Lifestyle

22 Beautiful Beaches Near London For A Seaside Day Trip

Looking for a sunny getaway, but can’t afford the flight? Beach, please! There are plenty of stunning beaches within two hours of London, and with the news that London is currently hotter than Barcelona, we think why the hell not make the most of it? So grab your flip flops and sunnies for a day trip to one of these beauties. (For a swim in the city, check out our guide to London’s best lidos and wild swimming spots.) Don’t forget the suncream though!

Beaches in London

Yep, there really is a beach in London…

1. Ruislip Lido Beach, West London

The sunny inland beach at Ruislip in London, England
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Believe it or not, the closest beach to London is actually on the Piccadilly Line! In Ruislip, West London, a 700-acre woodland nature reserve is home to a gorgeous natural lake, with a genuine sandy beach. Woodland trails, a miniature train, and pirate ship for kids are also on offer, but despite what you may see in the photo above, swimming is technically not permitted. There is, however, a very cool miniature train that’ll whizz you around the lake! Nearest stations are Ruislip and Northwood Hills, both in Zone 6 – it’s then a 20-minute walk. It does get pretty busy when the sun is out mind. Find out more here.

Beaches near London – Surrey

Landlocked Surrey may not have any seaside spots, but there’s one excellent beachy place in the heart of this tranquil county.

2. Frensham Beach

Another unlikely landlocked beach near London, this sandy spot faces onto Frensham Pond in the midst of a large common near Farnham. The water quality here is rated excellent, and you’re allowed to swim; there’s also a brilliant and bizarre sculpture park with 600 statues to explore within walking distance. It’s also one of the best wild swimming spots around London, although do be aware of the fact that it’s quite popular with nudists…

Approximately one and three-quarter hours from London (train from Waterloo to Farnham, then a 19 bus to St. Mary’s School and walk. Or for taxis and drivers, bang GU10 2QB into the satnav).

Beaches near London – Kent

Some of the closest beaches near London can be found barely an hour away in Kent. Here are our favourites!

3. Whitstable

Sun and sand at Whitstable Beach in Kent
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Wonderful Whitstable is famous for seafood, but the beaches aren’t to be missed either. Within Whitstable itself, West Beach is a lovely spot for a wander, whilst Tankerton Beach, a little further east, offers unspoiled views of the sea and sky. Top it off with fresh seafood, and you’ve got a picture perfect day out.

Approximately one and a half hours from London (train from St Pancras/Cannon Street/Victoria to Whitstable).

4. Sunny Sands

People enjoying themselves on the beach in Sunny Sands near Folkestone
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Regarded as one of the best beaches in the country for building sandcastles, you’d better pack your bucket and spade for this one. The clue’s in the name: it’s sandy, which makes it a bustling place in summer. Sadly though, your four-legged friend won’t be coming along, because dogs are banned from May to October. At least you can hang out with the mermaid statue as a consolation prize.

Approximately one hour from London (train from St Pancras to Folkestone Central).

5. Botany Bay

People enjoying themselves on Botany Bay beach in Kent, England
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Not to be confused with Botany Bay, Australia, this Kentish charmer is drop-dead gorgeous. Those imposing white cliffs have featured in many a ‘gram over the years, and it remains one of the most photographed beaches in the UK. Explore the rock pools for little sea creatures, or go fossil hunting to find something more impressive.

Approximately two hours from London (train from Kings Cross St Pancras/Cannon Street to Margate).

6. Dungeness

A boat on Dungeness Beach at sunset in Kent, England
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A stone’s throw away from Camber Sands, you’ll find this place, which stands out amongst our beaches near London for its stark beauty. The largest expanse of shingle in Europe, Dungeness isn’t exactly the bathing costume and ice cream kind of beach. The attraction here is a bleak, striking kind of sort, as the vista is littered with ramshackle fisherman’s huts, a nuclear power station, and a set of concrete towers used to listen for incoming aircraft in the 1930s. Elegantly eerie.

