Best places for a sailing holiday in the UK

Coastal, Activity, Watersports

Posted by Kate Atkin on 31st January 2022

Best places for a sailing holiday in the UK

Setting out on the open water, soaking up the sunshine and discovering new places are just a few of the things you can look forward to on a sailing holiday around the UK. Whether you are a novice sailor or an expert yachtsman, this classic British tradition can be enjoyed across the country from the luxurious seaside resort of Salcombe to the rugged Kyles of Bute in Scotland.

There are hundreds of great places to sail in England, Scotland, and Wales, with thousands of miles of lochs and beautiful coastlines waiting to be explored. And if this is your first time taking to the water, there are a wealth of local sailing clubs and water sports centres who offer taster sessions and short courses to brush up your skills. Book your sailing holidays for beginners and pros this season to upgrade your skills.

With a lovely warm summer predicted this year, we’ve picked some of the best sailing holidays in the UK and chosen some memorable boating experiences for you to try while you’re there.

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Sailing in Salcombe, Devon

Sailing in Salcombe, Devon

Set within the South Hams district of Devon, Salcombe is a beautiful resort town. With an extensive waterfront and sheltered harbour, Salcombe is an idyllic place to sail. The tidal creeks offer excellent exploration opportunities with an abundance of wildlife to see. Discover hidden coves or hop onto a secluded beach. Explore this spectacular part of Devon’s coastline and indulge in some fine dining in the town after your adventure.

  • Learn to sail in Salcombe: Salcombe Dinghy Sailing offer flexible sailing to suit complete beginners or those looking to update previous sailing skills.
  • Traditional sailing experiences: Sail a Salcombe Yawl, a 16’ sailing/racing dinghy simply rigged with furling jib, unique to this part of Devon.
  • Luxury sailing experiences: Board a skippered yacht or catamaran with Sailfunk and choose from a range of luxury cruises including Champagne and Pimm’s sunset cruises, evening supper cruises and dolphin spotting charters.

Salcombe cottages

Sailing in Weymouth, Dorset

Sailing in Weymouth, Dorset

This iconic seaside town in Dorset is famous for hosting the sailing competitions during the 2012 Olympic Games. As such, it’s a fitting location for you to take to the water! Whether you try your hand at crewing a Tall Ship, bop around in a dinghy or speed past the coastline in a powerboat, its unique geology and open views make Weymouth one of the best sailing towns in the UK.

  • Learn to sail in Weymouth: The Andrew Simpson Centre offers a wide range of RYA sailing and powerboat courses for complete beginners to future Olympic champions.
  • Traditional sailing experiences: Enjoy a maritime adventure around the Jurassic coastline sailing a classic Tall Ship with Moonfleet Adventure Sailing.
  • Luxury sailing experiences: For a minimum of four people you can charter a modern yacht with Weymouth Sailing and see some of the Jurassic Coast’s most iconic sights including Old Harry Rocks.

Weymouth cottages

Sailing in Windermere, Lake District

Sailing in Windermere, Lake District

At 10.5 miles long and 1 mile wide, Windermere is a prime spot for sailing. Windermere is the largest natural lake in England, backed by the stunning scenery of the Lake District. The Lake District National Park is undoubtedly one of the UK’s most iconic landscapes and with an abundance of opportunities to cast off from dry land, makes for a peaceful afternoon on the water; this makes Lake Windermere one of the best places to go sailing in the country.

  • Learn to sail on Windermere: Follow in the footsteps of Arthur Ransome's "Swallows and Amazons" and take up dinghy sailing, with Low Wood Watersports and Activity Centre and North Country Leisure on Windermere both offering courses.
  • Traditional sailing experiences: Traditional rowing boats, sailing boats and self-drive motorboats can be hired from Windermere Lake Cruises, so you can explore the lake at your own pace.
  • Luxury sailing experiences: Sail on a luxury 32’ skippered yacht with Sail n’ Dine who provide a range of packages including brunch on the water and evening dining with a freshly cooked four-course meal and fine wines.

Windermere cottages

Sailing in Abersoch, Wales

Sailing in Abersoch, Llyn Peninsula

Abersoch is a beautiful seaside resort on the Llyn Peninsula in North Wales. Home to internationally recognised sailing waters and a delightfully mild climate, it’s easy to see why people flock to Abersoch to test their sailing skills. With the magnificent backdrop of Snowdonia/Eryri, take a moment to appreciate the rugged scenery while gliding through the sea.

  • Learn to sail in Abersoch: Abersoch Sailing School is RYA accredited and provides instruction and hire for all ages. Sailing, powerboating, paddleboarding, kayaking, Ringo rides and yachting experiences are all available.
  • Traditional sailing experiences: Hop aboard Jenny II and try to land some mackerel on a fishing trip, spot seals and dolphins on a wildlife cruise or even dress up on a unique pirate trip!
  • Luxury sailing experiences: Crank up the speed on a powerboating trip with Abersoch Sailing School and feel the breeze as you fly past the epic coastline.

