Sure, the UK has some pretty questionable weather (around 133 days of rain or snow a year, apparently), but it also offers up multiple bank holidays throughout those 12 months. These three-day long weekend beach breaks are perfect for a chilling and catching up on life – or, better yet, heading off to somewhere new for an annual leave-free 2-night break.
While some choose to jet off to somewhere abroad, a weekend by the sea in the UK can be enough to leave you feeling revitalised. And when the sun’s out, there’s no better place to be than by the beach. Here are top 10 weekend beach breaks in the UK you’ll definitely want to try.
For more beach weekend inspiration, see: 10 Beach Huts That’ll Melt Your Ice-Cream, Northumberland’s Best Beaches, Dartmouth Beaches for Good Times and Tan Lines, Romantic Coastal Glamping in Cornwall
UK Beach Breaks | Number 1
TRADITIONAL BEACH WEEKEND: MARGATE
Still think of Margate as being that tacky seaside destination of yore? Ho ho, you haven’t seen what it’s been up to these days. In fact, Margate was recently named Britain’s best British seaside town – and if that isn’t enough to get you reaching for that bucket and spade and heading there for a weekend beach break, we don’t know what is.
Earning a reputation as a Shoreditch by the sea, Margate is a hipster favourite thanks to its quirky multi-coloured buildings and street art. Be sure to head to Dreamland for old-fashioned rides, Instagram-friendly neon artwork and street food.
Stay here: Sands Hotel, a modern hotel right on the beach overlooking a curve sweep of sea and sand. Plus, there’s a glass-fronted Roof Terrace where you can catch the sunset and undisturbed views over Margate Sands.
UK Beach Breaks | Number 2
LITERARY BEACH WEEKEND: LYME REGIS
Lyme Regis is a must for bookworms. The town’s famous Cobb and heady coastal views attract thousands of visitors every year – many come for the fossils, others come because Lyme was loved by Jane Austin (her book, Persuasion, was set in the town). Follow in her footsteps by booking a 1h30m Jane Austin Tour with Literary Lyme Walking Tours (£10). Then swot up on Lyme’s other famous faces at the Lyme Regis Museum (£3.95), including Mary Anning – the town’s much-lauded 19th-century palaeontologist – and authors John Fowles, Henry Fielding, and Beatrix Potter.
Head afterwards to The Sanctuary Bookshop – one of the cosiest secondhand bookshops going. Lose yourself in the pages of literary greats, or even join in a book chat by the fire. There are also plenty of fabulous restaurants in Lyme Regis as well as places to stop for a quick coffee and a cake.
Stay here: For a large group of you Sundial House in Lyme Regis is a must. It’s right on the beach and is a wonderful historic home. For something smaller, then dog-friendly Coombe Street Cottage is great for four of you.
UK Beach Breaks | Number 3
QUIRKY BEACH WEEKEND: WHITBY
A seaside town found in Yorkshire, Whitby is best known for its association with Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula. Indeed, Bram Stoker arrived a guesthouse at 6 Royal Crescent, Whitby, at the end of July 1890. Stoker spent a week exploring the town and was inspire by its windswept headlands and dramatic ruins. One peek at the spooky ruins of the Whitby Abbey atop the East Cliff, and you can see why it was the PERFECT spot for a story about the undead.
You must take the 199 steps up Whitby’s jawboned East Cliff to come face-to-face with the haunting remains of Whitby Abbey when you visit this beach getaway. Vampires aside, Whitby has got many other components for a memorable weekend beach break. There’s the beach itself, picturesque harbour, countless museums and must-visit jewellery shops selling Jet (fossilised wood that has been mined from Whitby’s sea cliffs for centuries). Whitby is also home to many fish and chip shops – and is world famous for its scampi – so you won’t go hungry.
Stay here: Jet Black Jewel boutique holiday accommodation on Whitby’s west side comprises nine bespoke rooms, each with a peculiar tale to tell of Whitby history, folklore and legend.
You might also like: Chuffin’ brilliant places to glamp in North Yorkshire
UK Beach Breaks | Number 4
SURFING BEACH WEEKEND: RHOSSILI
If swells and curls are more your kind of weekend beach break, pick up that board and surf over to Rhossili Bay in Swansea. Its seemingly endless coastline is candy for the eyes all year round, and surf schools will tend to your every surfing need. Even needs as basic as, “How do I even surf?”
Those preferring to admire rather than frolic in the water also have the opportunity to uncover somewhere relatively underwraps. The Independent called Rhossili the ‘supermodel of British beaches’, which will give you some idea of what to expect. During the height of summer, Rhossili’s beauty is best enjoyed with a picnic while you keep your eyes peeled for any friendly seals or dolphins.
Stay here: For eye-popping views over Rhossili Bay and Worm’s Head, bed down at the family-run Worms’ Head Hotel. All rooms include an English breakfast and start from only £80.
UK Beach Breaks | Number 5
THROWBACK BEACH WEEKEND: SOUTHEND
Southend is the town of seaside nostalgia, filled with everything from colourful windbreakers to bucket and spades, flags for your sandcastles, and 99 Flakes (although you haven’t tasted proper ice cream until you’ve tried local favourite Rossi’s). But it’s also a super-trendy beach getaway that’s enjoyed a great resurgence in recent years (with many celebrities choosing to spend time here).
