6 beaches near Manchester: Where to go for sun, sand, and surf

Published by: BouncePosted Updated
Beaches near Manchester

The cradle of the Industrial Revolution, Manchester might not be the first place that springs to mind when you think of a beach vacation. But in an island nation like the UK, no city is all that far from the coast. In fact, while Manchester isn't a coastal city, you don't have to go far at all from here to find yourself on the West Coast of England or the north of Wales. And it's not even that much further to the East Coast of the UK, either, so some of the best beaches in the country are accessible from the city.

The area around Manchester has a good range of different beaches, from the legendary UK holiday destination of Blackpool Beach to some hidden gems where you may even have the best beaches near Manchester all to yourself. If you're looking for a getaway from the city, the best beaches near Manchester make fantastic options for day trips or longer weekend excursions.

However long you plan to spend at the beach, you'll have a better time if you travel light. Drop off your bags at a Bounce luggage storage in Manchester and check out some of these excellent beach locations. With your belongings safely looked after, you'll be able to focus on enjoying sandy beaches, crashing waves, and the beautiful - if fleeting - British summer.

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Crosby Beach near Manchester

Crosby Beach

Just to the north of Liverpool on the shore of the Irish Sea, Crosby Beach is one of the closest beaches to Manchester and one of the easiest to reach. This makes it extremely popular with Mancunians, Liverpudlians, and other people from further afield. But the golden sands and clear water make this a beach worth visiting, no matter how busy it may get.

Travel distance from Manchester

It's more or less a straight shot from the heart of Manchester to Crosby Beach, 40 miles west of the city. The drive takes around an hour. You can also get there by taking a train from Manchester Victoria Station to Liverpool Lime Street, walking to Liverpool Central Station, then taking the local train to Southport and getting off at the Blundellsands and Crosby stop. From there, it's only half a mile to Crosby Beach, and depending on connections, you can make the whole journey in around an hour and a half.

Activity recommendations

Swimming: Crosby Beach has been awarded the Quality Coast Award by the Keep Britain Tidy campaign for its cleanliness. That extends to the water as well as the wide sandy beach. That makes this an excellent place to swim on a hot summer's day, so make sure you bring your bathing suit to enjoy one of the best beaches near Manchester.

Walking: Crosby Beach is the start of the Sefton Coastal Path, a 22-mile designated hiking trail that will take you along the beach and give you incredible views of Liverpool and the north coast of Wales. You don't need to hike the whole 22 miles yourself; just take it on one section at a time. There's also a national cycle path in this area if you prefer to travel on two wheels.

Crosby Beach gets busy in the summer, but it makes a great place to get away from the busy city at any time of year. Although you may not be tempted to swim in the cold water during the off-season, the coast is no less beautiful in the slower seasons, and if you enjoy a good walk, the cooler months can often be a better time for hiking the trails here.

Blackpool Beach near Manchester

Blackpool Beach

Blackpool Beach scarcely needs an introduction. For generations, British holidaymakers have been coming here to enjoy the famous Pleasure Beach, and this Victorian seaside resort combines traditional British seaside activities like donkey rides on the long sandy beach and meals of fish and chips from local shops with more cutting-edge attractions.

Travel distance from Manchester

It's around 50 miles from central Manchester to Blackpool. Depending on traffic, you can make the drive in around an hour. You can also get there by train, making a connection in Preston, or take a long-distance bus straight to the beach itself.

Activity recommendations

Pleasure Beach: The main attraction in Blackpool is undoubtedly the famous Pleasure Beach. The beach offers a huge stretch of sand that gets incredibly busy in the summer, but it's a great place to swim, manned by a team of dedicated lifeguards with lots of safe swimming areas. The golden sands of Blackpool have been drawing holidaymakers here for well over a hundred years, so they must be doing something right.

SEA LIFE Blackpool: This state-of-the-art aquarium allows you to explore the underwater world without getting wet. Home to charismatic ocean animals from around the world, this aquarium lets you explore the ecology not only of the UK coastline but of different ecosystems throughout the planet. This is a great thing to do with kids at what has to be the most family-friendly of all the beaches near Manchester.

Blackpool Tower: An icon of this coastal resort, this observation tower was the tallest building in the British Empire when it was opened in 1894. Although it has since been eclipsed in size, the tower remains a reminder of a bygone era and is a great place to get a good view of the coastline. It also contains a ballroom, a circus, and a Blackpool Tower Dungeon attraction where actors bring gory stories from the city's past to life, so it remains a vital attraction to this day.

There's so much to do at Blackpool Beach that there's never really a bad time to go. Although you may not feel like swimming during the winter, the amusement parks and family-friendly attractions here are enough to justify a visit at any time of year.