Abersoch cottages

Sailing on the Norfolk Broads

Sailing in the Norfolk Broads

As one of the most photographed landscapes in the UK and a haven for wildlife, many people choose the Norfolk Broads for a sailing holiday. The Broads are made up of a series of rivers and lakes, spanning 300 kilometres, allowing plenty of space for you to enjoy some peace and quiet in this remarkable nature spot. Either by kayak, canoe, sailing boat, day boat, paddleboat or Champagne private cruiser, there are numerous ways to enjoy these tranquil reed-lined waterways.

  • Learn to sail on the Norfolk Broads: Whitlingham Adventure offers a range of taster sessions for those who have never sailed before 
  • Traditional sailing experiences: Day boats can be hired from many locations around the Broads, including Wroxham, Horning, Hickling and Oulton Broads. 
  • Luxury sailing experiences: Enjoy a sightseeing trip on a Mississippi River Boat to a historic wherry yacht charter, one of the last eight in existence.

Norfolk Broads cottages

Sailing in the Kyles of Bute, Scotland

Sailing in the Kyles of Bute, Scotland

The Kyles of Bute in Scotland is one of the most spectacular areas of coast in Argyll. It separates the northern end of the Isle of Bute from the Cowal Peninsula, part of the Scottish mainland. With wild, spectacular scenery to enjoy, this is a prime spot for sailing. Look out for feral goats and resident birdlife on your adventures.

  • Learn to sail in the Kyles of Bute: Tighnabruaich Sailing School offers individual and group tuition in dinghies and powerboats.
  • Traditional sailing experiences: Take in coastal scenery from the decks of one of the last sea-going paddle steamers in the world, the Waverley.
  • Luxury sailing experiences: Flamingo Yacht Charters show you the best parts of the Firth of Clyde on a luxury yacht with a light lunch included.

Kyles of Bute cottages

Sailing in Falmouth, Cornwall

Sailing in Falmouth, Cornwall

Nothing quite says seaside getaway like the clink of stays on masts and the squawk of seagulls. Falmouth in Cornwall is a pretty town and port on the River Fal on the south coast. As one of the best locations in the UK to learn or improve your sailing skills, Falmouth is ideal for beginners. Its sheltered, deep harbour offers excellent opportunities for sailing.

Falmouth cottages

Sailing in New Quay, Wales

Sailing in New Quay, Ceredigion, Wales

Its extensive, sandy beach, picturesque harbour and resident dolphins aren’t the only reasons why people head to New Quay in Ceredigion. The Cardigan Bay area around New Quay is renowned for its sailing opportunities, including the annual Cardigan Bay Regatta, which has been held since the 1870s.

  • Learn to sail in New Quay: Test your sea legs at Cardigan Bay Watersports which offers sailing, kayak, windsurf, paddleboard and water-ski taster sessions.
  • Traditional sailing experiences: You can hire a sailing dinghy from Cardigan Bay Watersports, or there are several traditional fishing cruises running from New Quay Harbour such as Epic Fishing Trips.
  • Luxury sailing experiences: New Quay Boat Trips offer a selection of dolphin spotting cruises, one of which travels as far as the breathtaking peninsula of Ynys Lochtyn.

New Quay cottages

Cowes Week, Isle of Wight

Sailing events in the UK for 2022

The UK has a packed calendar of sailing events and festivals throughout the year, offering the perfect chance to get a taste of life on the water. Perhaps you could time your sailing break around one of the following:

  • Brixham Heritage Regatta - 28 - 29 May 2022 |  Sail and race in the company of traditional vessels, of all types, shapes and sizes in the beautiful setting of Torbay at this historic sailing event.
  • Bassenthwaite Regatta -  30 July - 7 August 2022 |  A family regatta in the Lake District that offers wonderful sailing in a setting of unrivalled natural beauty.
  • Falmouth Week - 5 - 14 August 2022 | The Cornish seaside town hosts a jam-packed week of sailing, races and shoreside activities.
  • Cowes Week -  30 July - 7 August 2022 | This annual sailing event on the Isle of Wight is one of the largest yachting regattas in the world and sees between 800 and 1,200 boats competing over eight days in a wide variety of class races.
  • Cardigan Bay Regatta - 18 - 20 August 2022 | A three-day annual event in Wales with sailing and shore-based swimming races for all ages.
  • Dartmouth Royal Regatta - 20 - 27 August 2022 |  A three-day programme of sailing, rowing, swimming, live music and fireworks in Dartmouth.
  • Weymouth Yacht Regatta - 11 - 17 September 2022 | Cheer on the competitors in this annual yacht race which takes place across Weymouth Harbour.

Stay in a self-catering cottage on your sailing holiday

Feeling inspired to go sailing in the UK?  Perhaps you might like to pair up a UK sailing holiday with a stay in one of our holiday cottages. Whether you’ll be taking to the water as a couple, a family or even bringing the dog along for the adventure, we have a wide collection of coastal self-catering accommodation near to some of the best UK sailing spots – perfect for enjoying the very best of land and sea.

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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.