Easy to reach from London (it’s just over an hour by train), it’s a great option if you’re after a quick getaway from the big smoke to spend 48 hours in. There’s lots to do but top of your list has to be the jewel in its crown: the longest pleasure pier in the world!
Stay here: Suenos Guesthouse is just a short distance from the main town centre and has the beach right on its doorstep. What’s more, it’s the only 5-star place to stay in the area.
UK Beach Breaks | Number 6
PRETTY BEACH WEEKEND: ILFRACOMBE
North Devon is famed for its luscious beaches, and Ilfracombe throws you right into the centre of them all. Its picturesque harbour is small but perfectly formed, overlooked by a handful of quaint buildings and rolling green hills.
A leisurely walk along those rolling green hills (you weren’t thinking of sunbathing were you?) and a mooch down the South West coast path, and you’ll be at Woolacombe, a place that has won so many awards (including TripAdvisor’s 4th Best Beach in Europe) that even Meryl Streep is jealous.
Stay here: The Carlton Hotel and Brasserie makes a great base for a weekend break in Ilfracombe. This large Victorian guest house, is a stone’s throw away from Ilfracombe’s pretty harbour, and sits minutes away from Tunnels Beach.
You might also like: 10 Devon Glamping Spots that are Blissful Rain or Shine
UK Beach Breaks | Number 7
PEACEFUL BEACH WEEKEND: ISLE OF BARRA
Scotland’s Outer Hebrides are one of those places that just seems like one great big effort to get to. But take a gander at some of the islands and you’ll realise that they really are some of the most idyllic, most peaceful places to be on a weekend beach break. And nowhere is this more true than on the Isle of Barra, an island with a population of just over 1,000 people.
While most people opt to pop by on a cruise, adventure-seekers can swoop in by plane from Glasgow airport, landing on the island’s 2-mile beach. Once there, you’ll be treated to some of the cleanest and most exotic-looking beaches in all of the UK, endless coastal walks, and even medieval castles.
Stay here: Perched on a beautiful sweep of beach, the Isle of Barra Beach Hotel means you’ll wake to incredible views and fall sleep to the sound of the ocean. Perfect.
UK Beach Breaks | Number 8
PICTURE-PERFECT BEACH WEEKEND: SOUTHWOLD
To Suffolk now, and believe us when we say you won’t find many places more quintessentially English than Southwold. Characterised by its beach hut-lined promenade, Southwold also has a lot of other surprises up its sleeve, like the HQ of family-owned Adnams Brewery that’s been brewing in the same spot for well over 150 years, a plethora of quirky gift stores, a dinky pier and a string of trendy eateries serving local fish. No wonder it’s popular.
Southwold’s location is also perfect for exploring some of Suffolk’s coastal gems, including the charming towns of Beccles and Halesworth which are definitely worth a care-free saunter around.
Stay here: Slick and stylish, The Sail Loft café-bar and restaurant sits right next to the beach in Southwold. Expect a laid-back, on-trend stay with good food to boot. Whilst you’re in Southwold, you may also like to book a beach hut for your weekend. We love this one: Jabba The Hut.
UK Beach Breaks | Number 9
SUB-TROPICAL BEACH WEEKEND: ISLES OF SCILLY
Approximately 28 miles off the Cornish peninsula, the Isles of Scilly are more of an archipelago which have an exotic island appeal that’s been attracting weekenders for many years. White sands, crystal clear water and sub-tropical gardens are just some of the many charms of the Isles of Scilly.
St. Mary’s is the largest of the islands, accessible by ferry or plane from Penzance Harbour, Land’s End, Newquay or Exeter Airports. The islands themselves are isolated and small – with a population of just over 2,000 on five inhabited islands – meaning the sense of community here is very strong, but also very welcoming. Visit for a weekend beach getaway filled with relaxing coastal walks and beautiful deserted beaches.
Stay here: Star Castle is a family-run hotel a short walk from the centre of St Mary’s and the harbour. Stunning inside and out, with breathtaking views of the stunning Archipelago.
UK Beach Breaks | Number 10
AWARD-WINNING BEACH WEEKEND: TENBY
You know how you can wait ages for a good beach to come along, and then three come all at once? Yeah, welcome to Tenby. Each of its three beaches (North, South and Castle) are famed for their incredible good looks and have many awards between them, including the much-coveted Sunday Times Beach of the Year award – won by Castle beach in 2019.
In fact, North Beach is one of the most photographed spots in all of Wales and has come top for the most photogenic in the UK, beating other stunning sites like Durdle Door in Dorset and Brighton seafront. And it’s up there among the best in the world too, coming seventh in the top 10 of most photogenic beaches across the globe, more than earning its place amongst the likes of Kelingking Beach in Bali and Australia’s Bondi Beach. As well as standout beaches, Tenby also boasts lovely people, superb places to eat and a wonderful town to explore.
Stay here: Penally Abbey has many awards to its name, and it’s not surprising. It’s a gorgeous boutique country-house hotel with big sea views and a huge personality.
You might also like: Places to Visit in South West Wales
To help you with your weekend beach break planning:
This beach packing list has some great essentials you must take with you!
Fancy a good coastal pint? Check out 10 best family friendly pubs on the Suffolk coast
Looking for good family spots? This is a great guide: The 25 Best UK Beaches for Families
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