Summer is fast approaching and there is no better way than spending sunny days on a beautiful beach near London, relaxing with a good book or enjoying a nice cocktail on the sand. There are quite a few sandy beaches near London, some more popular than others.
England’s south coast has all types of beaches, suitable for all types of sun lovers. For partygoers, young adults and food lovers, Brighton is the closest beach to London that ticks all the boxes. For families with children who are looking for the best beaches near London safe for swimming and covered by a lifeguard, Botany Bay or Littlehampton are better choices. Some of the nicest beaches near London are however, tranquil and less popular with beach goers.
By Jiayi from The Diary of a Nomad
If you’re looking for a fun day at the beach complete with delicious food, arcades and seagulls, then a day trip to Brighton Beach is the perfect getaway from London.
The atmosphere at Brighton Beach is very vibrant, mostly because it’s right next to Brighton Pier, which is bustling with food stalls, fish restaurants and arcades that are totally worth checking out. There’s also a Sea Life Centre right next to the beach which has facilities including toilets and showers.
The beach itself is very pebbly, so it’s not really a place to lie down or walk on. However, there’s a beach quote that goes “when a walk on the beach gets rocky, there’s always a wave to jump into!”, and that’s exactly what you can do in Brighton. In fact, you can enjoy surfing at the West Pier or at the Brighton Marina, and you’ll catch the best waves between November and January.
Brighton Beach has a very laid-back vibe to it as well, so even if you just want to sit on the pebbled sand and enjoy some fresh sea breeze (or play some games at the arcades), it is totally worth a day trip from London.
Getting to Brighton:
There are hourly trains from London Bridge and Victoria stations direct to Brighton, which will just take an hour. From Brighton station, you can enjoy a nice 20-minute stroll to the beach, passing by The Lanes, the most historic and charming district in town. It is highly recommended to choose the train over the car to get to Brighton, as driving in the city is not the most enjoyable experience because of the small roads and traffic jams. Parking is also very expensive.
By Evelina from EvBeing
Ever-increasing in popularity, Bournemouth stands as the most famous seaside resort to visit within the United Kingdom, being a beautiful and vibrant town with its breathtaking landscapes and stunning beaches.
What makes Bournemouth beach unique, beyond its popularity, is the abundance of activities the beach offers. Boasting a range of water sports such as surfing, windsurfing, and beach kitesurfing, Bournemouth beach also offers a blend of adventure sports like powered paragliding, powerboating, scuba diving, and paddleboarding.
Stretching seven miles, Bournemouth’s soft sandy beach is the ideal summer destination for partners, friends and families. Along with public toilet facilities and nearby coffee shops, Bournemouth beach features a beautiful shoreline, that gets extremely busy during the summer weekends.
While kayaking and canoeing activities are available for sea lovers, a walk along the pier is a must, to enjoy stunning views and take up-close photographs of the sea. To access Bournemouth pier, a day-ticket costs £1.30 per person.
Bournemouth beach is a very popular destination, especially during the summer weekends. For nearby alternatives during the peak times, consider nearby Southbourne, Hengistbury Head or Avon Beaches in Christchurch.
Getting to Bournemouth:
With the average journey from London to Bournemouth taking two hours by car and two hours 23 minutes by train, Bournemouth beach is regarded as one of the most famous getaways for a day trip to a beach close to London. There are hourly direct trains leaving London Victoria towards Bournemouth.
By Suzanne from The Travelbunny
Eastbourne beach makes for a perfect day out from London. As well as the beach itself, there are plenty of things to do along the seafront and Eastbourne is said to be the UK’s sunniest town, so that’s a win too!
Like many south coast beaches, Eastbourne has a pebbled beach, but when the tide’s out you’ll find large sandy areas to keep the bucket and spade brigade happy.
Eastbourne beach stretches for four miles from Sovereign Harbour in the East to Beachy Head, part of the South Downs National Park in the West. You’ll find a huge variety of things to do in Eastbourne along the beach front, and in the town too.
The Redoubt Fortress, Victorian pier, bandstand and over 130 listed buildings will keep history buffs entertained. For walkers and hikers, the seafront walk leads directly to the South Downs Way for stunning views and cliff walks. Families will love the pier and Treasure Island adventure park. For music lovers, regular concerts and tribute acts take place at the bandstand.
The main event on the Eastbourne calendar is Airborne, a spectacular free air show which takes place over four days in August. Airborne includes either the Red Arrows or Breitling Jet Team displays, as well as other favourite aircraft displays. Crowds gather and watch from the beach and the promenade.
A trip to the seaside goes hand in with fish and chips or ice-cream and there are numerous cafes and restaurants along the promenade offering these, and any other cuisine that takes your fancy.
Getting to Eastbourne:
From London it’s easy to get to Eastbourne by train. Southern Rail provides direct services from London Victoria which take around 90 minutes. There are also direct services from Gatwick Airport which take less than an hour. There are also frequent services from Brighton which take under 40 minutes.
