Updated on January 25, 2023 by Axel Hernborg

Axel Hernborg

Being an island nation, it shouldn’t be too surprising that the United Kingdom is also home to a surprisingly large amount of coastlines.

Whichever direction you head in the British Isles, you’re likely to find a stretch of beach and water sooner rather than later!

This leaves many visitors and travelers with the difficult decision of cutting the middling and perhaps underwhelming ones from the nicest coasts to visit, whether you’re there to hike, simply relax out on the beach or shorefront, or even there for some water sports competition, perhaps!

Fortunately, you’re pretty spoiled for choice when it comes to these shorefronts, from good to great across the UK.

And this guide will help show you why that is the case!

Here, we have compiled some of the best coastlines that you’ll find across the countries that make up this collection of islands, from single beaches to entire stretches that run across whole counties (see more about UK counties here).

There’s plenty to discover here, so let’s get started!



Is it cheating for us to include what is effectively the entire length of a county as a single ‘great shoreline’ as our first pick?

Well, we’ll let you be the judge of that.

But you cannot deny that Devon has a pretty remarkable stretch of coast that runs from west to east of its southern side.

From large port cities such as Plymouth to the many smaller seaside villages that dot the coast, and the many coastal resorts between them, there is plenty of things to do here around this South Westerly county, whether you love exploring cities, or enjoying the outdoors.

The southern position of the county also means that this is one of the warmest and sunniest that you’ll find among British coastlines, allowing the county to support plenty of different activities and wildlife, even subtropical plants and trees that you wouldn’t find anywhere else in the country.

Plus, for those history buffs, Devon’s many cliff faces are home to many of the country’s best Jurassic-period fossils in the country too, which helped kick-start Britain’s long and storied history with natural history.

In short, Devon’s coast is an absolute must for beachgoers!

Holkham Beach, Norfolk

Holkham Beach, Norfolk

Like Devon before it, a lot of Norfolk’s coastline along the East and South East side of England is noticeably warmer than its counterparts up north, making many sites along its coast very tantalizing vacation or visiting spots.

Perhaps our favorite particular stretch of coast in this county however is the Holkham beach, an almost completely unspoiled stretch of sand and grass banks that has a completely different feel to many other spots that you’ll find across the country.

Its isolated nature, with very few villages o towns being found nearby, lends it this almost ethereal character.

It feels like you’re miles away from the crowded and bustling towns and cities that much of England is known for, and therefore makes it quite a popular tourist spot.

The beach is so long and unbroken, that even horse riding is possible along great stretches of it if you’re looking for something a little different to do!

Does it being a popular spot to sunbathe contradict that isolated feeling you get? Honestly, we couldn’t say. You’ll just have to visit and decide for yourself!

Marloes Beach, Pembrokeshire

Marloes Beach, Pembrokeshire

Located in the South West of the Welsh heartland, Pembrokeshire is a historical county that is packed with tons of great stretches of coast.

Our pick for the best among them however is the huge 1.5-kilometer-long stretch of beach that you’ll find at Marloes Beach.

Such a long stretch of coastline makes this corner of Wales the perfect place to kick back and relax, or even learn how to surf if the waves are just right!

On a clear day, you can even see the small neighboring island of Gateholm and Skockholm on the horizon. It’s a truly gorgeous beach, and one of our favorites from the Welsh coastline.

Portstewart Strand, Northern Ireland

Portstewart Strand, Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland, despite only making up a small part of the United Kingdom and the Irish Island, certainly punches above its weight when it comes to the gorgeous coastline to travel up and down.

If you’re looking for a particularly good stretch that you will have easy access to outside of the town of Derry (also known as Londonderry), then you should check out Portstewart Strand.

Kept in pristine condition by the hardworking folks of the National Trust, this 2-mile stretch of coastline is the perfect outdoor hike to fill out a morning or afternoon, with the shoreline facing the North Atlantic and stretching out to the horizon.

