From the wild Scottish coast to Cornwall’s sandy coves and beaches, the British coastline is spectacular whatever the season.
Stretching approximately 11,073 miles in length, the UK’s stunning coastline consists of fascinating rocky outcrops, sandy beaches and hidden coves – making it a beach lover’s paradise and ideal for a family holiday.
From coastal walks to quaint fishing villages and traditional seaside piers, the UK coastline has something for everyone. If you’re a keen walker, Britain’s coast paths are a delight to explore and a great opportunity to spot coastal wildflowers and wildlife given the right time of year.
Why not plan your next UK holiday and head to the coast for a break filled with fresh sea air with our guide to the best coastal cottages, hotels and campsites to to stay.
Best coastal places to stay in Britain
Kearvaig Bothy, Cape Wrath, Scotland
Welcome to the end of the earth. If you want to escape to the wildest edge of Britain, make Kearvaig Bothy at Cape Wrath, in the extreme north-west of Scotland, your destination. It’s an epic journey to reach this otherworldly place; you’ll feel like you’re on a different planet when you finally hike or bike along the rough track that leads to this remote haven. Kearvaig is free and open to anyone, and just steps away from the front door is a gorgeous white-sand beach that looks like a Caribbean scene until you dip a toe in the ever-chilly water. Unlike some basic bothies, this is quite cosy – bring your own wood and you can bed down next to a crackling fire. www.mountainbothies.org.uk
Little Meadow Campsite, Ilfracombe, North Devon
This much-loved campsite has plentiful pitches and does allow campervans, but a clever use of grassy terraces means you’ll always feel you’ve got your own little private slice of it. All pitches have views to the blue waters and bright sailing boats of Combe Martin Bay, and there’s a well-stocked farm shop on site selling locally sourced goodies. As the name suggests, a wildflower meadow at the bottom of the campsite is the perfect place to picnic and gaze out to sea. Explore further afield by following a woodland trail that leads to Watermouth Harbour and delightful little boat café Storm in a Teacup. littlemeadow.co.uk
Harbour Houseboat, Bembridge Harbour, Isle of Wight
Bob your way to sleep aboard the Harbour Houseboat. You may not travel far while moored up to the Isle of Wight’s Bembridge Harbour, but that doesn’t matter when you can sit and gaze across the Solent from the deck. The outside of the boat, which is reassuringly nicknamed ‘Sturdy’, is sleek and simple but the inside feels like staying in a traditional coastal cottage, with squashy sofas, four bedrooms sleeping six people and a spacious kitchen complete with Rangemaster. There’s even a telescope on board for stargazing. The perfect sailing adventure for children, without having to actually sail anywhere. theharbourhouseboat.co.uk
The Scarlet Hotel Cornwall
This is a seaside hotel, but not as you know it. The smart, adults-only Scarlet manages to be both decadent and ecologically sensitive, with a thread of modern, sustainable design and contemporary art running through the building, most of which looks out through huge glass windows at Mawgan Porth beach. You can surf, swim and climb the coastal paths from the door, but be warned: it’s a bit of a wrench to leave the calm cocoon of the hotel, where there’s a restaurant serving food made from local ingredients, an indoor pool and spa, a seaweed-strewn natural outdoor pool and, best of all, two outdoor wooden hot tubs on a perch above the beach. www.scarlethotel.co.uk
Eilean Shona Loch Moidart, west coast of Scotland
Escape to your very own Scottish island – kind of. “A wild, rocky, romantic island it is too. It almost taketh the breath away,” wrote JM Barrie of Eilean Shona, after a summer spent on the island inspired him to immortalise it in Peter Pan. The island that became the fictional Neverland boasts empty white-sand beaches with jetties to jump off, shallow clear waters to go crabbing in and a car-free forested interior where you might spot red deer and pine martens among the trees. There are a handful of cottages to rent on Eilean Shona, but all occupy their own little secret spots on the island. A coastal adventure the Lost Boys would be proud of. eileanshona.com
Troytown Farm Campsite, Isles of Scilly
Pitch your tent and wake up to what is possibly the finest view from a campsite in Britain. Troytown Farm – on the subtropical and car-free island of St Agnes in the Scilly archipelago – is a short hop by ferry but a world away from mainland Britain. The campsite is charmingly simple; three wide, grassy fields slope gently down to the ocean, and at the edge of the farm is a perfect sandy beach where you can swim, launch a kayak or lie in a hammock strung between two boulders. Wander shady lanes, catch a boat to the other islands and try the farm’s homemade ice cream. troytown.co.uk
Whitby Lighthouse, Yorkshire
Ever idly dream of upping sticks and moving to a lighthouse? Few in Britain are staffed by lighthouse keepers these days, but many are now becoming holiday homes where you can sample life in the thrall of the sea, at least for a little while. Staying in one of the two cottages beside this lighthouse on the wild Yorkshire cliffs feels like being miles from anywhere, but when you do leave the pared-back comfort of the cottage, the Cleveland Way walking trail runs right past the door and delightful Whitby is only five minutes away if you get desperate for a fish-and-chip supper. ruralretreats.co.uk
The Art House B&B, Isle of Skye, Scotland
