The Victorians loved to spend a day at the beach and during the era, pleasure piers sprang up along the British coastline. In the early 20th century there were almost 100 piers, but today many of them have been lost to the power of the sea.


From the longest and the oldest to the unluckiest and the most entertaining, here is our pick of the best piers to visit in Britain, with a brief look at the history of each pier.


Blackpool Central Pier – the amusements pier

Perhaps one of the country's best known piers, Blackpool Central Pier was built in 1867, opening to the public in 1868. Since then it has provided entertainment to tourists and locals alike. It was famous before the Second World War for the open-air dancing held there, and continues to entertain with its 108-foot big wheel and various fairground activities. It is a great destination for a family day out.

Blackpool pier/Credit: Getty Images

Brighton Palace Pier – the thrill-seekers pier

The top 10 piers wouldn't be complete without mentioning the Grade-II listed Brighton Palace Pier, which opened in 1899. It stands to define Brighton as a holiday destination. Brighton pier is thriving as a tourist attraction and shows how modern developments have impacted piers. The flock of starlings that roost under the pier most evenings are a different sort of attraction – the flutter of their wings adds a certain natural magic.

Brighton/Credit: Getty Images

Weston-Super-Mare Grand Pier – the unluckiest pier

Opening on 11June 1904, Weston-Super-Mare Grand Pier has quite a history. Destroyed by fire in 1930, it was extensively re-built in the resulting years. Disaster arose again in 2008, when the pier faced another fire. It opened once again in 2010 and looks to maintain it’s role in entertaining the British public.

Pier at dawn
Weston-Super pier/Credit: Getty Images

Cromer Pier – the theatrical pier

There are just five piers in the UK that have a theatre built on top of their wave-raked legs. Cromer Pier is one of them. Gaze along the stunning Norfolk coast, dine on dressed crab, and then enjoy an evening show as the sun goes down

Cromer beach and Pier in Norfolk during a sunrise in the summer 2016
Cromer beach and Pier in Norfolk during a sunrise in the summer/Credit: Getty Images

Llandudno Pier – the longest pier in Wales

Llandudno Pier was built in 1876, but it needed major alterations after it faced a run-in with a ship. Despite the various maintenance that piers beg for, Llandudno remains open every day of the year.

Wales's longest pier/Credit: Getty Images

Swanage Pier, Dorset – the community pier

Swanage Pier stands with the help of a huge community effort and various grants. The first wooden pier was built in 1859 – now it lies derelict as a reminder of the past. A new pier was opened in 1897 and today is central to the diving and marine enthusiasts of the area; lobsters, crabs and bright wrasse fish call the pier home. Plaques of loved and lost by the local community weave among the wooden boards.

PIer and sea view
The first wooden pier was built in 1859 – now it lies derelict as a reminder of the past/Credit: Getty Images

Bournemouth Pier, Dorset – the sun-seekers pier

Bournemouth Pier on the sunny south coast facilitates stunning views of Bournemouth beach. A victim of treacherous gales since its opening in 1856, the original shape and design has changed dramatically. Today’s structure was completed in 1981. Still possessing a classic appearance, Bournemouth Pier is nostalgic of past times.

Pier and sea with people on the beach
A victim of treacherous gales since its opening in 1856, the original shape and design has changed dramatically/Credit: Getty Images

Southend Pier – the longest pier in Britain

Southend-On-Sea is home to the longest pier in Britain. In 1846, at one and a quarter miles, it was the longest in Europe.

Sea and pier
Britain's longest pier/Credit: Getty Images

Weymouth Pier Bandstand, Dorset – the entertainment pier

Weymouth Pier bandstand, one of the newest in Britain, was an outdoor entertainment venue in 1939 – not so great in the rain, but apparently magnificent in the sunshine. Expenses meant the bandstand was demolished in 1986.

Tranquil sea at the mouth of weymouth harbour in dorset england
Tranquil sea at the mouth of Weymouth harbour in Dorset/Credit: Getty Images

Ryde Pier – the oldest pier

The Isle of Wight’s Ryde Pier is renowned as the oldest in Britain, opening in July 1814. The pier still maintains regular ferries to and from Portsmouth Harbour.

Pier at sunset
Britain's oldest pier remains a popular seaside attraction/Credit: Getty Images