22 Best Seaside Towns in England to Get Your Vitamin Sea

Seaside Towns in England

As soon as summer hits I start dreaming about visiting the beach and enjoying a day out in a cute English seaside town eating icecream.

Now there is a lot more to do at a seaside towns in England so if my version of a beach day isn’t your style then here is an endless list of things you can experience:

  • the atmosphere,
  • go sailing,
  • find the wildlife (I still want to see puffins in person!),
  • romantic getaway,
  • the excitement of the amusement parks,
  • for culture
  • and to where ever your imagination takes you.

Take Cornwall as an example, the area is a hotspot! They a mix of fantastic seaside towns, great beaches, harbourside restaurants, amazing walks, sports facilities and much more!

If you’re planning an escape to the coast, start with my ridiculous selection of the best seaside towns in England that offer something unique. All towns that have been selected a great beach, breakdown of the area and a must-do activity so that you can make your own mind up based on individual requirements.

Burnham-on-Sea

Lighthouse with sunset over Burnham on Sea

Burnham-on-Sea is a sweet little seaside town in Somerset situated between Highbridge and the larger Weston-Super-Mare.

What Makes Burnham-on-Sea So Special

You can see that Burnham-on-Sea was once a genteel place. The Victorian grandeur may be tired, but Burnham has a pier, a lighthouse on the beach and a still lovely promenade.  Due to its proximity to the M5 it makes a great seaside holiday destination for those from the Midlands who want something more upmarket than its much larger and bolder neighbour Weston-Super-Mare.

  •  Sandy Beaches
  • Water sports
  • Night life
  • Culture
  • Heritage
  • Shopping
  • Sporting

Recommended

Take a drive inland to Glastonbury.

Dawlish

Dawlish Devon England Beach

Just 12 miles from the city of Exeter, Dawlish is well known for its holiday parks and sandy beach.  It is also a place you may have heard of because the train runs along the seafront and it made the news when the tracks were badly damaged in winter storms a few years ago. 

What Makes Dawlish So Special

Dawlish has an air about it of old seaside town grandeur, only a small place as well as the sandy beach, there are amusement arcades, lovely walks and a nature reserve at nearby Dawlish Warren.  The main part of the town is centred round the lawn which is a great place for picnics and the brook there is well known for its black swans.

  • Sandy Beaches
  • Stunning Scenery 
  • Water sports
  • Night life
  • Culture
  • Heritage
  • Shopping
  • Sporting

Must Do

Go on a train journey travelling west and back to experience the stunning seascape on the famous bit of track.

Minehead

Minehead station in Somerset

Minehead in Somerset is on the edge of Exmoor and very close to North Devon.  Minehead is probably best known for the large Butlins camp nearby.

What Makes Minehead So Special

Depending on which way you walk it Minehead is the start or finish of the famous South West Coastal Path Walk.

Minehead is a great place to stay for a mixed holiday, seaside on your doorstep, an old picturesque harbour and for history, there is the 15th Century Church of St Michael up on top of a hill. Dunster Castle is nearby.  Water sports include paddle boarding and kayaking and there is a golf course.  The town has some lovely shopping areas and the Blenheim Gardens in the centre of the town are beautiful.

  • Sandy Beaches
  • Stunning Scenery 
  • Water sports
  • Night life
  • Culture
  • Heritage
  • Shopping
  • Sporting

Suggestion

Take a steam train ride to enjoy the stunning countryside.

Newquay

Newquay Cornwall England

Newquay is uniquay!  At certain times of the year, there are so many Australian surfers in Newquay that you could be mistaken for thinking you have woken up in Australia!

What makes Newquay so Special

Newquay is the surf capital of the UK.  With 12 sandy beaches and good surf from the Atlantic, Fistral Beach and Watergate Bay are the best locations for serious surfers and it is fun to watch the experts from the viewpoint of the headland.  Newquay town combines Cornish charm with modern facilities, the usual High Street outlets can be found there alongside the surf scene boutiques such as Fat Willey’s Surf Shack and Watershed.  Other great shops include the Retro Music Store.  There are pubs and cafes to suit all tastes and budgets too.  Plenty of other sporting opportunities with sports centres, a boating lake, great places for running, cycling and jogging.  There are also gardens, a pitch and putt, miniature railway and more.

  • Sandy Beaches
  • Stunning Scenery 
  • Water sports
  • Night life
  • Culture
  • Heritage
  • Shopping
  • Sporting

Recommended

Get up early and watch the seals cavort in Crantock Bay.