Llandudno Beach in Wales

Llandudno Beach

Cross the border into North Wales, and you'll find this town dripping with quintessential seaside charm. Llandudno Beach offers beautiful views, a gorgeous coastline, and the traditional British seaside charm with a unique Welsh flair.

Travel distance from Manchester

About 85 miles from the center of Manchester, Llandudno can be reached with a drive of less than two hours. You can also get there by taking a direct train from Manchester Piccadilly, which will take a little more than two hours. Llandudno is a fairly small town, so it's easy to walk from the train station to the beach or catch a local bus.

Activity recommendations

North Shore Beach: Surrounded by Victorian buildings and with green hills rising in the background, this Llandudno beach is as scenic as they get. You'll find shingle and pebble rather than sandy beaches here, which means you don't have to deal with sand between your toes. A great place to swim in the summer, this is also an excellent place for walks in the colder season, with beautiful views to offer any time of year.

Great Orme Tramway: Opened in 1902 and beautifully restored to its original condition, this historic tramway climbs the hill behind Llandudno. It's a lovely ride through green fields, and you'll get magnificent views of the coastline from the top of the hill. There's also a prehistoric mine to explore at the top of the hill if you want to stay a little longer.

Ainsdale Beach near Manchester

Ainsdale Beach

The only beach in the northwest of England to have ever been awarded a Blue Flag, Ainsdale Beach has some of the best water quality of any of the beaches near Manchester. Add unspoiled sand dunes, great outdoor activities, and beautiful scenery, and you have what is undoubtedly one of the best beaches near Manchester.

Travel distance from Manchester

Around 50 miles from central Manchester, Ainsdale Beach can be reached with a drive of about one hour. You can also get there by train in around an hour and a half.

Activity recommendations

Kite surfing: With regular offshore winds, this is recognized as one of the best beaches in the UK for kite activities. Rent equipment or take a lesson to learn the ins and outs of this exciting sport. If you'd rather stay on land, the hardpacked sand makes this a popular destination for kite buggies too, and you can catch the wind and race across the sand on these tiny vehicles.

Ainsdale Discovery Centre: Located right by the beach, this interesting discovery center offers family-friendly activities and can teach you more about the local area and its wildlife. You can even rent bikes from here and take a bike ride on Ainsdale Beach. You can also head north and explore Southport Beach further up the coast.

Lytham St Annes Beach

Lytham St Annes Beach

Located close to the far more famous Blackpool Beach, Lytham St Annes provides all the coastal charm you could want from a sandy beach without the crowds you'll find in the neighboring resort. This is a great place for a more relaxed beach vacation than you'll find in the big resorts, so this Victorian seaside town is well worth considering when looking for pleasant beaches near Manchester.

Travel distance from Manchester

At just over 50 miles from Manchester, you can reach Lytham St Annes with just over an hour of driving. You can also get there by train in a little over an hour, changing at Preston just as you do to get to Blackpool.

Activity recommendations

Beach huts: St Annes is famous for its colorful beach huts, which add real historic charm to this beautiful beach. You can rent the beach huts for a day, and they make a great place to spend some time with family and friends and really enjoy this coastal location to the fullest.

Explore the local wildlife: Because it is far less developed than nearby Blackpool, St Annes is much closer to the natural environment it once was. The sand dunes of the beach attract lots of ocean birds, and you can also visit Fairhaven Lake to explore more of the wildlife that calls this area home.

New Brighton Beach near Manchester

New Brighton Beach

Not to be confused with the famous Brighton Beach on England's south coast, New Brighton Beach is close to Liverpool and the Wirral Peninsula on the Irish Sea. Boasting the longest beach Promenade in the whole UK, New Brighton Beach is a fun place to explore at any time of year.

Travel distance from Manchester

A little over 50 miles from central Manchester, you can reach New Brighton Beach by driving for just over an hour. You can get the train there too, changing at Liverpool Lime Street for a journey time of around an hour and a half.

Activity recommendations

Fun fair: This amusement park has been keeping beachgoers occupied for generations, and it shows no sign of slowing down. With popular rides like the teacups, waltzers, bumper cars, and roller coasters, this is a great place for families. There's also an amusement arcade and a soft play area for younger kids.

New Brighton lighthouse: If you feel like stretching your legs, the path to this historic lighthouse is a great way to take in coastal views. The lighthouse dates back to 1827 and is just a short walk from the beach, but along the way, you'll get to enjoy the beautiful coastline of the seaside resort.


The best beaches near Manchester are great destinations for day trips or longer weekend trips from the city. And depending on which beach you choose, you can have a variety of different experiences. Whether you want a busy resort that will be hit with the whole family or would rather explore tranquil beaches where you can enjoy a quieter side of the coastline, you'll find something good in this area. Plus, many of the beaches are completely free to visit, making them ideal for anyone visiting Manchester on a budget.

Leave your heavy bags behind in the city and enjoy a seaside break at these great coastal locations.

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