17 Best Beach Day Trips from London for Summer Fun

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Looking for the best beach day trips from London? Well here are 17 of the best beaches near London to visit on a day trip. From sandcastles and surfing to soft-serve ice creams, these beaches have it all.

One of the biggest perks of living on a relatively small island is the inevitable proximity to the coastline.

On many islands, this means being close to beaches, and the UK has a coastline full of them.

Let’s not get it twisted, the waters around the British Isles are not the most tropical (this is coming from someone born in Jamaica).

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But come summer, a little sun and a rise in mercury, many Londoners, myself included, like to pack up our beach towels, pull on our shorts and head to the beach.

We try our best to take advantage of the five days of sun we get during summer in the UK.

With the smog of the city somewhat overwhelming at times, it can be hard to think of a nice beach near London.

Surprisingly there are quite a few beaches near London. So, whether you are looking to feel the sand between your toes on a weekend off work, seek something a little different on your holiday to London, or are simply searching for a day trip to the seaside away from the city, there are some simply stunning beaches close to London to explore.

Perfect for everything from surfing, to walking the dog, to building sandcastles, to lazing on the seafront with a cold glass of Pimm’s.

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London and the surroundings have some great beaches, all less than just two hours away, so let’s get into the best beach day trips from London.

If you are looking for more day trips from London, you’ll love my list of 30 day trips from London by train guide.

Best Beaches Near London for Seaside Day Trips

You’re going to love these seaside day trips from London. Wait for a sunny day, fill your beach bag with all the makings for a beautiful beach day and get excited for some fun in the sun!

Ruislip Lido, West London

Probably the closest beach to London, without being on the banks of the Thames when the tide is out, Ruislip Lido is an artificial beach and reservoir in the London Borough of Hillingdon.

With boating facilities having been available since 1933, Ruislip Lido also has its own railway, which opened in 1945, and will provide a much-needed lift around the waterway when the sunshine is just too hot to trek in.

One of the only ‘beaches’ in London, the area boasts over 700 acres of woodland, nature trails and a pirate ship making Ruislip Lido much more than just sand-between-the-toes.

Whilst swimming is not officially allowed as there are no lifeguards, there is a children’s splash pool and plenty of space for beach games and sunbathing.

How To Get Here | Ruislip and Northwood Hills train stations serve the area within a 20-minute walk with lots of parking also available, if you decide to drive.

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Frensham Beach, Surrey

Often rated ‘excellent’ by environment agencies, this landlocked beach offers everything you would expect of a coastal counterpart.

From sunbathing on the sand to swimming and soft-serve ice cream  🍦 (what British seaside dreams are made of), this beach offers Frensham Pond for a refreshing dip.

For something more unconventional, there is also a sculpture park where over 300 artists showcase over 800 weird and wonderful statues. This will keep you entertained for hours.

The exhibit is open all year round but is particularly popular in the summer, with all of the sculptures actually being for sale, so no two visits to the park will be the same. Frensham Beach is one of the best beaches close to London.

How To Get Here | You can get here by train from central London in under two hours, via Farnham or Guildford from London Waterloo.

Whitstable Beach, Kent

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Whilst you may know Whitstable for its seafood, here you actually have a choice of beaches so you can pick the one best suited to your mood.

West Beach is best for strolling along the coastline, whilst Tankerton Beach is pebbly and arguably the most picturesque area.

At Tankerton, be sure to check out ‘The Street’, a stretch of shingle that becomes visible at low tide and is almost a kilometre long.

As the tide starts to close in, head to one of the town’s famous seafood restaurants, with some of the best oysters in all of the UK.

Visiting the Whitstable beaches are hands down one of my favourite seaside day trips from London by train.

These places will not disappoint, just remember to carry your wireless speaker and play some tunes as you relax on the beach.

Whitstable is one of the best beach towns near London for a seaside day. If you’re heading that way you can also check out my post on the top things to do in Whitstable beach.

How To Get Here | Easy to access from London, it takes around 90 minutes to get to Whitstable from London Victoria or St Pancras International.

Botany Bay, Kent

Not to be confused with Botany Bay in Sydney, Australia, this one is much closer to home, located near Broadstairs in Kent.

Between Ramsgate and Margate, this understated stretch of UK coastline is some of the most photographed in the country.

