British seaside holidays are iconic. Windy beaches, Mr Whippys, arcades, seagulls and sandcastles… We all love them, but where are the best places to go? We’ve got the answers. Here are the 20 best seaside towns in the UK.

1. Tynemouth

things to do in tynemouth
Source: English Heritage

Location: Northeast coast

Tynemouth has lots of deep history as well as some gorgeous attractions, great shops and vibrant nightlife. It’s a charming seaside town with plenty of character and even has a castle for those history fans!

What is there to do? 

If you want to explore the city, visit the Tynemouth Market on a Saturday. It’s full of all sorts of weird and wonderful trinkets, you never know what you’re going to find.

Or if you’d like to explore the history, go up to the Tynemouth Priory and Castle site and explore the ruins of 8th-century castle.

Anyone looking for a more sea-based seaside trip, check out the Tynemouth aquarium. You can meet their cownose rays, seals,  and plenty of species of fish.

Or if you want to make the most of that Northern hospitality, visit Alfie and Fin’s Gin Bar.

2. Southwold

things to do in southwold
Source: Trip Advisor

Location: East Coast

Southwold has a beach-hut lined sandy seafront, perfect for those quintessential Instagram shots. It also has a lovely market town for you to explore.

What is there to do? 

Whilst visiting Southwold, why not check out their pier? There you can enjoy the arcade, the boardwalk restaurant, the 80’s Retro Room, and even the Wacky Walk of Mirrors! Or, take a visit underneath for the Under the Pier show.

If piers aren’t your thing, you could always check out the lighthouse. You can pay to climb the tower and take in the serene views of the east coast!

Alternatively, if you’re after a bit more excitement, then why not check out one of the brewery tours available at Adnams, or make your own gin there instead.

3. Cromer

things to do in cromer
Source: Norfolk and Norwich

Location: Norfolk

This traditional seaside resort is well known for its pier which has a theatre on it. The pier is Victorian and is where the only remaining traditional variety shows in the country still take place.

What is there to do? 

At Cromer, you can explore the gorgeous sandy beaches, search for fossils (and goats, if you look up on the cliffs), but you can also go and explore the town and surrounding areas. There, you’ll find things like BeWILDerwood and Hilltop Adventures.

Back in the town itself, you can enjoy everything Cromer has to offer, like the Sticky Earth Cafe where you can paint pottery and ceramics. Or you can take a look at Amazona Zoo and meet animals like a Tufted Capuchin and Great Horned Owl.

4. Whitstable

things to do in whitstable
Source: Essential Travel Guide

Location: Kent

Whitstable is known for fresh seafood, markets and plenty of quirky independent stores and galleries. It has a dog-friendly beach (with a pub on it!) and plenty of pretty scenery too. There is also the Whitstable Harbour which is a great place to explore.

What is there to do? 

As we said, Whitstable beach is definitely worth a visit. You and your four-legged pals can take a walk along the seafront and enjoy the sea, finishing your trek with a pint in the pub. Or you can take a look at the harbour if you fancy a bit of pure British seaside charm. Full of quirky shops and bobbing boats, it makes the perfect trip for those looking for something new or an Instagram pic or two.

If you’re a history nut, there’s also a castle in the town. You can take a visit to Whitstable Castle & Gardens to soak up all things historical.

5. Aberystwyth

things to do in aberystwyth
Source: Visit Mid Wales

Location: West Wales

In the middle of the Ceredigion coastline, Aber is one of the biggest towns in Mid Wales and is a diverse and vibrant place full of students and interesting people. With lots of independent shops and plenty of veggie and vegan restaurants, Aber is great for everyone.

What is there to do? 

If you want to try new things. take a visit to the Rheidol Riding Centre. The staff will help you on a horse and around the gorgeous scenery of Aberystwyth.

Or, if you fancy learning things and seeing some cute animals, go and visit the Borth Wild Animal Kingdom. There you can take a look at their lizards, snakes, big cats, crocodiles and meerkats.

For something a bit more unique, take a stroll to the Miner’s Trail in the Silver Mountain Exhibit. There you can explore the site and enter the Black Chasm (Wales’ scariest underground experience!).

6. Shanklin 

things to do in shanklin
Source: Flickr

Location: Isle of Wight

Shanklin is one of the most popular holiday destinations on the Isle of Wight. It has everything you could need for a day trip or holiday as a group of friends, a family or even a couple. There’s a long wide sandy beach, a wooded ravine and a proper charming seaside town.

What is there to do?

Shanklin has a whopping 3 mini gold courses on the Esplanade. You can choose from a pirate one, a dinosaur one or an indoor one. Why not do a tour of minigolf with your friends and see who is the ultimate champion?

You can also go and visit the Wildheart Animal Sanctuary (previously known as the Isle of Wight Zoo). The sanctuary specialises in lions and tigers, so if you’re a fan, go and visit to help in their conservation.

And of course, there is the beach, the arcades and all the little shops you get with seaside towns.

7. Hastings

things to do in hastings
Source: The Times

Location: South East Coast

Hastings has the mix of traditional seaside charm and the hustle of a small city. There are castle ruins watching over the town, which you can see whether you’re shopping in Primark or visiting the arcades on the seafront.