Approximately one hour from London (train from St Pancras to Rye).

7. Minnis Bay

Sweeping sands at Minnis Bay in Kent, England
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A good spot for watersports, is Minnis Bay. Whether you try you hand at windsurfing, or a more sedate session of sailing, Minnis Bay will keep you entertained. A massive expanse of beach will disappear at high tide, but until then, you’ve have time enough for fun in the sun.

Approximately one and a half hours from London (train from St Pancras/Cannon Street/Victoria to Birchington-on-Sea).

8. Viking Bay

Golden sands and waves crashing at Viking Bay beach in Broadstairs
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The sweeping beach nestled between the cliffs of Broadstairs is just one attraction of this seaside town, once a favourite destination of Charles Dickens. Its town-centre location means it’s never short of visitors, but if you can snag a spot on the golden sands, you’ll be very happy indeed.

Approximately one and a half hours from London (train from St Pancras to Broadstairs).

9. Joss Bay

A sandy beach with plenty of sunshine at Joss Bay in England
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Another beach found on the tip of Kent, between Margate and Ramsgate, Joss Bay is a true stunner. Charming houses are nestled atop the chalky white cliffs, and the expanse of golden sand is like going to Cornwall without the train journey. Pick a sunny day and make this your top choice!

Approximately two hours from London (train from St Pancras to Broadstairs, then the number 33 bus).

10. Greatstone Beach

A swathe of sand and dunes at Greatstone Beach in England, one of the beaches near London in this roundup
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Just around the headland from Dungeness is Greatstone Beach, another underappreciated gem. A sandy beach reminiscent of another neighbour, Camber Sands, Greatstone Beach boasts windswept dunes and an endless horizon where the English Channel disappears into the distance.

Approximately two hours from London (train from St Pancras to Ashford International, then a pair of buses to the beach).

Beaches near London – Sussex

Whether to East Sussex or West Sussex, you’ll find beaches aplenty to soak up the sun and brave a dip in the English waters.

11. Brighton

People sunning themselves on Brighton Beach in Brighton, England
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London’s smaller, wannabe-edgy cousin, does have us beat on one front: the beaches. Wander along the pebbly beach, go paddle boarding, grab an ice cream (obviously), or brave the crowds on the world famous pier. Expect this one to be busy on sunny days, but the beach is surely big enough for you to nab a spot and go paddling.

Approximately an hour from London (train from London Bridge/Victoria to Brighton).

12. Camber Sands, East Sussex

Sunny weather at Camber Sands beach in England
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Regularly voted as one of the best beaches in England, Camber Sands is so beautiful, it’s even featured in Hollywood films. A five-mile stretch of sand, backed by rolling sand dunes, you can definitely up your sandcastle game here. Alternatively, take kitesurfing lessons for no other reason than to look like a badass.

Approximately one hour from London (train from St Pancras to Rye).

13. Eastbourne, East Sussex

The long beach and pier in Eastbourne, one of the beaches near London in this roundup
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The resort town of Eastbourne was another favoured Victorian seaside retreat; here, you’ll find a historic pier, numerous sea front hotels, and a rather charming beach. It’s also not far from the utterly enchanting Beachy Head, which is as impressive a view as you’ll get on the south coast.

Approximately one and a half hours from London (train from London Bridge/Victoria to Eastbourne).

14. Climping Beach, West Sussex

Groynes and a pebble beach at the beautiful Climping Beach
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Forget the sandcastles here, because Climping Beach is mostly pebbles. It makes sunbathing a stretch, but this one will certainly be quieter than others on this list, so a seaside wander and a cheeky picnic are in the offing. The only warning I’d give is that, in the fight against beach erosion, the authorities installed a series of groynes, so the less mature in your party may spend their time sniggering at that. Goes with the territory, I suppose.

Approximately two hours from London (train from Victoria to Littlehampton).