Botany Bay

Unlike many beach resorts, you will not find slot machines or funfair rides on this seafront location.

This is one of the best sandy beaches near London, Botany has a very classy vibe to it. Instead of slot machines, there is 600 feet of sandy beach to enjoy, numerous rock pools to explore and ample fossils to hunt on this stretch of chalky cliffs.

How To Get Here | Just over an hour and a half from St Pancras by train, Botany Bay can also be reached by car in around two hours from the city.

Brighton Beach, East Sussex

One of the rockier beaches on this list. But one of the most well-known shingle beaches close to London.

Brighton Beach is adorned with pebbles and is best suited for surfing, paddle boarding and water-based activities.

You can also treat yourself to ice cream on the famous pier or find a local cafe to pick up the quintessentially English idea of fish and chips out of yesterday’s newspaper.

With lots of coloured beach huts lining the seafront, Brighton Beach has something for all of the family on the sunniest of summer days and an old school arcade to keep everyone entertained if the famously unpredictable British weather decides to turn on you. Brighton beach is one of the best beach day trips from London by train.

How To Get Here | You can catch the train from London to Brighton beach from stations such as Victoria and London Bridge, taking around an hour.

Hot tip: There is so much to do in the alternative, vibrant city of Brighton. If you want to turn your day trip into an overnight stay then check out the funky Artist Residence Hotel.

Sunny Sands, Kent

A popular sandy beach, close to central Folkestone in Kent. Sunny Sands beach benefits from a great selection of amenities.

This includes a range of restaurants and lots of shops to slip into, should you be caught in a summer storm.

With air described as delicious by Charles Dickens himself, it is no surprise that Sunny Beach is a popular retreat with Londoners looking to escape the smoggy, city air.

One of the closest sandy beaches to London, accessible in under an hour from St Pancras station, the sand quality on this beach is so good it plays host to the annual sandcastle building competition.

Yes, there is an annual sandcastle building competition, so get your shovels at the ready.

The only bummer is dogs are banned during the busier months, between May to October, the beach does have a lifeguard service on weekends throughout summer, and fantastic water quality for swimming, surfing and other water-based activities. Sunny Sands is also one of the most beautiful beaches near London.

How To Get Here | Hop on a 52-minute train from London St Pancras International to Folkestone Central.

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Camber Sands, East Sussex

Camber Sands is one of the beaches close to London that would be able to easily pass as idyllic.

With an impressive five miles of coastline and clear, calm waters (if you close your eyes, you can just imagine yourself on the beaches in Negril, you will have to imagine really hard thou 🤣), Camber Sands is about 4 miles from the town of Rye.

Prone to a crowd or two in the summer, the beach is very popular with city folks looking to try their hand at something new – from kitesurfing to horse riding, you can try it all and so much more at Camber Sands.

Looking almost Arabian, the sand dunes are kept in place by chestnut fences and billowy grasses.

How To Get Here | About an hour and forty minutes outside London, Camber Sands can be reached by train from St Pancras via Ashford. It is also around two hours from the city by car.

Hastings, West Sussex

Aww good old Hasting, a place you should visit at least once. It’s a predominantly shingle beach, Hastings beach is kept in place by a series of groynes.

This being said, however, there is often sand to be seen at low tide so you could technically say it is a mix of shingle and sand along the shore.

Hastings Beach

Whilst it may once have had a reputation for being a bit rough and broken down, extensive investment in the area in recent years has really made waves when it comes to the rejuvenation of the area.

Particularly good for families with older children, again due to being primarily shingle, standout facilities include an underground BMX skate park which happens to be the biggest in the world.

With nature trails to track in the coastal country park, and Hastings Castle to explore if 11th century Norman fortresses are your thing. Hastings also offers a funicular railway to get some great views of the area.

How To Get Here |  Trains connect central London with Hastings in just under two hours and run regularly from Charing Cross and St Pancras stations.

 Margate, Kent

Probably one of the most popular beaches with Londoners looking to escape the city smog, Margate beach on the Kent coast is full of charm.

With a strong Tudor influence in the town, Margate Sands is one of the more typical British seaside experiences.

The soft sandy beach is often lined with colourful parasols and windbreaks in the summer months and is just as scenic for a winter walk in the colder months.

