Top 10 family beaches in the UK


Posted by Hannah on 17th June 2023

Top 10 family beaches in the UK

With 11,073 miles of coastline to explore, hiding a wealth of secret coves, quiet inlets and expansive beaches, the UK is a wonderful place for a big holiday with the family. Whether you're planning a road trip just you and your kid, a small family retreat, or a big group getaway with all the aunts, cousins and nephews too, you're sure to find a family beach to suit your tribe.

We've put together a list of our favourites in some of the most family-friendly destinations to give you a head start while searching for a top family beach. Load up the car with bodyboards, frisbees and a picnic and you’re guaranteed great fun for the whole family at one of these glorious beaches. With lots of family days out nearby too, there are all the ingredients for a memorable holiday. Why not check out our top outdoor activities for kids for some more fun ideas?

Enjoy a read through our top ten best family beaches in the UK, so wherever you are holidaying, you can visit a beach that is perfect for you and the kids.

Family cottages

New Quay Beach, Wales

New Quay - North Beach (Traeth y Dolau), Wales

Close to nearby shops and cafes, the harbour beach in New Quay is certainly one of the best family beaches in Wales. Spend a day building sandcastles and paddling, or take some time to explore the rugged coastline of Ceredigion and Cardigan Bay either by boat or on foot. Keep an eye out for dolphins; they’re often spotted leaping and playing in the harbour.

Dog friendly: Yes! Dogs are welcome all year round on New Quay Beach. 

Lifeguard service: There is no lifeguard service. 

Amenities: Surrounded by all the usual amenities of a seaside town with shops, eateries, and parking, with the Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre and fishing trips here too. 

Take a look through our wonderful selection of coastal cottages in New Quay to find somewhere to stay nearby.

New Quay cottages

Ainsdale Beach, Merseyside

Ainsdale Beach, Merseyside

One of the most popular spots in the UK for kite surfing and kite buggying, Ainsdale is also the perfect choice for families. The Discovery Centre is full of shell collections and local wildlife information, and is ideal as a break from the sun, or more likely, shelter from a spot of rain! They also offer free cycle hire during the summer, perfect if you're planning a cycling holiday and don't want to transport your own bikes.

Dog friendly: Dogs are welcome on most of the beach except for a small area: 200 metres either side of the beach entrance at Shore Road is dog free. 

Lifeguard service: There's a lifeguard service during the summer months. 

Amenities: Shops, eateries and parking, plus beautiful Ainsdale Boardwalk Lake, Ainsdale Discovery Centre, and Ainsdale Pinewoods Nature Reserve.

Begin looking through our holiday cottages in Merseyside to stay near this family beach.

Merseyside cottages

Sennen Cove, Cornwall

Sennen Cove, Cornwall

Sennen is one of the cleanest in Europe and definitely one of the most picturesque beaches in Cornwall. It’s the perfect place for swimming or learning to surf and lifeguards keep an eye on everyone from May to September. There’s also a great selection of shops and restaurants nearby.

Dog friendly: Between May and September dogs are banned but can set foot (or paw) on the sand over at Gwynver Beach. 

Lifeguard service: Lifeguards patrol this beach during the summer.

Amenities: There's a restaurant and cafe, parking, and beachside toilets. A slipway leads down to the sand and there's even an ice cream shop so you and the kids can enjoy a classic ice cream at the beach!

Explore our cottages in Sennen to find somewhere to stay near beautiful Sennen Cove.

Sennen cottages

Filey Beach, Yorkshire

Filey Beach, Yorkshire

Filey is the perfect beach for kids to explore. They’ll love discovering the sculpture trail that surrounds the bay and the ancient remains of a Roman signal station can be found on the cliffs just above. Filey is well known for its rock pools too and your little ones can spend hours looking for curious marine life - it's just one of many great beaches in Yorkshire.

Dog friendly: Much of the beach is dog friendly all year but there are sections with restrictions. 

Lifeguard service: Yes, Filey Beach has a lifeguard service during the warmer months. 

Amenities: Shops, cafes, toilets and parking. 

Check out our cottages in Filey to find somewhere to stay nearby this sandy family-friendly Yorkshire beach. 

Filey cottages

Southwold Pier Beach, Suffolk

Southwold Pier Beach, Suffolk

Southwold is one of Suffolk’s best known resorts and has a long tradition as such. The traditional seaside atmosphere follows on from the town to lines of pretty pastel beach huts and onto the pier jutting out from the shingle into the clear waters. There really is no mistaking you’re at the great British seaside! The quality of the beach has been recognised over the years by regular Blue Flag awards making it a great Suffolk beach for families to visit.

Dog friendly: Dogs are welcome on the pier all year and on most of the beach with some dog restrictions. 

Lifeguard service: Yes, there's a summertime lifeguard service. 

Amenities: A boating lake, cafes and tea rooms, parking and toilets, an arcade and a wonderful pier too. 

