There’s nothing quite like a hit of fresh sea air. At any location in the UK, we're lucky to be no further than 70 miles from the sea. An estimated 3 million people live by the coast, so for the rest of us, there are seaside holidays.
In the summer, the coastal atmosphere is electric, with endless days to splash about or soak up the sun with a gripping book. In winter, you can rug up on a chilly morning to catch the sun rising over the bay, or head to the local for a satisfying serve of fish and chips.
While Brits have long been lured by the sun-drenched days of the Canaries, the past year has reinvigorated our appreciation for our vast and varied coastline. According to a recent UK Staycation Index, 62% of Brits will spend their summer holiday in the UK. Moreover, half of the most sought after locations are by the seaside. The great British seaside holiday has made its triumphant return, and here’s where you need to go...
According to the UK Staycation Index, North Wales topped the list for the most popular UK holiday destinations, beating out long-time favourites Cornwall and Devon. If you’re yet to experience the striking scenery of this part of the world, we’d recommend basing yourself in Beaumaris. This charming seaside destination on the Isle of Anglesey will tick many of your holiday boxes, offering history, scenery, cuisine, and swimming opportunities.
Initially a Viking settlement, Beaumaris became part of a series of fortifications when Edward I ordered the construction of Beaumaris Castle in 1295. This incredible, symmetrical structure is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is just waiting for you to visit. Outside of the castle lies the town, with its fascinating combination of Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian architecture.
Wind your way through the modern cafes and pubs and head for the glittering seafront. On the way, enjoy a delicious local treat at Red Boat Ice Cream Parlour or venture out to the pier, where boats depart for the seabird sanctuary of Puffin Island, where you can spot puffin, guillemots, razorbills, and kittiwakes.
Suggested tour: Scenic North Wales and Chester
If your idea of a holiday is one based on food, then you can’t go past Swanage in Dorset. The town market takes place every Friday and you can pick up some fresh delights at the Purbeck Produce Market every second Saturday of the month.
Swanage is home to all the classic charms of a seaside town, including a quaint harbour, bays for swimming, amusement arcades, and local fish and chips shops. You can relax on the Victorian pier, or take things up a notch with some water sport activities including sailing, canoeing, and pedalo.
To dive deeper into the area, take a break from the sun with a stroll through the Swanage Museum and Heritage Centre, where you can gain insight into the local history. History buffs might like to ride the historic Swanage Railway to visit the nearby Corfe Castle - it's the ideal day out.
Beyond the delights of the town, what makes Swanage a dream holiday destination is its proximity to some of the Jurassic Coast’s most stunning locations.
Suggested tour: Dorset - The Jurassic Coast
While Portree is considered to be the capital of Scotland's Isle of Skye, it lacks the hustle and bustle of a big town. And that’s why we love it. Sure, it’s home to plenty of amenities including cafes, restaurants, supermarkets, bookstores, a cinema, but ultimately it’s a quiet base to explore the isle.
The town is known for its colourful and picturesque harbour, with pink townhouses and old fishing vessels bobbing by the footpath. Better yet, the peaks of Ben Tianavaig, Suidh Fhinn and Ben Chrachaig are visible from the town, adding to the natural tranquillity. If you’re looking to explore the surrounding areas by sea, boat cruises regularly operate from Portree.
Suggested tour: Hebridean Island Adventure
Just beyond the UK…
Feel like you’ve seen enough of the UK? Then venture a little further to the Channel Islands. St. Helier is Jersey’s largest settlement and only town. Foodies will be drawn to the town centre, where there’s the Michelin-starred Bohemia, a luxurious, art-deco space with high-quality dining, and Street Food Thursdays, a collection of delicious, local street food traders.
Aqua lovers will find paradise at Havre des Pas, a sandy beach on the fringes of St. Helier. The bathing pool is filled by the tide each day, giving swimmers a safe area to take a refreshing dip. Beautiful period buildings dot the seaside promenade at this spot, adding a nostalgic tinge to your beach trip.
If you’re feeling adventurous, board the castle ferry or stroll across at low tide to Elizabeth Castle. The fortification, based on a tidal island, has defended Jersey for more than four centuries. The castle offers secret rooms, hidden passageways and bunkers to explore, as well as sweeping views of the gorgeous bay and Jersey’s south coast. For more thrills, take to the breakwater and wander until you reach the stony, single-room chapel that is St. Helier Hermitage.
Suggested tour: Jersey - Sun-Kissed Channel Isle
If you’ve always dreamed of exploring an archetypal Irish seaside town, get yourself to Dingle. The town is on the edge of the Dingle Peninsula, located on the southwest coast of Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way. From the town, you can explore the Slea Head Scenic Drive, a 30-mile route of coastal views, verdant hills, and dramatic peaks. A short drive from Dingle is Inch Beach, a stretch of soft sand where you can spot birds, stroll along the dunes, or even head out for a surf.
Like many coastal towns, there’s a famous local spot for ice cream. If you're looking for a sweet treat, sample the handmade goodness of Murphy's Ice Cream on the colourful Strand Street.
Suggested tour: Ireland's Beautiful South West
You can check out more of our UK holidays right here.