With the Old Town offering independent galleries, pubs and lots of vintage shops to immerse yourself in, there is also a theme park dating back to 1880. I did say you’ll get a very British seaside experience here.

Even though the rides have been updated since then, the rides are pretty traditional – think dodgems, Ferris wheels and teacups.

One of the slightly more unusual things to do in Margate would be to visit the Shell Grotto.

An underground chamber stretching 30 metres into the chalky hills and decorated with an impressive 4.6 million shells.

How To Get Here | Margate is very well connected to central London, and there are regular trains connecting the Kent town with London Victoria and St Pancras stations. The journey time is approximately ninety minutes.

Southend-on-Sea, Essex

Located right at the end of the River Thames, Southend-on-Sea has an impressive eight beaches.

Although some of the beaches are somewhat less impressive than other beaches featured on this list, Westcliff and Chalkwell Beach are still quite pretty, and Three Shells is the most central one.

Some of the beaches in Southend are pretty small, such as the Leigh Bell Wharf beach, meaning they can get pretty crowded on the hot summer days. Southend-on-Sea is great if you want to have a quiet seaside experience.

How To Get Here | Direct trains from London to Southend, running from Liverpool Street and Fenchurch Street stations run regularly and take about an hour.

Ramsgate, Kent

One of the easiest seaside towns to access from central London is Ramsgate in Kent. It takes between ninety minutes and an hour and a half to reach and makes for one of the best beach day trips from London.

Sandy Beach Ramsgate

Regular, direct trains depart from a variety of stations across the capital, including London Victoria, St Pancras and Charing Cross.

With pretty chalky cliffs, a harbour, a marina and some retro fairground ride for the children, Ramsgate beach is one of the most popular beach options for families in London.

Home to the UK’s only Royal Harbour, a visit to Ramsgate beach can also be accompanied by a trip to the Maritime Museum or by visiting the Monkton Nature Reserve.

Ramsgate Beach

If you are determined to stay on the sands, why not try your hand at kitesurfing, which is one of the most popular things to try on Ramsgate beach.

How To Get Here | The train from St Pancras to Ramsgate takes 1 hour 15 minutes and runs regularly.

Deal Beach, Kent

Deal beach is punctuated by a pier that dates back to the 1950s, arguably perhaps the most common era that springs to mind when you think of an old school, a seaside resort on the UK coast.

Although the pier is far from the prettiest in the world, it is lined with places to fish and lots of cafes to sample.

With a 16th century fortress in Deal Castle to visit and another fortress built by King Henry VIII himself in Walmer Castle and gardens, a visit to Deal Beach can give you far more than sun loungers and ice cream.

You can try your hand at fossil collecting in the woodland areas near the beach and even cycling in Betteshanger Park.

Offering impressive views across to France on a clear day, Deal Beach can be reached in under two hours from St Pancras via Dover Priory, although trains are not as regular as other beaches on the same coast.

How To Get Here | There are no direct trains from London to Deal Beach. Even so, it’s a quick journey by train from St Pancras, London with one change and taking 1 hour and 40 minutes.

Walton on the Naze, Essex

With the second-longest pier in England, to put it simply, there is a lot to do on a visit to Walton on the Naze.

From searching for bird fossils and hunting for turtles, to scaling an old shipping tower now being used as an art gallery, almost 90ft into the sky, for the best panoramic views of the Essex coastline, there is no shortage of exciting things to do here.

If none of this tickles your fancy, why not try seal spotting in the harbour or at the Hamford Water Nature Reserve.

If it is wildlife you seek, try taking a boat trip to explore the salt marshes, grasslands and tidal creeks.

How To Get Here | Walton on the Naze is a Blue Flag beach and is reachable from central London in under two hours.

Trains run via Thorpe le Soken from Liverpool Street station and take around one hour and fifty minutes.

Dungeness, Kent

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Just a beach pebble’s throw from Camber Sands, Dungeness is the largest stretch of shingle beach in Europe. Impressive, I know 😊.

One of the less crowded beaches near London, this beach is not quite the place to don your swimsuit and grab an ice cream.

A more eerie beauty than touristically appealing, Dungeness is striking in a completely different way to many beaches on this list.

Littered with fishing huts and aircraft control towers from the 1930s, the concrete aesthetic of Dungeness makes for a very different day trip to the seaside from London. A truly unforgettable experience, Dungeness is home to the smallest passenger railway in the world.

Offering what many call the best fish and chips on the Kent coast, Dungeness is definitely worth a visit.

Although Dungeness is not very well connected when it comes to public transport links to London, it is best reached by car, in less than two hours drive from the city.

How To Get Here | Hop on a train from London St Pancras to Ashford International. From there take a bus to the Lydd-on-Sea.

Mersea Island, Essex

The most easterly inhabited island in the UK, a visit to Mersea Island in Essex may require a little more planning than you would normally put into a quick London beach escape. This is because the island gets cut off when the tide comes in.

To access the island, you need to go via the Strood, essentially a Roman road linking the island with the mainland.

Mersea Island Beach Hut

If it is an adventure, you seek on your beach trip, head to the east of Mersea Island for hunting shark tooth fossils and animal bones.

If it is food you dream of, try exploring the west of the island for a range of oyster bars or head to the vineyard and brewery for a souvenir to remember. For a day trip with a difference visit Mersea island beaches London.

How To Get Here | Accessed in around two hours by car, you can also take a train from Liverpool Street to Colchester, before changing for a bus to the island.

Priory Bay Beach, Isle of Wight

Offering the beauty, pristine sands and peace and quiet that you just don’t get in central London, the beaches on the Isle of Wight are far removed from the chaos of the capital, despite being only a few hours from the city.

It’s a lovely change from the pebbly beach options on this list. If travelling by train and the ‘Fast Cat’ boat service, you can be on the Isle within two hours.

One of the most popular areas on the tiny island, Priory Bay is set within an impressive 60-acre estate.

Dog friendly between St Helens and Seagrove, Priory Bay beach is truly one for all of the family.

From exploring the nearby woodlands and greeting otters, owls and alpacas at Seaview Wildlife Encounter, to taking a food tour, to exploring historical ruins, there is lots more to Priory Bay than simply lying on the beach, although that is also a brilliant option.

How To Get Here | Catch a train from London Waterloo to Portsmouth. From Portsmouth, you can catch the ferry for your Isle day trip from London.

Bournemouth Beach, Dorset

A favourite with people of all ages, Bournemouth beach stretches for over seven miles along the south coast of the UK.

The majority of the beach is sandy, although there are some pebbly sections if that is what you prefer.

Bournemouth beach has something to suit everyone. Within easy access from London Waterloo station, the journey time is close to two hours by train.

Even on a busy day, there is still ample space to lay down your towel. With lots of boutique shops and high street stores, shopping is also great at Bournemouth beach, with gardens to explore too and plenty of space to run fast enough to get even the most stubborn of kites into the sky. Bournemouth beach is truly one for a relaxing beach day.

How To Get Here | Catch a direct train from London Waterloo to Bournemouth Station which is a short walk from the beach.

What is the Closest Beach to London?

Southend-on-Sea is the closest seaside town to London with 8 beaches to pick from. If it is just a sandy beachy feel that you seek, or perhaps you live closer to the west of London, Ruislip Lido is also a great choice nearby.

What Beaches Are Near London by Train and Bus?

All of the beaches in this list are accessible within two hours of the capital. With the exception of the Isle of Wight, which includes a boat, all can be accessed via public transport, with most of them having decent train links to the capital.

What is the Best Beach Day Trip From London?

Walton on Naze is a great beach if you are looking for more than just laying on the sand and building sandcastles as there is so much to do in the area.

Bournemouth beach is one of the biggest and the best options for those looking to lay on the sand and build sandcastles.

If you seek more than this on your beach day quest, Walton on Naze is a fantastic option, offering an array of activities and great amenities.

So when you feel like you have seen enough of Buckingham Palace or don’t fancy sitting in one of London’s vast expanses of parkland, why not head to one of these seaside towns near the capital?

Some of the best beaches in the UK are within easy reach of the city, making for a whole host of great seaside day trips from London within about two hours.

Places with beaches near London are popular year-round with people looking to escape the sometimes harsh city heat.

Others are just desperate to get away from the unrelenting heat of the Central Line at rush hour. Whatever your reason for the escape, be sure to visit one of the best seaside towns near London.

Which one of these destinations will be your next London beach day trip?

These are some of the best day beach trips from London.

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