As much as we love London, you can’t beat a day at the beach. Especially when the sun decides to make an appearance. Fortunately, there are lots of beaches near London that can be easily reached as a day trip by train or by car. So, grab your buckets and spades and get ready to feel the sand between your toes, eat fish and chips and maybe even take a dip!
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West Wittering, West Sussex
One of my favourite escapes to the seaside near London is West Wittering. This sandy beach near Chichester is perfect for families and regularly draws crowds who come for paddling in the shallow lagoons or hitting the waves when the conditions are right. The beach is particularly popular with windsurfers, kite-surfers and surfers.
The beach is lined with a row of brightly coloured beach huts that are available to hire. If you don’t have access to a beach hut then take your picnic to the grassy patch that sits behind them to avoid getting sand in your sandwiches.
West Wittering remains largely undeveloped but there are amenities including toilets, showers, parking and a cafe are available. During summer months lifeguards are on duty and deck chairs area available to hire. Surf lessons are also available.
The area is also a popular spot for twitchers so don’t forget your binoculars! Waders and wildfowl like to visit during the migratory season.
London to West Wittering by train: London Bridge or London Victoria train station, 2hrs
London to West Wittering by car: 2hr 30min
Eastbourne, East Sussex
Sandwiched between its noisy neighbour Brighton, and fun little sister Hastings, Eastbourne takes things at a much slower pace. The pebble beach stretches for four miles and it is possible to walk along most of it on a promenade. The southern aspect means you will usually have a lovely blast of sun as you stroll.
Eastbourne is known for its older population and it seems that the seafront caters for their tastes. Traditional entertainments abound all the way along. You can enjoy pretty flowers, cute tea rooms and the bandstand where bands still play those old standards.
However, it is possible to find paddle boarding, kayaking and windsurfing for those that fancy something a little more adventurous. Plus, if you keep walking west, a steep hill leads visitors up to the huge Beachy Head cliff and onto the Seven Sisters national park, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It’s quite a hike!
Extending 305m from the shore, Eastbourne Pier is a lovely way to walk above the waves. In the day time, the Victorian Tea Rooms serves classic cream teas for just £4.50. At night, a large club attracts a younger (drunker) crowd.
Trains travel directly to Eastbourne from London Victoria in about 90 minutes. Just remember to pack suntan cream, it’s no fun to be one of the bright pink people on the last train back to London!
London to Eastbourne by train: Victoria train station, 90 minutes.
London to Eastbourne by car: 2hr 20min
Rosie, Flying Fluskey
Dungeness is a shingle beach in Kent unique in the UK because it is one of the few places where the island is actually growing. Attesting to this fact is that there have been 7 lighthouses here since the 17th century. As the land built up and the sea receded, each new lighthouse was built successively further out to sea to make it useful for navigation.
In addition to visiting a couple of the lighthouses and hanging out on the beach, cool things to do in Dungeness are riding the steam train and visiting the nature reserve.
The Dungeness Nature Reserve, run by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, has hundreds of varieties of plants, birds and other wildlife. It is very popular with birdwatchers because it is a pitstop for many bird migrations providing both shingle beach and freshwater habitats. Fairly flat, the bird watching trail is an easy terrain for even young kids to walk.
The Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway is also a charming tourist attraction in Kent from a bygone era of steam trains. It’s a narrow-gauge railway with miniature trains perfect for children. This steam train runs from Hythe to Dungeness across the picturesque Romney Marsh. In Dungeness, the train station has a small cafe and an easy walk to the beach.
The Dungeness Nuclear Plant is the one thing that is not charming but unmissable in Dungeness thanks largely to its giant size. It is technically two nuclear stations with one of the nuclear station still in operation.
London to Dungeness by train: St Pancras train station, 2hr 40min
London to Dungeness by car: 2hr 30min
Shoba, Epic England Travel
Whitstable is regularly ranked as one of the best beaches in the UK. Plus it’s one of the most beautiful beaches near London . It is easily accessible both by public transport and by car. If you are driving to Whitstable, you should know that there is a large parking lot with reasonable fees just opposite the harbour.
