6 beaches near Cambridge: Where to go for sun, sand, and surf
Heading to Cambridge usually involves planning to visit lots of different historical sites, museums, and other kinds of indoor activities, especially the namesake university. However, there are also some really lovely sandy beach locations that you can enjoy when you head to this part of the world. You will find that Cambridge beaches are actually really fun and accessible, and you will be able to enjoy a wide array of on offer. From sand dunes to beautiful walking spaces along the shore, there is no shortage of fun that can be had at the sandy beach spots in this guide.
Before you opt to head to these Cambridge beaches, you will want to be sure that you have your bags taken care of properly. We can keep your bags in secure storage conveniently, allowing you to have fun in the sun and wander along the sand without worrying about your luggage. When visiting Cambridge beaches and the city itself, the only thing to worry about is how to do it all.
These beaches might not offer you access to a poolside bar or other amenities that you think of when you imagine a tropical beach, but they can deliver something much more special. These places are treasured destinations for locals who want to embrace the UK's historical link to the sea and relax by the water. Don't miss out on enjoying these beautiful beaches that are clustered near Cambridge just because it might not be as warm or resort-like as you were imagining.
This beach location is one of the most classic sand and shingle beach spots in the UK. You can count on this part of the North Norfolk coast for colourful beach huts and for lovely surf and sand. There is nothing not to love about the beauty of the beaches here, and you can wander into the town just a few steps away to make the most of what it also has to offer. From golden sand to charming beach huts, this is a picturesque spot to have fun in the sun.
Southwold, Suffolk, travel distance from Cambridge
This beach is about two hours east of Cambridge by car. The train from Cambridge Station will take closer to three hours and involves a train to Norwich and then one from Norwich to Lowestoft. Then, you'll need to hop on the 99 Coastal Clipper bus.
Make sure that you consider grabbing some fish and chips and heading down to the sand to sit in the sun. You can also take the time to visit one of the little beach huts to change into your swimming gear and head out into the water on a warm day. There are authentic cottage accommodations nearby as well, so if you want to stay for more than the afternoon, you can.
This sandy beach is one of the most memorable along the North Norfolk coastline for a good reason, and being able to head down here for just a day might not be enough. Ask to join a local game being played on the beach, or head over to the nearby brewery to get a pint and a snack if you are feeling famished after a walk along the sandy beach here.
Suffolk is one of the places in the UK that everyone says you absolutely must visit, and there really is nothing quite like the sandy beaches here. From charming beach huts to delicious eateries near the water, you can't go wrong here. You can drive down and get access to a nearby car park and be on the beach right away if you're driving.
Lowestoft, Suffolk, travel distance from Cambridge
This lovely beach area is about two hours from Cambridge, similar to Southwold. There's no need for a bus to get here as the train stops in Lowestoft, so taking public transit takes the same amount of time as driving.
The promenade here is one of the big attractions for those who are not a fan of forging their way through sand and dunes or swimming. However, you can easily pop into one of the colourful beach huts and get changed so that you can go into the water as well. This is one of the prettiest sandy beaches near Cambridge, and the town is worth a visit as well.
You will immediately see why locals have long felt that the sandy beaches here warranted a visit, and you will find that even though this is a shingle beach in some areas, it is delightful to walk along. Spending time in the town is just as fun as spending time near the water, and both parts of the experience here are a must.
Old Hunstanton, Norfolk
The North Norfolk coastline is really stunning, and this location is no different. While this is not necessarily a place where you will walk barefoot along the beach, you can head here to enjoy kite surfing, a walk along the edge of the beach, or see the stunning waterfront views from a cozy pub.
Old Hunstanton, Norfolk, travel distance from Cambridge
It's about a 1.5-hour drive to Old Hunstanton Beach. On the other hand, a combination of walking, train, and bus will take about two and a half hours.
Kite surfing is a lot of fun, and many people head here to make the most of the slightly more aggressive surf here. This is not really a swimming location, but you can wander the sand dunes and the flats, enjoying the view and the wildness of the area.