What is there to do? 

You can take a trip to the pier if you want to really take in the views of Hastings’ gorgeous clear sea. Or you can walk along the seafront from the pier to the amusements. There you’ll find rollercoasters, pedalos and arcades.

If you fancy more greenery, take a stroll out to the suburbs and visit the 109-acre Alexandra Park. There you can explore the formal gardens and reservoirs or the wooded areas, and finish up your walk with a coffee in the cafe.

Or, if the view of the pier wasn’t enough, you could try the Cliff Railways. Hastings has 2 railways which rattle up and down the cliffs. There is the 150 meter West Hill Lift which serves Hastings Castle and the St Clements Caves, or the East Hill Lift which goes up to Hastings Country Park and is rumoured to be the UK’s steepest funicular railway.

8. Pittenweem

things to do in pittenweem
Source: Wikipedia

Location: South East Scotland

Pittenweem is a fishing village in Fife. The main focus of the village is the charming harbour which fills up with fishing boats each morning. The architecture around the harbour adds to its charm, with traditional Fife designs creating a traditional seaside atmosphere.

What is there to do? 

Pittenweem is the perfect place for those a little out of the ordinary. You have the option of lots of odd things to do, like visit St Fillian’s Cave. There you can see into the rock and see the cave where St. Fillian wrote with his glowing arm.

If that’s not your thing, why not embark on the Weem Witch Tour? Take a look at the history of Pittenweem Witches and all the buildings related to the stories.

Fancy something more fun? Try the West Braes Crazy Golf. See who can score the best on your way around the course.

9. Robin Hood’s Bay

things to do in robin hood bay
Source: Northern Life Magazine

Location: North Yorkshire 

This picturesque old fishing village is a fantastic place for anyone looking for a sandy beach, rock pools and ancient fossils. If you take a walk through the narrow cobbled streets you can explore the vibrant village full of cafes, independent shops, restaurants and pubs.

What is there to do? 

Based in Whitby, Robin’s Hood Bay has plenty to do, and a lot of it is Gothic. For example, The Dracula Experience. This offers a tour through the Dracula story, looking at its connection to Whitby.

If that’s not up to your street, then try Pannett Park. It is a gorgeous park with lovely scenery, including a peaceful lily pond to sit by and Jurassic Gardens to explore.

Then, of course, there are the lovely sandy beaches. Stroll up and down the coast, or take a towel and hope the weather holds. Either way, you’re in for a good time.

10. Skegness

things to do in skegness
Source: Coinslot International

Location: Lincolnshire

Skegness has a family-friendly feel to it. It’s got arcades, lots of beach, and plenty of independent shops to explore. Plus, just a short walk away is Pleasure Beach and Butlins!

What is there to do?

Skegness is full of things to do, from the Natureland Seal Sanctuary where you can visit the lovely seals the sanctuary has rescued. Failing that, you can take a walk down the Skegness Pier and enjoy the views.

In fact, if you’re looking for views, why not try the Ferris wheel at Pleasure Beach! Then have a go on all the exciting rides around it and make your trip as exciting as you can.

For anyone with a car, take a trip to the nearby Fantasy Island if you fancy exploring the local area, or if you’re staying in Skeggy, try the aquarium for a relaxing day by the sea.

11. Gardenstown

things to do in gardenstown
Source: Gardenstown

Location: Aberdeenshire 

Up in Gamrie, Gardenstown has spectacular landscapes and is a picturesque coastal village built into the sandstone cliffs. When there, you’re likely to see the dolphins which frequent the area, and are bound to see some truly stunning sunsets.

What is there to do? 

Gardenstown is most ideal for anyone that just wants to shut off. There aren’t huge numbers of tourist attractions, but there’s gorgeous scenery, gorgeous beaches, and maybe even dolphins. It’s a nature lover’s dream.

12. Tenby

things to do in tenby
Source: Tenby

Location: South West Wales 

Tenby is in Pembrokeshire, and has a quaint harbour where you can boat out to Caldey Island as well as a beach and a charming colourful Welsh village.

What is there to do? 

Tenby Harbour Beach is one of the best things to do in Tenby. The sand is lovely and soft and you’re tucked away within the harbour walls. Around you is no shortage of shops, pubs, restaurants and there’s even a Tenby Harbour Snack bar.

Take a boat to Caldey Island when you fancy exploring somewhere new. It is a peaceful, calm island where you can watch seabirds and chill out. Its owned by a community of monks and is open on summer weekdays and Saturdays to people who wish to visit.

For those who do love exploring, there are beautiful coastal pathways you can follow around the seafront, too.

13. Newquay

things to do in newquay
Source: Trip Advisor

Location: Cornwall

On Cornwall’s Atlantic Coast, Newquay has been noted as a great seaside town and family destination. It has stunning sandy beaches, waves for surfers and lots of quaint streets to explore.

What is there to do? 