Whitstable beach is covered with pebbles, similar with many of the beaches in England. It is long and divided by groynes, which are wooden beams going into the sea, with the role to prevent the shrinking of the beach. The beach is pretty wide and there is plenty of space for everyone. The more you walk towards the Neptune pub, the emptier the beach becomes.
Walking along the promenade parallel with the beach you will stumble upon the famous fishermen huts, which have now been transformed into self-catering accommodation.
Whitstable is famous for its oysters, which are in season between autumn and spring. There are several ethical restaurants that are selling the native Whitstable oysters. You can buy them as a takeaway and enjoy them on the beach or sit down at one of the oyster bars in town.
As it is a popular destination, especially in summer, try to make your trip to Whitstable responsible.
London to Whitstable by train: St Pancras or Victoria train stations, 1hr 20min
London to Whitstable by car: 1hr 50min
Joanna, The World in My Pocket
Hastings, East Sussex
Historic Hastings is a large and vibrant seaside town located on the east Sussex coast and is just 90 minutes away by train from London. Boasting a beautiful beach and picturesque renovated Victorian pier that stretches into the sea, Hastings is a classic coastal town. The beach is mostly made from sea smoothed pebbles but does have expanses of sand especially at low tide.
The nearby old town has all the traditional trappings including a cobbled high street, narrow streets, antique shops, numerous inns and pubs, plus several delicious fish and chip shops.
There are many other things to do in Hastings including riding England’s steepest cliff funicular railway, which allows you to easily get to the top for stunning views looking down on the beach and sea, as well as nearby protected coastal parks. You can also access the ruins of Hastings Castle which dates back to the 1070’s and was built during the Norman Conquest of Britain.
The history of Hasting is most evident on the nearby coastal area known as the Stade, Europe’s oldest fishing beach. The Stade consists of colourful fishing posts, old fishing huts and seafood stalls selling fish that have come out of the sea earlier. This place is often used as a filming location for TV and films, especially period dramas.
London to Hastings by train: St Pancras, London Bridge or Victoria from 1hr 25min
London to Hastings by car: 2hr 20min
Caroline, CK Travels
Brighton, East Sussex
One of the most popular beaches near London – as well as being the closest beach to London – Brighton Beach is known for its vibrant pier and fairground scenes. The beach not only offers visitors spectacular sea views but a plethora of recreational activities. The Victorian styled seaside pier on the Brighton Beach is lined up with carnival style food stalls, cocktail bars and gaming arcades.
Take a stroll around the seaside promenade and pick up some fish and chips or ice cream. Indulge in adventurous water activities such as kayaking, surfing and ziplining over the Brighton Beach.
The beach is also home to the world’s tallest moving observation tower, the British Airways i360. Just walk into the observation deck and it will ascend you to the highest limit of the tower. The panoramic views of the beach are breathtaking.
The beach is pebbled and rocky so make sure to bring in your beach blankets. Beach chairs are easily available at the beach. Brighton Beach is easily reachable within one and half hour from London by bus or car.
London to Brighton by train: London Bridge or Victoria 1hr
London to Brighton by car: 2hr 10min
Anjali, Cheerful Trails
Southend-on-Sea is a great place for a day trip from London. It is one of those classic seaside towns with a fairground, retro arcade games, candy floss and fish & chips. There is plenty to keep kids and adults amused!
If you tire of the games and want something calmer, walk the pier. It is famous for being the longest pleasure pier in the world. Built in 1830, it stretches for 1.34 miles from the shore, so be ready for a long walk! Don’t worry though, there are plenty of benches along the pier if you want to stop and enjoy the views along the way.
There are also distance markers showing how far you’ve come and how far there is to go, so you can keep track!