This beach is usually really quiet, and the car park is close by, so you will not have to walk far to get to the beach. Make sure that you bring some warm clothes as well since it can be quite windy here. Head out for a hike to get a new vantage point on the pretty beach and its surroundings.
Southend-on-Sea is a classic beachy and adventure island kind of getaway for locals in the area. This is the best beach area if you love carnival rides or if you want to head to a spot that is full of history. This is technically a resort town, which means that you can easily make a full weekend of your time on the sandy beaches and at the adventure island sections of the Southend area.
Southend-on-Sea travel distance from Cambridge
You will need about an hour and a half to drive to Southend-on-Sea. Alternatively, taking public transport more than doubles this and involves multiple changes. So, it's best to travel drive if you can.
Southend-on-Sea offers you access to an amusement park with rides and water slides nearby, and you will also find this to be the best beach for riding a funicular or for getting access to incredible views over the water. This whole location has the feel of a private island that is reserved just for having fun, which is probably a big part of why Southend-on-Sea has always been such a well-known getaway for those living near Cambridge.
This is also the best beach to head to if you are looking for an aquarium and some other really cool amusements that are not available at other beaches near the Cambridge area.
Three Shells Beach
Although Three Shells Beach is technically part of Southend-on-Sea, this gem is worthy of its own mention. It's well-known as one of the smaller but more enjoyable places to head to the beach near Cambridge. You can find lots of fun things to do here in this well-kept little town, from shopping to walking on the beach to eating out. There is nothing to stop you from spending hours here having fun, and the lovely older buildings and charming presence of the little town are refreshing.
Three Shells Beach travel distance from Cambridge
You have the same time and travel parameters for Three Shells as you do for Southend-on-Sea.
Make sure that you head to Adventure Island if you have time to visit an amusement park or wander through the shops and cafes that are near the waterfront as well. You can enjoy access to a small beach area, where swimming and paddling in the water are possible. The Shells Lagoon is a great place to get into the water and have a great time with kids as well as adults.
The beach has a tidal pool, which makes it a fun place to take small kids to see the life that is hiding in these kinds of spots. You will be able to spend a whole day here easily, and you could even choose to extend your stay over a weekend.
The name alone should tell you that this lovely beach area will be a ton of fun. This charming seaside Essex Coast town is close to many other great beaches, like Clacton-on-Sea and Holland-on-Sea. It's easy to pop up and down the coast to see the sights in this area during your trip.
You might also want to spend a long weekend here seeing what all the fuss is about related to the Essex Coast. There are few places near Cambridge that are so memorable, and there is a lot to do and see in this part of the UK if you have the time to spend being a tourist here.
Walton-On-The-Naze travel distance from Cambridge
It will take you an hour and 45 minutes to drive here, and public transport will take a little over three hours.
Enjoying the beach life is easy here, but you can also try and catch some of the local activities that are going on, like air shows or performances of other kinds. This part of the coastline is often the site of summertime fairs and festivals as well, which can be exciting for the whole family. The entire area will make you feel like you have wandered into the setting of a Jane Austen novel. Walton-On-The-Naze is a favorite for history buffs and those who love sand and shingle beaches.
This beach area has actually won some awards for being so clean and lovely to visit, and there are few places that will spark so many great opportunities for pictures and for making memories. Consider renting a boat or taking a boat tour to see all of the coastline with a guide to teach you about the area in more detail. You can also head to one of the many little tea shops in the area and have a snack, then go window-shopping through the older part of the little towns that are clustered right by the water.
If you have lots of other things that you want to see in the area besides Cambridge beaches, this region is ideal for fun weekend trips from Cambridge. But don't forget to make the most of these amazing beaches. If you're visiting Cambridge on a budget, then these are some of the best ways to have fun without spending too much.
Many people don't think about Cambridge beaches when they are planning their trip to this part of the world, but you can easily get to some great options within about an hour and a half. Being able to take a break from being inside and enjoy the beauty of the area around these lovely beaches can be a great way to make your trip memorable.