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The 50 best seaside towns in the UK

Oh, we do like to be beside the seaside!

We all remember having a paddle and building sandcastles as a child - we’re getting all nostalgic at the thought! Now, we want to take our kids to these beautiful beaches with stunning views. Whether it's a popular choice of sandy beaches or the perfect spot for a lovely picnic. A family beach holiday or a weekend getaway - we all want that British beach memory.

But what makes the best seaside? We’ve “beach-combed” the UK for answers - and here they are!

Back in 2019, we asked over 2,000 families to tell us their favourite seaside towns and what they love most about the coast, both as a kid and adults! We then gathered data to scientifically decide the best seaside towns in the UK


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What makes the perfect seaside town for families?

To fish out the best plaices to go, we asked families about everything from sea and sunshine to ice cream and crabbing. Whether it's down south, in North Wales, in a coastal village or recommendations from their own seaside holiday! 

What's best for coastal walks, what beaches have stretches of sand, which one has the prime spot for fantastic views and even where you can find golden sands... 

Then we counted the following in each town:
- Family attractions
- Beaches (Blue Flag and otherwise) in a 10-mile radius
- Fish and chip shops
- Instagram hashtags and check-ins
- The cost of an ice cream
- The average temperature and number of rainy days in August

We took the factors that mattered to families most and boosted their rating, giving each town an overall score (and creating a unique and clever “algorithm”!)

Out of 378 locations, this gave us the 50 best coastal towns in the whole of the UK, ranked in Gold, Silver and Bronze!

50 Best Seaside Towns in the UK

Gold Seaside Towns

These towns made it into the top 10, putting them into the prestigious Gold category of 2019 family-friendly seaside towns. They’re the best all-rounders, performing strongly in terms of clean beaches, safety, fun things to do, good weather, and beauty spots. Some even had colourful beach huts! In fact, you could say they’re simply fin-tastic!

1.  | 2.  | 3.  | 4.  | 5.  | 6.  | 7.  | 8.  | 9.  | 10. 

Silver Seaside Towns

Coming in positions 11-25 out of 378 towns in the UK, these locations have all achieved the status of Silver in our best seaside towns for families in 2019. Loved by generations, this fantastic range of towns have tons to offer families and are toddler friendly! With a mix of sand and pebble beaches, with tasty fish and chip shops to some of the best sea views you’ll find anywhere! We’re shore you’ll agree!

11.  | 12.  | 13.  | 14.  | 15.  | 16.  | 17.  | 18.  | 19.  | 20.  | 21.  | 22.  | 23.  | 24.  | 25. 

Bronze Seaside Towns

Positions 26-50 belong to our Bronze seaside towns, completing the list of the best seaside towns in the UK for families in 2019. Some of these are less well-known gems than the towns higher up in the rankings. But since “quiet and calm” is what most families are aiming for in their seaside trips, they might be just the ticket for a whale of a time:

26.  | 27.  | 28.  | 29.  | 30.  | 31.  | 32.  | 33.  34.  | 35.  | 36.  | 37.  | 38.  | 39.  | 40.  | 41.  | 42. | 43.  | 44.  | 45.  | 46.  | 47.  |
48.  | 49.  | 50. 

Two boys in summer hats and clothes walk on a coastal path with backs to camera and sea to the left
A mum watching her daughter licking an ice cream as they sit on a bench overlooking the beach and sea

Special Mentions

Special Mentions

While the towns above came out on top when we looked at their combined scores across the board, there were some stand-out winners in the individual things we looked at. These towns are the best for family attractions, blue flag beaches, weather, Instagram hot spots and - of course - the cheapest ice cream!

Most Family Attractions

Brighton wins the fairground prize for most family attractions at any seaside town in the UK. We’ve added links to some of our favourite attractions in each area below, but of course, you can find the full list of things to do in each area by clicking on any of the links to the seaside town itself.