You have to commit to getting to the Art House on the Isle of Skye; it’s a drive down five miles of bumpy, sheep-strewn track to get to this lovely B&B. It’s all worth it once you reach the serene spot where Rob and Sally’s clapboard house faces out to moody Loch Eishort, with huge windows for spotting golden eagles in the mountains or watching the weather roll in. Inside, the house is full of artwork and quirky vintage finds. Sally and Rob know the best local hikes and the finest pubs to call into for a warming whisky. arthouse-skye.co.uk
Tan y Bwlch National Trust cottage, Gwynedd, North Wales
Was there ever a more perfect beachside bolthole for two? Tan y Bwlch, a 19th-century crofters’ cottage, was recently restored by the National Trust, with a careful eye for keeping history alive without making it feel like you’re staying in a museum display. The Grade-II-listed cottage on the Llŷn Peninsula may be on the miniature side, but it makes up for its small stature with enormous sweeping views across Porth Neigwl Bay. Walk along Abersoch or Porth Neigwl beaches in summer or sit by the inglenook fireplace and watch storms out to sea when the weather draws in. nationaltrust.org.uk
Treen, West Cornwall
Down a rough track, and sheltered by stone walls and scented gorse hedges, this simple patchwork of Cornish meadows straddles the cliffs above one of the best wild coves in Britain. It’s a tricky descent down to the beach but the pink sand bars and turquoise lagoons, combined with views of Logan Rock, make it worthwhile and keep the crowds at bay. There’s a good shop and a pizza van on Thursdays, and a little seasonal café and pub five minutes’ walk away. The only downside is that they take no bookings, so arrive early. www.treenfarmcampsite.com
Bedruthan Steps, Cornwall
Spacious and perfectly placed on the coast road between Padstow and Newquay, this seasonal campsite sits right on the cliff and has some of the best sea and sunset views in Cornwall. Bedruthen Steps beach is just below, an awesome mile-long stretch of low-tide sand with giant sea stacks and many lagoons and sea caves. Do take care though – this is the north Atlantic coast and currents are strong so you need to be aware of tide times and only swim if there is no swell. This is a basic campsite with only one hot shower and two loos, no other facilities, but there is a good tearoom at the National Trust car park. Campsite open July and August only. www.bedruthansteps.com
Best places to stay near the beach
Stay near the beach this summer with a break in one of these coastal retreats.
Rosehill Lodges, Porthtowan, Cornwall
Just five minutes’ walk from a fantastic Blue Flag sandy beach, Rosehill Lodges are the perfect Cornish retreat in the coastal village of Porthtowan. The local beach has great surf for the more adventurous and plenty of rock pools too.
The eco friendly lodges, each with its own private hot tub, has an out door lock-up that can house beach gear and also an outdoor drench shower and wet suit wash. Some lodges are dog-friendly. www.premiercottages.co.uk/cottages/rosehill-lodges
Rooke Cottages, near Padstow, Cornwall
Rooke Cottages are seven five-star properties ideally located to explore the coastline of North Cornwall. Both the sandy surfing beach of Polzeath and water sport beaches of Rock are nearby. Bikes can be hired for rides along the Camel Trail to the pretty fishing port of Padstow with its many restaurants including Rick Stein’s famous seafood restaurant. www.premiercottages.co.uk Dogs welcome.
Shore Cottage, Red Wharf Bay, Anglesey
Right on the shoreline, with direct access to the Anglesey coastal path and just a short walk from the sandy beach at Red Wharf Bay sits the aptly-named Shore Cottage. Much of the ground floor of this luxurious new three bedroom property is open-plan, with floor to ceiling windows looking out over the water’s edge, leading out to a large garden with patio and hot tub. There’s a great choice of beaches in the area, with plenty of safe bathing and rock-pooling, secluded little bays along the rugged coastline, as well as some of Anglesey’s finest surfing beaches only a short drive away. www.qualitycottages.co.uk
St Helens Coastal Resort – Isle of Wight
The relaxed pace of island life and stunning sandy beaches combine at St Helens Coastal Resort on the Isle of Wight. With a selection of two- and three-bedroom caravans available – including some with private hot tubs – the resort is 15 minutes’ walk from the national Trust managed Duver Beach and 25 minutes from the secluded Priory Bay Beach on the eastern side of the Isle of Wight. Caravans include all linen (except towels); private bathroom; full kitchen, separate living room and more, and accommodate six or eight people making this an ideal family getaway. www.pitchup.com
Ffynnon Wdig, Abereiddy, Pembrokeshire
With sweeping views across the Irish sea, Ffynnon Wdig is a traditional whitewashed cottage situated on a peaceful corner of St David’s Peninsula within reach of the Blue Lagoon and the Pembrokeshire Coast Path. The restored three-bedroom property retains its original exposed wooden beams and stone walls, complimented with contemporary unfussy furnishings, and a veranda accessible from the master bedroom. Originally a stopover for pilgrims en route to St David’s, the cottage is a short drive away from the medieval town, ideal for day trips to visit the famed cathedral and historic centre, as well as browse the independent shops, art galleries and restaurants.www.qualitycottages.co.uk
Fron Fawr Cottages, Pembrokeshire
A collection of five beautiful self-catering cottages, Fron Fawr is just five miles from North Pembrokeshire Coast and Cardigan Bay. Converted from traditional welsh slate and stone barns, the modern dog-friendly cottages are close to the famous Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion coastal paths, where Bottlenose dolphins and breath-taking views are plentiful. www.premiercottages.co.uk, Dogs welcome.
