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Best Beaches Near London Which are Perfect for Families
Beaches in the UK are completely underrated. When we think of a beautiful coastal escape and soft sand we often think of a holiday abroad. However, there are great beach escapes for a family break right at our doorstep, here in the UK. Many of which are just an hour or two from London, making it a perfect family staycation UK holiday. Here are some of the best beaches near London for a family break when you fancy escaping the hustle and bustle of London city life and just wish to relax and sunbathe. Or if you’re feeling adventurous and active, you can boost your adrenaline with watersports, build sandcastles with your kids, and discover some beautiful nature reserves.
Best Beaches Near London Perfect for Watersports
If watersports are your thing, here are the best beaches in the UK to hit the waves and explore the sea.
1: Thorpe Bay Beach, Southend-On-Sea
Thorpe Bay, an ideal family beach in Southend-on-Sea, is a great place to swim because of its quaint beach huts and Blue Flag rating for cleanliness and safety. 75 minutes from London, this UK beach is not only of exceptional quality, but it also offers a variety of watersports such as windsurfing and kayaking, ensuring an action-packed day out. You won’t go hungry either, thanks to cafés that open directly onto the beach. Thorpe Bay is a great place for a family break and outing, especially if you fancy taking to the water too!
2: West Wittering, West Sussex
This beach is part of the privately-owned West Wittering Estate, which is included in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Local citizens established the area in the 1950s to protect the beach and waterways for public pleasure, and they continue to do so today. This huge sandy beach, which has received the famous Blue Flag Award for cleanliness, provides family-friendly sports such as windsurfing and kite surfing. Truly one of the best beaches in UK, just under two hours from London.
3: Brighton Beach, Brighton
A family favourite is Brighton Beach, although 47 miles from London, it is considered London’s beach to many locals! A pebble beach with certified Blue Flag waters and a 4-mile promenade, Brighton Beach is extremely popular throughout the year, making it one of the best beaches near London and the UK’s most famous beach. Brighton beach is a great place to visit if you enjoy windsurfing, sailing, kayaking, stand-up paddle-boarding, and wakeboarding. So if you are in the mood to get your adrenaline pumping, Brighton beach is just for you!
Best Beaches In The UK For Building Sandcastles
Now let’s talk about those quintessentially British sand-castle building destinations!
1: Sunny Sands, Kent
This is a beautiful and unique beach, as it is one of the few beaches with pure white sand near London. The sand is so wonderful, that the Folkstone Sandcastle Building Competition is held here every year! What better place to take your kids for some fun sandcastle building than Sunny Sands? It is extremely popular with families making for a great family break.
2: Southbank Beach, Southbank Centre
With its 85 tonnes of sand, Southbank beach is a terrific spot to take the kids for a full day of building sandcastles! Southbank in general has a lot to offer, from the Underbelly festival to food and market stalls, but this urban beach right in London, is a must-see for some delicious relaxation in the sun – an understated family break.
3: Camber Sands, East Sussex
Daytrippers from London love going to this massive stretch of sand on the Kent coast. It’s a family favourite as it’s idyllic for building sandcastles. It’s one of the nicest sandy beaches near London, and because it’s so big, you won’t feel crowded even during the peak summer season. Just under 2 hours from London, Camber Sands is a UK beach right next door to one of the most beautiful small towns in England, Rye, which is totally worth visiting while you’re there too.
4: Walton-On-The-Naze, Essex
90 minutes from London, this family-friendly beach in Essex on the North Sea boasts a Blue Flag and gently shelving beaches for safe swimming. The golden sands are perfect for building sandcastles, while the Red Crag cliffs are ideal for fossil hunting – making it a great day out for the whole family.
Take a walk along the pier before indulging in fish and chips and take a ride on the dodgems. Don’t forget to visit Naze Tower for spectacular views of the coast. It was originally created as a navigational aid in 1720 and currently houses an observation platform, an art gallery, a museum, and a tea restaurant. Walton-On-The-Naze seriously has some family staycation UK vibes!
Explore Nature Reserves And Learn History at These Beaches
Best UK beaches for history buffs and those who love the great outdoors.
1: Shoreham Beach, West Sussex
On hot weekends, Brighton Beach is packed, whereas Shoreham Beach, just down the road, is rarely crowded. It’s also a lot easier to get a parking spot here. 90 minutes from London, this pebble and shingle stretch is ideal for picnics and beach walks. You can stroll east along the boardwalk to old Shoreham Fort or west to Lancing along the coast path. Kitesurfers love it, and it’s also a UK beach with a designated local nature reserve that your whole family can explore.
2: Church Norton, Selsey
This beach is one of the wildest on the south coast, yet it’s only a short distance from Bognor Regis. Just 90 minutes from London, the shingle shore continues for more than a mile, with spits extending out into the sea. The mudflats of Pagham Harbour Nature Reserve lie behind you, providing a haven for millions of migrating and wading birds. St Wilfred’s Chapel and the ruins of a Norman castle mound and moat can be seen on the way to the beach – making it an educational trip, perfect for those history enthusiasts and a great outing for a family break.
3: St Margaret’s at Cliffe, Dover
Just 80 minutes from London, this little shingle bay is located directly beneath Dover’s iconic white cliffs. The Coastguard, its own tavern, features tables facing the sea. At the southern end of the beach, you can see the ruins of Napoleonic wall defences and World War II gun turrets; in reality, the cliffs conceal a network of underground tunnels that may be explored with head lamps. The Pines Garden, with cascades, lakes, and a café, is located above. This is a UK beach you do not want to miss!
4: Ruislip Lido, West London
Within 45 mins you can be exploring a 700-acre woodland nature reserve in Ruislip, West London. It is home to a beautiful natural lake with a magnificent sandy beach. There are also woodland pathways, a small railroad, and a pirate ship for little ones to enjoy. However, swimming is strictly prohibited. Picnics are allowed on the willow lawn, along the shore, and in other locations surrounding the Lido, so there’s lots to do.
5: Hastings Beach, East Sussex
Aside from the lovely pebble and sand on this UK beach, Hastings is home to Europe’s biggest beach-launched fishing fleet, the remnants of William the Conqueror’s first castle in England, and a restored Old Town. Hastings has all the credentials of a Great British coastal town, with large whitewashed Edwardian hotels and a two-layered promenade. Just under two hours from London, It’s a great place to learn about history – there is even a fine Victorian pier.
So as you can see, you don’t necessarily need to hop on a plane to experience beautiful sandy beaches and adrenaline-pumping watersports. These best beaches near London are great ways to stay local and truly soak up and relish the very breathtaking and scenic views of a UK beach – including great family packed activities. Anytime your kids fancy building some sandcastles, you’ll know exactly where to go!