Investigate our collection of cottages in Southwold to find somewhere to stay near Southwold Pier Beach. 

Southwold cottages

Great British Coast

St Ives Beach, Cornwall

St Ives Bay, Cornwall

The bay of St Ives has over 50 miles of golden sand to enjoy and the beaches are some of the cleanest in Europe. The bay is perfect for body boarding or stand up paddleboarding and there are several water sports schools to offer instruction and equipment hire. Make sure you explore the quirky streets too, full of gift shops and tasty local produce.

Dog friendly: Bamaluz beach, Pier beach and Lambeth walk are all dog-friendly beaches in St Ives Bay, while there are summer restrictions across the other beaches. 

Lifeguard service: There are different services so check each individual beach for lifeguarded dates, however, Porthmeor Beach and Porthminster Beach are two central options with lifeguards during the summer. 

Amenities: Besides the choice of beautiful beaches, St Ives is home to a wealth of attractions including galleries and The Island green space to explore. Parking, toilets, shops and pubs ensure you can enjoy a relaxing day at the beach with the family. 

Head to one of our cottages in St Ives and stay in a coastal cottage near one of St Ives' beaches. 

St Ives cottages

Sandbanks Beach, Dorset

Sandbanks Beach, Dorset

Having held a prestigious blue flag award for over 20 years, Sandbanks in Poole is one the safest beaches in the country, as well as one of the most attractive beaches in Dorset. The sand slowly slopes into the sea making it the perfect paddling ground for small children and there are lifeguards on duty from May to September.

Dog friendly: Restrictions are in place with dogs only allowed in a section to the west of the beach between Sandbanks Promenade to Haven Point.

Lifeguard service: Yes, there is a summer lifeguard service at Sandbanks. 

Amenities: This stylish beach destination has lovely restaurants including Rick Stein Sandbanks, a ferry across to Brownsea Island Nature Reserve, and miniature golf which the whole family can enjoy.

Take a look through our cottages in Poole to find somewhere to stay near Sandbanks Beach.

Poole cottages

Sanna Bay and Ardtoe Beach, Scotland

Sanna Bay and Ardtoe Beach, Scotland

Nestled on the west coast of Scotland, this beach is a bit of an adventure to get to, but you're rewarded with seclusion and beauty. Even on a summer's day you’re likely to be one of the only families on the beach, and can chill out at your own pace without having to rush down early and bag a spot. Check out this one, or one of our other favourite beaches in Scotland for a family beach day to remember.

Dog friendly: Like many of Scotland's remote and breathtaking beaches, these two are both dog friendly all year! 

Lifeguard service: There's no lifeguard service at Sanna Bay or Ardtoe Beach. 

Amenities: There is very little here apart from stunning scenery, white-sand shores, and turquoise waters. There is a car park and a walk through dunes to reach the seafront. 

Explore our holiday cottages throughout the Highlands and find a coastal cottage near one of the region's breathtaking beaches.

Highland coastal cottages

Watergate Bay, Cornwall

Watergate Bay, Cornwall

Watergate Bay is perfectly located just outside the bustling seaside resort of Newquay, popular with families. There’s lots for the kids to get involved in, from surfing to kite buggying, and there are frequent events throughout the year, from beach polo to thundercat racing. Enjoy an 'extreme hot chocolate' or pick up a souvenir in the local gift shop.

Dog friendly: Dogs welcome all year.

Lifeguard service: There is a lifeguard service during the summer months at Watergate Bay. 

Amenities: A few stylish restaurants, parking, and a surf school/store, otherwise a relatively private, peaceful beach. 

Check out our collection of cottages in Newquay to find somewhere to stay near Watergate Bay.

Watergate Bay cottages

Woolacombe Bay, Devon

Woolacombe Bay, Devon

This fantastic North Devon beach has recently won a Premier Beach Seaside Award and it’s easy to see why! Woolacombe has held Blue Flag status for over 20 years and the Environment Agency has described it as a safe bathing beach and ideal for families in every way. Play in the sand, hit the surf or sit back, relax and enjoy a BBQ, the choice is completely yours! At sunset, there's no denying that it's one of the most beautiful beaches in Devon.

Dog friendly: Parts of Woolacombe Beach are dog friendly all year with restrictions during the summer. 

Lifeguard service: There is a summertime lifeguard service at this family-friendly Devon beach.

Amenities: Tourist information centre, surf shops, cafes and restaurants, outdoor swimming pool, toilets and parking. 

Investigate our coastal cottages in Woolacombe to find somewhere to stay by this family-friendly beach.

Woolacombe cottages

Plan your beach break with us

Get those buckets and spades ready, because your family beach holiday is just a click away! We have wonderful beach houses for large families, smaller cottages for seaside escapes, and big and beautiful properties for getaways as a group. Discover all of the family cottages in our collection by clicking the button below.

Family 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.