Paignton

Paignton Pier

Paignton is the middle town of the three that make up the towns in Torbay, collectively known as the English Riviera. 

What Makes Paignton So Special

Paignton has lovely sandy beaches.  Best is Preston Beach; others include Galmpton Beach, Fairy Cove and the beach at the main part of Paignton.  Hyde Road is well known for the arcades, shops and cafes.  Evening entertainment can be found at The Spinning Wheel pub on the seafront for live music or The Gallery nightclub to dance the night away.

  • Sandy Beaches
  • Stunning Scenery 
  • Water sports
  • Night life
  • Culture
  • Heritage
  • Shopping
  • Sporting

Rock

Rock on the north coast of Cornwall is often referred to as Kensington of Cornwall or Chelsea on Sea due to the high number of wealthy Londoners who frequent the area rubbing shoulders with locals and celebrities.

What makes Rock So Special

Just across the Camel Estuary from Padstow, Rock has a lovely white sandy beach that due to its location is met by calm gentle waters.  There are lovely hotels and restaurants and a water taxi to take you across to Padstow, famous for its association with the television chef Rick Stein.

  • Sandy Beaches
  • Water Sports
  • Stunning Scenery 
  • Night life
  • Culture

Must Do

You have to go to the dive school or the water ski school at Rock or both.

St Ives

St Ives Harbour Cornwall

Well known among artists for the spectacular light St Ives has long been a place of pilgrimage for artists and art lovers.

What Makes St Ives So Special

Drive down the hill into St Ives and the bay is laid out to your right, as you continue you are blessed with tantalizing views of the protected St Ives beach.    Stroll along the harbour and enjoy the boutique shops, galleries and arcades.  St Ives is home to the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden as well as the famous St Ives Tate Modern Art Gallery and the St Ives Museum.

  • Sandy Beaches
  • Stunning Scenery 
  • Water sports
  • Night life
  • Culture
  • Heritage
  • Shopping
  • Sporting

Must Do

Make sure you try out both beaches as the town of St Ives is flanked by two beaches as part of the town is on a small peninsula. 

Woolacombe

Putsborough Woolacombe Warren Devon

Miles of white sandy beaches can be found at Woolacome on the North Devon coast.

What Makes Woolacombe So Special

Many British people will remember going there as children on a holiday to Devon and learning to surf at Woolacombe.  The Atlantic waves keep rolling in but are more predictable than at more challenging locations making it an ideal place to enjoy a beach holiday and learn to surf.  It is one of the best locations for surfing, kite surfing, or paddleboarding.  Woolacombe is all about the beach, but the village set to one side of the beach has a lovely atmosphere, some great cafe’s pubs and places to stay and a nightclub. 

  • Sandy Beaches
  • Stunning Scenery 
  • Water sports
  • Night life
  • Culture
  • Heritage
  • Shopping
  • Sporting

Best for water sport and romantic getaways.

North West

Ainsdale and Formby

Ainsdale is a small town near Southport that is famous for its miles of sandy beach and sand dunes.  Next to Ainsdale is the smaller Formby with its nature reserve and sand dunes, Formby is home to Red Squirrels and the rare Natterjack Toads.

What Makes Ainsdale and Formby So Special

Both have nature reserves by the sea, golf courses and sand dunes.  Ainsdale has the lovely discovery centre and some nice shops.  There is a Pontins Holiday Park at Ainsdale near the beach, whilst Formby has the Formby Hall Golf Resort and Spa.  The coastline is a Special Area of Conservation SAC.  They offer some great walks and cycle trails. The two towns are convenient for the larger town of Southport with its shops and attractions.

  • Sandy Beaches
  • Stunning Scenery 
  • Water sports
  • Night life
  • Culture
  • Heritage
  • Shopping
  • Sporting

Must Do

Don’t miss out on the chance to see the Red Squirrels in a natural habitat.

North East

Saltburn by the Sea

Pier at Saltburn by the Sea

The last remaining pier in Yorkshire is at Saltburn by the Sea and it is one of a few places with a funicular precipitous cliff lift to take people down to the beach and back up again.

What makes Saltburn by the Sea So Special

Gaining a reputation as a cultural treat, Saltburn by the Sea has a feel of a contemporary seaside town; there is a surf school, a miniature railway, and lovely walks alongside the Saltburn Beck.  There is also the Valley Gardens to explore and the Woodland Wildlife Centre.  Saltburn’s specialism though is as a centre for contemporary arts.

