The best UK seaside resorts for a traditional beach holiday

Beaches, Coastal, Vintage Holidays

Posted by Kate A on 26th May 2023

Traditional seaside holidays in the UK

Multi-coloured beach huts, cheesy postcards, and the tang of sharp vinegar on hot salty chips wrapped in newspaper spark fond memories of summers gone by; many spent soaking up the sunshine at one of Britain’s numerous seaside destinations

From retro fairground rides and timeless arcades to fish and chip huts speckled along a pier jutting out into clear blue waters, made all the more exciting with that constant candy-floss-fuelled sugar rush - a traditional seaside holiday fills us all with nostalgia.

English seaside resorts have a special place in our hearts - they are where childhood memories are made. We have selected some of the best UK seaside resorts to spend your summer holiday, where old-fashioned seaside traditions are still alive and kicking!

UK coastal cottages


Brighton, Sussex

Voted one of the top 10 city beach break destinations in the world, Brighton and it's beachfront makes for spectacular and authentic seaside holidays. Home to a famous Victorian pier which boasts a vast selection of fairground attractions and arcades, there is an abundance of fun to be had!

Brighton is known for its vibrant and colourful culture along with its rich cosmopolitan vibe. This traditional British seaside town is absolutely brimming with excellent cafes, fish and chip huts, tearooms and restaurants to sample – and after dark, the delights seamlessly continue long into the early hours, with the seafront being lined with clubs and bars all nestling underneath the Victorian beachfront arches. 

After a day spent enjoying the beach, heading into the town will definitely not disappoint, from quirky independent boutiques to designer outlets, this British seaside resort's streets are a haven for shoppers.


Brighton cottages


Paignton, Devon

If it’s fun in the sun you are looking for, then there’s no need to head abroad when the beautiful seaside town of Paignton is right on our British doorstep. The English Riviera is one of the most picture-postcard locations on the British coast and has all the ingredients for traditional seaside holidays, whether you are looking for a girly getaway, a family holiday or a romantic break. 

With Paignton being one of the jewels of the Riviera, it makes for the perfect summer holiday destination! Being set at the centre of one of Torbay’s best beaches, coupled with its world-class attractions, Paignton provides a wealth of traditional seaside activities and fun to be had. 

Paignton Pier is certainly one of the highlights of the area, drawing people from far and wide, which isn’t surprising due to the variety of activities on offer. From crazy golf and dodgems to trampolines, mega slides and remote-control cars, this is without mentioning the extensive array of foodie delights – think homemade fudge and fresh doughnuts!


Paignton cottages


Llandudno, Wales

If you are looking for some traditional seaside fun, then Llandudno’s immaculate Welsh seafront, gracefully framed between two headlands, makes for the perfect place to holiday! Being an established resort for over 150 years has resulted in many of the old-fashioned traditions and activities still being fresh and available today. 

One of the most popular family seaside resorts, many a day out can be spent in Llandudno, with Punch and Judy shows, Donkey Man, and an Alice in Wonderland trail to follow allowing you to discover a plethora of Alice-themed sculptures – it will provide a magical experience for children of all ages.

Home to some amazing Blue Flag beaches perfect for summer swimming, with the excellent Llandudno Pier highlighting the landscape, you will find a seaside holiday awaiting you that certainly isn’t lacking taste or quality. The area doesn’t just cater for the young ones however, Llandudno has some fantastic historic sites, with a brooding medieval castle and ancient architecture to explore, along with rich shopping areas and restaurants – there really is something for the whole family in this coastal resort.


Llandudno cottages


Weymouth, Dorset

Weymouth’s beautiful Georgian seafront and sandy beaches, coupled with the town’s rich heritage and spectacular coastline make it a firm favourite holiday destination. Weymouth is one of the UK’s most beautiful seaside resorts and is blessed with one of the sunniest and warmest climates in the whole country. 

Revel in some of the most simple but delightful family holiday pleasures in Weymouth this summer, from digging and paddling in the shallow waters to taking donkey rides along the golden sands, the children will love it!

Away from the water’s edge, there is a treasure trove of thrilling attractions for people of all ages to experience: zoom up the Jurassic Skyline tower in a rotating capsule to enjoy the picturesque views stretching across the horizon taking in the World Heritage Jurassic Coast, you will be surrounded by the most stunning panoramic views wherever you turn. And not only is Weymouth one of the top seaside resorts for kids, but it also has the benefit of being a foodie’s dream! Spend your days by the crashing waves enjoying some fresh local seafood, or head into town to indulge in a gourmet pizza.


Weymouth cottages


Scarborough, Yorkshire

A wonderful mix of traditional seaside fun, golden beaches and rich history makes Scarborough one of the most popular British seaside resorts. Also one of the oldest, it is the perfect place to put your buckets and spades, fishing nets and picnic baskets to good use. 

You’ll find beach huts, donkey rides, amusement arcades, ice cream parlours and shellfish stalls selling cockles and winkles on the seafront, as well as an abundance of exciting attractions to enjoy.

When you fancy taking a break from splashing in the sea and building sandcastles, you can dive into the exhibits at Sea Life Scarborough, wander around the dramatic ruins of Scarborough Castle, enjoy some water sports at the North Yorkshire Water Park, have fun on the vintage rides of the Scarborough Fair Collection, or hop aboard one of the vintage carriages of the North Bay Heritage Railway to explore the Sky Trail. And it wouldn't be a proper English seaside holiday without some battered cod and chips!


