Picture-postcard places to stay by the sea in the UK

Beaches, Coastal

Posted by Kate A on 26th May 2022

Crail, Scotland

As the weather warms up and the days lengthen, the dream for many is to escape to one of our coastal holiday destinations across the UK, where a bedroom window can be flung wide to listen to the relaxing sound of the waves. The UK’s wild and sweeping coastline is peppered with picture-postcard locations, beautiful coastal towns and traditional seaside resorts, perfect for a memorable summer holiday with your beloved.

Quaint fishing villages with cobbled streets, pretty harbours and bobbing sailboats, and charming seaside towns boasting beautiful beaches of golden sand are all within your reach with a stay in one of our coastal cottages.

From the dramatic shores of Scotland to the palm-fringed bays of Cornwall, we have chosen some of the best coastal holiday destinations in the UK to sink your feet into the sand, watch the sun melt into the sea and take a refreshing dip in the sea. Uncover some of the best coastal towns in the UK in our list below; we've sought out the prettiest and most beautiful seaside towns hidden along our shores to provide you with plenty of holiday inspiration. 

Make memories this summer and escape to the coast for an idyllic break in one of these beautiful places by the sea.

Coastal cottages


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Polperro, Cornwall

Montage of photos of Polperro

The Cornish fishing village of Polperro is as quaint as they come and one of the best coastal holiday destinations to visit in the UK, with an enchanting collection of whitewashed cottages clinging to steep, wooded hillsides that spill down to the harbour. At first glance, you might even think this pretty coastal village in the UK is situated on the Amalfi Coast! During summer, many of the iconic pearly cottages with their slate roofs are adorned in a profusion of flowers, and the streets are so narrow they are banned to cars which retains its peaceful, timeless charm.

For the ultimate postcard scene, make your way through the village’s winding cobbled lanes to the unspoilt harbour where a horseshoe of cottages surrounds a bay of iridescent blue water. Colourful fishing boats gently sway in the breeze and mesmerising sea views draw you into the relaxed pace of life. On a warm summer’s day, nothing beats an invigorating swim in the tidal sea pool or a paddle on Polperro’s small sandy beach just outside the harbour walls. And the perfect way to end your visit? Hop aboard one of the horse-drawn carriages for the most relaxing way to get back to the car park.

Highlights

  • Plunge into the cooling waters of the tidal sea pool
  • Tuck into fresh crab sandwiches on the harbour
  • Stroll the coast path to reach the tranquil coves of Talland and Lantivet Bay

Stay nearby

Cottages in Polperro


Salcombe, Devon

Montage of photos of Salcombe

Overlooking sparkling blue waters dotted with white yachts and fringed by swaying palms, the pretty cluster of pastel-coloured houses of Salcombe certainly belong on the front of a postcard. This genteel harbour town is one of the nicest seaside towns in the UK and typifies the nautical beauty of South Devon, a favourite with the sailing set. Situated in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty near the mouth of the Kingsbridge Estuary, Salcombe is a veritable paradise for anyone who enjoys coastal living. 

Summer activities here revolve around the wind and the waves; yachting, sailing and paddleboarding are available in abundance. Or for those who prefer dry land, there are a host of glorious beaches nearby where you can spend a memorable day on the sun-soaked sand, from North Sands with the ever-popular Winking Prawn café, to the secluded Sunny Cove which is accessible only by ferry. And a picturesque jumble of winding streets offers a variety of little shops, galleries, olde-worlde pubs and cosy cafes to peruse – be sure to sample some delicious Salcombe Dairy ice cream or the award-winning Salcombe Gin. What’s not to love about this sailor’s rest?

Highlights

  • Look out for dolphins in the sheltered bays
  • Hop on the South Sands Ferry to seek out soft-sand coves and beaches
  • Dine on the freshest seafood in waterside restaurants

Stay nearby

Cottages in Salcombe


Lulworth Cove, Dorset

Lulworth Cove montage

Tucked away on the Jurassic Coast of Dorset, Lulworth Cove is a remarkable place, famous for its unique geology and featuring some of the most inspiring scenery in the UK. Low tide reveals a plethora of rockpools, brimming with life. Backed by cliffs, with a beautiful pebble beach and almost completely enclosed cove, it is sheltered and perfect for a dip in the sea.

Take a walk along the coast path and you’ll find even more beautiful scenery. The curious limestone strata of Stair Hole, which is thought to have inspired the location of Rubadub Whirlpool in Enid Blyton’s ‘The Rubadub Mystery’, and the stunning natural arch of Durdle Door are both along this stretch.

Highlights

  • Take a walk along the coast path and admire the natural landmarks along the way
  • Hunt for sea creatures in the many rock pools
  • Discover lots of information about the Jurassic Coast in the Visitor Centre

Stay nearby

Cottages in Lulworth


Tenby, Pembrokeshire

Montage of photos of Tenby

One of the prettiest seaside towns in Wales, Tenby offers a maze of cobbled streets lined by brightly coloured fishermen’s cottages and elegant Georgian mansions, all encircled by medieval stone walls. Situated on the Pembrokeshire coastline on the western side of Carmarthen Bay, this charming seaside resort was once a favourite bathing spot of the Victorians. Nowadays, Tenby – or to give it its Welsh name, Dinbych-y-Pysgod, which means Little Fortress of the Fish – is a postcard maker's dream.