  • Sandy Beaches
  • Stunning Scenery 
  • Water sports
  • Night life
  • Culture
  • Heritage
  • Shopping
  • Sporting

Saltburn has up and come; you can still be one of the first to discover its charms.

Skegness

The family seaside place in Lincolnshire.

What Makes Skegness So Special

Skegness is a very easy place to visit for an action packed holiday or for easy beach days.  Features include a long sandy beach, a seafront with lawns and attractions including Natureland Seal Sanctuary, a theme park and a golf course.  Skegness is close to the Lincolnshire Wolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty AONB and has a separate nature reserve. 

  • Sandy Beaches
  • Stunning Scenery 
  • Night life
  • Culture
  • Heritage
  • Shopping

Recommended

Take a stroll along the pier for the best view of the beach.

Whitby

Whitby Steps at Sunset

With its connections to Dracula, witchcraft and pirates, it is easy to think about staying away from Whitby!  To do so would be a shame, Whitby has an interesting history and today is a great seaside resort to visit.

What Makes Whitby so Special

Due to its connections, Whitby is a Goth must visit place.  Whitby is more than the dark parts of its past.  Attractions include the Captain Cook Museum, Captain Cook Experience Boat Trip, steam railway, interesting historical walks, a lovely park, a museum and art gallery and the atmospheric Whitby Abbey Ruins.  Whitby is part of the North Yorkshire and Cleveland Heritage Coast and is on the edge of the North York Moors National Park.  Robin Hood’s Bay is nearby.

It is said that Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass was inspired by his many walks along Whitby beach.

  • Sandy Beaches
  • Stunning Scenery 
  • Night life
  • Culture
  • Heritage
  • Shopping

Must Do

Take a trip to Robin Hoods Bay or enjoy the atmosphere of the Whitby Abbey Ruins.

East Anglia

Brancaster

Brancaster beach

In an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty AONB Brancaster together with Brancaster Staithe are collectively known as Brancaster, Norfolk and they are most famous for the beach.   

What Makes Brancaster So Special

Of course the beach, but also the high number of dry days, the lovely walks, a couple of miles from Titchwell Marsh the RSPB Nature Reserve, wildlife is in abundance.  There is an outdoor activity centre, boat trips, and independent shops.

Great for a holiday with a beach, good walking, wildlife, stunning scenery, outdoor activities.

  • Sandy Beaches
  • Stunning Scenery 
  • Water sports
  • Culture
  • Heritage
  • Shopping
  • Sporting

Recommended for a quieter slower holiday destination.

Great Yarmouth

Great Yarmouth beach Norfolk

Known for its Golden Mile on the sea front Great Yarmouth is in an area of history and the heritage can be seen in the ancient churches and its medieval town wall.

What Makes Great Yarmouth So Special

Great Yarmouth is unashamedly a fun, fun, fun place to visit.  On Marine parade there are plenty of attractions including amusement arcades, crazy golf, a bowling green, pier, pretty flower beds, restaurants and pubs.  There is also a sea life centre, a circus, a model village, model railway a huge amusement fairground park and ten pin bowling.  There are plenty of shops at Great Yarmouth the big chain names, a permanent undercover market and sea front gift shops to choose from.

  • Sandy Beaches
  • Stunning Scenery 
  • Water sports
  • Night life
  • Culture
  • Heritage
  • Shopping
  • Sporting

Must Do

Have Fun!!!!

Gorelston on Sea

Right next to Great Yarmouth Goreleston on Sea is a quieter cousin to the brashness of Great Yarmouth.

What Makes Gorelston on Sea So Special

As well as a quieter, sheltered sandy beach Gorelston has a more spacious feel, with lawns, pitch and putt, tennis court and basketball court, children’s playground a model yacht pond and gardens.  It is a popular place for surfing and body boarding.  The golf course overlooks the sea and the town centre is an easy 5 minute walk from the seafront.  Gorelston has shops, amusements, cafes.  Free parking and toilets too.

  • Sandy Beaches
  • Stunning Scenery 
  • Water sports
  • Culture
  • Heritage
  • Shopping
  • Sporting

Must Do

Spend a day letting your hair down at Great Yarmouth.