Top tip! have your fish & chips at the shore, rather than the end of the pier, where it is more expensive.
Southend-on-Sea is on the Thames estuary, so at the right moment of the tide coming in or out, when the water is just covering the banks, the smooth water reflects the sky like a mirror.
London to Southend-on-Sea by train: London Liverpool St or Fenchurch St 1hr
London to Southend-on-Sea by car: 1hr 40min
Martha, May Cause Wanderlust
Camber Sands, East Sussex
One of the best beaches near London is Camber Sands located in East Sussex on the South Coast of England. If you are coming by car then this picturesque beach is a 2 hour drive from London which makes it a great day out with your family. If you want to come by train then take one from London St Pancras and change at Ashford and get a train to Rye. From here you have local buses going to Camber Sands.
What makes this beach so special is the fine golden sand which you don’t normally find on the Sussex Coast (you’ll find pebbles instead). Best of all you have plenty of space to enjoy the beach as it stretches out 5 miles. It is also a great beach for families with little children because when the tide is out there are large puddles of water for little ones to splash in.
This beach is also home to sand dunes which adds to its uniqueness and wilderness. You can either enjoy a nice picnic amongst the grassy dunes or if you feel like a family friendly pub then try the Ship Inn; they have a variety of delicious options.
London to Camber Sands by train: London St. Pancras to Ashford, Ashford to Rye 1hr 43min
London to Camber Sands by car: Approx. 1 hr
Asha, Home Travel Guide
Many of the beaches on England’s south coast are disappointingly pebbly but if it’s golden sands you’re after, look no further than Margate.
Located on the north part of the Kent coast, Margate fully deserves its reputation as one of the UK’s most up-and-coming seaside towns. Until recently a rather deprived and run-down community, Margate is going through a revival, and now boasts pretty streets full of pastel-painted houses, cafés serving delicious pastries, independent boutiques and a thriving vintage fashion scene.
Enjoy cocktails and seafood at the Buoy and Oyster or a relaxing pint at Cinque Ports pub. Or if you prefer something simpler, just grab a fresh hot takeaway fish’n’chips from Peter’s Fish Factory and eat it on the steps overlooking the sea.
Margate is just one and a half hours by train or about two hours by car from London, and about 30 minutes from the cathedral city of Canterbury. It’s a great option for a day trip if you’re feeling the need to soak up some ‘Vitamin Sea’.
London to Margate by train: London St. Pancras 1hr 30min
London to Margate by car: Approx. 2 hr
Bella, Passport & Pixels
Botany Bay, Kent
Located on the Kentish coast, Botany Bay is the most northern of seven bays in Broadstairs. Visitors can enjoy the unspoilt sandy bay famous for its white chalk stacks and low cliffs. The award-winning bay is also a favourite for water sport fans, its clear waters are perfect for sea kayaking and surfing.
This is not where you’ll find the noisy penny slot machines or sticks of rock, but instead have a chance to enjoy nature. It’s ideal for families with safe bathing and seasonal lifeguards. There is plenty to explore from mysterious hidden caves to wonderful rock pools. The bay has no official facilities, but there is a hotel with a restaurant and small café on the beach – picnics are highly recommended.
There are two easy ways to travel to Botany Bay from London. Driving will take 1.5 – 2 hours depending on traffic. Free on-street parking is available of Percy Avenue and Marine Drive, but this does get busy on sunny days. Pay and displays are available in Broadstairs town centre which is a 30-minute walk away from the bay.
Otherwise you can hop on a train from St Pancras International to Broadstairs which takes 1.5 hours to your perfect seaside escape.
London to Botany Bay by train: London St. Pancras 1hr 30min
London to Botany Bay by car: 1.5hr – 2hrs
Sima, The Curious Pixie
West Mersea Beach, Essex
A good beach for a day trip from London, is to West Mersea Beach on Mersea Island in Essex. The best way to visit is by car, with a journey from London taking just under 2 hours. Unfortunately it can’t be reached by train because twice a day, for one week each month, the main causeway across to the island is covered during high tide!
