The best beaches near London aren’t far from the capital. You don’t have to travel too far to enjoy some sun and salty sea air. Each spot is unique, ranging from idyllic coastal towns to golden sandy beaches bustling with activity.

Make the most of a clear day by soaking in the sunshine, taking a refreshing dip or enjoying a sumptuous meal at a waterfront cafe. These seaside escapes are all easily accessible from London via automobile, train or bus.

  • 1

    Brighton Beach, East Sussex

    One of the most well-known beaches near London

    Brighton Beach, East Sussex
    • Budget
    • Families

    This pebbled shoreline is one of the most popular beach destinations in the UK. The chilly waters are perfect for cooling off on warmer days. Thrill-seekers can choose from an array of marine activities, such as sailing, kayaking and windsurfing. There’s also a free wading pool for children.

    Brighton Beach is not just about the sea and sand – you can enjoy the rides at Palace Pier, a waterfront amusement park, or peruse the impressive selection of eateries nearby. The beach is located about an hour’s train ride from London. Expect plenty of crowds on sunny weekends and vacations.

    Location: 4 Madeira Dr, Brighton BN2 1ET, UK


  • 2

    Bournemouth Beach, Dorset

    A sandy beach tucked under a cliffline

    Bournemouth Beach, Dorset
    • Budget
    • Families

    This long stretch of sandy beach sits under a line of cliffs and offers beautiful views of the Isle of Wight and Purbecks. Hop on a Victorian Cliff Elevator that will take you up and down the cliffs, or you can choose to walk along the zigzag paths to access the beach.

    Bournemouth Beach provides all kinds of facilities for beachgoers – you will be able to rent barbecue equipment, deck chairs, sun loungers and parasols. The beach is lined with waterfront restaurants and cafes, so food options are aplenty. It’s located about a 2-hour train ride from London.

    Location: Undercliff Rd, Bournemouth BH1 3NZ, UK


  • 3

    Camber Sands, Sussex

    Unspoiled sand dunes and wildlife

    Camber Sands, Sussex
    • Budget
    • Families

    Camber Sands boasts an 8-kilometre stretch of sandy beach and the only sand dune system in East Sussex. The breezy climate makes it perfect for water sports like kitesurfing and windsurfing. The most popular section of the beach is near the mouth of the River Rother.

    The area is also home to a plethora of flora and fauna, including marram grass, sea buckthorn, lizards and butterflies. After a day of seaside fun, pay a visit to the charming mediaeval town of Rye, known for its cobblestone paths and historic buildings. Camber Sands is about 2 hours from London.

    Location: Lydd Rd, Rye TN31 7SB, UK


  • 4

    Tankerton Beach, Kent

    A picture-perfect shingle beach with colorful huts

    Tankerton Beach, Kent
    • Budget
    • Families

    Tankerton is a shingle beach recognizable by its colorful wooden beach huts and grassy promenade. A natural causeway protrudes from the beach at low tide – it’s perfect for a leisurely stroll to observe rock pools and marine life.

    Spend the day bathing and sunbathing or enjoy a picnic on the grassy slopes. High Street, located nearby, is dotted with fish and chip eateries and souvenir shops. You can also enjoy a delectable meal and beverages at the Marine Hotel, which sits right on the beach.

    Location: Tankerton Rd, Whitstable CT5 2BE, UK


  • 5

    West Wittering, Chichester

    A pleasant seaside escape

    West Wittering, Chichester
    • Budget
    • Families

    Shallow waters and golden sandy beaches make West Wittering a hit with beachgoers. Sunbathe and paddle as you soak in the views – the Isle of Wight and Portsmouth are visible on fine days. This spot is also popular for water sports such as surfing, kitesurfing and windsurfing.

    Birdwatchers flock to West Wittering during migratory season to observe birds such as the dunlin and great white egret. If you have time to spare, pay a visit to the village proper which is dotted with old churches, traditional pubs and souvenir shops.

