fresh seafood
Kent is another English county with no shortage of brilliant coastal towns! Whitstable is a much-loved destination for a break by the sea due to its combination of breathtaking landscapes and mouth-watering cuisine. It’s particularly well-known for its seafood, specifically its oysters which have been caught off Whitestable’s coastline since Roman times. When you’re not sitting on the beach or tucking into gourmet grub, check out the town’s picture-perfect High Street that’s dotted with great charity shops and independent cafes.
If you do one thing: Make a beeline for the harbour where you’ll find several stalls selling fresh oysters.
Place to stay: Classy interiors, a gorgeous garden and a central location make Periwinkle Cottage the perfect place for a family getaway in Whitstable.
Best for: Heaps of history
Bamburgh is a less typical choice for a beach staycation; however, it’s an absolute gem for those who want a little bit more out of their getaway than simply sunshine and sand dunes. Situated on the Northumbria coast and surrounded by stunning scenery, Bamburgh is undoubtedly photogenic. While the seaside village is set a little bit back from the coast, you’ll find the amazing 11th century Bamburgh Castle right by the water. For die-hard history buffs, a boat trip to Lindisfarne from nearby Seahouses should also be on the agenda.
If you do one thing: Take a tour of Bamburgh Castle, once the seat of Northumbria’s kings and now a popular filming location.
Place to stay: Escape to the country at charming three bedroom St Aidans Cottage that lies just inland of Bamburgh.
Location: Ceredigion, Wales
Best for: Peace and quiet
Wales’ coastline is brimming with lovely seaside towns. If you’d rather steer clear of the pleasure piers and have more space to sprawl out on the beach, Aberaeron is a nice option. It’s located within Cardigan Bay yet its slightly more remote position makes it less popular than Aberystwyth or Borth. Once a shipbuilding town, Aberaeron’s harbour is surrounded by elegant, pastel-hued Georgian townhouses. There’s also two beaches to explore, including South Beach where it’s not uncommon to spot bottlenose dolphins swimming offshore.
If you do one thing: Dine on fresh fish and other local fare at a restaurant in the harbour.
Place to stay: Pen Cei Apartment overlooks the harbour and is a lovely little bolthole for a weekend on the Welsh coast.
Best for: Ocean adventures
Cromer is considered one of the best seaside towns in Norfolk and it’s a particularly fantastic location to bring your buckets and spades! That’s because it’s blessed with a huge sandy beach backed by a promenade lined with colourful houses and shops. If you can brave the cool North Sea, you’ll find the Cromer Shoal Chalk Bed (or ‘Britain’s Great Barrier Reef’) 200m offshore and it’s a prime destination for swimming or snorkelling trips. Rather stay warm and dry? Catch a show at the Pavillion Theatre on the pier or browse the maze of shops in the town’s Victorian centre.
If you do one thing: Go to the east end of the esplanade and nip into the RNLI Henry Blogg Museum to learn about a local Cromer hero.
Place to stay: Heaps of original Victorian features and a sunny garden ensure Holly Cottage is a fantastic place to hang out on holidays to Cromer.
Location: Isle of Skye
Best for: Festivals and fairy pools
Scotland is no stranger to charming seaside towns – especially on its many idyllic islands. Skye in the Inner Hebrides is on most people’s staycation bucket lists, with its main town of Portree being a popular base for adventures to ancient castles and enchanting natural wonders like the fairy pools. Portree’s pretty harbour is dotted with candy-coloured houses and numerous restaurants serving up award-winning Scottish cuisine. Overlooking the town is The Lump; a lofty headland known for hosting the Skye Highland Games and the Skye Live music festival.
If you do one thing: Settle down at a restaurant in the harbour and order up the catch of the day.
Place to stay: The Misty Isles View, as its name suggests, boasts beautiful views across Portree and is a nice base for explorations around Skye.
Best for: Intrepid hikes
If you can drag yourself away from the tea rooms and majestic moorlands, you’ll discover dozens of idyllic seaside towns in Devon. Ilfracombe is among the best and it’s perched along the cliffs of the county’s rugged north coast . The town still has a working – and very attractive – harbour that’s always abuzz with activity. Keeping watch over the boats is Verity, a huge bronze sculpture designed by Damien Hirst. If you’re keen for a hike with ocean views, you’re in luck! Ilfracombe is on the South West Coast Path – a 630 mile coastline route.
If you do one thing: Grab lunch by the harbour and then enjoy a post-meal stroll along Capstone Parade to the observation deck.
Place to stay: Tuck into breakfast on a balcony overlooking Ilfracombe harbour at charming Verity View.
Best for: Sandcastles and sunbathing
As another of the UK’s oldest seaside towns, you can expect a fun-packed staycation in Southport. The Victorian resort sits at the top of Merseyside and is blessed with several outstanding beaches. As well as taking strolls down sandy Southport Beach and popping into attractions like the kid-friendly Pleasureland fairground, you could also venture further down the coast to Formby. The National Trust beach has miles of golden sand dunes, plus a protected woodland home to red squirrels.
If you do one thing: Walk to the end of Southport Pier and take in the views over a cup of coffee from the cafe.
Place to stay: Southport Coach House has lots of quirky features and provides plenty of space for a family on a beach staycation in Southport.