The sun is starting to peak out and there’s a bank holiday this weekend. Who wouldn’t want to explore some of the picturesque seaside towns England is so proud of? If you’re in southern England and still don’t have plans jump in the car and head to one of these beautiful places. We’ve listed some of the best-known and most enjoyable destinations by the sea.
A beautiful location filled with shops, sites and delicious food, Whitstable is an excellent place to visit. Just under 60 miles out of London you can be there by car in under 2 hours. Holding one of the oldest railway lines from 1832, it is now an ideal bike ride you can take to the historic English town of Canterbury. Even if you don’t want to make a pilgrimage to Canterbury there’s plenty to explore in this seaside town.
There is, of course, the working harbour. Also built to support the Canterbury railway line it today holds all the classic amenities known to English seaside towns. Grab a fish and chips or a 99 soft ice cream from one of the many vendors, or simply enjoy the sunshine and the lost in time surroundings. Even if everything isn’t currently open the landscape like Tankerton Slopes and Tankerton Beach are incredibly interesting. Find not only incredible views but old cannons, WW2 defences and sea forts and a natural peninsula.
A popular destination for all ages, Bournemouth is just over 2 hours from London. This is a great place as not only does it have that quintessential seaside charm, but also benefits as a lively city. With 10 miles of sandy beaches to explore there’s plenty of outdoor activity. If by the city centre you can walk the famous pier with its arcades, fish and chips, and sweet shops. Walk along the promenade too to see the many boutiques and seaside views.
Summer is a terrific time to explore, particularly now with many of the shops and museums re-opening. There’s a fascinating botanical collection in the Bournemouth Gardens offering ideal walks in the centre of town. The collection dates all the way back to the Victorian era. The Russell-Cotes Art Gallery is an interesting visit. This lavish villa filled with art and furniture was a gift from Merton Russell-Cotes to his wife, given in 1901. Of course, by car, you can venture out and see the Jurassic Coast too.
Brighton and Hove, Sussex
As one of the most popular and famous beachside destinations in southern England, this list would not be complete without Brighton and Hove. While technically a city, the two areas lie next to each other, once being two separate towns. Here you can find some of the most ideal pubs, gardens, shopping and fine dining in Sussex. Nestled beyond hills the pebble beach has its famous Victorian-era pier still operating with treats, rides and arcades.
The Lanes is a sprawling network of alleys and small roads housing boutique shops. Many of the biggest retail names in the UK originated here, including The Body Shop. It also houses some of the best seafood and British Cuisine restaurants. There’s the amazing nightlife in Brighton and while things may only be opening up there’s still awesome beachside spots offering outdoor drinking and eating.
As we venture further you get to areas like Cornwall and Devon. If visiting from London it’s probably best to plan a long weekend as Salacombe is 4.5 hours from London. The drive is well worth it though as this gorgeous bay makes for an incredible visit. With a host of watersports, hiking trails, indoor activities and amazing pubs and restaurants this Devonshire town is great for basing yourself, particularly if you want to explore the surrounding areas.
There are a lot of eating, drinking and fine dining options in the scenic town of Salcombe. They are famous for their locally sourced products including some of the best real dairy ice cream in England. There’s also breakfast spots like The Winking Prawn, Dick and Wills for lunch and champagne and the famous Salcombe Gin Distillery gives amazing tours. Explore all the hidden coves spread across the beaches and bring your camera for incredible wildlife photography.
Near the most southwestern tip of England is Cornwall and within there the stunning town of Padstow. From London, this would be a five-hour drive so definitely worth planning a real holiday around this destination. It is a harbour town that still has the aesthetic charm of the early 20th Century. At the Padstow Harbour, you’ll find an array of traditional ice cream shops, tea rooms, pubs and quaint little shops.
This area of Cornwall is ideal in its quiet beauty. Much of the best activities revolve around its excellent beaches and hiking trails. It’s for this reason the area is so popular in the summer. Much of the sandy beaches are made better by the surrounding lush countryside. St George’s Cove is a particularly beautiful walk. If you want a good cycle ride then be sure to look into the Camel Trail. There is also excellent surfing all over Cornwall as well as other water sports like paddleboarding and windsurfing.