Victoria Esplanade is a large pay and display car park, which has a coin machine or can be paid online on the MIPermit website.
The beach is stoney in areas but the sea is shallow, making it great for families with younger kids. It’s also popular with paddle boarders due to the calm water around the island. The beach is framed with a row of brightly coloured beach huts, making it photogenic too.
Along the beach are a couple of cafes (Seaview Cafe or The Two Sugars Cafe) with hot takeaway food, plus a small beach shop with ice creams and beach toys. A 30 minute walk away, in the main town area, are several restaurants serving oysters. Mersea Island is known for its oysters and has been harvesting them since the Roman times!
London to West Mersea by car: 2hrs
Kylie, Essex Explored
Seven Sisters, East Sussex
Seven Sisters is a beautiful stretch of coastline in East Sussex between Seaford and Eastbourne. It is named for its seven cliffs across the oceanfront and it’s such a breath-taking landscape to see. If you love hiking and nature, this is the place for you!
The most notable stops include South Hill Barn, Seaford Head Nature Reserve, Seaford Head, Birling Gap, South Downs Way, and Cuckmere Valley. You will find the most famous view of Seven Sisters at Seaford Head where you will find the mesmerizing beautiful white chalk cliffs. The Seven Sisters cliffs beach is where you can relax after a scenic hike and lunch at an eatery called The View.
The best time to visit is in spring and summer when the wildflowers are present and the weather is warmer. Seven Sisters is located one and a half hours from London, which makes it the perfect beach getaway.
To get there you can take the train from Victoria to Eastbourne then use the walking trails to arrive. The journey time takes one and a half hours. Another option is taking the bus from Brighton or driving which takes just under 2 hours (118 km from London).
London to Seven Sisters by train: London Victoria to Eastbourne 1hr 30min, from here it’s an 8 mile walk. Or train to Brighton and then the 12X bus.
London to Seven Sisters by car: Approx. 2hrs
Jackie, Jou Jou Travels
Viking Bay, Kent
Viking Bay in the cute seaside town of Broadstairs makes a great day trip from London. It’s also one of the best sandy beaches near London.
Take the train from St Pancras International to Ramsgate and then change to a train to Broadstairs. The whole journey should take about 1hr 35minutes. The beach is only a 10-minute-walk from the station.
You can even bring the bikes on the train and cycle the Viking Coastal Trail, which is a 32 mile (51.4km) circular route on the Isle of Thanet. The Harbour also has a car park if you prefer to drive.
Viking Bay is a fantastic place for families, couples and individuals. You can truly experience the British seaside at its finest. Watersport lovers can hire surfboards from Kent Surf School. They also provide lessons, if you are keen to learn.
The promenade is full of cafes and restaurants. No trip to the beach would be complete without some fish and chips and ice cream!
There are lots of things to do for families as well if building sandcastles, flying a kite and swimming isn’t enough entertainment. There’s minigolf, bouncy castle and many different rides. A big bonus is that there are public toilets available as well. For peace of mind, there are coastguards watching in peak season.
London to Viking Bay by train: London St. Pancras 1hr 35min.
London to Viking Bay by car: 2hr 30min
Eniko, Travel Hacker Girl
Littlehampton Beach, Sussex
Littlehampton is a lovely family friendly beach located in the west of Sussex. Home to two award winning beaches – East Beach and West Beach, with buzzing promenade and picnic areas. This, combined with proximity to London is what makes Littlehampton a great beach destination and day trip for family travellers.
Littlehampton town itself is a charming seaside town that sits at the mouth of River Arun. A walk along River Arun is an alternate activity, if you arrive to find it’s not a beach day kind of weather. The beach is also home to the longest bench in the UK, which can seat 300 people. It runs from the seafront kiosks to the East Beach café.
