Beat the crowds and discover the British coastline in a whole new way during the winter months. At this time of year you’ll have the beach all to yourself, as you meander down picturesque coastal trails, watch the winter wildlife, and find yourself cosied up in an old pub after a day of exploring. So get ready to grab your thermals and a flask of your favourite hot beverage, as we explore the UK’s best winter beaches.
1. Sandbanks Beach
Best for: Braving the cold waters
Winning the Blue Flag Award for 31 years in a row for its sparkling clear waters, Sandbanks Beach in Dorset is known for being one of Britain’s best beaches. And it’s just as beautiful in winter too. Its long stretch of sand is perfect for wintery coastal walks, fishing or even windsurfing. The local eateries remain open all year round too so there’s plenty of options if you want a bite to eat.
Place to stay: Cottage in Dorset is a stylish two-bedroom property with a spiral staircase and exposed brick walls.
2. Woolacombe Beach
Best for: Escaping everyday life
In summer, you might struggle to find a spot to lay down your towel. But come to Devon in winter and you’ll get to see Woolacombe Beach beach in all its glory. Pack your thermals and enjoy the tranquillity as you walk through the sand dunes and along this three-mile shore. Make your UK staycation extra special and head out to watch the sunrise or sunset over the sea.
Place to stay nearby: Surrounded by beautiful countryside, the Rafters Lodge is a UK staycation with a whole lot of luxury. Warm up and soak away the day in the bubbling private hot tub.
Best for: Winter wildlife
Cromer Beach is best known for its long stretch of sandy beaches. But there are things to do here in winter that you just can’t do in the summer. Like, taking a boat trip to see grey seal pups (they’re only born between November and January!). If you do visit the Norfolk coast, make sure you catch a show at The Pavilion Theatre too, it’s one of only five end-of-pier-theatres in the UK and they have entertainment all year round.
Place to stay nearby: The Link, built inside the base of the Cromer lighthouse tower, is just a short walk from Cromer beach.
4. Talland Bay Beach
Best for: A beach with a rich history
Talland Bay Beach is made up of two secluded coves, and is much quieter than the more popular beaches in North Cornwall. It’s thought that this beach was once a smugglers cove due to its seclusion. Uncover the fascinating secrets of the smugglers at the museum, then stop for a bite to eat at the authentic Smuggler’s Rest.
Place to stay: The Coach House, Prolock Weir is a characterful and quirky cottage overlooking the sea.
5. Silver Sands of Morar
Best for: Stunning views
Famed for its white sand beaches, the Silver Sands of Morar in Scotland stretch from Arisaig to Morar. If you enjoy walking there are lots of trails to discover here, and when you look out to sea, you can take in the beautiful views of the Small Isles of Rum. Just don’t forget to wrap up warm in the winter months!
6. Aldeburgh Beach
Best for: Traditional seaside town
This beautiful Suffolk coastline is set against the pretty seaside town of Aldeburgh, which you could easily spend an afternoon exploring. Or take a stroll down the Sailor’s Path, a coastal path that will lead you to discover the history of one of the best beaches in winter. And of course, a winter staycation to Aldeburgh Beach wouldn’t be complete without a portion of Britain’s best fish and chips to warm your cockles.
Place to stay: Wake up and look out across the unspoilt Hazlewood Marsh and the River Alde at the stylish and elegant Marsh View, Aldeburgh.
7. Rhossili Bay Beach
Best for: A dog-friendly beach
Bring your four-legged friends with you to a holiday in Wales, at the UK’s no.1 dog-friendly beach. Rhossili Bay Beach has a dramatic coastline that’s perfect for exploring. When the tide is low you can walk over to the famous Worm’s Head, a small tidal island and nature reserve just off the coast. Visit in winter and you might even be lucky enough to see dolphins playing in the sea.
8. Robin Hood’s Bay
Best for: Quaint villages and a panoramic coastline
The picturesque coastline of Robin Hood’s Bay is perfect for a cosy getaway by the sea. Set along the Jurassic Coast, spend your afternoon taking in this Yorkshire beach’s breathtaking cliffs that line the bay. Winter is the best time for fossil hunting too. Then walk the streets of the charming Victorian village, before snuggling up in one of its many pubs with a hot chocolate or local ale.
Place to stay nearby: Experience it all while you stay at Roseberry Cottage, a former fisherman’s cottage in the heart of Robin Hood’s Bay.
9. Bamburgh Beach
Best for: A beach with a stunning backdrop
Set against the beautiful skyline of the majestic Bamburgh Castle, it’s no wonder Bamburgh Beach made it onto our list of the best UK beaches. Its picturesque backdrop makes bracing the cold, winter months so worth it. This beach in Northumberland has even been voted the Which? best seaside destination.
Place to stay nearby: Norcot Cottage is a three-bedroom property nestled in the Bamburgh dunes, where you can enjoy the view of the castle without even having to venture outside.
10. Traeth yr Ora
Best for: A secluded coastal getaway
Take a trip off the beaten track and visit Traeth yr Ora, this hidden gem is just what you need to escape the stresses of everyday life. If you do choose to visit one of the UK’s best beaches, this remote cove in Wales will reward you with golden sands, sparkling waters and the incredible view of Dulas Island.
11. Freshwater Bay
Location: Isle of Wight
Best for: Exploring rock pools, caves and bays
One of the most picturesque beaches in the Isle of Wight, Freshwater Bay is a pebble beach with lots to explore – with some sandy areas to sit and a whole host of rock pools to discover. Wait for low tide to walk to the neighbouring bays and caves, or hop in a kayak and explore the rest of the coastline on sea.
If you’d like to learn more about caving in general, find out in our guide on caving in the UK.
Place to stay nearby: Bakers Retreat is a contemporary cabin that’s just a 2-minute walk from the beach.