Are you looking to cool off this summer but don’t want to swim in the famous London Lidos? Then why not head to the beach? All of the beaches listed below are an hour or so from London. Don’t forget to pack your costume! The Best Beaches Near London:
Camber Sands, East Sussex
Table of Contents
This is one of my favourite beaches near London. It is a huge sandy beach which is rare for East Sussex. It has sand dunes at the back and when the tide is out the beach is even bigger. It gets quite deep too once you are in the ocean.
This beach is quite windy so if you are into Kite Surfing or Wind Surfing this is probably one of the best beaches to do it this close to London. From May to September there are areas on the beach that are dog-friendly too.
Getting There: By Train – one hour 40 minutes from London St Pancras International to Rye, with a change at Ashford and a short bus ride to the beach.
West Wittering, West Sussex
This blue flag beach on the south coast has a lot to offer. You can go rock-pooling, check out the salt marshes or take a walk along the nearby South Downs. Or you can lie on the beach and chill. There are lifeguards at this beach during the summer months.
Check out the beach huts here too. They will give you that retro vibe as will the cafe that serves traditional seaside food.
Getting There: By Train – one hour 30 minutes from London Victoria to Chichester, plus a bus ride to the beach.
Brighton, East Sussex
Probably the most famous beach near London. Londoners have been flocking to Brighton for hundreds of years. So much so some people call Brighton, London on the sea. It is one of the most cosmopolitan seaside towns in England.
Brighton has it all. From alternative shops in The Lanes to fish and chips and 99’s on the beachfront. Make sure you visit the amazing restored Brighton Pier too.
When it is hot it feels like most of London has headed here. The bars are buzzing and the DJs are pumping out tunes. All together now “Oh I do like to be beside the seaside”.
Getting There: By Train – Approximately an hour from London Victoria or London Bridge to Brighton Train Station.
Margate has been another favourite seaside destination for Londoners. It has gone through a renaissance lately, no doubt with the help of local resident Tracy Emin.
The beach here is sandy and big and there are plenty of amusements, chic cafes, retro shops and fish and chip shops to keep everyone happy.
But there is more. Make sure you visit one of the UK’s hidden gems at The Shell Grotto. Then there is also the Turner Contemporary Gallery and Dreamland an amusement park with rides, arcade games and even a roller disco.
Getting There: By Train – 1 hr 30 mins from St Pancras Station.
Southend On Sea, Essex
Southend On Sea ticks many boxes for a fun day out at the seaside. There is 11km of sandy beaches. 3 of which have Blue Flag awards. Southen also has the world’s longest pier. It is so long that there is a small shuttle train to get you from one end to the other.
You will also find the usual mix of old-school fun with arcades and amusement parks. Keep an eye out for the new stuff too. New galleries, cafes and restaurants are opening all the time. Does Brighton have a rival finally?
Getting There: By Train – Just over an hour from Fenchurch Street. You can also go from Liverpool St which takes a little longer.
Birling Gap, East Sussex
From sandy beaches and arcades to fossil hunting and towering white cliffs. Birling Gap in East Sussex is a very different beach to Southend. This is a beach for rock pooling and history fans. The Battle of Britain was thought above this beach.
Birling Gap sits on one of the longest stretches of undeveloped coastline on the south coast. Apart from a national park centre shop selling sandwiches, there is nothing else here so you might want to bring your own food and drinks.
I would also recommend taking a walk along the coastal path to the Grade 2 listed Belle Tout lighthouse. It is also a B&B, so if you really love the area why not book a stay? To get down to Birling Gap you have to walk down a steep set of metal stairs.
Getting There: By Train – Approximately two hours from London Victoria: Take a train to Eastbourne then a bus from there.
Whitstable in Kent is a haven for Oyster lovers. People come here for the food just as much for the beaches. Walk along Harbour Street and High Street to find plenty of places to try them.
Then walk down to the beaches to admire the colourful houses and beach huts. After you are done with the beach pop into the quirky shops to pick up a souvenir. More and more Londoners are moving down to Whitstable and it is easy to see why.
Getting There: By Train – Approximately one and a half hours from St Pancras, Cannon Street or Victoria stations.
Walton On The Naze, Essex
The motto of Walton On The Naze is ‘the sunny town with sunny people’. That is because Walton On The Naze has the driest climate in Britain. The town is also surrounded by sea on 3 sides.
Take a walk in the nearby nature reserves to spot common harbour and grey seals. You can also walk on the second-longest pier in England. On the beach look out for turtle and bird fossils. If you want great views, walk up the 86ft shipping tower-turned-art gallery for spectacular panoramic views over the Essex coast.
