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10 of the best beaches in the UK

Do you love to be beside the seaside, but not got the pennies to jet off to the Maldives or some other exotic sandy shore? From pebble beaches and soaring white cliffs, to swathes of golden sands that look like something straight from the Med, here are 10 of the UK's best beaches for you to bum around on.

Have we left any of your favourite sandy spots out? Let us know in the comments section below.

1. Blackpool, Lancashire

Arguably Britain’s most iconic beach resort, Blackpool is home to bright lights, soft sands and of course, the Pleasure Beach. Whilst many enthusiastic thrill-seekers head down to the Lancashire coast during the summer months to ride the ‘Big One’, you should also check out The Big Switch On, the opening ceremony of the annual Blackpool Illuminations which begins each September and runs until early November.

Blackpool Tower and The Golden Mile Illuminations at night

2. Polzeath, Cornwall

In Cornish, Polzeath actually means ‘dry creek’, which is ironic, given the amount of blue stuff that laps the shore here. The long sloping beach makes it ideal for families wanting to splash about in the sunshine (when it appears) and you don’t need to go to Florida to swim with dolphins – they’ve been spotted off the coast right here in Cornwall! If you fancy stretching your legs then follow the coastal road away from the sands and around the corner to Daymer Bay – the waves here are smaller than at Polzeath so it’s a preferred spot for swimmers and windsurfers. If you want to explore the area even more then you can hire a car and drive out to Lundy Bay, Trebarwith Strand and right on to Port Isaac.

Polzeath, Cornwall, view across the sea from the cliff edge

3. Birling Gap, East Sussex

This seaside stop lies on Sussex’s South Downs, not far from Beachy Head, and shares the same stretch of famous white cliffs, which have featured in many films, books and TV shows; Beachy Head hosted Harry Potter’s 1994 Quidditch World Cup. There’s not much in the way of nightlife here, there’s a café, a shop and a visitor centre, all run by the National Trust. But it’s the perfect place for a bracing walk and a rummage in the rockpools.

Birling Gap, East Sussex, white cliffs above a grey pebble beach

4. Portbradden, County Antrim, Northern Ireland

Gone fishing. That’s the most common Facebook status for residents in this ancient salmon fishing station. That is if they can get internet signal. This remote hamlet is the prime place for fishing, and bird watching, but for a bit more action, Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge and the world famous Giant’s Causeway isn’t far away.

Overlooking White Park Bay & Portbradden
Credit: ©Grace Smith / CC BY 2.0

5. Crosby Beach, Merseyside, Liverpool

Escape from the chaos of one of Britain’s leading industrial cities, Liverpool, and head to Crosby beach, spanning the three miles from the Port of Liverpool to the River Alt. Here you’ll find Anthony Gormley’s sculptures, a collection titled Another Place, dotted along the shoreline, inspiring you to contemplate our relationship with nature as the tide reveals these life-size iron casts of the artist’s own body. There’s free parking at Mariners Road, Cambridge Road and Hall Road and dogs are very welcome – as long as they don’t scare away the birds!

Anthony Gormley statue of a naked man standing on Crosby Beach at sunset

6. Hunstanton, Norfolk

A popular spot for Victorian holidaymakers, Hunstanton (known by locals as ‘Hunston’) has everything you’d expect from a traditional British seaside town. Colourful beach huts? Check. Fairground? Check. Fresh fish and chips? Of course! We recommend Fishers of Hunstanton, which has been serving up vinegar drenched spuds in newspaper cones for over 40 years. Get out on the water with Searles Sea Tours and go on sea safari – the tour lasts an hour and gets you up close to some of the cutest seals on Britain’s shores (£16 for adults, £8 for children under 14).

Hunstanton Beach at sunset

7. Tenby, Pembrokeshire, Wales

There’s a lot of history in this tiny seaside town. From the thirteenth century walls that surround it, to the Tudor Merchant’s House, learn a bit about local history and visit some of the 200 listed buildings in Tenby. The beach is usually strewn with stripy deck chairs during summer, as it’s a popular day-tripper destination, with plenty of seafront pubs and cafés nearby. Trains from London and Birmingham take about five hours, so you might want to consider an overnight stop. If the sands get a little bit too crowded, set sail on a tour to Caldey Island on a boat tour, many of which are on offer departing from the harbour.

View of Tenby Harbour, multi-coloured houses on a sand beach, with Castle Hill

8. Saunton Sands, Devon

A fair few famous people have skipped along these shores, including Robbie Williams and Olly Murs, both heart-throbs having chosen Saunton Sands as a music video location. The quaint English seaside town in North Devon is also popular with surfers, so grab a board and hit the waves – first-timers should check out local surf schools Walking on Waves (07786 034403) or Surf South West (01271890400) for lessons. Or perhaps you want to go at a slower pace and enjoy a slice of village life? Hire deck chairs from ‘Jules’ along the seafront and tuck in to seasonal seaside grub at Sands Cafe. Enjoy a relaxing weekend break without stepping foot in a busy airport and find hotels in Devon here.

Saunton Sands Beach Huts

9. Dalmor Beach, Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides, Scotland

One half of Lewis and Harris, the largest island in the Scottish Outer Hebrides, the Isle of Lewis is home to plenty of wildlife, including golden eagles and red deer. Being an island that’s battered by the North Atlantic, there are also tons of sweet surf spots catering for all levels, including Dalmor and Dal Beag Beaches. You might want to pack a pretty thick wetsuit though as these waters get pretty nippy!

Dal Beag, Isle of Lewis, Scotland, UK
Credit: ©Andrew Bennett / CC BY 2.0

10. Aldeburgh, Suffolk

Looking for a spot to sit on a shingle beach and tuck in to a pot of mussels or vinegary cockles? You won’t get much better than Aldeburgh, whose stony beach has been awarded a Blue Flag for being environmentally friendly and an all-round pretty place. Check out The Scallop, a four-metre tall sculpture of a scallop shell dedicated to one of Suffolk and Norfolk’s most famous residents, composer Benjamin Britten. The easiest way to get here is by train – take the National Express East Anglia service from London Liverpool Street to Saxmundham station and Aldeburgh is just a short 15 minute drive away.

Aldeburgh, crystal ball on the pebble beach reflecting scallop statue

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Which is your favourite beach in the UK? Tell us in the comment box below!

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