This year, the weather has redefined ‘British summer’ – it’s hot, sweltering even, with clear blue skies and muggy air. At times like this, there’s nothing better than going for a swim – especially with the cool sea breeze to accompany it. In London, we forget how close the coast actually is (spoiler: it’s not that far). Here are the best beaches near London – to dream about and, ultimately, to venture to ASAP.
The Best Beaches Near London
This seaside town on the north coast of Kent – famous for its oyster festival – has a plethora of gorgeous beaches with equally gorgeous views. Try West Beach for a wander or Tankerton Beach for lovely beach huts and a paddle.
HOW? Take the train from St Pancras to Whitstable, changing at Faversham
Brighton, East Sussex
An obvious entry, but nevertheless effective. Though it’s a pebble beach and not sandy, Brighton beach is a lovely spot – and, of course, very close to London. Complete with the world famous pier and striped deck chairs galore, Brighton is a solid beach pick.
HOW? Take the train from London Bridge or Victoria to Brighton
Eastbourne, East Sussex
As Robbie said in Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging (2008), Eastbourne’s the new Brighton. Another Victorian retreat with pebble beach and beautiful pier, Eastbourne is Brighton’s quieter cousin, but no less charming.
HOW? Take the train from London Bridge to Eastbourne, changing at East Croydon
This, the second longest pier in England, is lined with classic rainbow beach huts – a dream, quintessentially British beach sight. Walk along the promenade or hop down to short beach for a paddle in the waters.
HOW? Take the train from Liverpool Street to Colchester Town, changing at Colchester, and then the 105 bus to Kino Road
Sunny Sands, Folkestone, Kent
With perfect sand for sand-castle building, Sunny Sands is a popular summer spot (although, dog owners, your pooch isn’t allowed on the beach between May and October). Soft sand and the possibility for rockpooling as well as nearby cafes, pubs, shops and – crucially – toilets make Sunny Sands an ideal beach daycation spot.
HOW? Take the train from London Bridge to Folkestone Central
Camber Sands, East Sussex
Rolling dunes, crystal clear waters, and sandy beaches (uncommon in Sussex), Camber Sands is a beautiful spot, regularly voted as one of Britain’s best.
HOW? Take the train from St Pancras to Rye, changing at Ashford International
Clacton Beach, Essex
For a classic British beach experience, Clacton Beach has it all: beach huts, a pier, arcade amusements, and plenty of sand to boot.
HOW? Take the Elizabeth Line to Stratford, then the train to Clacton-on-Sea
Botany Bay, Broadstairs, Kent
No, not that one. The UK’s answer to Australia’s famous beach isn’t quite as hot – or indeed famous – but it is still a lovely swim spot (and makes for a good Instagram geo-tag if you’d like to confuse your friends). Explore rock pools, go fossil hunting, or simply cool off in the gentle ocean waves.
HOW? Take the train from St Pancras to Margate
West Wittering Beach, East Sussex
With stunning views of Chichester Harbour, West Wittering Beach has impeccably clean waters. That, with the vast stretches of sandy beach, make this a top spot for swimming – though, being a little further from London, the journey will be slightly longer than other entries on this list.
HOW? Take the train from London Bridge to Chichester, changing at East Croydon, and then take the 52 bus to Old House At Home
Minnis Bay, Margate, Kent
Watersports lovers, this one’s for you. Windsurfing and sailing sessions are available at Minnis Bay in Kent, as is the lovely sandy beach, prime for sunbathing, strolling, sandcastle building, ball games, or just a humble paddle.
HOW? Take the train from St Pancras to Margate
Goring Beach, West Sussex
Calm waters for paddle boarders, and a shingle beach for sunbathers – what more could you want?
HOW? Take the train from London Bridge to Durrington-on-Sea, changing at East Croydon
Joss Bay, Broadstairs, Kent
For those classic, chalky white cliffs, Joss Bay is the answer. The dramatic cliff backdrop is accompanied by a lovely, 200 metre stretch of yellow sand beach – as well as beach cafe, deck chair hire and plenty of parking facilities.
HOW? Take the train from St Pancras to Broadstairs
Beaches Near London: Honorable Mentions
Ruislip Lido, West London
London’s very own beach, Ruislip Lido in West London has a little beach that gets jam-packed on sunny days. Note: Lido is a bit of a misnomer – swimming is technically not allowed here. But it’s nice for a waterside spot without having to leave the big smoke.
HOW? Take the Metropolitan Line to Northwood, then the 331 bus to Reservoir Road.
Frensham Beach, Surrey
Another lake beach, Frensham beach lines Frensham Pond near Farnham, a freshwater spot where swimming is allowed – and actually extremely popular. The sand is a lovely golden colour and there’s a sculpture park nearby, too.
HOW? Take the train from Waterloo to Farnham, then the 19 bus to St Mary’s School.
Featured image: Tankerton beach, Whitstable (via Getty)
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