5 beaches near London: Where to go for sun, sand, and surf

Published by: BouncePosted
Best beaches near London

The British capital of London is known for many things - cultural treasures like Buckingham Palace and the British Museum, incredible museums and nightlife, and rich history. What it's not generally known as, though, is a beach destination. People come to London to enjoy everything living in a large city has to offer, not to enjoy warm and lazy days at the water's edge.

However, although London isn't blessed with tons of sandy beaches itself, there are some great beaches near London for those willing to travel. And a sunny day on a sandy beach makes the ideal escape from the city with its crowds and high prices. British weather can be unpredictable, but contrary to popular myth, it doesn't always rain in the UK. Summers can be quite hot, and the northerly latitude of the country means that summer days are long.

If the hectic pace of London life is getting to you and some time on the golden sands sounds like just the ticket, you're in luck. If you're willing to travel a little distance from London, either by car or by train, you can find some areas of outstanding natural beauty that offer soft sand, gentle waves, and lots of fun activities, too.

But before heading to the beach, make sure you drop off your bags at a Bounce luggage storage in London. Bring only what you need to enjoy the beach and leave the rest of your belongings behind, knowing they will be safely looked after until you return.

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West Wittering Beach near London

West Wittering Beach

The small and sleepy village of West Wittering in West Sussex is easy to reach from London. And although the town isn't known for having a ton of activities, the beach here is good enough to make the trip worthwhile all by itself.

Travel distance from London:

West Wittering beach is on the south coast of England, close to Portsmouth and a solid 90 miles from the center of London. It will take a little over two hours to reach by car and around two and a half hours to reach by a combination of train and bus.

Activity recommendations:

  • Swimming: One of the best options for a genuine sandy beach close to London, this is a great place to cool off in the often frigid waters of the English Channel. No matter how hot the day is, a quick dip in the sea will soon cool you right down. The beach is also home to some colorful beach huts that you can rent and call your own for the day, making great places to change and store anything you've brought with you. However, the best bet is to leave your bags behind at a luggage storage in London before you head to the water.
  • Surfing: When conditions are right, the sandy beaches of this area are some of the best beaches in the region for surfing. Although the beach doesn't have loads of amenities, it isn't hard to find surf lessons in this area if you've never tried the sport before. Plus, the handy beach huts are great places to change into a wetsuit and get ready to hit the waves.
  • Birdwatching: This beach attracts many waders and other shorebirds, both migrants and year-round residents. Bring a pair of binoculars or a camera, and you're likely to see some interesting species of birds in the air and on the water while you relax on one of the best beaches the south coast offers.
Camber Sands beach near London

Camber Sands

Located in Rye, East Sussex, the popular beach of Camber Sands is a unique environment to explore. Generally, the coast of East Sussex is just one pebbly beach after another, but Camber Sands, as the name suggests, is known for its stretch of welcoming sand. In fact, this beach is the only place that has actual sand dunes in East Sussex.

Travel distance from London:

At around 80 miles south of London, you'll need to drive for approximately two hours from the capital to get to Camber Sands, depending on traffic. It's also possible to reach this beach by public transit by taking the underground from London Bridge to Ashford International, then taking a train from there to Rye. Depending on how long you wait between trains, this may be just as quick as driving.

Activity recommendations:

  • Kite surfing: This windswept beach offers near-perfect conditions for the adrenaline-inducing sport of kite surfing. Several local businesses offer kite surfing lessons so you can try this exciting pastime for yourself. And if you're an experienced aficionado, you can easily bring your own gear and head out on the waves yourself anytime the wind is right.
  • RIB Tour: An RIB is a Rigid Inflatable Boat, and the small and lightweight vehicles are the ideal way to explore the coastline of Camber Sands. A knowledgeable guide will take you out on one of these fast boats to explore the coastline of East Sussex, and you should be prepared for a bouncy ride as you crash through the waves just off the sandy beach.
  • Beachcombing: There are absolutely miles of beach to explore here, and the tide goes out a long way, making this one of the best destinations in the UK for beachcombing. Keep an eye out for beautiful shells left behind by the retreating tide, and bring your treasures home with you as a memento of a great time spent at Camber Sands.

Because there are so many outdoor activities to do on this beach, Camber Sands is not just a summer destination. Bring a wetsuit with you, and you can enjoy kite surfing or a boat tour at any time of year. In fact, windy winter weather is often the best time to go kite surfing.

Walton on the Naze beaches near London

Walton on the Naze

The soft and gently sloping sands of Walton on the Naze make it one of the best beaches near London for swimming, especially with kids. However, this resort town has made the most of its geographical location. Marketing itself as England's Friendliest Resort, Walton on the Naze offers a huge range of things to do beyond the usual beach activities.

