It’s the perfect time to plan a visit to the British coast, with many of us choosing staycations and day trips this summer. Luckily, you don’t have to venture far to find stunning beaches to explore, whatever the weather. We’ve rounded up Britain’s 10 most beautiful beaches to give you plenty of ideas. Now all you have to do is find your bucket and spade.

1. Rhossili Bay, Glamorgan, Wales

Useful info: Dog friendly

Rhossili Bay has been named one of the world’s best beaches, alongside some absolute stunners, in locations like Thailand, Hawaii and Brazil. And we can see why. The Bay is a spectacular golden curve of sand on the edge of the Gower Peninsula, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Most summers, fields behind the beach are blanketed with thousands of sunflowers, adding to the incredible view.

Explore the area with a map of the Gower Peninsula 

2. Bournemouth Beach, Dorset, England

Bournemouth Beach, Pier, Sea and Sand
Bournemouth Beach, Pier, Sea and Sand

Useful info: Lifeguards in season, dog friendly (with restrictions), accessible

Bournemouth Beach is the location for you if you’re after a buzzy feel to your beach trip. Its sandy shores have plenty of water sports on offer and a Victorian pier to explore, featuring its own zip wire and amusements. If you fancy a swim, it’s the perfect spot too, with the warm water benefitting from its own microclimate. The beach itself was named the UK’s best in the 2019 TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards.

Use an Ordnance Survey (OS) map to plan your visit

3. Sandwood Bay, Sutherland, Scotland

Useful info: Dog friendly (with restrictions)

Visit Scotland says Sandwood Bay is considered “one of the most unspoilt beaches in the whole of mainland Britain”. The beach, near Cape Wrath in north-west Scotland, can only be reached by a four-mile-long footpath, but it’s worth the effort. You’ll find a glorious stretch of sand backed by sand dunes, cliffs and Sandwood Loch. From the beach you’ll also see the Am Buachaille sea stack majestically rising from the wild Atlantic. In times gone by, there were claims of mermaids emerging from the water, another sight to look out for!

Plan your visit to the area with an Ordnance Survey (OS) map

4. Woolacombe Beach, Devon, England

Sand Dunes and Woolacombe Beach in Devon
Sand Dunes and Woolacombe Beach in Devon

Useful info: Lifeguards in season, some accessibility, dog friendly (with restrictions)

You’ll need your bucket and spade when visiting the three miles of golden sand at Woolacombe – the perfect spot for sandcastle building. The north Devon beach has an air of tradition about it, with pretty, colourful beach huts lining some of the sand. Surfers are attracted here by its powerful Atlantic waves. It’s right by the South West Coast Path too, so is a great spot for walkers.

Plan your visit with an OS map

5. Luskentyre Sands, Harris, Scotland

Useful info: No lifeguards

You could be forgiven for thinking you’ve stepped onto a Caribbean beach when you visit Luskentyre Sands – weather aside! The beach, on the Isle of Harris, is an expanse of pure white sand and crystal-clear waters. Standing on the spectacular beach, you can see Harris’ towering mountains, as well as nearby Taransay Island, the location of the BBC series Castaway 2000. If you’re lucky you might also spot wild ponies among the sand dunes.

Find out more with an OS map of South Harris

6. Barafundle Bay, Pembrokeshire, Wales

Useful info: Dog friendly

This remote, sandy beach merges into sand dunes and lush woodland as you move inland, making for an excellent view. It has a Green Coast Award for being an unspoilt, hidden gem and it’s certainly deserving of the accolade. There are no facilities on the beach, but you can find a bathroom and café at the nearest car park. You might want to bring your own food and refreshments anyway. The beach was once named the best UK spot for a picnic by Country Life magazine.

Find a map of Barafundle Bay

7. Porthcurno Beach, Cornwall, England

Porthcurno Beach, Cornwall, England
Porthcurno Beach, Cornwall, England

Useful info: Dog friendly (with restrictions), lifeguards in season

Porthcurno Beach is a stunning white shell beach sheltered by high granite cliffs. On one of these cliffs stands the Minack Theatre, a unique spot to enjoy an open-air play. Look out for Treen Castle, a clifftop fortress, too. Poldark fans may recognise the beach as the iconic Nampara Cove. Scenes from the popular show were shot at Porthcurno.

Discover more about the area with an OS map

8. West Sands Beach, Fife, Scotland

Useful info: Dog friendly (with restrictions), lifeguards in season, accessible

Head to West Sands Beach in St Andrews for a seaside trip with an urban feel. It’s a short walk from the town centre and you can see the historic settlement from the sand. There are lots of activities on offer if you want a shot of adrenaline injected into your trip. Think land yachting, surfing and kayaking. Of course, you may prefer a gentle stroll along its two miles of golden sand, made famous in the opening sequence of Chariots of Fire.

Use an OS map to arrange your visit

9. Harlech Beach, Gwynedd, Wales

Harlech beach north west Wales UK by the castle
Harlech beach north west Wales UK by the castle

Useful info: Dog friendly (with restrictions)

Wherever you stand on Harlech’s golden sands there’s something incredible to see. The beach lies within Snowdonia National Park and has fine views of its many peaks. Harlech is unique for the growing system of sand dunes rising from the landscape. Look out for leatherback turtles in the summer, too. They’re often spotted feeding in the blue waters.

Pick up an OS map to explore the area

10. Bamburgh Beach, Northumberland, England

Useful info: Dog friendly

Bamburgh is a beach where history swirls enticingly round you on its windswept coast. The past feels ever present as you gaze at the imposing castle rising up behind the beach, or out across the water to the Farne Islands and Lindisfarne. The unspoilt beach is ideal for a blustery walk, where you can get back to basics and enjoy the landscape.

Plan your trip with an OS map of Holy Island & Bamburgh

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