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What could be better than heading to the coast to get away from it all? A trip to the seaside is a British institution, packed with childhood memories of making sandcastles and eating fish and chips out of the paper. Whether you fancy a fun, family break at a traditional seaside town or something a bit more off the beaten track, these are the very best Britain has to offer.
Cornwall is famous for its beautiful beaches and Padstow makes the perfect base for exploring them. This beautiful working fishing port is full of charm; spend a day just wandering around the town and soaking in the atmosphere of harbour life, indulge your inner-foodie with a meal at Rick Stein’s Seafood Restaurant, explore the rugged coastline and quiet coves that surround Padstow, then head to one of the seven stunning golden beaches, all less than a five-minute drive away, to build sand castles, go rock pooling and surfing.
Just an hour’s train ride from London, Brighton is the perfect place for a day-trip out of the city – however, with so much on offer here, you’ll want to stay for longer than that! With a creative, bohemian vibe, and a vibrant LGBT scene, Brighton is one of Britain’s coolest seaside resorts. There’s plenty of keep you busy here; take a walk along the iconic Brighton Pier and try your luck in the amusement arcade, check out the extravagant Brighton Pavilion, get lost in the bustling network of shopping streets known as The Lanes, then refuel at one of the stylish cafés before making the most of the amazing nightlife.
On the north Suffolk coast you’ll find Southwold, a quintessentially English seaside town with bags of charm. Colourful beach huts line the sandy beach and the harbour, watched over by the historic lighthouse (which is open to visitors), bustles with life. Take a walk along the pier for great views of the pretty town and those distinctive beach huts, then take a tour around the famous Adnams Brewery.
Head to this welcoming seaside town on the Kent coast to sample some of the best oysters in the UK. Whitstable take this seafood delicacy seriously, hosting the popular Oyster Festival every July – do try and visit during the festival as the town comes alive for the celebrations, but if you can’t you must make sure you try the oysters for yourself, either at one of the many local restaurants or from the fresh fish market at the harbour. Whitstable is, quite rightly, proud of its thriving art scene and can also boast being one of the few towns in the UK to have a pub on the beach!
The picturesque Isle of Wight is spoilt for choice when it comes to charming seaside resorts, but Shanklin has to be up there as one of the most idyllic. The Old Village is quaintly traditional, with good old-fashioned tea rooms and gift shops to be found inside the pretty thatched cottages that line the streets. The long, wide sandy beach, set against a dramatic backdrop of sandstone cliffs, is the perfect place to relax and unwind.
This Welsh seaside town is the kind of place you want to return to year after year. Encircled by an imposing medieval stone wall, Tenby is a town steeped in history and surrounded by breath-taking scenery. Situated within the UK’s only coastal national park, here you’ll find three beautiful Blue flag beaches right on your doorstep. If you’re looking for picture-perfect beaches and a gentler pace of life, you know where to come.
Craster, a small fishing village on the magnificent Northumbrian coast, lays claim to being the home of the Kipper – a British delicacy of smoked fish beloved by (rumour has it) the Royal Family. Even if seafood isn’t your thing, Craster has a lot to offer. The rugged coastline is a haven for birdlife and the eerie ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle – just a short walk or cycle away from the village – are definitely worthy of a visit.
With its pretty pastel-hued cottages and winding streets packed with boutique shops and cafés, Salcombe is one of the most stylish seaside towns in the country. Situate din the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the town can boast impressive coastal views, as well as stunning rolling countryside surroundings. With an excellent choice of luxurious hotels and B&Bs, join the glamorous sailing set and live the high life while you’re here.
Nestled into a secluded bay, with awe-inspiring views across Loch Carron, it’s no surprise Plockton is known as The Jewel of the Highlands. This picturesque village on the west coast of the Scottish Highlands, dotted with beautiful cottages overlooking the small harbour, might look familiar – it was featured in cult classic The Wicker Man. But don’t let that put you off! Here visitors will always receive a warm welcome.
There’s more to this traditional seaside town than first meets the eye. Of course you’ll find the usual array of (excellent) fish and chip shops and Blue Flag beaches, but this North Yorkshire town’s biggest claim to fame is its links with Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The author stayed in Whitby in the late 1800s and was so inspired by the haunting ruins of its Gothic abbey and clifftop church that it led to him creating the iconic character of Count Dracula. Embrace the eerie with a visit to the Dracula Experience, or one of the guided Dracula walks around the town.
Harris, an island in the north-west corner of the Outer Hebrides, is as ‘away from it all’ as you can get. Wild meadows, tranquil lochs, rugged terrain and some of the most spectacular (yet practically deserted) beaches in the UK can be found on this small isle. The biggest draw here, along with the out-of-this-world scenery, is its peace and tranquillity. Nothing beats a day exploring the wild beauty of the island, followed by a glass of single malt in front of a roaring fire.
A popular North Wales destination for over 150 years, Llandudno is a true great British seaside resort. The Victorian promenade stretches for over two miles, with fantastic views across the long sandy beach, out to sea – it even has a band stand, where the local brass band play for visitors. Despite its old-school charm, Llandudno really impresses with a stylish choice of fashionable hotels and restaurants, but it’s Great Orme, a dazzling limestone headland at the end of the promenade, that steals the show here.