Travel distance from London:

Walton on the Naze lies on the east coast of England, around 80 miles north of the center of London. Depending on traffic, it could take a couple of hours to get there. Greater Anglia runs a train service from Liverpool Street Station, and this is one of those rare occasions where public transport might actually be quicker, taking about an hour and a half to reach Walton.

Activity recommendations:

  • Walton Pier: This traditional seaside pier is an excellent place to visit with kids, but is also ideal for the young at heart. You'll find an amusement park with all the usual rides, including a vintage carousel, plus exciting arcade games and fairground challenges to keep you entertained. The neon lights shine long into the night, so even after the sun has gone down, you can still enjoy yourself in this coastal resort.
  • Naze Tower: This 86m-high tower is one of the top attractions in Walton on the Naze. Spread over eight floors, it offers incredible views of the coastline and also contains an art gallery and café so that you can soak up the local culture while you explore.
  • Wildlife tours: Several specialist tour operators in Walton can take you out to explore the coast. An undisputed highlight is a quick trip to nearby Horsey Island, which is home to a resident population of seals. These adorable animals are always fun to watch, so nature lovers should definitely take a trip out here.

As a resort town, Walton on the Naze offers a variety of attractions that go well beyond the usual things to do at the beach. Although the town gets quieter in the winter, many of the restaurants and shops stay open, and with the tower and the pier to explore, Walton can be a good place to visit even when it's way too cold to swim in the ocean.

Day trips to Bournemouth Beach from London

Bournemouth Beach

As one of the biggest cities on the south coast, Bournemouth has plenty to offer, including its beach. If you want to spend time on beaches near London but would also like to have the amenities of a major city nearby, this is a great option.

Travel distance from London:

Bournemouth lies over 100 miles from central London. Driving will take around two and a half hours. One of the many advantages of Bournemouth being a big city is that it is easy to catch a train from central London to Bournemouth, and from there, take a bus to the beach.

Activity recommendations:

  • LV=KidZone: Bournemouth has been recognized as one of the most kid-friendly beaches in the whole of the UK, and this initiative has much to do with that. You can pick up a free wristband from the KidZone staff and give it to your child, then let them run free on the beach, knowing the wristband will help them get found if they get lost.
  • Coastal Activity Park: The only park of its kind in the UK, Bournemouth Coastal Activity Park has many things to do. You can try bouldering on a specially designed course or rent kayaks and paddle out onto the waters of the beach. You can also hire beach huts here to give you a place to change and get out of the sun.
  • Bournemouth Pier: The world-famous pier at Bournemouth is packed full of games to play, cafés to spend some time in, and wonderful water-view restaurants to enjoy. Dating back to the 19th century, this historic pier remains one of the most vibrant places in the area and an excellent location to spend some time on one of the best beaches near London.

Bournemouth Beach itself is one of the most well-equipped beaches near London, with so much to do in this popular location. Thanks to its pier and activity center, not to mention all the great things there are to do in Bournemouth, this makes it an excellent destination at any time of year.

Ruislip Woods beach near London

Ruislip Woods

Coastal beaches are all well and good, but if you prefer freshwater or just want somewhere a little less well-known, Ruislip Woods might be just the ticket. Believe it or not, this park contains a beautiful golden sand beach which is a perfect place to cool off in summer.

Travel distance from London:

Just 20 miles from the dead center of London, you can reach Ruislip Woods in less than an hour of driving. You can also get there using public transit, which will take around an hour.

Activity recommendations:

  • Swimming: Ruislip Lido is an artificial sandy beach located on a reservoir. It makes a perfect place to swim in the summer and cool off from the heat.
  • Hiking: Ruislip Woods is also an excellent place for a walk, with some of the most popular hiking trails in London winding through this urban woodland. When you've had enough of one of the best and most surprising beaches near London, these hiking trails make great places to explore.
Great beaches near London


London may not be known as a beach destination, but the truth is, there are some excellent beaches near London if you're looking to enjoy the sunshine, do some swimming, or want to participate in some outdoor activities. The best beaches near the city can be the focus of great weekend trips from London, and in this part of the UK, you don't have to settle for a windswept shingle beach or pebbly beach that will hurt your toes. Besides the great beaches on this list, nearby locations like Botany Bay and Littlehampton, divided into West Beach and East Beach, give you more than enough places to enjoy the water.

Plus, in an expensive city like London, it's always nice to have some options for free things to do. If you're visiting London on a budget, consider visiting some of these beautiful beaches to enjoy the great outdoors without spending very much.

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