The Mussenden Temple is viewable from the beach, giving a stunning vista as it also overlooks the frothy water out of shore.

And as we said, this is just a stone’s throw away from an ever-popular city too, so you’ll have no problem finding accommodation there too!

Sure, the weather may not exactly be picturesque and sunny all year round. But when those skies do clear, you have a beach that is the world’s envy!



Very much like Devon and Norfolk that we’ve already covered, Hampshire is one of those counties in the UK that has pretty much an entire border with the open waves, giving it plenty of opportunity to show off its great coastlines.

Okay, maybe not entirely open waves.

The Isle of Wight is right off of the coast of Hampshire, blocking much of the more powerful ocean currents that it would otherwise receive from the Celtic Sea and Gulf Stream, so perhaps it’s a little exaggeration.

However, this just means that the water around Hampshire is almost always calmer and easier to predict and manage than many others in the country, which is probably what made it such a popular place for port towns and cities like Southampton.

Outside of Southampton, there is plenty to do along the Hampshire coast.

Portsmouth, for example, has some great shopping centers, making it great for visitors who love to spend a little while on vacation. And that is to say nothing of the many towns that you can find on or around the Hampshire coast.

Not only that, but Hampshire is also a county teaming with wildlife.

The New Forest Area and the many marshes that you can find in the county (many of which are protected by the National Trust), many of which stretch out along the coast, creating a truly unique biome for wildlife, and some amazing hikes too.

Bamburgh Beach, Northumberland

Bamburgh Beach, Northumberland

Moving a little further up north for our next entry, Northumberland is the Northernmost county that you’ll find in England and faces into the North Sea, and has a very different, though still enjoyable, atmosphere to its coastline.

One of our favorite beaches to venture down onto is Bamburgh Beach. Partly because we love the long stretches of breezy, cold beaches that are sure to wake you up in the morning, but also just because we love the surrounding area.

Thanks to the castle that you’ll find on the hill overlooking the ocean, there’s an old-worldly feeling to this beach, almost like something out of an Arthurian legend or Harry Potter.

That latter point might be the case because the Bamburgh castle found here has been used and featured in many works of fiction, both in books and on the screen.

So, if you want to be transported through time on your coastline trek, this is the beach for you!

Abbot’s Cliff, Kent

If you’re someone who finds themselves as fascinated with the rocks of the beach itself as the ocean or the surrounding sands, then you should head over to Abbot’s Cliff, found in Folkestone in the county of Kent.

Aside from having a lovely shingle beach and great facilities from the nearby town, one of the most striking thighs that you’ll probably notice is the string rock formation that make up the hills and cliffs around the shoreline.

Exposed to the elements, you can see that the rocks have formed into hexagonal columns made from basalt rock, which also make for great stepping stones and exploring the beachfront (though you should exercise caution, of course).

The fact that few people seem to know about this beach makes it quite a private beach too.

Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland

Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland

Abbot’s hexagon-shaped rock formation might be an impressive example of geology doing its magic.

But for our money, if you want to see these features taken to their extreme, you simply have to check out the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland.

It’s as if Abbot’s Cliff had formed, but on steroids!

The basalt rocks that formed here, instead of making up a few hills, have formed into giant cliff faces that look out over the North Atlantic, creating a very striking beach to explore, whether you’re down at sea level, or gazing out at the sea from up above.

While there’s very little room for relaxing on a sandy beach like you’ll find with some of our other entries, if you’re a hiker, this gem from the Northern Irish coast is a must-see from all angles!

Plus, with so many villages nearby, finding accommodation before or after a long walk will be a sea breeze!

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are plenty of coastlines for you to choose from when it comes to your next seaside visit to the United Kingdom.

From urban centers where you can find all your needs covered, to isolated nooks in the British countryside that feel a million miles away from any civilization. They’re all here for you to find for yourself!

Now, which beach will you visit first?

U.K. Coastline By Drone || 4K