Britain’s best beaches

Fancy a day on the coast? Britain is spoilt for choice when it comes to stunning beaches. From the spectacular Isles of Scilly to the rugged beaches of the Scottish Highlands, here is our guide to a selection of the best and most beautiful beaches in Britain

View of Harris Island on The Sound of Taransay, Western Isles, Scotland. The Outer Hebrides comprise of an chain of 30 islands off the west coast of Scotland. With visually stunning white beaches and windswept terrain the Outer Hebrides is one of the most beautiful and untouched places in the world.

Britain’s coastline is dotted with beautiful beaches, from the far south to the remote north.

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Grab your beach bag and a picnic and take to the coast with some of our favourite sandy spots.

1. Durdle Door, Dorset
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 A colourful sunset over Durdle Door on the Jurassic Coast, UNESCO World Heritage Site, Dorset, UK Credit: Getty 

Why it’s special: That iconic stone archway, of course. This natural wonder soars out of the cliffs like a dinosaur curled around a stretch of beach and wonderfully clear water. 

How to find it: West Lulworth, Dorset, BH20 5PU

2. Holkham, Norfolk
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Holkham beach is located on the North Norfolk coast of East Anglia, England. Image: Getty 

Why it’s special: Four miles of unspoilt beauty with a pine forest on one horizon and the rugged North Sea on the other. 

How to find it: Access is via Lady Anne’s Drive in Holkham village, just off the A149, opposite The Victoria Inn.

Take a walk through Holkham’s creaking pinewoods and along its beautiful beach with our five-mile route.

3. Bamburgh Castle Beach, Northumberland
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Bamburgh Castle Credit: Getty

Why it’s special: Bamburgh castle standing majestically on the basalt cliff side, watching down on waters home to inquisitive seals.

How to find it: Near Alnwick, NE69 7DF

4. Whistling Sands, Gwynedd, Wales
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Whistling Sands, Image: Getty

Why it’s special: Walk along this stretch of beach and you may hear a curuous whistling from under your feet. The shape of the sand grains strike against your feet to produce this intriguing sound.

How to find it: Aberdaron, Pwllheli LL53 8LH

5. Porthcurno Beach, Cornwall
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Porthcurno, Cornwall Image: Getty

Why it’s special: The beach at the end of our island is a lovely one, a rich seascape of blue waters and golden sand three miles fro Land’s End.  

How to get there: Porthcurno, Cornwall, TR19 6JX

6. Bournemouth Beach, Dorset
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Bournemouth Beach. Credit: Getty

Why it’s special: A city beach, yes, but seven miles of sands are home to a pier, beach huts and water sports. Buzzy and fun. 

How to find it: You won’t miss it, but the postcode for the pier is BH2 5AA

7. Achmelvich Beach, Highlands, Scotland
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Achmelvich beach Credit: Getty

Why it’s special: This slice of the coastal good life is far from the madding crowds, and hence home to dolphins, porpoises and whales.

How to get there: Achmelvich beach is on a minor road sign posted to Achmelvich. Take the B869 about 1/2 a mile from the village of Lochinver on the A 83. Learn moe about Achmelvich.

8. Appletree Bay, Isles of Scilly
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Appletree bay, Scotland Credit: Getty

Why it’s special: Robinson Crusoe would be at home on this wild beach on the island of Tresco, where white sand, turquoise water and sub-tropical plants may make you wonder if you’ve woken up in the Caribbean. 

How to get there: Fly to the Isles of Scilly, catch a boat to Tresco and then hire a bike to pedal along the road to the beach (there are no cars on the island). Phew! More travel info here. 

9. Sandwood Bay, Highlands, Scotland
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Sandwood Bay, Cape Wrath, Durness, Scotland Credit: Getty

Why it’s special: Only accessible by foot, this remote and beautiful cove sits between a deep freshwater loch his beach and looks out at a tall sea stack standing sentinel in the ocean. 

How to get there: The nearest bus stop is Kinlochbervie, or follow this route from Walk Scotland

10. Southwold, Suffolk
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Brightly coloured beach huts, Suffolk. Credit: Getty

Why it’s special: The string of brightly painted beach huts and the bucket-and-spade charm of this shingly cove on the Suffolk Heritage Coast will take you back to childhood holidays by the sea. 

How to get there: Explore Southold list travel advice.

11. Embletone Bay, Northumberland
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Embleton Bay deservedly won BBC Countryfile Magazine’s Beach of the Year in 2017 ©Getty

Why it’s special: Northumberland’s beaches are rarely crowded. Even on a beautiful summer’s evening you will often have the place to yourself

Take a stroll: Walk over ruddy-gold sands, across babbling coastal rivers and through wind-shaped dunes to the dramatic ruins of a 14th-century castle – welcome to Embleton Bay, one of Britain’s most beautiful beaches. Walking route and map.

12. Barafundle Bay, Pembrokeshire
Overlooking the stunning beach at Barafundle Bay on the Pembrokeshire coast of South Wales UK Europe
Barafundle Bay is part of Stackpole Estate ©Getty

Why it’s special: No roads in, no convenient cafés, no seaside stores – few Welsh beaches can compete with the isolated nature of beautiful Barafundle Bay on the southern coast of Pembrokeshire.

Walk there: The broad-crescent beach is accessible by foot through woodland and grassy dunes along a short trail from Stackpole Quay. Walk description and map.

13. Downhill Strand, County Down
Mussenden temple, Castlerock, County Antrim, Ulster region, northern Ireland, United Kingdom.
Mussenden Temple above Downhill Strand, County Down

Why it’s special: From Downhill Strand, the sight of Mussenden Temple teetering on a blustery cliff edge is an incongruous one – the circular neo-classical building more at home in sun-kissed Rome than Northern Ireland’s wild Causeway Coast

Walk there: Discover wild shores, muscular mountains, surfing seabirds and an 18th-century Italian-style temple on Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coast. Find out more about the beach here.

14. Beer, East Devon
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Despite its popularity in the summer months, Beer beach remains a peaceful spot to spend an afternoon ©Getty

Why it’s special: The small village of Beer, sheltered by white chalky cliffs above a steep shingle beach, sits on the Jurassic Coast near Lyme Regis. Along this stretch of the Devon coastline, the rocks provide a haven for wildlife, and it’s a site of geological and historical interest, too.

Walk there: If you’ve built up a thirst walking from Branscombe along Devon’s coastal cliffs and beaches to Beer, then you’re in luck – the tiny seaside village has a handful of traditional pubs, perfect for a well-earned pint. Find out more about the walk here.

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Main image: Harris beach ©Getty