Camber Sands, Near Rye
By Jessie from Pocket Wanderings
Located in East Sussex, not far from the Kent border, Camber Sands is a beautiful long stretch of golden sandy beach. In fact, it’s the only beach with sand dunes in East Sussex. When the tide is low, the beach is incredibly expansive. Although it can get very busy during the holidays and on hot summer days, because the size of the beach is impressive, you can usually still find a quiet spot.
The beach has a number of facilities including toilets, cafes, a beach bar, and a shop to buy water inflatables. It’s a very popular beach for windsurfing and kitesurfing, plus it’s also one of the best spots for beachcombing in the UK. Other activities and things to do in Camber Sands include donkey rides, swimming and sunbathing. It’s a good destination for families as there is a beach patrol to ensure the safety of swimmers, and the sand is the perfect consistency for building sandcastles! Dogs are allowed on the beach, but they must be on a lead and stay within the allocated zones.
Getting to Camber Sands:
Camber Sands is situated close to the pretty town of Rye, which is worth exploring as part of your visit if you have time. To get there from London, catch a train from London St Pancras to Ashford International. At Ashford, change for a train to Rye. The journey from London to Rye takes just over an hour. From Rye station, it’s easy to catch a bus to Camber Sands, which takes around 10-15 minutes.
Sunny Sands Beach in Folkestone
By Caroline from CK Travels
Folkestone is a charming coastal town in Kent, boasting 5 beaches!
The largest of the 5 beaches in Folkestone is called Folkestone Outer Harbour Beach, located next to the south pier. This beach however is not the prettiest and has an industrial background, so locals prefer to visit nearby Sunny Sands Beach instead, which is just a short walk from Folkestone Harbour. This family-friendly beach is one of a handful of sandy beaches located in Kent. It’s a rather small beach and it’s spotlessly clean, with lovely clear waters that are safe to swim in.
The beach is within easy walking distance from the town’s attractions and there are many amenities nearby such as cafés, pubs, shops and toilets. Rock Salt and The Smokehouse are recommended as the places to go for lunch as they serve great fish and chips.
There is also a place on the beach where you can hire paddleboards and kayaks. Showers are located at the top of the beach to clean off all the sand, and the man-made arches also provide good shade on hot sunny days.
Getting to Folkestone:
Folkestone can be easily be reached from central London by taking the train from either London St Pancras or Charing Cross stations. The journey takes roughly an hour.
Botany Bay in Broadstairs
Botany Bay is a gorgeous sandy beach, part of seven bays surrounding Broadstairs. It is a popular summer destination for locals, but not well known around the rest of the country. What makes Botany Bay special are the stunning white chalk cliffs, which have been the background for many movies or music videos.
The beach at Botany Bay, one of the most beautiful places in Kent, is family friendly, lifeguards are on duty during the season, and it’s safe for swimming.
There are plenty of things to do at Botany Bay, starting with practicing water sports. There are a few places from where you can rent a kayak or a paddleboard and explore the area from the water. In nearby Joss Bay there is even a surfing school, where you can take your first lessons on how to tackle the waves on a board.
When it comes to food, you can either bring a picnic with you or eat at the Botany Bay Hotel, which offers fusion British cuisine. If you choose to have a picnic on the beach, please make sure you take all the rubbish home with you at the end of the day.
Getting to Botany Bay:
The easiest way to get to Botany Bay is by car, in around 2 hours. Parking is quite difficult at Botany Bay because most of the area on top of the cliffs is residential. The best place to park is at nearby Joss Bay, where there is a large car park with an overflow capacity. The walk from Joss Bay to Botany Bay takes around 15-20 minutes.
You can reach Botany Bay by public transport as well, by taking the train from either London Victoria or St Pancreas to Broadstairs, from where you will continue the journey by bus. In total, it takes around two hours to reach Botany Bay by public transport from central London.
Littlehampton’s East Beach
By Anuradha from Country Hopping Couple
Located in West Sussex, Littlehampton has not just one, but two award winning beaches. With a mile long powered sandy and pebbled beach, buzzing promenade, green areas for picnics, Littlehampton East beach is one of the safest family friendly beaches in the entire UK. The west beach is a bit secluded and separated by the mouth of the River Arun but it can still be accessed by ferry, or over a bridge.
Littlehampton itself is a charming seaside town, with an array of interesting family friendly things to do. Locals like to walk along the banks of the River Arun, enjoying the views and watching the boats sailing away.
Whether you want to soak in the shallow waters, build sandcastles or sit on the longest bench in the UK, East Beach is the place to be. If you have kids, take them to the amusements and rides at Harbour Park, which they are sure to enjoy.
Obviously, Littlehampton is a seaside town, and is a perfect gateway to explore West Sussex and its beaches. Ideal time to visit is between late spring to early autumn, when the weather is sunny. If you don’t like crowded places however, try to avoid term holidays, as that’s when the beach becomes very popular.
Getting to Littlehampton:
There are frequent direct trains from London Victoria which takes a little over 90 minutes to reach Littlehampton station. From the station, the beach is a mere 10-minute walk. Take the route through the town centre and follow along the River Arun.
