London and beaches don’t usually appear in the same sentences. Let’s be honest, Londoners have probably had enough of London’s capricious weather and drizzly impulse. The last thing they need is more water and wetness.
But London does get some heat in the summer, and it isn’t always the balmiest. It isn’t until then that people realise, beaches might just be the saviour, if there were any, of course.
There are, in fact. Some of the best beaches near London are just under the nose of the blissful. Delicious velvety sand, undulating waves, and lustrous sunshine are what you’re going to find in these best sandy beaches near London.
Most of what you’ll find below is within a 2-hour drive from London. So, if you ever need to take a break from the bustling city life, get into your flip-flops, pack your buckets and spades, and head right on to amazing beaches. Check out full beach checklist here.
Fulham Beach, Southwest London
First up on the list, we have one that sits literally IN London. Fulham Beach (or its proper name Neverland) is a makeshift beach that pops up every summer on the Thames’ bank in Fulham.
Image from NeverlandLondon
Every summer, tonnes of sand is shipped in, beach huts and deckchairs are set up, sits are placed along the sand, the stage is set, all that with the decorations, the LED lights, the jungle foliage, and all of the sudden you’ve got a tropical beach party in the heart of London.
There’ll be all kinds of beach games and team building activities on the beach, all happening while the DJ is blasting off the hardest headbangers they’ve got in their arsenals. In an instant, one feels like they are in Ibiza, and not some London beach mock-up.
Ruislip Lido Beach, West London
Another one right in London. Behold, the Ruislip Lido Beach, a reservoir and artificial beach, one of the closest beaches to London!
Image from Pinterest UK
Ruislip Lido is a lake that is 60 acres in area and is situated in a Ruislip Woods National Nature Reserve. It’s a charming beach with soothing scenery and sandy beach that is landlocked in a 726-acre nature reserve with the most pastoral scenery you can find in England. There’s a train that will tote you around, on which you can relax and take in the peacefulness and tranquillity rarely found in England.
There’s a catch, though. People aren’t permitted to swim or splash around (which makes the whole “lido” premise a bit of a misnomer, don’t you think?). Moreover, it gets crowded very quickly on hot days and holidays, and it’s a favourite spot of the locals, so it mightn’t be the most ideal location there is. But still, for how close it’s to London, the Ruislip Lido beach deserves the top spot in our list.
Bournemouth Beach, Dorset
Bournemouth Beach is a bit of a counterpart to Ruislip Lido Beach. Whereas Ruislip is close to London, Bournemouth is farther. Whereas Ruislip is often crowded, Bournemouth is never so. Perhaps that’s the reason why this place is so beloved.
Image from Bournemouth UK
Stretching well over eleven miles long, there’s no shortage of throngs of people for those who love the atmosphere, and uncongested spots for those who just love privacy. Splashing, swimming, water skiing, etc. Anything is up in the air, making it the perfect spot for both families and adventures. This is probably what helped Bournemouth earn its 20th spot in the TripAdvisor Travellers' Choice Awards for 2021.
At just two hours away by car from London, Bournemouth is a tempting beach for any beach lover.
Brighton, East Sussex
A classic choice for any beach enthusiast! Brighton has been one of the most beloved getaway spots for people all around England for the longest time.
Image from Tripadvisor UK
Brighton’s sand is as pebbly as it gets, but that doesn’t stop people from flocking to this place, because Brighton beach encapsulates what a true beach experience should be like. From the jutting pier, arcade game stations, giant wheels, high-adrenaline water sports, to ice cream stands, fish and chips kiosks, Brighton beach offers any and everything you could ever expect to see at a beach resort, and more.
Oh, did we forget to mention that you could get yourself a British Airways i360 ticket and fly over Brighton for a spectacular panoramic view?
Birling Gap, East Sussex
Despite being in the same town, Birling Gap is the polar opposite of Brighton. While Brighton is lively and busy, Birling Gap is like a relic of the bygone decade.
Image from Birling Gap Sussex UK
To access this place, head to the Seven Sisters cliffs where you will find a faded hotel, behind which steep steps will lead you down to a narrow strip of sand where rock pools, low tide, and unseen scenery is unveiled.
