These British beauties deliver a delightful dose of sand, sea, and, if you’re lucky, some sun.
1. Southwold, Suffolk
A lighthouse, a thriving pier, and row upon row of beach huts – Southwold has everything you would expect from the archetypal seaside town. Bucking the national trend and then some, Suffolk’s sleepy seaside towns have ushered in a purple patch for the county’s tourism industry, which hit £2 billion per annum in 2018.
But the secret to Southwold’s success lies in its wild cards. Adnams Brewery ensures the smell of hops wafts across the beach each morning, while nearby Henham Park hosts Latitude Music Festival every July. If that’s not enough, you can admire the 15th century St. Edmund’s Church, or take a turn around the Amber Museum (the fossilised resin, not the colour).
2. St. Ives, Cornwall
There are four Tate galleries in the United Kingdom: Two are in London, one is in Liverpool, and the other is in St. Ives.
There aren’t many towns in the country that punch so far above their weight, and with the Barbara Hepworth Museum too, St. Ives is a culture vulture’s paradise.
But it’s much more than its museums. Wander the cobbled streets of ‘Downalong’ – a labyrinthine neighbourhood of fishermen’s cottages – then pad through the gleaming sands of the eminently swimmable Porthminster Beach.
3. Llandudno, North Wales
With a giant, two-pronged pleasure pier, a blue flag beach (the West Shore), and widely available donkey rides, Llandudno is the jewel of the North Welsh coast. The historic tramway or cable car can take you to the top of Great Orme – Llandudno’s resident mini-mountain, which offers panoramic views across town, harbour and sea.
More unusual is the town’s connection with Lewis Carroll – Llandudno hosted the holiday home of Alice Liddell, the supposed inspiration for Alice In Wonderland. The home is no longer standing, but visitors can enjoy the Alice In Wonderland Trail, including statues of Tweedledum and Tweedledee, the White Rabbit, and the Mad Hatter.
4. Saltburn-by-the-Sea, North Yorkshire
A quintessential Victorian pleasure spot that rocketed in popularity with the construction of the Stockton and Darlington Railway, Saltburn’s 1,500ft pier was built with a steamship landing stage and turns 150 this year. Stacked to the brim with old English charm, Saltburn also hosts the mysterious Yarnbombers, a group of woollen Banksy-types whose intricate knitted designs materialise on the pier apparently at random.
The town’s signature sight is the Saltburn Cliff Lift – a 19th century funicular railway that connects town and pier, which is still in regular use.
5. Newcastle, Northern Ireland
No, not that Newcastle. This Newcastle stands on the pebble-dashed coast of the Irish Sea, below the looming figure of Northern Ireland’s highest peak, Slieve Donard. There are sights in all directions: Dunes and beaches on one side, hiking routes through the Mourne Mountains on the other.