Quay View, New Quay, Cardigan Bay
Perched above the picturesque village of New Quay, with uninterrupted views of Cardigan Bay, Quay View is a Victorian terraced townhouse, just a short stroll from the sheltered harbour and seven mile-stretch of soft sandy beach. The stylish coastal home is tastefully furnished in a nautical theme, with designer interiors and an abundance of space, including an open-plan kitchen diner, bunk bedroom for children, and an extensive landscaped terrace garden with lawn and patio. The property makes a great base for boat trips out on the bay to spot seals and bottlenose dolphins, visits to the Georgian seaside resort of Aberaeron or exploring the nearby Cambrian Mountains by foot. www.qualitycottages.co.uk
Poppyland Holiday Cottages, Norfolk
Poppyland Holiday Cottages are ten individual properties in unspoilt rural and coastal North Norfolk. Overstrand beach, just a few minutes’ walk from six of the cottages is safe and sandy, ideal for walks to Cromer, building sandcastles, playing beach cricket and football and crab hunting. Wickmere and Aylmerton are quiet villages just a few minutes’ drive to the coast. www.premiercottages.co.uk
Unique Retreats, Yorkshire
Unique Retreats’ are five stylish cottages three miles from Whitby with its clean sandy beaches, cliff top walks, boutique shopping. The unspoilt fishing villages of Staithes and Robin Hoods Bay offering scrumptious fish and chips are also nearby.
Every one of Unique Retreats’ cottages is packed with luxury and designer inspired interiors plus, sumptuous furnishings and stone fireplaces or wood burners. www.premiercottages.co.uk, Dogs welcome.
Seaview Holiday Park, Kent
Two miles from both Whitstable and Herne Bay, the Seaview Holiday Park offers views of the Kentish coast, with waterside favourites including water sports, fresh oysters and more nearby to shape happy summer holiday memories. Ideal for families, there’s a Kids Club for ages five to 14 years, with an outdoor pool, games room and play areas to keep them entertained, plus family entertainment in the evenings. Available through Pitchup.com (www.pitchup.com), the family-sized Camping Pods – built in 2018 – comfortably hold two adults and two children, with shared bathroom.
Llanfendigaid Estate, Gwynedd
The Grade II* listed Llanfendigaid Estate is steeped in history and located close to the sea on one of the most attractive stretches of Welsh coastline at the southern end of the Snowdonia National Park.
On site is an indoor heated swimming pool and there is access to one of the more secluded beaches in the area. Nearby is the terminal of the Talyllyn Railway and Aberdyfi, with its excellent sailing, good pubs and five miles of golden sand and dunes. There are four cottages on the Llanfendigaid Estate sleeping between four and 17 guests. www.premiercottages.co.uk, Dogs welcome.
Canvas and Coast Incledon Farm, Devon
Surf is always up at Canvas and Coast Incledon Farm near Georgeham Village, in a North Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. There’s four top surfing beaches within 15 minutes’ drive and pubs within five minutes’ walk, making this a haven for the surfing community. The Museum of British Surfing in nearby Braunton is recommended for a visit, whilst ramblers can pick up the South West Coast path in Putsborough and cyclists can pedal National Cycle Route 278 then Route 27, meeting in Braunton for the Tarka Trail. The four-person Bell tents feature a double bed with two single airbeds, shared bathroom and bed linen included. Book online at Pitchup.com for a summer stay.
Field House Farm Cottages, Yorkshire
Close to the spectacular Yorkshire coastline and set in the rolling countryside is Field House Farm Cottages. The nearby coastal areas have unending variety with long sandy Blue Flag beaches, tiny coves and fascinating rock pools plus the mysterious caves and sheer chalk cliffs at Bempton, famously home to thousands of sea birds.
There are seven beautifully furnished four and five star cottages here, which sleep between two and six guests including two all ground floor properties. www.premiercottages.co.uk
Bulverton House, Devon
Only a mile from Sidmouth’s Jurassic Coastline, a beautiful regency town with great beaches, shops, restaurants and cafes sits the five star Bulverton House offering easy access to the myriad of footpaths along countryside and coastal routes.
Bulverton House offers three properties sleeping between two and four guests all offer weekly and shorter breaks. www.premiercottages.co.uk. Not suitable for Children or Pets.