The Top 10 British Seaside Towns
These are McCarthy Stone's ten best seaside resorts in the UK listed in reverse order -enjoy! You're guaranteed a good time whichever one you visit. And, if you love it so much you don't want to leave, explore our retirement properties by the sea.
From the golden sands and foaming surf of Cornwall in the South West to the dune-fringed beaches and iconic castles of Northumberland in the North East, we asked you to help us find the top seaside destinations in the UK. With over 2,500 votes, we've ranked your top 10 best British seaside destinations from our list below in order of preference - can you guess which seaside resort came out on top?
10. Hastings, East Sussex
An expansive sand and shingle beach backed by grand whitewashed Edwardian hotels, a two-layered promenade, and a Victorian pier combine to make Hastings, East Sussex, an archetypal British seaside town. The grassy hillside nearby leads to an ancient and ruined castle which was the first in England to be built by William the Conqueror. The town itself is steeped in history, and takes pride in its heritage as the location of the famed battle of 1066 which bears its name.
9. Deal, Kent
Deal, Kent, offers a breath of fresh air and the perfect escape from city life. The vast expanse of Deal beach is backed by pretty pastel shaded hotels, it's perfect for a dip and only minutes from the Old Town. The attractive pier has been modernised with a popular cafe, ice cream stall and coffee stall instead of the typical arcades, so you can enjoy the impressive sea view over lunch. English Heritage's Deal Castle on the seafront is a fine example of a Tudor artillery castle and also worth a tour.
Best for shopping
The broad, pedestrianised town centre is home to fascinating selection of antique and bric-a-brac shops. Wander through the winding streets full of pretty Georgian houses in Old Town to discover period furniture, jewellery and curios among the selection of fine independent shops and cafes, restaurants and pubs.
8. Shanklin, Isle of Wight
The delightful seaside resort of Shanklin features charming thatched cottages, chintzy tea rooms, and a great selection of gift shops. Brightly coloured beach huts line the soft sands of Shanklin Beach. A mix of sunbathing, sandcastles, watersports and a spectacular coastal path combine to make this village on the Isle of Wight a brilliant destination for traditional seaside breaks. Don't miss the picturesque Shanklin Chine, this steep coastal gorge is a true natural wonder.
Best for cream teas
No trip to the Isle of Wight would be complete without sampling a famous cream tea. The innumerable tea rooms in Shanklin boast some of the best afternoon teas on the island, from the traditional pot of tea and scones piled high with clotted cream and jam, to the modern take on an old favourite which might include finger sandwiches, miniature pastries and cakes, and even Champagne. The lovely beachside cafes also boast other traditional coastal delights from crab sandwiches, to fish and chips and ice cream.
7. Cromer, Norfolk
This traditional seaside resort rose to prominence in the Victorian period, and you’ll still see plenty of the original features today, including the pier and much of the town’s architecture. The Pavilion Theatre is the UK’s only remaining end of the pier variety show. Cromer prides itself on its independent cafes, bars and restaurants, many of which have been family run institutions for generations, and which give the town its own unique character. The soft clean sand of Cromer beach offers seaside fun for all the family - including any surfers.
Best for seafood
Head to one of the many independent restaurants in Cromer to sample the famous Cromer crab. Traditionally the delicious crab meat is cooked, seasoned and then stuffed into the crab shell and served with a salad garnish, but you'll also find tasty terrines and crab sandwiches too
6. Worthing, West Sussex
Pull up your deckchair on the fine shingle beach at Worthing, and admire the far-reaching views. Worthing is a traditional seaside town with a modern twist. Residents can enjoy all the typical coastal activities, like strolling along the promenade, indulging in ice creams and visiting the Pier, but Worthing also has plenty of unique quirks, from a vintage cinema to an Iron age fort, micro pubs to beach hut art studios.
The iconic Worthing Pier makes the focal point of the seafront, with a stunning Art Deco pavilion, stained glass and all the usual pier-side amusements, like an old-fashioned penny arcade, café and fairground.
5. Bamburgh, Northumberland
Rugged countryside, dune-fringed beaches, rockpools, nature and ancient and iconic architecture makes Bamburgh one of Britain’s best seaside destinations. Enjoy windswept walks along the coast or gorgeous sandy beaches; spend the day exploring the iconic Bamburgh Castle which dates back to 1500 and is being used as a location in the latest Indiana Jones film! Or simply enjoy the solitude of this secluded seaside location.
Best for nature lovers
From Bamburgh you can watch a huge variety of seabirds, from shags and guillemots to puffins. Seals and harbour porpoises can also often be spotted playing in the waves. Take a boat trip to the Farne Islands, where the birds nest in their thousands every year.
4. St Ives, Cornwall
Golden sands, sheltered coves and perfect conditions for surfing, wind surfing and water-skiing, it's no wonder that picture-perfect St Ives is a favourite destination for summer holidays. St Ives has a bustling, lively atmosphere during the summer months. If you can tear yourself away from the beach, the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden is a must see and art lovers will also enjoy the Tate, St Ives. Make the most of the many restaurants, cafes and bars in St Ives, or stroll along the scenic South West coastal path.
St Ives is a subtropical oasis nestled in the corner of Britain. Enjoy plenty of sunny weather, balmy summer evenings and mild spring and autumn temperatures. Even the plants here seem to belong to another part of the world. St Ives was voted number five in the World's top emerging destinations in TripAdvisor's Travellers’ Choice Awards 2021.
3. Whitby, North Yorkshire
With its soft, sandy Blue Flag beach perfect for rock-pooling and fossil hunting, pretty beach huts, rugged coastal walks, famously-good fish and chips and the steep, winding cobbled paths of Whitby’s town centre, it's easy to see the unique character of this seaside resort. Climb the 199 steps to the gothic Whitby Abbey for a fantastic view of the town.
Best for quirky character
Perhaps it’s Whitby’s ties with Bram Stoker’s Dracula, it could be the popularity of the famed Whitby Jet gemstone, or maybe it’s the imposing Abbey ruins casting long shadows over the harbour below. Whatever it is, Whitby has become a mecca for goths, who descend on the town in their droves. People watching has never been so interesting.
2. Weymouth, Dorset
Weymouth, Dorset, boasts both the joys of an attractive harbour, with traditional fishing trawlers and luxury yachts framed by the pretty pastel shades of the surrounding houses and a glorious golden sandy beach. This relaxing holiday town offers plenty of attractions to keep everyone entertained, from an aquarium, sand sculpture park and subtropical gardens.
Best for beaches
The golden sandy swathe with a shallow sea somehow manages to be unspoilt yet packed with family-friendly amenities like pedal boats, beach cafes and even donkey rides. It is part of the World Heritage Jurassic Coastline and the South West coastal path.
A picturesque harbour surrounded by pastel-hued buildings rising gently uphill, Salcombe typifies the nautical beauty of South Devon. You’ll find plenty of beaches close to Salcombe, each one suited to a different day out. From North Sands with the ever-popular Winking Prawn café, to the secluded and picturesque Sunny Cove which is accessible only by ferry.
Best for boat trips
Whether it’s to access more distant beaches, or to admire the beautiful Devon coastline and wildlife, daily ferries depart from Salcombe harbour to all manner of destinations. You can even climb aboard angling boats for your own sea fishing experience.
Live the dream
From a morning dip in the ocean to a bracing walk in the sea breeze, a retirement property by the seaside is, for many of us, the ultimate dream. Tempted? Peruse the pick of McCarthy Stone's coastal properties.
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