One of the many advantages of being in Bristol is that you’re never far from water. The Harbourside is just a short walk from the city centre, but if you’re in the mood for something a bit more sandy, there are plenty of nearby options for beaches, too.
The seaside town of Weston-super-Mare is famously one of the busiest in the UK during the summer months, but the coast it sits on is so long that if you’re after a more secluded experience, you can find it. Sitting at the southern end, Uphill is a quiet, sandy stretch of beach within easy reach of a local nature reserve; and is around a 50-minute drive southwest of Bristol.
Another close neighbour to Weston, Brean is one of the longest sand beaches in Europe, at a whopping seven miles. This not only makes finding a good spot much less of a concern, it also means that the waters are calm and perfect for a swim, but make sure to only take dip with strong swimmers and look for the areas of the beach that are patrolled by lifeguards. Brean Beach is just an hour southwest of Bristol.
Heading over the Welsh border, Ogmore by Sea is a real British beach experience and a fairly eccentric place to visit, due to the sheep that roam freely around the car park. Ogmore is named after the river that lets out there, and the beach itself is a mixture of sand and soft rock – great for long walks and rock pool dipping. Ogmore can be reached via the Severn Bridge, taking just over an hour by car.
Sitting in the midst of the Quantocks and designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) by the Countryside and Right of Way Act, Bridgwater is a magnificent rocky coastline overlooked by rolling green hills. Visitors to this beach will usually take the opportunity to walk the Bridgwater Bay National Nature Reserve Walking Route, a short trail at only two miles that includes the area’s best views. Bridgwater Bay is just over an hour southwest of Bristol by car.
Just next to the Welsh town of Porthcawl sits Rest Bay. A promenade was built there to accommodate a visit from Queen Victoria in 1887, and since then it has been renowned as one of the best spots along the Sker Point and Ogmore coastline to hit the beach. Rest bay is also a popular surfing spot and beginners to the sport can benefit from booking a lesson at the nearby Porthcawl Surf School. Rest Bay takes about an hour to reach from Bristol, via the M4.
Follow the Welsh coast a little further towards Swansea and you’ll find The Mumbles. Both a beach and a large nature reserve, it has a well-earned reputation as one of the most majestic landscapes in South Wales. Whether you’re in the market for a wander around a beach town such as Caswell, or a more secluded, natural experience, the five-mile stretch caters for everyone. Mumbles is a bit further along the M4, taking about an hour and forty minutes, but it’s well worth it.