Let’s be frank, Birling Gap is almost deserted. But that’s its uniqueness, in that it’s practically unspoilt. With towering chalky cliffs separating the grassland from the pebbly beach, Birling Gap is a perfect spot for Instagram enthusiasts to get their reels, but anyone who craves some peacefulness away from the bustling city life is going to fall in love with the atmosphere here as well.
Being one of the longest stretches of undeveloped coastline on the entire south coast of England, there is just a maddening sense of mystery to this odd place. Definitely one that anyone should pay a visit to once!
Camber Sands, East Sussex
If Sussex is famous for anything, then that must be it’s nice beaches near London. But few could compare to the beauty of Camber Sands. In fact, it’s often been voted as one of the best sandy beaches near London and has been featured in several Hollywood movies.
Image from UK Beach Guide
What makes this place so special, you may ask? It’s under your nose, right in the name! Sand! Gorgeous, golden, sweet, and gilded sand is the best thing this seaside beach near London’s got to offer. On top of that, the sandy stretch is littered with marram bushes and chestnut fences, making for an almost Arabian-like beach in the middle of England. Additionally, Camber Sands is one the windiest beaches around, which is perfect for kite surfers and windsurfers.
Such windiness is twofold, however. Most appreciate it because it is, literally, a breath of fresh air, and as mentioned above, the place is perfect for some water sports. But on the flipside, it does turn off certain people who just want to chill on the shore.
West Wittering, West Sussex
You thought that was it to Sussex, didn’t you? Sussex offers a plethora of beaches, and West Wittering is just another one of those stunning beaches.
Image from UK Beach Guide
Located to the south of Chichester, West Wittering is a long and charming stretch of sand, dotted with grasslands, huts and cafes, where traditional England dishes like fish and ships are served. This beach is also many people’s favourite beach as it’s here where lots of wildlife can be spotted during migratory season.
It’s unsurprising, considering how popular West Wittering is, that it gets a bit crowded from time to time, but the beach itself is long enough for most people to find their own little sweet spot. By the way, Chichester Harbour is at the end of the stretch, Bracklesham is to the east, if it ever gets too crowded.
Frensham Great Pond, Surrey
Frensham is another surprisingly quiet beach near London. Although it’s nestled away in the town of Surrey, it’s definitely worth checking out.
Image from Surrey Hills
One of the best things about this place is its water. Unlike the salty sea water that’s going to be sticky, the water is said to be excellent, in that it’s cool and refreshing. The lake actually has two swimming areas dedicated to adults and kids, marked by the white buoys.
The sandy beach it has is also a great plus. It’s a great fit for those who love to set up a little picnic, although barbecues and fires are strictly prohibited. But if you ever feel hungry, there’s a bar onsite that offers food and drinks.
Remember to check out the adjacent sculpture park once you’ve done with all of the beachy activities. You’ll find more than 600 fascinating statues to admire.
Walton is a small seaside town facing the North Sea towards the east coast of Essex. The town is almost sea-locked, in that three of its sides are surrounded by water, which offer for long sandy beaches.
Image from The Guardian
The biggest attraction here is the second longest pier in London, where many tourists try to visit to get a nice shot of the amazing view out to the waters. But Walton-on-the-Naze has plenty more to offer.
Along the coastline, there are rows of vibrantly coloured beach huts, which makes sauntering down the coast during sunset or sunrise just particularly bewitching. There are also many pie shops, mash shops, and tea shops if walking ever gets a bit too overbearing.
Last but not least, you have to climb up the Walton-on-the-Naze Tower. On top of which you’ll get to enjoy the breath-taking bird eye’s view of the entire Walton beaches and nearby places.
If you’ve come all the way to Walton-on-the-Naze, you might as well pay its neighbour Leigh-on-Sea a visit, as both have equally entrancing beaches.
Image from UK Beach Guide
Leigh-on-sea is an estuary town, hence why its beaches aren’t the prettiest. Furthermore, they are impacted by the daily tides, but that is exactly why its beaches are all the more mysterious and alluring. You have to know the rhythm of the tides and go out to catch the view. As tides’ rise and fall coincide with dusk and dawn, the window of time is extremely small, but if you manage to catch it, you’ll witness an uncanny beach that is unspoilt and nigh immaculate in the most serene atmosphere anywhere in England.
Also, as a fishing town, the rural life is jubilant and busy, which is nice if you don’t like the way of city life. Moreover, there is a nascent indie food scene here, making the place even more interesting to check out.
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