Beaches closest to the UK's biggest cities

Beaches, Coastal, Days out

Posted by Kate Atkin on 14th November 2020


Sometimes there is nothing better than escaping the hustle and bustle of city life, enjoying some bracing sea air, rolling sand dunes and copious amounts of ice cream. Treat yourself to some traditional fish and chips, paddle in the refreshing sea, or have some fun building a sandcastle.

Many of our biggest cities are excellently connected to some of the best coastlines in the country, so we have done the hard work for you and rounded up some of the best seaside sanctuaries within close proximity to our marvellous coastal holiday cottages. Whether you are looking for a family day out or a romantic stroll along the shore, you don’t have to wander far from the big smoke to find an idyllic slice of paradise in the UK.

So read on to discover the closest beaches to London, and the nearest beaches to Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester, Sheffield and many more in our helpful guide to leaving the skyscrapers of the cities in your rearview mirror.

Coastal cottages in the UK

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Beaches closest to London

Camber Sands

Camber Sands - distance from London: 87 miles, journey takes two hours

Feel soft, golden sand within your toes in no time with a visit to Camber Sands, home to an impressive dune system. One of the best places for beachcombing in the UK, this wide expanse of sand is also popular for wind and kite surfing.

Swim in sandbar-sheltered tidal lagoons at West Wittering beach, a favourite bucket-and-spade day out for generations, or try some water sports in the calm, shallow waters of Mersea Island, a must-visit for seafood fans. Dungeness beach is perfect to spot some wildlife on what could be described (inaccurately) as ‘Britain’s only desert’, whilst West Beach in Whitstable offers some quintessential English charm with its wooden beach shacks and oyster restaurants.

For a real treat, head to Botany Bay, near Broadstairs, one of the most photographed bays in England. This hidden gem backed by the longest continuous stretch of chalk cliffs in Britain is a tranquil place to relax. It is also a great location for fossil hunting and exploring rock pools for natural wildlife when the tide is out.

Nearest beaches to London: 

South Coast cottages

Beaches closest to Birmingham

Berrow beach - distance from Birmingham: 115 miles, journey takes two hours and six mins

The closest beach to the vibrant city of Birmingham is at Weston-super-Mare. One of the longest beaches in the UK, its miles of golden sands are perfect to make the most spectacular sandcastles. Just a little further down the coast is the stretch of sand running from Brean to Berrow to Burnham-on-Sea. Birdwatchers will be in their element at Berrow beach where the secluded sand dunes, famous shipwreck and marshland attracts a plethora of seabirds. Burnham-on-Sea is a family favourite with donkey rides and a wealth of kids’ entertainment in the summer.

Nearest beaches to Birmingham

Somerset coastal cottages

Beaches closest to Manchester

Morecambe Beach - distance from Manchester: 59 miles, journey takes one hour 15 mins

Visit the charming seaside resort of Morecambe and relax on the sandy beach or take a stroll along the bustling promenade with an ice cream. Take a dip in the sea at the Blue Flag beach in Blackpool, a resort boasting three fabulous piers with fun entertainment for the whole family, where you can experience the famous Golden Mile. For the adventure seekers, head to the beaches of Talacre, Rhyl or Prestatyn in North Wales, where there are all kinds of water sports available for both the experienced and novice thrill seeker. 

Or admire dramatic sand dunes surrounded by sweeping coastal pinewoods at the National Trust’s Formby Sands near Liverpool. The high dunes afford spectacular views across the Irish Sea and the tides often reveal prehistoric mud layers, some of which contain human and animal footprints.

Nearest beaches to Manchester

North West of England cottages

Great British Coast

Beaches closest to Glasgow

Troon Beach

Troon beach - distance from Glasgow: 34 miles, journey takes 44 mins

Drive just under an hour from the sparkling lights of Glasgow and you will be rewarded with several fantastic beaches on which to spend some well-earned time in the sunshine. Lunderston Bay is part of the Clyde Muirshel Regional Park and is home to an abounding array of wildlife. With plenty of events and courses running throughout the year, there are lots of opportunities to get closer to nature. Boasting magnificent views across to the Isle of Arran, the long sweeping stretch of sand at Troon beach is popular with families and is great for making a sandcastle or two.

Offering several walking trails, speedboat trips and breathtaking views towards Ben Lomond is the picturesque Luss beach. Situated beside the quaint village of Luss, it attracts outdoor enthusiasts and water sports fans alike with activities including sailing, water skiing and canoeing amongst many others.

Nearest beaches to Glasgow

Scottish coastal cottages

Beaches closest to Sheffield


Cleethorpes beach - distance from Sheffield: 72 miles, journey takes two hours and 27 mins

Enjoy beach life relaxing on a deckchair, amble along the promenade, or indulge in an invigorating dip in the sea at the traditional seaside resort of Cleethorpes. Slightly further afield, grab a beach ball and appreciate the golden sand backed by grassy sand dunes at Mablethorpe beach. Or head to Bridlington beach and nearby Flamborough Head where gannets can be glimpsed nesting in the impressive chalk cliffs; both are very beautiful coastal destinations that can be reached from Sheffield along the Yorkshire Coast.

Nearest beaches to Sheffield

East Coast cottages

Beaches closest to Leeds

Staithes beach - distance from Leeds: 82 miles, journey takes one hour and 44 mins

Grab your bucket and spade and take a trip to the small sandy beach in the pretty fishing village of Staithes. Sometimes referred to as the ‘Dinosaur Coast’, this is a popular spot for fossil hunters and photographers drawn to the beauty of the towering, rugged cliffs in the distance. Discover Runswick Bay, another one of Yorkshire Coast’s most attractive destinations, and make the most of the beautiful coastal walks.

Fly a kite or enjoy horse riding at the water’s edge of Filey beach, a wonderful 5-mile stretch of soft, golden sand. The seaside resorts of Whitby, with its colourful beach huts, and Scarborough, overlooked by the majestic ruins of Scarborough Castle, are also within easy driving distance.

Nearest beaches to Leeds

Yorkshire Coast cottages

Be inspired

Feeling inspired? Then why not take a look at some of our other coastal guides where we recommend our favourite coast walks, the best beaches and where to have the best fun by the sea.

Map to the nearest beaches to the UK's biggest cities

Stay by the coast

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Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.