The Top 10 British Seaside Towns

One of Great Britain’s enduring tourist attractions lies in its many coastal resorts. Some are traditional, while others may surprise you in their diversity and rich culture and architecture. Here are ten of the very best from around the country.

10. Southwold

Southwold The Top 10 British Seaside Towns

It’s said that as you turn off the main A12 carriageway towards Southwold, you travel back in time by ten years for every mile. By the time you reach your destination, you really could be in the 1950’s. With its historic Victorian Pier, beautiful towering lighthouse and colourful beach huts it’s easy to see the appeal of Southwold.

This is seaside Britain at its unspoilt best with traditional shopping and entertainment. There are no gaudy amusement arcades, just quaint and quintessentially British attractions with some fascinating history. Don’t forget to visit the pier with curious coin-operated machines designed by the notorious Tim Hunkin.

9. Bournemouth

Bournemouth The Top 10 British Seaside Towns

It’s hard to identify one town as being the most typical British seaside resort but Bournemouth will certainly stake its claim. It’s certainly one of the busiest coastal locations with thousands heading here at the height of summer to spend time on its 7-mile stretch of golden sandy beaches.

That leads to busy beaches, but there is much to do besides from amusements and fairs to some spectacular beauty in the neighbouring Dorset countryside. It’s recently had £11 million spent on the seafront at Boscombe with the addition of designer beach ‘pods’, created by Wayne Hemingway, water sports academies, and bars and restaurants alongside a refurbished pier.

Bournemouth beat counterparts in Italy, France and Portugal to be voted one of Europe’s favourite beaches and you can see why. It’s also worth bearing in mind that in 2007, Dorset was voted the happiest place in Britain!

8. Llandudno

llandudno The Top 10 British Seaside Towns

It’s easy sometimes to assume that the best seaside towns lie in England, but that certainly isn’t the case. Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales are home to some spectacular coastal resorts and the Welsh town of Llandudno is one of the best.

This is the largest coastal town in Wales and was dubbed the “Queen of the Welsh Resorts” as long ago as the mid-19th century. In fact, one of its main attractions lies in the way Llandudno has preserved its Victorian heritage. Earlier this year the north Wales seaside resort was named the happiest place to live in Wales in a study of over 25K people.

7. Newquay

Newquay The Top 10 British Seaside Towns

One of the more popular and perhaps unexpected activities on parts of Britain’s coastline is surfing. The west coast in particular is home to some first class surfing locations but perhaps the most popular of these is Newquay in Cornwall.

This has been a well-known tourist location for many years but the increase in surfing has added to the town’s vibrancy as the surfing capital of the UK and this is a bustling and lively resort.

There are eight different beaches, all within walking distance of the town and another three within a short drive. All of the beaches have golden sands, ideal for those who like to ride the Atlantic rollers or just relax and catch some sun.

6. Porthpean, Cornwall

Porthpean The Top 10 British Seaside Towns

Nestling in the heart of the Cornish Riviera is one of the UK’s best kept holiday secrets. If you want unspoilt beauty from your seaside holiday then this is the place to be.

Porthpean offers wonderfully secluded beaches which are something of a nature reserve and while this is a tranquil spot, there is a choice of activities too so essentially the hamlet offers the best of everything.

5. Brighton

Brighton The Top 10 British Seaside Towns

For full on entertainment and bustling nightlife there are few places that can match the trendy Sussex coastal town of Brighton. The city became a major attraction with tourists when it was linked by rail to London in 1841 and it has remained hugely popular ever since.

Brighton is colourful, laid back but vibrant. It’s diversity and kooky bohemian air and rich influence of culture sets it apart from anywhere else. The city is compact and can be busy, but it’s balanced by many a café, bookshop, and wholefood store alongside its stunning picturesque architecture.

The seafront has bars, restaurants, nightclubs as well as the amusement arcade on the famous Brighton Pier. The beach is one of the cleanest in Britain and is home to a number of festivals throughout the year.

4. Sandwood Bay, Sutherland

Sandwood bay The Top 10 British Seaside Towns
Sandwood Bay.
Of Scotland’s main contenders, the best locations are likely to be found in the Sutherland region in the far north of the country. This is where you can experience Scotland at its wild and untamed best with rugged scenery hosting some beautiful sandy beaches.

Don’t expect too many diversions in the way of funfairs and amusement arcades; this is a coastal resort where nature dominates.

3. Wells-Next-The-Sea

Wells next the sea The Top 10 British Seaside Towns

Some of the best beaches in the UK lie on the coast of East Anglia where major deposition has led to vast expanses of sand that stretch for hundreds of yards. In the case of Wells, the North Sea is around a mile away from the town making this huge bay one of the most visited spots in Great Britain for holidaymakers.

The unique beaches across the county are supplemented by great bars and eateries as well as all the usual family fun that only the best seaside resorts can offer.

2. Southend on Sea

Southend The Top 10 British Seaside Towns

Southend, on the Essex coast has done much to build a better image after being accused of containing all the tawdry elements that some seaside towns can contain. The ageing and downmarket seafront has been transformed with bright new shopping arcades, restaurants and bars.

Southend is home to seven miles of award winning beaches, the longest pier in the world and more than 80 parks which are ideal for families.

A smart new airport is the final piece in the jigsaw and while all the usual seaside entertainment is still here, the town as a whole is back to its welcoming best.

1. Scarborough

Scarborough The Top 10 British Seaside Towns

The town of Scarborough in North Yorkshire has topped a host of polls in relation to the best seaside resort in Great Britain. Those views may not be shared by everyone of course, but perhaps more than anywhere else, Scarborough combines the very best of ‘British’. It’s also the original seaside resort, arriving in 18th century.

The Spa town has tradition and grand architecture, alongside the funfairs, amusements and modern shopping and eateries which mean that all the family can come and enjoy what for many is the most quintessentially British seaside town.

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