Scarborough cottages

Great British Coast

Great Yarmouth

Great Yarmouth, Norfolk

One of Norfolk’s most traditional seaside towns, Great Yarmouth is simply bursting with things to do. Having attracted families for over 200 years, the town offers all the character of a traditional seaside holiday but with a very modern twist. 

The fabled Golden Mile is a paradise for fun seekers, lined with indoor and outdoor entertainment venues, attractions for all ages, amusement arcades and refreshment kiosks. Play a round of adventure golf, ride on giant snails, enjoy freshly cooked sugary doughnuts, or take in a show. 

At the end of the Marine Parade, you will find Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach, which is home to thrilling fairground rides, including one of the last wooden rollercoasters. Kids are also sure to love watching the acrobats, aerialists, and stunt artists at the Hippodrome Circus. Not forgetting the Time and Tide Museum where you can learn about the town’s fascinating history, the SEA LIFE centre with its assortment of marine life, and a whopping 15 miles of beautiful sandy beaches, all with gentle slopes that make bathing a delight.


Great Yarmouth cottages


Shanklin, Isle of Wight

The picturesque Isle of Wight is spoilt for choice when it comes to charming seaside destinations, but Shanklin has to be up there as one of the most idyllic. Shanklin Seafront is home to a long stretch of sparkling beach, a charming old village, and heaps of fun-filled attractions. 

Hire a deckchair and pick a sunny spot on the soft golden sands to relax for the day. If you’ve brought your sea legs with you, why not make the most of the pedalos, kayaks and even banana boat trips that are available?

Take a wander along Shanklin Esplanade where you’ll find a variety of amusement arcades with everything from crazy golf to go-karting. Pirates Cove is a highlight, with bumper boats, water zorbs and a runaway train rollercoaster. And if you fancy venturing a little further, don your walking boots and enjoy a breathtaking 2-mile cliff-top stroll to the equally beautiful coastal resort of Sandown where you’ll find even more bucket-and-spade fun.


Shanklin cottages


Largs, Scotland

Occupying a scenic spot on the Firth of Clyde, Largs is a charming Scottish seaside resort, complete with a Victorian promenade and a choice of ice cream parlours and shops. Largs Beach can be found at the northern end of the town, a mixture of sand and shingle backed by palm trees. Families can get competitive on the beachside putting green and young children can delight in a choice of traditional fairground rides, along with a selection of amusement arcades.

A boating lake lies nearby and at Largs Marina, you can hop aboard one of the boat trips or try your hand at jet skiing. One of the biggest draws to this seaside town in Scotland is the famous Nardini's, an Art Deco ice cream parlour which serves the most incredible sundaes. 

And if that’s not enough, the town is also home to the award-winning Vikingar! where kids have the chance to meet real Vikings and uncover the brutal local history of the Battle of Largs in 1263.


  • Vikingar!: interactive Viking and Scottish heritage and cultural centre
  • Nardini’s: popular ice cream parlour serving around 32 different flavours
  • Largs Putting Greens: two seafront putting greens with a selection of courses

Largs cottages


Weston-super-Mare, Somerset

When it comes to classic Victorian seaside resorts, Weston-super-Mare is always a firm favourite. Whether you’re visiting for the first time or reliving fond childhood memories, the coastal town has so much to offer, with a packed calendar of events and attractions galore. 

Home to one of the UK’s longest natural stretches of sand, Weston-super-Mare Beach is one of the top family beaches in the UK and a dream for sandcastle building, and you’ll find all the quintessential seaside activities here like donkey rides and adrenaline-fuelled water sports.

The beloved Grand Pier houses a plethora of rides and attractions, including dodgems, a ghost train, a 4D cinema and a go-kart circuit. There are also lots of great places to indulge in some traditional fish and chips or a spot of afternoon tea, including Tiffany’s Edwardian-style restaurant. For a bird’s eye view of the town, head to the Weston Wheel, a 40-metre-tall observation wheel which boasts spectacular views over the coast and the Bristol Channel.


Weston-super-Mare cottages


Blackpool, Lancashire

Certainly one of the most popular UK seaside resorts, we had to include Blackpool on our list. Renowned for The Big Dipper, Blackpool Tower, and the Blackpool Illuminations, it doesn't get much more British seaside holiday than this. 

There is an enormous array of family entertainment and activities here, from theme parks and zoos to cabaret shows and comedy. Not forgetting its 7-mile sweep of sandy beach complete with three fabulous piers and all the ice cream and fish and chip shops you could ever possibly imagine.

Blackpool Pleasure Beach is the resort's epicentre, an iconic theme park where you’ll find the UK’s tallest rollercoaster, The Big One, and the UK’s first suspended looping coaster completely over water, Infusion. Those with a love for all things wild can visit Blackpool Zoo or swim with sharks at SEA LIFE Blackpool, while families who adore waterslides, wave pools and water chutes are sure to have fun at the Sandcastle Waterpark.


Blackpool cottages

A map of the best spots for a traditional seaside holiday

Use this map to locate some of the top seaside towns in the UK in our blog.

Please enable cookies via the cookie preference centre to view this content.

Enjoy a UK coastal break

From strolling along a sandy beach with a stick of rock in hand to the thrill of jumping over foaming waves, there’s nothing like a traditional British holiday by the sea. 

If you’re looking to enjoy some good old-fashioned seaside fun on your next staycation, why not check out our collection of coastal cottages in the UK by clicking the button below? 

You'll find them in some of the most popular seaside towns and coastal resorts that we've mentioned in our blog, as well as some lesser-known gems, where you may have the local beach all to yourself!

UK coastal cottages

The Great British Outdoors

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.