By Cathy from Mummy Travels
The north Kent coast has some of the nearest beaches to London, but even among the traditional golden sand seaside spots, Whitstable has a character all its own which makes it stand out.
The beach itself is shingle, with a mix of pebbles and shells that’s perfect for beachcombing, as well as crabbing and splashing in the waves. The town is famous for its oysters, including an annual festival, and you can buy them from stalls along the seafront to eat by the waves, as well as from Wheeler’s Oyster Bar. There’s also fish and chips galore if you prefer. The Crab & Winkle on the harbourfront is a more stylish option, or choose yours fresh downstairs in the market.
One of the biggest attractions of the beach at Whitstable is being able to combine it with wandering around the town, as there are plenty of things to do in Whitstable away from the sea – take a wander down Harbour Street, which is packed with tempting little boutiques, bakeries, jewellery shops, as well as fashion and homewares. As you walk through the town, you’ll also see street art dotted around by local artist Catman, which includes the Whitstabubble Boy.
If you’re feeling energetic, the Crab and Winkle Way cycle track runs along a disused railway line towards Canterbury, where you can explore more of the Kent coast.
Getting to Whitstable:
Less than 90 minutes on the train, running from several central London stations, or you can drive to Whitstable in under two hours as well.
Rottingdean and Saltdean Beaches
If you want to escape the crowded Brighton Beaches, you should check out Rottingdean and Saltdean, two charming villages just a few miles away, east from the city.
The beaches in Rottingdean and in Saltdean are pebbled, same as in Brighton. They are family friendly and popular among the residents with children, due to the rock pools where children can look for crabs or anemones.
Whilst the beaches are not large, they are spectacular because of the white chalk cliffs in the background. On a clear day, from the top of the cliffs you can see the i360 observation tower in Brighton, which is four miles away.
During the summer months there is a lifeguard service that patrols both beaches. There are also a couple of cafes from where you can buy a takeaway meal to enjoy on the beach. Otherwise, you are free to bring your own picnic. Either way, please don’t leave any rubbish behind.
Getting to Rottingdean and to Saltdean:
Rottingdean is located only four miles from Brighton. The best way to reach this beautiful village is by train to Brighton, and then by local bus. The journey from Brighton Station to Rottingdean takes no more than 20 minutes by bus.
By Sarah from In Search of Sarah
Winchelsea is a less-frequented beach that makes for an ideal city escape. It’s a relaxing place to watch the tide coming in and going out, and its also a great spot for bird watching.
Winchelsea Beach is a lovely expansive pebbled beach, which is more sandy as soon as you wade into the water. There are some amazing weathered architectural sea defences dotted around the coastline, and when the tide is out it’s as though the beach stretches for miles in either direction.
It isn’t your typical spade-and-shovel type of beach, but it’s popular amongst dog walkers and those seeking some rest and relaxation away from the busy city.
There is a small car park near the public toilets, though many park alongside the sea wall to access the beach. There are a few cafes in the area, but it would be an ideal place to have a picnic!
The ancient town of Winchelsea sits about one and a half miles from Winchelsea Beach, which was once a busy harbour town. In the 13th century the town was destroyed by floods and the sea receded some distance from the old town. There is some incredible architecture here, particularly the St. Thomas The Martyr church (built in 1288).
Rye Harbour Nature Reserve lies a short walk to the east of the beach. For those looking for more adventure, Pett Level to the west is known as prime dinosaur footprint hunting grounds!
After your visit to Winchelsea, a stop in the medieval town of Rye can’t be missed. This fairy tale town is just a 10 minute drive from Winchelsea and has numerous tea rooms, pubs, restaurants, and unique shops to browse through.
Getting to Winchelsea:
Winchelsea Beach in East Sussex can be reached by car in just over 2 hours south of London, either via the A21 or the A2 and M20.
By Katie from You Me Under the Palm Tree
Mersea Island beach is lined with pastel-coloured beach huts. These cute beach huts add such a charm to this shingle beach and also make for the perfect picturesque backdrop. The beach is simple and laidback. Offering many simple pleasures such as crabbing off the jetties, laying on the beach or watch the boats go by. It is the perfect escape from London life. Bring a book and head here for the day ending with a bag of chips on the seafront, perfect.
For an even more special experience, you can hire one of the many cosy beach huts from The Little Beach Hut Company. Starting from £60 a day you can have your very own beach hut complete with deck chairs, windbreakers, beach toys, tea coffee sugar, blankets, all the essential amenities for the perfect beach day. This makes it so easy to travel here and not have to worry about bringing loads with you.
Make sure to plan your trip according, at high tide the road that connects the island to the mainland can get submerged! Make sure to check beforehand so you plan for this and do not get stranded.
Getting to Mersea Island:
The easiest way to get to Mersea Island is by train combined with a taxi. You can catch a train from London Liverpool Street to Colchester Town Station and then a taxi to Mersea Island.
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