Top 10 UK beach holidays

Beaches, Coastal

Posted by Sarah on 21st October 2020

Beach holidays

Holiday at the seaside? We say yes please! The UK is brimming with beautiful beaches begging to be explored and with more Brits than ever opting to enjoy a staycation, the traditional Great British seaside holiday is on the rise again. But what are the top ten best beaches to visit in the UK this year?

Inspired by the recent TripAdvisor traveller’s choice list and our own statistics, we’ve put together a selection of the best beach holidays in the UK to inspire your summer holiday. Whether you're planning a getaway to one of the best beach resorts in the UK or want to take the whole family to one of your beloved UK beach destinations, you can find both old favourites and new places to visit with our guide. 

From family-friendly destinations to coastal locations that welcome dogs with each beach handpicked for its appealing features and proximity to quality accommodation, there’s little more for you to do than soak up the inspiration and get busy planning your next seaside break. Here are our top 10 best beach getaways in the UK:


In 10th place…

Compton Bay

Compton Bay, Isle of Wight

Perhaps one of the Isle of Wight’s best kept secrets, Compton Bay lies along the West Wight coast and has long been a popular haunt for locals, seasoned surfers and kite surfers due to its incredible year-round conditions: good breaks and large waves stirred up by the strong south-westerly wind. With its clear waters, vast stretch of sand and richly coloured cliffs, many believe Compton resembles the Californian coast – providing you with all of the best bits without the hassle of travel and the added bonus of this inspiring location being just a hop, skip and a swift ferry ride away…

What makes it great?

  • Recommended by the Marine Conservation Society for its clear waters.
  • Offers great conditions for surfing and kite surfing.
  • Dog-friendly beach (with restrictions) easily accessed with coastal path nearby.

Isle of Wight cottages nearby:

For more inspiration, have a read of our guide to the best beaches on the Isle of Wight.

Isle of Wight cottages


In 9th place...

bamburgh beach

Bamburgh, Northumberland

As dramatic as the castle that looms over it, Bamburgh beach is a striking stretch of coast: vast and wild, it’s the perfect place to enjoy a windswept walk with the dog. A beach for all seasons, you’ll rarely feel the desire to strip off and swim here, yet it’s a go-to destination for locals and visitors throughout the year, mainly due to how awe-inspiring the scenery is.

What makes it great?

  • An undiscovered gem, this stretch of coast is big, uncrowded and very clean!
  • Dog-friendly: it’s great for long walks to blow the cobwebs off.
  • Offers incredible views particularly of Lindisfarne, the Farne Isles and the Grade I-listed castle.

Bamburgh cottages nearby:

For more inspiration, have a read of our guide to the best beaches in Northumberland.

Bamburgh cottages


In 8th place...

Nairn

Nairn, Scotland

A charming seaside resort, Nairn beach is conveniently served by several local amenities that help make this stretch of coast one of Scotland’s most popular family-friendly destinations; park, putting green and tea rooms are located nearby, as well as ice-cream and fish and chip stalls. After a stroll along the promenade, you can step on to a gorgeous expanse of golden sand, fringed with low-lying dunes: its tranquil waters are perfect for enjoying a paddle.

What makes it great?

  • Plenty of conveniences nearby, ideal if you intend to spend a full day at the seaside.
  • Offering a warmer climate than other areas of the Highlands, it’s a year-round destination.
  • Bottlenose dolphins are often spotted swimming up the channel.

Nairn cottages nearby:

For more inspiration, have a read of our guide to the best beaches in Scotland.

Nairn cottages


In 7th place...

Rhossili Bay, Swansea

Having been voted Wales Best Beach in 2018 and frequently shortlist in the UK’s top 10, Rhossili Bay is an incredible location for surfing, walking (it’s dog-friendly too) and enjoying a paddle and play on its enormous stretch of golden sands. The beach sits at the most western point of the Gower Peninsula and is part of the Gower Coast Path. Benefitting from the Atlantic swell, the waves are big and powerful; great for surfing rather than swimming, as well as being a good location for those in search of a big bucket and spade beach.

What makes it great?

  • The perfect location for seasoned surfers, it’s famed for producing big waves.
  • Enjoy spectacular views from the clifftop and across the bay which stretches over to local landmark Worms Head.
  • A 3-mile stretch of golden sand that’s perfect for families to enjoy a picnic or building sandcastles on.

Gower cottages nearby:

Visiting this summer? Here's our pick of the best beaches in Wales.

Gower cottages


In 6th place...

Botany Bay, Kent

With its dramatic chalk stacks which loom overhead and vast stretch of honey-hued sand, it’s no wonder Botany Bay in Broadstairs is one of the UK’s best beach holiday destinations. Famed for its five-star rated water quality and offering buckets of seaside charm, it’s a wonderful retreat for families, groups and couples due to its pretty surroundings, and safe waters.

What makes it great?

  • The beach is incredibly picturesque – a little haven for those visiting the Kent coast.
  • A great location for a sunset walk, dogs are also welcome on the beach out of season.
  • Throughout the summer months, the beach is manned by lifeguards.

Broadstairs cottages nearby:

For more inspiration, have a read of our guide to the best beaches in Kent.