15. West Wittering Beach, West Sussex

An expansive beach and bright blue skies at West Wittering in West Sussex, England
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For starters, it’s called West Wittering. Isn’t that just the most charming name? Aside from the name, this beach offers stunning views of Chichester Harbour, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty filled with an abundance of wildlife. It also has some of the cleanest waters of any beach on this list, so if you’re brave enough for a dip in British waters, this is the spot.

Approximately one and a half hours from London (train from Victoria to Chichester).

16. Goring Beach, West Sussex

A dog-friendly beach all year round (although between May and September they’re limited to the stretch outside the Sea Lane cafe), Goring Beach is unsurprisingly a popular option. Paddleboarders are a common sight if the waters are calm, and the shingle beach attracts plenty of sunbathers when the sun shines.

Approximately one and a half hours from London (train from Victoria to West Worthing).

17. Littlehampton West Beach, West Sussex

Stairs down to the beach in West Sussex, one of the beaches near London in this roundup
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The East Beach, located on the town seafront, may get more of the traffic, but Littlehampton’s West Beach is arguably the superior option. Wander through the dunes, and you’ll find a stretch of beach that swaps the amusement arcades for unfiltered views of sun, sea, and sand.

Approximately two hours from London (train from Victoria to Littlehampton).

Beaches near London – Dorset

Dorset is a little further afield for a beachy day trip, but there’s one incredible beach we just couldn’t miss off…

18. Bournemouth

Beaches
[Ian Southwell]

As beaches go, you won’t find bigger than this one. Bournemouth Beach is a whopping eleven miles long, so it’s easy enough to escape the crowds here. Amongst golden sands of spots like Sandbanks, you’ll also find shops, gardens, hotels, and restaurants. Heaven is just a train ride away…

Approximately two hours from London (train direct from Waterloo to Bournemouth).

Beaches near London – Essex

It’s not all about the South Coast, you know! Essex sports a range of brilliant beaches, and they’re easy to reach on a train ride from London.

19. Walton-on-the-Naze

Colourful beach huts and a sandy beach at Walton on the Naze
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Lots to do here in Walton: wander along the second longest pier in England, climb the Naze Tower, or hire one of their luridly colourful beach huts. In a seaside town brimming with history, a day out here is the perfect chance to make some memories of your own.

Approximately one and a half hours from London (train from Liverpool Street to Walton-on-the-Naze).

20. Mersea Island

The famous beach huts at Mersea Island in Essex, one of the beaches near London in this roundup
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You’ll need to plan carefully to reach this one, as Mersea Island gets cut off from the mainland at high tide. The sunny South Beach is perhaps the best place to visit for a beachy day out, with the beach huts along Victoria Esplanade adding a splash of colour to proceedings. The island even has a vineyard, so you know where to head if you get thirsty!

Approximately one hour from London (train from Liverpool Street to Colchester).

21. Clacton Beach

The pier with fairground rides and golden sands at Clacton On Sea
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Clacton-on-Sea boasts one of the best beaches on the Essex coast, and if it’s classic British holiday vibes you’re after, you’ll find them here. Once you’re tired of being sandcastles on the beach (if you’re tired of sandcastles), you can stroll along the Marine Parade or wander out on Clacton Pier for arcade amusements and adventure golf. The beach huts are cute, too!

Approximately one hour forty minutes from London (train from Liverpool Street to Clacton-on-Sea).

22. Jaywick Beach

Bright yellow sands at Jaywick Beach in the UK
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Down the coast from Clacton-on-Sea is another charming, slightly quieter beach. Jaywick Beach features grass dunes and breakwaters to protect it from the worst of the tides, and is overlooked by a row of Martello towers that once helped defend the English channel. With holiday villages found right nearby, however, it can be a busy one on summer weekends.

Approximately two hours from London (train from Liverpool Street to Clacton-on-Sea, then a bus).



Also published on Medium.