As well as surfing on the famous Newquay waves, you can use your time in the town to visit the Sea Safaris. The safari is a 2-hour long trip leaving from Newquay harbour along the Cornish coastline. You will get the chance to see dolphins, seals, sharks, sunfish, porpoise and seabirds.

Or, if land animals are more your thing, why not take a visit to Newquay Zoo? They care for a range of animals, from Zebras to Red Pandas, and even things like Slow Loris!

If the weather isn’t holding up (which is no surprise, it is Britain), then maybe try out the Better Extreme trampoline park instead.

14. New Brighton

things to do in new brighton
Source: Onward Living

Location: Cheshire 

New Brighton has a bewildering mix of the old and the new. There is a wide variety of heritage and history sites, as well as a range of independent bars, cafes and restaurants. Plus, the beaches are home to the community-built boat The Black Pearl.

What is there to do? 

One thing you’ve got to do when you visit New Brighton is take a look at The Black Pearl and all the ‘pirates’ looking after it. So whenever you decide to mosey on down to the beach, be sure to check it out.

It’s also worth visiting Vale Park, specifically for its fairy garden which is great for anyone into myths and magic.

Alternatively, try out the arcades and mini-golf, and enjoy everything this seaside resort has to offer.

15. Folkestone 

things to do in folkestone
Source: Planetwire

Location: Kent 

Folkestone is a seaside town full of charm, beauty and creativity. It is one of the most creative parts of Kent, and you can tell when you adventure through Folkestone’s Creative Quarter.

What is there to do? 

Explore Folkestone’s harbour arm, a 19th century addition to the seafront, which has mezze, barbecue ribs, cockles, pizzas and great views. You can even go and watch live sports and movies at the Harbour Screen.

If you’re a creative person, take a wander around Folkestone’s Creative Quarter. It is home to galleries, artist studios, shops, cages, performance spaces and restaurants as well as live music, film screenings and comedy.

Or you can go and visit a peaceful part of the Kent Downs. The Brockhill Country Park is mostly grassland and lake, with 2 signposted trials for you to adventure down.

16. Bournemouth

things to do in bournemouth
Source: Dorset Travel Guide

Location: South East Dorset

Bournemouth is well known as a great seaside town. It has loads of hotels, guest houses and B&Bs, plus a stunning coastline. There are boutique shops, independent stores and restaurants and camping/caravan sites – it really is a place for everyone.

What is there to do? 

There is, of course, the beach. Or if you still fancy being near the coast but aren’t a fan of sand, there’s also the pier. The Victorian pier has a theatre, an arcade, a cafe and a gift shop as well as a climbing centre.

Or if you’re a fan of culture, check out the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum. There you get to see an eclectic collection of art, furniture and curiosities from across the globe.

17. Brighton

things to do in brighton
Source: Country Living Magazine

Location: East Sussex 

Brighton is often described as London by the sea and it’s easy to see why. This busy city feels like a metropolitan haven until you work your way down to the extended pier and gorgeous shingle beaches, or up through the winding independent lanes.

What is there to do?

There’s plenty to do in Brighton, with independent stores like Family Store, Dave’s Comics and Get Cutie. There are plenty of indie food and drink places too, whether you want a coffee at Pelicano or food at Pinnochio’s.

Or maybe you fancy a trip up the i360, or down into the Sea Life Centre? Either way, there is enough to do in Brighton to keep you busy, and that’s not even thinking about the shopping centre.

18. Portmeirion

things to do in portmeirion
Source: Menai Holidays

Located: North Wales

Portmeirion is a tourist village that was specifically designed to imitate an Italian village. It is now owned by a charitable organisation and so is kept to a high standard and is gorgeous all year round.

What is there to do? 

When visiting Portmeirion, take the trip up to Ynys and take in the view of the village. Relax and enjoy as you look over the pastel-coloured buildings and tidal waters.

Play chess at the central piazza! In the centre of this intriguing little village is the central piazza, fully equipped with giant chess pieces and a board. Might as well give it a go.

Visit Castell Deudraeth, just outside the village. It is a mansion with a huge castle-like facade, finished up with glorious Gothic touches. Perfect for the ‘gram.

19. Filey 

things to do in filey
Source: Filey

Location: North Yorkshire

Quaint and tucked away on the Yorkshire Coast, Filey is a perfect nostalgic break for anyone needing it. The old fishing village is a popular seaside resort with beautiful Edwardian buildings and a gorgeous beach.

What is there to do? 

There is a Go Ape nearby for those adrenaline junkies looking to get their fill of thrill, or for anyone a bit calmer, take a trip to the Filey Bird Garden and Animal Park, or the Playdale Farm Park.

20. St Ives 

things to do in filey
Source: Financial Times

Location: Cornwall

St Ives is a quaint city with 4 main beaches all within walking distance. The best known is Porthmeor, which faces out to the Atlantic and backs on to the Tate Gallery.

What is there to do? 

As we mentioned, St Ives has a branch of the Tate Gallery. For a burst of culture, take a trip there and enjoy all the art that they have on offer.

If the Tate isn’t your kind of thing, take a boat trip to Seal Island and meet its inhabitants. Not only will you get to explore the isles of the coast, but you’ll also get a great view back of St Ives.