Mersea Island, Essex

12 Of The Best Beaches Near London

Sun, sand and sea doesn’t have to require getting on a plane. We’ve rounded up some of the best beaches near London for those hot days when you want to flee the city.

Beaches in the UK aren’t reserved for hot days – a winter walk in also quite lovely.

If you visit in the summer, always (always!) leave early; you’re definitely not the only one with the idea and check the local council or the beach website to see what their rules are around dogs and BBQs.

All of our picks are no more than two and a half hours away from London and can be done a day trip. Pack a change of clothes and a bag to put your wet and sandy things in.

Check when high and low tide is so you can make the most of the day and don’t underestimate the power of the sun. Pack a good sun cream and reapply regularly. You can get sunburn in the UK too!

The Best Beaches Near London:

Ruislip Lido Beach

Never mind beaches near London, how about a beach in London?!

Ruislip Lido Beach

Ruislip Lido Beach is a reservoir and artificial beach in Ruislip, Hillingdon. It’s worth pointing out that swimming and boating are not allowed at the lake (visit one of London’s outdoor pools if you want to splash around) and on a hot day, it gets super busy.  

Kids will enjoy the climbing frames, play area, ice cream at the café and a ride on the miniature train around the lake.

Camber Sands, East Sussex

Camber Sands is one of the most popular beaches near London and for good reason.

There are over two miles of golden sandy beach and the area is home to the only sand dune system in East Sussex, which provides valuable natural habitat to many animals and plants. Keep an eye out for seals!

Camber Sands, East Sussex

The beach gets very busy so make sure your children are close to you at all times. If you get separated from the kids, Bexhill and Camber Sands beaches operate a wristband system to assist in reuniting lost children.

It’s worth taking the kids for a pitstop at the coastal office or speaking to beach patrol before you settle down on the beach for advice on how to make sure your visit is safe and enjoyable.

To make the beach a safer environment for the family, there is a ‘Water Sports Zone’ suitable for kite surfing and other water sports activities.

When you’re all beached out; try one of the areas fine-dining restaurants or see if you can find the scenes where The Monuments Men (starring George Clooney), Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk and Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything were filmed.

Brighton Beach

Brighton is a pebble beach so no building sandcastles here. Not sure who counted but apparently there are around 614,600,000 pebbles here.

Brighton Beach

Brighton is good for active teenagers – they can try kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, volleyball or Frisbee. If that all sounds like too much hard work, simply hire a deckchair and enjoy ice cream and some people watching.

Voted one of the Top 10 city beach break destinations in the world, the beach is home to Brighton Palace Pier and its helter-skelter and arcade games.

Pop next door for giant turtles, sharks and seahorses at Sea Life Brighton.

Sunny Sands, Kent

Also known as Folkestone beach, this sandy stretch of coastline is one of the closest sandy beaches to London.

Sunny Sands, Folkestone Kent

Facilities close by include cafés, pubs, shops and toilets.

Apparently, the sand here is great for making sandcastles. In fact, the sand is so good here it is home to the annual Folkestone sandcastle competition so come prepared with your best bucket and spade.

Frensham Beach, Surrey

Less than two hours away from London by train, this sandy beach faces onto Frensham Pond. The water quality is excellent and swimming is allowed.


You can sunbathe on the sand and swim in calm waters while the kids splash around on shallow edges, play with beach balls, build sandcastles and eat ice cream.

Once you’ve dried off, make a pitstop at The Sculpture Park.

Broadstairs Beach, Kent

There are lots of beaches in Kent but our favourites are Whitstable (great seafood but pebbly so best for a walk) and Broadstairs.

Broadstairs Beach, Kent

Broadstairs has Blue Flag sandy beaches; traditional amusement arcades; contemporary art galleries; and a whole host of restaurants, cafes, bars and bistros.

While you’re in Broadstairs, visit Dickens House Museum, Crampton House Museum and Lilyputt Mini Golf.

Walton-on-the-Naze, Essex

Another sandy beach only 90 minutes away so perfect for a day trip from London (by train), Walton-on-the-Naze is also home to the second longest pier in Great Britain.

Walton-on-the-Naze, Essex

Apparently, the sand here is the perfect consistency for building sandcastles.

The gently shelving sand provides safe bathing and there is a seasonal lifeguard service. Enjoy the classic seaside amusements and beachside cafés.

If you have a four-legged-friend, dogs are banned from areas of the beach from 1 May to 30 September.

Bournemouth, Dorset

A two hour train ride is more than worth it when you get to Bournemouth Beach.

The beach is a sprawling eleven miles long so it’s easier to find a secluded space. It has been named the UK’s most Family Friendly Destination for 2020. Clean, sandy beaches with a “friendly and vibrant” feel is how voters described the Dorset-based beach, home to several Blue Flag award-winning stretches.

To avoid the crowds, use the free BCPBeachCheck app. It has a live traffic light system using the latest technology to help visitors and residents avoid busy hotspots.


Bournemouth town has gone back to its smuggling roots with Smugglers Cove Adventure Golf, an 18-hole course that takes players on a treacherous journey through the 1700s and 1800s.

Smugglers Cove Bournemouth
(c) BCP Tourism

The adventure course is entirely smuggler themed with some holes relating to Bournemouth stories and landmarks, such as ‘Decoy Cottage’ and ‘Gulliver’s Chine’ – all in keeping with the town’s famous smuggling past.

Players can choose whether to be part of the lawless Moonshadow Gang or a fearless Red Coat as they make their way through waterfalls, old churches and perhaps hidden treasure.

The course will be open all year round, 7 days a week from 10 am daily, with prices ranging from £6.60 for children and £9.60 for adults to group bookings for £36.00.

West Wittering Beach, West Sussex

90 minutes from London, this charmingly named beach has amazing views of Chichester Harbour, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty packed with wildlife.


Botany Bay, Kent

Quite possibly the most instagrammed beach on our list, Botany Bay (no relation to its Australian namesake) has stunning white cliffs.

Take the kids to explore the rock pools.

Mersea Island, Essex

Another stunning beach, careful planning is required as Mersea Island gets cut off from the mainland at high tide.

Mersea Island, Essex

Try the sunny South Beach for a beach seaside day out only one hour away from London. Make your stay that much more pleasurable and hire one of the beach huts that line the sandy beach.

Minnis Bay, Kent

Perfect for water sports, windsurfing and sailing, the beach disappears at high tide.

minnis bay - one of the best beaches near London

Where do you think are the best beaches near London?


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