There are amusements and rides at Harbour Park, which is located on the east side of the beach. A toy train ride is also available at the promenade. The beach has toilet facilities, and cafes too.
Direct trains from London Victoria takes you to Littlehampton station in around 1hr 45min. From the station, you can take a 10 minute walk to the beach. Clean beach, family friendly and with shallow waters, Littlehampton makes for a perfect day trip from central London.
London to Littlehampton by train: London Victoria 1hr 45mins
London to Littlehampton by car: 2hr 30min
Anuradha, Country Hopping Couple
The coastal city of Bournemouth, situated in Dorset, is an excellent beach destination from London. With a 2-hour direct train from London Waterloo, you can spend a lovely day here relaxing on the seven-mile-long golden sands beach.
If you’re looking for some activities on your beach trip, Bournemouth will not disappoint either as Bournemouth beach and the city itself is packed with interesting places and things to do.
Take a long stroll along the Bournemouth promenade that stretches from Sandbanks all the way to Hengistbury Head which is also excellent for hiking. The length of the promenade is approximately 10 miles which makes it a perfect cycling path suitable for the whole family.
Visit the iconic Bournemouth Pier jammed packed with traditional British seaside attractions such as amusement arcade, souvenir stores and fish and chips shops. If you like a little bit of an adrenalin surge, go on a Bournemouth zip wire. You will ride from the pier to the beach at 25m above the sea!
Other fun things to do in Bournemouth include mini-golfing at the City’s Lower Park situated right by the beach, a balloon ride from the same park and a visit to the Bournemouth Oceanarium.
London to Bournemouth by train: London Waterloo 1hr 45mins
London to Bournemouth by car: 2hr 30min
By Mal form Raw Mal Roams
Osea Island, Essex
Not many may have heard of Osea Island but this small island located near the Dengie National Nature Reserve situated on the Blackwater Estuary is located 1-2 hours drive from London.
The access to the tiny island is via a tidal road similar to St. Michaels Mount in Cornwall that’s available only for 4 hours when the tide is low. It is then that you can drive to the island. When the tide is high, you can catch a river taxi from near Maldon, which gets you here in about 10 minutes.
What makes Osea Island unique is that remnants of the past can be seen on the island starting with the causeway, which was built during the Roman times.
However, unlike the other beaches listed here, access to Osea Island is primarily for guests staying at the Osea Island resort. Cottages, houses and apartments are available to hire. You can even hire the entire island if you like!
Due to the exclusive nature the wildlife on the island is undisturbed and the beaches are almost private. Irrespective of the weather, there’s quite a lot to do on Osea Island.
You can take a walk on the beach or go on a bicycle ride. There’s even a shack with movies available if it’s raining. For foodies there’s an Oyster shack and the Bomb factory that are both worth a try.
London to Osea Island by train: London Liverpool St to Witham station (50mins), followed by a taxi
London to Osea Island by car: 1hr – 2hrs
Lavinia, Continent Hop
Minnis Bay, Kent
One of the best beaches near London is Minnis Bay. This is a beautiful beach with a long stretch of sand that you can easily reach from the city.
Moreover, it is a rather quiet beach, which is great if you are looking for a relaxing spot. This also makes it a great place for a quiet beach walk. Or, you can listening to a beach playlist!
Minnis Bay is also great place for doing water sports. Also, there are places for food next to the beach including the Minnis Bay Bar & Brasserie. From here you have a wonderful view of the beach and the food is delicious. They serve a modern variant of classic British cuisine.
You can reach the beach by public transport by first going to Birchington by train. From there, you can take a bus to Minnis Bay. This journey takes about 2 hours.
Alternatively, you can reach the beach by car, which takes about 1.5 to 2 hours. Also, there is free parking at the beach, which makes it more convenient to go here by car. Because of this, going by both public transport and car is convenient.
London to Minnis Bay by train: London St Pancras to Birchington followed by the bus, 1hr 45min – 2hrs.
London to Minnis Bay by car: 2hrs