1. Brighton (643 attractions)

2. Southend-on-Sea (556 attractions)

3. Bognor Regis (503 attractions)

4. Southport (474 attractions)

5. Hayling Island (437 attractions)

Top attractions in each area

Brighton: SEA Life Brighton | Brighton Beach | Drusillas Park

Southend-on-Sea: Adventure Island | Three Shells Beach | Southend Pier and Train

Bognor Regis: South Downs Planetarium Science Centre | Fishers Farm Park | East and West Wittering Beach

Southport: Ainsdale Beach | Lytham St Annes Beach | Southport Pleasureland

Hayling Island: Staunton Country Park | Hayling Seaside Railway | Havant Leisure Centre

Most Blue Flag Beaches

The Blue Flag Programme recognises the very best beaches in the world. So, we knew this had to be a factor in our best seaside towns report. Blue Flag looks at things like water quality, environmental activities hosted at the beach, beach cleanliness, controlled access for dogs, drinking water availability and lifeguards. The towns below ranked best for Blue Flag beaches:

1. Bournemouth (5 blue flag beaches)

2. Tenby (4 blue flag beaches)

3. Torquay (6 blue flag beaches)

4. Margate (3 blue flag beaches)

5. Brighton (2 blue flag beaches)

Hottest August Temperature

Of course, the temperature is super important too! A beach holiday with sunshining rays and warmth goes a long way. So, we collated some of the best beaches and seaside towns and their average temperatures during the school summer holidays. Since that’s when families have to go!

We did this by finding the average August temperatures for all the towns using the Met Office website. So, make sure you pack the sun lotion if you head to any of the destinations below. Temperatures are given in degrees Celsius:

1. Newport (22°C)

2. Southend-on-Sea (23°C)

3. Bournemouth (22°C)

4. Whitstable (22°C)

5. Herne Bay (22°C)

Fewest Rainy Days

When you holiday in the UK, it’s not possible to avoid the rain and wind! Whether it was back in 2019 or now in 2023 - rain is an important factor when it comes to holidays! 

Our survey showed that families visiting the coast don’t let a little bit of rain ruin their fun. Knowing where the rainiest days are is just one more reminder to pack that waterproof for your trip. And to locate local amusements when you need to take cover!

The towns below have the fewest rainy days in August:

1. Southend-on-Sea (6.6 days)

2. Margate (6.9)

3. Herne Bay (6.9)

4. Whitstable (6.9)

5. Bournemouth (7.3)

Most Instagram Hashtags

Instagram is a staple of modern family life. Nowadays our beautiful family holiday snapshots don't just have to stay in a photo album or shoebox under the bed.

Of course, it helps when you have the most scenic backgrounds in the shot, and these locations should all be able to help with that! These are the towns with the highest numbers of Instagram check-ins:

1. Brighton (7.6 million)

2. Blackpool (1,359,563)

3. Bournemouth (1,284,953)

4. Southend-on-Sea (540,592)

5. Newquay (487,125)

Cheapest Ice Cream on the Beach

A trip to the seaside with the kids wouldn’t be complete without ice cream!

We chose a 99 with a flake, bought on the beach, as our yardstick. Because the best place to eat ice cream is always looking out to the waves! As well as reaching out to tourist boards, social media users and cafes themselves.

Here are the lowest-cost places to get your ice cream fix:

1. Southwold (£1.30)

2. Hayling Island (£1.50)

3. Mablethorpe (£1.50)

4. Southport (£1.50)

5. Blackpool (£1.50)

Secluded Spots

Sometimes, it's nice to be away from the busy crowds and for a bit of peace and quiet but still somewhere beautiful. Well, secluded and private beaches are also in abundance around the UK. Some with white sand, blue waters and spectacular views like Seilebost Beach and some with pink or golden sand like in Scotland! 

Private beaches are a snapshot away, where you can find a lovely spot and a stretch of beach to enjoy yourselves. Here are some of the best-secluded spots:

1. Pedn Vounder Beach, Cornwall

2. Church Ope Cove, Dorset

3. Cuckmere Haven, East Sussex

4. Traeth Llyfn, Pembrokeshire

5. Lunan Bay, Angus

There you have it! A wide range of the 50 best seaside towns in the UK to explore, as chosen by families like yours. Whether you're looking for panoramic views, sandy beaches or blue waters - you'll find the one for you here!

If you’re planning a trip with your family, why not try out the Day Out With The Kids Pass membership, to snap up super savings on days out, meals and short breaks? Head to the Days Out Vouchers page to find more, and have a wonderful summer sea-son whatever you have planned!

Data Sources

Thank you to the websites which allowed us to gather publicly available data for this project, alongside our own data from Day Out With The Kids