    Location: The Estate Office, Pound Rd, West Wittering, Chichester PO20 8GH, UK


  • 6

    Mersea Island, Essex

    Delectable oysters and pastel-coloured beach huts

    Mersea Island, Essex
    • Budget
    • Families

    Visitors flock to Mersea Island for its delectable oysters and crabs, pastel-coloured beach huts and photogenic views. You won’t run out of things to do on the west side of the island, where you’ll find shops, restaurants and guesthouses. Spend the day kayaking or windsurfing, join a boat tour or go crabbing.

    History buffs can drop by the Mersea Island Museum to learn more about the locale. The eastern part of the island is home to a nature reserve with swaths of untouched meadows, marshes and cliffs that contain ancient fossils. Mersea Island is about 2 hours from London.

    Location: 401 Victoria Malecon, West Mersea, Colchester CO5 8AT, UK


  • 7

    Dungeness East, Kent

    Britain’s only desert

    Dungeness East, Kent
    • Families
    • Unusual

    Dungeness East is unlike any other beach – this stark coastal landscape is Britain’s one and only desert. Two towering lighthouses and a massive nuclear power station lend it an even more surreal quality. Several movies and TV shows have been shot in this otherworldly spot.

    Dungeness East may seem desolate at first glance, but it's actually home to an impressive variety of plants and animals. Its shingle ridges provide habitats for insects and spiders. If you are lucky, you may even be able to spot gray seals or dolphins out in the waters.

    Location: Romney Marsh TN29 9NB, UK

  • 8

    Cuckmere Haven, Sussex

    Iconic views of white chalk cliffs and historic cottages

    Cuckmere Haven, Sussex
    • Families
    • Photo

    Cuckmere Haven is a serene shingle and pebble beach that sits against the backdrop of white chalk cliffs known as the Seven Sisters. Historic coastguard cottages add to this spot’s idyllic charm. Thanks to its postcard-perfect view, Cuckmere Haven has been featured in big-name productions like Harry Potter and Robin Hood.

    This beach is right by the mouth of the Cuckmere River, a popular angling spot that yields catches like pike, carp and eels. It’s possible to swim across the river as the waters are shallow. There’s an abundance of wildlife – you can enjoy birdwatching and look out for fauna such as yellow-horned poppies and glasswort as you explore the scenic seaside.

    Location: Seaford BN25 4AR, UK

  • 9

    Main Sands, Ramsgate

    Sandy beaches next to a Royal Harbor

    Main Sands, Ramsgate
    • Budget
    • Families

    Main Sands boasts golden sandy beaches flanked by towering chalk cliffs. It is situated next to the only Royal Harbor in the UK. This spot is perfect for families as it features rides for kids, arcades, ice cream kiosks and fish and chip joints. Deck chairs, sun loungers and parasols are available for hire.

    Enjoy a peaceful stroll to Pegwell Bay Nature Reserve to observe the dynamic salt marsh and sand dune landscape or walk along the cliffs to Broadstairs as you admire the seaside views. Main Sands is in close proximity to the town center, where you will find plenty of eateries and shops.

    Location: Ramsgate CT11 8LP, UK


  • 10

    Ruislip Lido, West London

    A pristine lakeside beach

    Ruislip Lido, West London
    • Budget
    • Families

    Ruislip Lido is a pristine lake hemmed by sandy beaches and lush woodland. It offers plenty of opportunities for fun and recreation. Spend the day feeding ducks and geese, stroll along the tranquil nature trails or enjoy a picnic by the lake.

    This spot is perfect for families with children as it has a pirate ship-themed playground and an onsite water park. Note that bathing in the lake is not permitted. Ruislip Lido is easily accessible from London via the Metropolitan line and Piccadilly line.

    Location: Reservoir Road, Ruislip HA4 7TX, UK

    Open: January–February: 9 am to 4 pm. March: 9 am to 5 pm. April: 9 am to 6 pm. May–August: 9 am to 9 pm. September: 9 am to 7pm. October: 9 am to 5 pm. November–December: 9 am to 4 pm.

    Phone: +44 (0)1895 556000