Broadstairs cottages


Great British Coast


In 5th place...

Filey Beach, Yorkshire

A charming traditional seaside resort, Filey Beach is, quite simply, enormous! Its enticing 5-mile stretch of sand reaches across from Filey Brigg to Bempton and offers a mass of appealing amenities in-between. A promenade runs along the seafront and lined with arcades, cafes and handy facilities, it’s the perfect location for day out with the family – and dog. Children will enjoy building sandcastles and exploring the rockpools.

What makes it great?

  • Offers a wonderful array of amenities and all within easy reach; it’s a quintessentially British seaside resort.
  • Featuring miles of exposed, clean sand - great for all ages.
  • The beach is dog-friendly (seasonal restrictions apply) and offers plenty of space for a good run around.

Filey cottages nearby:

For more inspiration, have a read of our guide to the best beaches in Yorkshire.

Filey cottages


In 4th place...

Woolacombe beach

Woolacombe Beach, Devon

Repeatedly awarded “best beach” status, Woolacombe is the perfect cross-generational seaside destination, as it offers a plethora of activities for all ages. Seasoned surfers flock to its shores to enjoy the wild Atlantic swell on one of the best beach breaks in the UK, whilst families adore its family-friendly shoreline and vast expanse of sand, perfect for building sandcastles. For those with a gentle pace in mind, it’s a great place to simply sit back and enjoy the view. The 3-mile stretch of sand is fringed by a number of handy facilities and is renowned for its cleanliness and water quality.

What makes it great?

  • Whilst a popular beach, Woolacombe’s laid-back atmosphere further adds to its appeal, as even when bustling it’s a relaxing place to unwind.
  • It’s a dog-friendly beach year-round with a designated area for them between the months of April and November.
  • Manned by lifeguards during the summer months.

Woolacombe cottages nearby:

...Here are 10 beaches you wouldn't believe are in Devon.

Woolacombe cottages


In 3rd place...

Barafundle Bay

Barafundle Bay, Pembrokeshire

This spectacular stretch of sand sits off the beaten track and remains fairly quiet year-round, largely due to the beach being roughly a half-mile walk from the nearest car park. Part of the National Trust owned Stackpole Estate, a crescent-shaped bay backed by pine trees and dunes its golden sands and clear waters have been likened to the Caribbean.

What makes it great?

  • Whilst Barafundle Bay regularly tops many 'best beach' lists, it remains relatively quiet due to its secluded location.
  • A wonderful location for families - the conditions are great for paddling. Just be mindful of access.
  • Incredibly picturesque, here’s where you can enjoy a picnic, or simply lounge on the golden sand with a good book in hand.

Pembrokeshire cottages nearby:

For more inspiration, have a read of our guide to the best beaches in Wales.

Pembrokeshire cottages


In 2nd place...

Parranporth

Perranporth, Cornwall

Boasting one of the largest stretches of unbroken sand along the North Cornish coast, it’s no wonder Perranporth regularly sits at the top of many UK best beach holiday lists. A gem of a Cornish destination, this vast and picturesque part of the coast presents activities aplenty, with surfing, snorkelling and swimming being three popular pastimes regularly enjoyed by visitors. With lots of rock pools and caves to explore too, you’ll surely want to visit more than once. Serviced by an excellent beach café, Perranporth is also dog-friendly, though new restrictions apply throughout the summer months.

What makes it great?

  • The beach is clean, and the water is safe. It is also manned by the RNLI.
  • Perranporth showcases incredible views across the Atlantic both from the beach itself and the clifftops.
  • Wonderfully serviced by a popular beach café/pub and plenty of other local amenities; making it a great haunt for groups, families and couples.

Perranporth cottages nearby:

Looking for paradise? Here are 10 beaches you wouldn't believe are in Cornwall.

Perranporth cottages


In the no.1 spot…

Bournemouth

Bournemouth Beach, Dorset

Consistently award-winning, Bournemouth beach boasts 7 miles of sun-bleached sand and stretches from Alum Chine in the west right up to Southbourne in the far east of the county. Backed by a picturesque promenade, lined with hundreds of deckchairs, it’s the ultimate family-friendly seaside resort. Serviced by all the amenities you’d expect in a popular coastal town, from eateries and ice cream parlours to kids playgrounds, loo facilities and beach huts which are available to hire on a daily rate, plan a break in the UK’s best beach destination and you’re sure to find many of your holiday “wants” fulfilled.

What makes it great?

  • Bournemouth benefits from its own microclimate, so you can enjoy some of the warmest sea temperatures in the UK.
  • This vast stretch of coast is serviced by outstanding facilities, so, whether you’re visiting with a young family or looking to indulge in water sports or simply relax on the sand with a good book, you’ll find an amenity to suit.
  • It’s a dog-friendly stretch of coast, with seasonal limitations.

Bournemouth cottages nearby:

For more inspiration, have a read of our guide to the best beaches in Dorset.

Bournemouth cottages


The best coastal holidays in the UK on a map


Holiday by the beach

With so much inspiration for the best seaside holidays in the UK, where will you choose to visit? This is the year of the staycation, so why not have a browse and book one of our coastal cottages today!

All 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.