Take a road trip to some of the UK’s best beach towns and villages this summer and enjoy that unique sense of freedom offered by the open road. Before you gather your crew and plug in your playlist, plan your route with our rundown of where to go for a dose of sun, sea, and sand – and leave your passport at home.

    Journey with us around Britain’s staggering coastlines, stopping along the way at postcard-perfect seaside resorts. You can almost taste the salty ocean air! 


    Newquay, Cornwall

    Sunny summer days and wicked surf breaks

    Newquay is a renowned summer road trip destination in the UK as well as the country’s top surf spot. With a carefree vibe and miles of sandy coves, Newquay is hard to beat on a bright, sunny day. Fistral Beach is a hot spot for beach lovers, with soft golden sand, dunes and rippling waves to enjoy.

    In Newquay town, you’ll find plenty to entertain, including a beautiful Japanese garden, miniature steam railway and a compact aquarium that houses many of the region’s aquatic species. Once the sun sets, the Newquay Smugglers Ghost Walk is a fun way to end the day, listening to tales of pirates. READ MORE…


    Eastbourne, East Sussex

    Victorian charm on England’s south coast

    Eastbourne is one of the finest beach towns on England’s south coast and retains a more relaxed vibe when compared to nearby Brighton or Bognor Regis. If your chief concern is getting sand between your toes, Holywell Retreat is a quaint stretch of beach in a Marine Conservation area with quintessentially English beach huts, a café and the cliff-hugging Italian Gardens. The Victorian-era Eastbourne Pier is a charming example of old-world entertainment.

    If you’ve had enough of the crowds in town, the stunning chalk cliff headland known as Beachy Head and the rolling hills of the South Downs National Park are on Eastbourne’s doorstep. READ MORE…


    Whitby, North Yorkshire

    Culture and history lined up along the North Sea

    Whitby is a Northern England town that's overflowing with history and culture. It may be quite a small place, clinging to the coast on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors, but the quayside arcades, sandy beaches, and some of the finest fish and chips in the country have been attracting road trippers from across the UK for generations.

    Start your exploration in Whitby from the quayside, before heading up to Whalebone Arch – a reminder of the town’s history as a harbour for whaling ships – to get your obligatory selfie for your social media feed. Whitby Abbey ruin is a stunning Gothic landmark that, along with Whitby’s association with Bram Stoker of Dracula fame, has made it a pilgrimage spot for fans of horror stories and gothic culture. READ MORE…


    Broadstairs, Kent

    Beach hop along the Kent coastline

    Broadstairs is a charming coastal town with no less than 7 sandy beaches in the far east of Kent. This town makes an excellent destination for a day trip as it's only 80 miles from London and is surrounded by a host of other seaside towns that retain period charms. It’s possible to visit Margate, Ramsgate and Deal, all in 1 day!

    For a touch of fun and folly, join St Peter’s Village Tour and journey back into the days of Dickens, when Kent was threatened by Napoleon’s army across the English Channel. Run by costumed volunteers, it’s free to join the tour but donations are welcome.  


    Bournemouth, Dorset

    A modern beach town that hasn’t forgotten its past

    Bournemouth is one of England's best seaside towns for large groups, thanks to its iconic pier packed with modern attractions alongside a variety of cafes and cultural landmarks. It’s the largest town in Dorset and combines city vibes with sandy beaches.

    Bournemouth is home to a full fixture of festivals throughout the summer, including sporting events like rugby 7s and musical celebrations from folk to reggae. If you have time, the 30-metre-tall Bournemouth Big Wheel is a towering landmark that makes for a nice spot for sunset viewing after a long day of road tripping to Bournemouth. READ MORE…


    Barry Island, South Wales

    A fun group road trip in Wales

    Kitsch and quirky, Barry Island promises plenty of laughs for groups of day-trippers who want flashing lights and ocean air. Mini golf, climbing walls, miniature train journeys and fairground rides are just some of the exciting activities waiting for you on this iconic island in Glamorgan, Wales. For fans of the hit TV show Gavin and Stacey, you can visit the actual amusement arcade from the show, along with several other set locations, which are always worthy of a selfie. 

    An excellent family destination, Barry Island doesn’t take itself too seriously and is packed full of fun. The journey to Barry is fairly straightforward too, as it's just a few miles west of Cardiff.


    Salcombe, Devon

    A stunning beach for a couples’ road trip

    Salcombe is found on the Knightsbridge Estuary and thanks to rolling hills dropping into the deep blue Atlantic water, it feels inherently British in look and feel. The town has a genteel air, with cobbled streets and unique boutique shopping scattered between cafes and restaurants. Dining is a particular highlight in Salcombe, with several esteemed fine-dining establishments and plenty more quaint pubs and cafes.

    If you’re looking for the best spot of sand, take the ferry crossing from Salcombe Landing to East Portlemouth on the opposite side of the estuary.


    Tenby, Pembrokeshire, Wales

    Active and adventurous types will love the day-tripping from here

    Tenby is one of the finest beach towns on Wales’ south coast and, surrounded by 2 national parks, makes for an adventurous road trip. On your journey to Tenby, most of you will pass through the Gower Peninsula, with rugged coastlines and raw, windswept hillsides. Further to the west, the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park draws in hikers and water sports enthusiasts.

    Tenby is built around a remarkably wide beach, backed by a promenade and steep cliffs on either side. Many Victorian-era buildings are now hotels and B&Bs, giving the town an old-world charm. Around sunset, follow the crowds to Tenby Castle and enjoy the ocean views looking out over St. Catherine’s Island. 



    A classic British seaside resort

    A road trip to Blackpool was like a rite of passage to many Brits in year’s gone by. And this northern beach town is still synonymous with iconic landmarks, cabaret shows, and sticks of rock candy that haven’t really changed in a generation.

    It’s all about fun and games in Blackpool, a town with not 1, but 3 separate piers. Central Pier is our pick for day-trippers. The long promenade makes for a pleasant stroll, and it’s lined with fairground rides, the iconic big wheel, games arcades, and plenty of takeaway stalls for snacks and drinks. It’s loud and a lot of fun. For even more fairground fun, head to Blackpool Pleasure Beach amusement park and ride the aptly named Big One rollercoaster. READ MORE…


    Lyme Regis, Dorset

    Road Trip along Britain’s Jurassic Coast

    Lyme Regis is a breathtaking seaside town hugging the famous Jurassic Coast in South West England. With its bunting-lined streets, sweeping golden beach, calm turquoise sea, and, of course, its world-renowned Cobb, it’s easy to see why this is such a hot spot for holidaymakers. But, there’s more to this postcard-perfect town than just its beautiful beach.

    Famous for its abundance of prehistoric fossils, you can venture off on guided fossil hunting walks, run by the Lyme Regis Museum. Fans of the arts can find places offering Jane Austin walking tours and even Broadchurch tours, too. Plus, no trip to Lyme Regis would be complete without a visit to the traditional Marine Aquarium. 

    Paul Smith | Compulsive Traveller

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