Whether you’ve got toddlers in tow or tweens to entertain, you can’t go wrong with a trip to the UK seaside. These coastal destinations are packed with local culture, history, adventure, and stunning seaside scenery. So which beach break is right for you? Choose from our top 5 beachside getaways.
Bob about in Bournemouth
Holiday favorite, Bournemouth, ticks all the boxes for a family-friendly beach vacation. Join a hop-on-hop-off bus tour along the coastline to see Boscombe Pier and visit the nature reserve at Hengistbury Head. Or get out on the water. A cruise around Poole Harbor and islands makes for a memorable afternoon excursion. Finish up with fish and chips on the beach, of course!
Best for: Families who love to mess about in boats.
Beach bliss: Blue Flag beaches Durley Chine and Alum Chine are great for little ones. Both feature soft white sand, beach huts, and playgrounds.
Cool off in Cornwall
Far-flung Cornwall is steeped in the legends of King Arthur and his court at Tintagel, and is a fascinating beach destination to explore. To immerse yourself in the mythic magic of Cornwall, try a two-day mystical tour that shows you King Arthur’s court and Merlin’s Cave. Along with scenic coastal walks, you’ll also take part in a meditation session. For those who love more modern tales, follow in the footsteps of “Doc Martin”, the popular UK TV series. A walking tour in Port Isaac, where it was filmed, brings the locations to life.
Best for: Alternative families who love ancient history and modern culture.
Beach bliss: Head to Porthcurno Beach for turquoise waters against a granite cliff backdrop or Summerleaze for beach huts and a family-friendly paddling pool. Try Watergate Bay for extreme sports, and Sennen Cove for dolphin-spotting.
Dive into Devon
With charming villages, gentle countryside, and endless, sandy beaches, Devon is a delight. Explore the fascinating scenery of the Jurassic Coast, England’s only UNESCO Natural Heritage Site, on a full-day tour. You’ll enjoy dramatic coastal views, pass through charming villages, and visit historic castles. Make sure the Durdle Door is on your sightseeing list. This natural limestone arch, perched over the sea, makes for dramatic pictures. Active families will love hiking along the South West Coast Path, which has 630 miles of tracks, and is the UK’s longest National Trail. Devon is also great for surfers, whether you’re a newbie or pro. Hang ten during a surf lesson with an expert. Whatever you do, end your day with a delicious Devon cream tea, consisting of fluffy scones, jam, and clotted cream.
Best for: Water babies of all ages.
Beach bliss: Woolacombe Sands is best for long walks while Blackpool Sands boasts azure waters. Head to Saunton Sands for dog-friendly beach days or Bantham Beach for days exploring rock pools.
Go big in Brighton
One of the UK’s most beloved beach cities, Brighton has it all. From a vibrant cultural scene and charming lanes filled with boutiques to historic architecture and landscaped gardens. Start your trip by exploring this seaside city on a bike tour to see the sights. Fun-loving families should head to the Brighton Zip Line Experience, the longest and fastest on the British south coast, where kids can race parents on dual zip lines that are almost 1,000 feet long. For even more dramatic views, nothing beats the British Airways i360 glass viewing pod that travels 452 feet into the air. Watch the sunset from your perch in the sky and plan your next day of fun.
Best for: LGBTQ families and those with a sense of adventure.
Beach bliss: Take a stroll along the promenade or channel your inner child with arcade games on the pier.
Wander around Wales
Wales is renowned for its natural beauty, and beach-loving families can get their seaside fix in between exploring its towns and countryside. Start off with a food-and sights tour in Cardiff, before exploring further afield. Caerphilly Castle is a must-visit on a day tour, where you’ll also visit the Brecon Beacons National Park. Explore the Gower Peninsula if you’re after scenic beach walks and endless coastal views.
Best for: Active families who like a helping of history along with stunning scenery.
Beach bliss: Make for Rhossili Bay, Gower for spectacular cliffside walks and Barafundle Bay, Pembrokeshire to splash and swim in super-clear water. Love to surf? Whitesands Beach, Pembrokeshire is best for catching waves. Meanwhile, Three Cliffs Bay offers horseriding and dune walking.