South East

Bexhill on Sea

Bexhill on Sea has many claims to fame:  British Motor Racing started there and Bob Marley played his first ever live UK Gig at Bexhill.

What makes Bexhill So Special

These days Bexhill with its famous and beautiful Art Deco De La Warr Pavilion on the seafront, a pier, long gently sloping mostly pebble beach and golf course, also has a sailing club and a rowing club.

  • Stunning Scenery 
  • Water sports
  • Night life
  • Culture
  • Heritage
  • Shopping
  • Sporting

Must Do

Take a short tip to Normans Bay, sandy beach.

Brighton

Kat at Brighton Pier

Regency town Brighton is often referred to as London on Sea. 

What makes Brighton So Special

Brighton is well known for its Regency style, the Pavilion and the Dome Theatre that mimics the style.  Brighton lanes are a draw for antique collectors and the city of Brighton and Hove to give it its full title is just a 53 minute train journey from central London. Brighton’s attractions include the I360 tower, the pier and the marina.

Brighton is the only place to consistently have a Green member of parliament. 

  • Stunning Scenery 
  • Night life
  • Culture
  • Heritage
  • Shopping
  • Sporting

Must Do

Walk along the seafront from the Marina to Western Lawns, Hove.

Cooden Beach

Cooden Beach is a quiet unassuming, residential town situated on a long straight sandy beach between the sandy beach of Normans Bay and the larger town of Bexhill.

What makes Cooden Beach so Special

The town offers an easy live like a local experience with B&B’s in peoples own homes and homely holiday lets.  There are a few shops, a golf course and a hotel on the seafront.  The long sandy beach along to Normans Bay and beyond is pretty special.

  • Sandy Beaches
  • Heritage
  • Shopping
  • Sporting

Must Do

Go inland to Pevensey (not to be confused with Pevensey Bay) and visit the castle and some of the old timbered pubs and shops there.

Margate

Kingsgate Bay in Margate East Kent

On the Kent Coast, right out on a peninsula, Margate is a great location.

What makes Margate So Special

Margate is one of those places you never knew you wanted to visit!  Margate has a charm of its own and an eclectic mix of attractions for visitors, from Dreamland Amusement Park to the Turner Contemporary Art Gallery there is everything in between, stunning cliff top walks, gentle sandy beaches, shops, leisure and sports. 

  • Sandy Beaches
  • Stunning Scenery 
  • Night life
  • Culture
  • Heritage
  • Shopping
  • Sporting

Must Do

Mix it up:  If the amusement park is your thing try the art gallery, if art and gentle strolls are your comfort area then try the amusement park.

Poole

Poole Harbor in Dorset

Poole is the highly unique natural port on the coast of Dorset.

What makes Poole So Special

The home of the Sunseeker motor yachts, Poole is famed for its unusual natural harbour and islands, the harbour is actually the second largest natural harbour in the world, only second to Sydney, Australia.  Pool is famous for water sports, boating trips, the lovely quay with restaurants and cafes.  Poole Park is a unique area with salt and fresh water lakes and there is crazy golf, bowling, a rose garden, a quiet garden.  There are regular ferry trips to Brownsea Island in the harbour, where there are brown squirrels and other wildlife. 

  • Sandy Beaches
  • Stunning Scenery 
  • Water sports
  • Night life
  • Culture
  • Heritage
  • Shopping
  • Sporting

Recommended

Take a Poole Harbour Boat Tour.

Southend on Sea

Unashamedly brash, famous for its miles of sandy beaches and casino’s Southend on Sea is situated at the mouth of the River Thames.

What makes Southend on Sea So Special

Sunset st Southend on Sea Essex

There is so much that Southend on Sea is known for and it is a great holiday destination for everyone, as long as you don’t want a quiet, get away from it all break.  Southend is a large place with the holiday attractions mainly on the seafront where you can make the most of the miles of sand.  It has everything you’d need for a fun holiday and more.

  • Sandy Beaches
  • Stunning Scenery 
  • Water sports
  • Night life
  • Culture
  • Heritage
  • Shopping
  • Sporting

Must Do

Enjoy the night life.

So there you have it! 21 of the best seaside towns in England, some are large some are small, some are famous, some you have probably never heard of before.  What they all have in common is that they all have something special or unique to offer the vacationer.

I would have liked to highlight the main attraction for each, but they all offer more than one good reason to visit or stay.  The information listed above is designed to give you the lowdown of each of the places.  So, then you can make your choice which is for you.

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