You will still find your traditional seaside attractions here too so the town should keep everyone happy.
Getting There: By Train – Approximately one and a half hours from Liverpool Street.
Leigh On Sea, Essex
Cobbled stoned streets, fisherman sheds and cute cottages. Leigh On Sea in Essex still has that old-world charm. The beach comes and goes with the tide so you might have to wait until the tide is out.
Make sure you have an empty stomach when you visit here. There are plenty of places selling local seafood, especially on Cockle Row. Also try Osborne’s Cafe and Seafood Hall, which won the 2021 British Food Awards in the Fish & Seafood category for its cooked cockles.
Getting There: By Train – 50 minutes from London Fenchurch Street.
There are 7 beaches here to choose from so even on a sunny day you should find a quiet space. This is a great area for clifftop walks. Central Viking Bay is probably the best beach here for kids. The beach is sandy and there are amusement rides and beach huts.
Joss Bay is for all you surfers out there. If you are just starting to learn to surf or would like to try it there is a surf school here.
Botany Bay is the beach where you get away from it all. There are no shops or fun fairs here. Just a Blue Flag-awarded 600ft-long strip of sand and a kiosk in a pretty little cove that’s one of seven along this part of the Kent coast. They are backed up by the longest continuous stretch of chalk cliffs in Britain.
Getting There: By Train – one hour 40 minutes by train from London St Pancras International, London Victoria, or London Cannon Street to Broadstairs, and a short bus ride.
Minnis Bay, Kent
Minnis Bay in Kent is the beach to keep everyone happy. It has a lovely long sandy beach which has a blue flag award. There is lots of free parking. There is a children’s play area and paddling pool. So that is the kids sorted.
How about the adults? If you like water sports there is Kite Boarding, Wind Surfing and Sailing. Walkers and cyclists are well-served too with the Viking Coastal Trail, a 32-mile trail along the Thanet coastline.
If you just want to kick back and relax there is a restaurant and bar with great views.
Getting There: By Train – one hour 30 minutes from London St Pancras International to Birchington-on-Sea, and a short walk.
Mersea Island, Essex
Mersea Island in Essex is Britain’s most easterly inhabited island so you have to rely on a tide timetable to enjoy the beach. However, this place has so much going for it. To get to the island you have to cross an ancient Roman causeway linking it with the mainland.
Once you are there head to East Mersea for the quiet beaches to go fossil hunting. In the cliffs, they discovered shark teeth and animal bones dating back 300,000 years.
For foodies and wine lovers, there are places for you too. West Mersea is full of oyster bars and places to eat. Make sure you visit Mersea Island Vineyard and Brewery to try the local wine and beer.
Getting There: By Train – one hour by train from London Liverpool Street to Colchester, then a 45-minute bus to Mersea Island.
West Beach, Littlehampton, West Sussex
Littlehampton in West Sussex has two popular beaches. East Beach and West Beach. East Beach is located on the town’s seafront. It gets quite busy and has the usual British seaside entertainment.
West Beach is very different and for us more attractive. On this beach, you will find dunes, sand, and sea and that is about it. This is more of a chilled beach where you go to get away from it all.
Getting There: By Train – Approximately two hours from London (train from Victoria to Littlehampton).
Eastbourne, East Sussex
Eastbourne in East Sussex has attracted people for decades. Known as a popular retirement area the 4-mile-long pebble beach caters for all kinds of visitors.
Yes, you have the traditional entertainment along with tea rooms and bandstands but there is also windsurfing, paddleboarding and kayaking. There is also a 305-meter pier.
One of the highlights is walking west up the steep hill to Beachy Head and The Seven Sisters National Park which is an area of outstanding beauty.
Getting There: By Train – Trains travel directly to Eastbourne from London Victoria in about 90 minutes.
Jaywick Beach, Essex
Jaywick Beach is down the road from Clacton on Sea a traditional seaside resort. Jaywick is more natural with a sandy beach and grass dunes. The beach is overlooked by a row of Martello towers that once helped defend the English Channel.
The beach here has been subject to an extension and reconstruction project in recent years and now has a number of rock breakwaters which help keep the imported sand from being washed away.
Facilities at Jaywick are fairly limited but public toilets can be found at either end. There is also a narrow, walled promenade, popular with dog walkers to the rear of the beach.
Getting There: By Train – Approximately two hours from London (train from Liverpool Street to Clacton-on-Sea, then a bus).
Do you love London? Read some of our other London posts below: