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.
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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). But, come summer, with 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, or seek something a little different on your holiday to London, there are some simply stunning beaches close to London to explore.
A beach day trip from London is perfect for everything from surfing to walking the dog, to building sandcastles or even sitting on the seafront with a cold glass of Pimm’s.
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.
Tip: If you are looking for more day trips from London, you’ll love my list of 30 day trips from London by train guide.
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!
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. It’s one of the best London seaside day trips because you don’t have to leave the city.
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.
So the next time you’re wondering which sandy beaches are near you remember that Ruislip Lido is a stone’s throw away from the perfect day out at the beach.
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.
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.
You can get here by train from central London in under two hours, via Farnham or Guildford from London Waterloo.
Tip: Check out this guide on the 30 best day trips from London by train, car and tour for more options.
Whilst you may know Whitstable for its seafood, here you actually have a great choice of beaches so, you can pick the one best suited to your mood. Whitstable is one of the best places to visit in Kent and is quite popular with sun seekers because of its stunning beaches.
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.
Along with a day trip from London to Dover, visiting the Whitstable beaches are hands down some 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.
Easy to access from London, it takes around 90 minutes to get to Whitstable from London Victoria or St Pancras International train stations.
Tip: Check out my detailed guide on how to get from London to Whitstable by train, car and bus.
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. 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 Bay 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, making it one of the best beaches in Kent.
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.
Tip: If you’re looking to turn your day trip to Botany Bay into an overnight stay, book a stay at the cosy Botany Bay Hotel.
Brighton is definitely one of the rockier beaches on this list. But it is one of the most well-known shingle beaches close to London and is a popular city break destination.
Brighton Beach is adorned with pebbles and is best suited for surfing, paddle boarding and water-based activities, making it one of the best seaside day trips from London.
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 from 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, it also has 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 trips from London because it guarantees loads of fun for everyone.
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.
A popular sandy beach, close to central Folkestone in Kent, Sunny Sands Beach benefits from a great selection of amenities, making it an easy seaside day trip from London.
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 an annual sandcastle building competition. Yes, there is an annual sandcastle building competition, so get your shovels ready to join in on the fun.
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.
Hop on a 52-minute train from London St Pancras International to Folkestone Central.
Camber Sands is one of the beaches close to London that would be able to easily pass as one of the most idyllic in the UK. 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), 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.
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, but either way, it’s one of the easiest day trips to the beach from London.
Aww good old Hastings, a place you should visit at least once. It’s a predominantly shingle beach, Hastings 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
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.
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. There are loads of great things to do in Hastings, so be sure to keep it on your list of seaside trips to take in the future.
Trains connect central London with Hastings in just under two hours and run regularly from Charing Cross and St Pancras stations.
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.
It is an underground chamber stretching 30 metres into the chalky hills and decorated with an impressive 4.6 million shells. For one of those classic seaside trips from London, Margate comes highly recommended.
Margate is very well connected to central London, and there are regular trains connecting Kent town with London Victoria and St Pancras stations. The journey time is approximately 90 minutes.
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 one of those quiet day trips to the beach from London.
Direct trains from London to Southend, running from Liverpool Street and Fenchurch Street stations run regularly and take about an hour, perfect for day trips to the seaside from London.
One of the easiest seaside towns near London is Ramsgate in Kent. It takes about 90 minutes to reach and makes for one of the best beach day trips from London. 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.
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.
The train from St Pancras, London to Ramsgate takes about 75 minutes and runs regularly.
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 explore 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 also try your hand at fossil collecting in the woodland areas near the beach and even cycling in Betteshanger Park.
Offering impressive views across 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 coast.
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 takes 1 hour and 40 minutes. Despite not having any direct train access, it still makes for a great coast day trip from London.
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.
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 75 minutes.
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 from 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.
Hop on a train from London St Pancras to Ashford International, which will take you just over an hour. From there take a bus to the Lydd-on-Sea which will be around 30 minutes.
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 an old Roman road linking the island with the mainland.
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 the 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.
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.
Tip: Read my detailed guide on how to get from London to Mersea Island.
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.
Catch a train from London Waterloo to Portsmouth. From Portsmouth, you can catch the ferry for your Isle day trip from London.
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. With 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.
Catch a direct train from London Waterloo to Bournemouth Station which is a short walk from the beach. The train ride is just under 2 hours.
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 for a day out at the beach.
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.
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.
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 by train, bus or car ride.
Places with beaches near London are popular year-round with people looking to escape the sometimes harsh city heat, and hustle and bustle of busy London city life. Whatever your reason for the escape, be sure to visit one of the best seaside towns near London for an unforgettable day out at the beach.
These are some of the best day beach trips from London.