This beautiful seaside town is fringed by a ribbon of golden sand, offering three beautiful beaches to lounge on, North Beach, South Beach and Castle Beach. There’s also a fourth small beach at the harbour where you can admire fishing boats moored in neat rows in the shadow of the evocative St Catherine’s Fort. Be sure to explore Tenby’s narrow little lanes, home to traditional pubs, ice cream parlours and gift shops. In the summer, the streets are pedestrianised, allowing tables from the bars and restaurants to spill out into the sunshine and offer al fresco dining. It's one of Wales's top coastal places to visit!

Highlights

  • Take a boat trip to Caldey Island, owned by an order of Cistercian monks
  • Follow the scenic Pembrokeshire Coast Path to Saundersfoot
  • Discover a treasure trove of local history at the Tudor Merchant’s House

Stay nearby

Cottages in Tenby


Great British Coast


Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk

Montage of photos of Wells-next-the-Sea

One of the sweetest little seaside towns on the North Norfolk Coast, Wells-next-the-Sea enjoys a prime spot in a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Life here revolves around the charming harbour and the simple pastime of crabbing, or gillying as it’s known locally. Join the families lined on the quay and have a go at lowering your line into the water, or sit on the harbour wall with a paper-wrapped portion of fish and chips, watching the fishing boats drift in and out with their catch of the day.

A walk after lunch will take you a mile down to the sea or for those that would prefer a ride, there is a miniature narrow-gauge steam train which trundles down to the seafront from this coastal UK town. Here miles of soft, flaxen sand stretch into the distance, birds nest in the rolling dunes and seals bask in the sunshine at the water’s edge. Backed by fragrant pine woodland and a long line of pastel-painted beach huts on stilts, this picture-postcard beach is, without doubt, one of the prettiest in the country.

Highlights

  • Take your binoculars to spot the variety of wading birds on the foreshore
  • Visit in August to sample the delights of Wells Carnival Week
  • Admire the 18th-century Palladian architecture of Holkham Hall

Stay nearby

Cottages in Wells-next-the-Sea


Robin Hood’s Bay, Yorkshire

Robin Hood's Bay

This tiny fishing village nestled on the North Yorkshire coastline will have you swooning instantaneously. Robin Hood’s Bay is a classic coastal town in the UK made up of old higgledy-piggledy fishing cottages and twisting cobbled lanes, which tumble down towards a sandy shoreline. One of the best places to stay by the sea in the UK, it is packed with character. Historic wood-beamed pubs with roaring log fires are hidden throughout, and the whole place has a secret feel to it. You can easily imagine the sailors, fishermen, smugglers and swashbucklers that walked these atmospheric streets hundreds of years ago.

From the summit of the village, the views over the huddle of red-tiled rooftops and chimney pots, with a sweeping bay and soaring cliffs beyond, is simply breathtaking. Head down to the harbour to watch local fishermen bringing in their catch and savour fish 'n’ chips out of paper - regarded by many to be among Yorkshire’s best. And the star of this beautiful UK coastal location is the sandy bay below the cliffs, often named as one of the best beaches in the world. Whether fossil hunting, beachcombing, rock pooling or swimming, this dramatic coastline will leave you captivated.

Highlights

  • When the tide is out, hunt for fossils along the shoreline
  • Enjoy a bracing stroll along the Cleveland Way National Trail
  • Visit the Old Coastguard Station to uncover the village’s seafaring past

Stay nearby

Cottages in Robin Hood’s Bay


Crail, Scotland

Montage of photos of Crail

Resembling the scene of an impressionist painting, Crail’s tiny colourful houses set against a backdrop of jaw-dropping cliffs and aquamarine water is sure to make your holiday snaps the envy of all. If you're looking for UK holiday destinations by the sea where you can truly get away from it all, Crail is a top choice. This breathtaking Scottish coastal village is pretty and peaceful, and is nestled within the East Neuk area of Fife. Timeless cobbled streets, known as ‘wynds’, snake their way down to the miniature 16th-century harbour, which is surrounded by historic fishing cottages with red-tiled roofs, painted in a palette of seaside shades. From here, the sweeping views across to the Isle of May are spectacular.

Discover more about the village’s seafaring tradition in the Crail Museum and Heritage Centre, pick up some gorgeous souvenirs in one of the galleries and admire the beautiful buildings, including the Tolbooth which has an interesting tower topped with a smoked haddock-shaped weathervane! For lunch, we recommend the much-loved seafood shack, The Lobster Hut, which serves up mouth-watering crab rolls, langoustines and plates of fresh lobster.

Highlights

  • Visit in June for the Crail Food Festival
  • Soak up mesmerising coastal scenery on the Fife Coastal Trail
  • Take a boat trip to see the puffins on the Isle of May

Stay nearby

Cottages in Crail


Steephill Cove, Isle of Wight

A pretty little bay on the Isle of Wight, Steephill Cove near Ventnor features a smattering of cottages set alongside a tiny beach, where the daily catch is landed by the local fishermen. Part of its allure, and the reason it feels like such a secret gem, is that there is no access by road. The nearest car park is at Ventnor Botanic Gardens, which is a delightful place to discover some of the exotic plant species which thrive in this almost Mediterranean micro-climate.

A trip to Steephill Cove is all about relaxation, whether that’s reclining in one of the vibrant deckchairs on the beach or tucking into a tasty crab dish from the Crab Shed. And when you’re ready for a bit more action, take a short stroll along the coast path to Ventnor, where you’ll find an array of tempting eateries, a glorious golden sand beach and all the joys of a traditional Victorian seaside resort.

Highlights

Stay nearby

Cottages in Ventnor


Head for the coast...

Have any of these beautiful coastal locations in the UK caught your eye? If so, click the button below to browse our full collection of cottages by the coast and make special memories this summer with the one you love.

Coastal cottages

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.