The UK probably isn’t the first country it comes to mind when talking about seaside resorts. When traveling in Britain, most people visit big cities like London, Edinburgh, Birmingham (and so on), not thinking that there are some great summer holiday destinations in the UK. If you’re one of those people, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by all the beautiful, hidden coastal towns this country has to offer. In fact, there are many beautiful summer holiday destinations in the UK that have not only beautiful beaches but also a vibrant rustic charm and are home to some amazing cultural monuments and fascinating samples of medieval Victorian architecture. Additionally, everyone around speaks English (even though in some parts with very strange accents), so you don’t have to worry about the language barrier. Sounds interesting? In that case, keep reading; here are the best summer vacation spots in the UK!
Lake District, England
The iconic Lake District is what British holidays are made of; fresh air, beautiful, pristine lakes, authentic market towns, breathtaking mountains, and a myriad of historic and heritage sites to visit. Lake District covers an area of 885 square miles that features the greenest countryside in all of Britain. Even though the weather in the area is notoriously unpredictable, and sometimes you can experience four different seasons in just one day, showers and clouds make the views of Lake District even more magnificent. Most travelers visit this district to get a taste of authentic rural English life and to get away from the busy city streets in one of the many quaint villages of Lake District. While you’re around, you should also visit the Lake District National Park. The park features the 12 largest lakes in the UK and the highest mountain in England (Scafell Pike).
Llanddwyn Island, Wales
Ynys LLanddwyn is a tiny coastal island off the West Anglesey Coast. The island is covered in pillow java, jasper formations, and sand dunes. Llanddwyn is a tidal island, meaning that when high waves come, it gets detached from the mainland. The island also features more than 16 kilometers of footpaths, including the famous Anglesey Coastal Path. If you like trekking, you’ll also be amazed by one of the most beautiful viewpoints in Wales; the Twr Mawr Lighthouse that overlooks Snowdonia and gives a mesmerizing view of the Llŷn Peninsula.
Hidden in the far north of England, Northumberland offers some of the best rustic landscapes, wild isolated beaches, charming authentic villages, and ancient sites in Britain. Being located on the border, Northumberland has seen a lot of battles throughout the years and is today the least densely populated county in the UK with only 62 people per square kilometer. This isn’t a bad thing, especially if you like getting off the beaten track; the beaches don’t get a lot of visitors and hence, are very clean. Another good thing is that the iconic historic castles (including Alnwick Castle from Harry Potter) also don’t get a lot of visitors.
Located in the far west of Wales, Pembrokeshire is home to the only coastal national park in the UK. Another great reason to visit is the spectacular beach scenery, the golden sands, rocky cliffs, and fascinating flora and fauna. The national park is so big that it covers one-third of the total territory of the county. In this park, you’ll find the iconic Preseli Hills, the 310-kilometers-long Pembrokeshire Coast Path, and a myriad of award-winning beaches.
Isle of Wight, England
The Isle of Wight is one of the most popular summer holiday destinations in the UK. With glorious countryside, beautiful beaches, shopping malls, and a fair share of history, the Isle of Wight has something in store for everyone. Hence, it’s no surprise that the island has had the reputation of being a famous summer resort since Victorian times. If that’s not a reason enough to visit, you can also see the UNESCO-protected Biosphere Reserve that’s home to a number of different species and quarries for dinosaur fossils.
Outer Hebrides, Scotland
If you’re in pursuit of a peaceful holiday destination where you can feel isolated from the rest of the world, the Outer Hebrides are a great choice. Sitting on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, this collection of islands offers tranquil vibes away from the hustle and bustle of the largest metropolitan cities in the UK. The area has unique flora and fauna and is home to 53 Sites of Special Scientific Interest. The archipelago is also a haven for bird-watching enthusiasts. More than 50 of the islands are uninhabited and venturing to some of them for a day trip is a must if you’re a nature lover.
St. Ives, England
With over 300 miles of beaches, dunes, and cliffs, Cornwall is without a doubt the most popular region when it comes to holiday destinations in the UK. Even though more tourists visit Cornwall County every year, there are still some pristine places where one can get away from the tourist crowds. One of those places is St. Ives; a small coastal town with cobbled streets, beautiful beaches, and rural vibe. In the past, St. Ives was a fishing village but in recent years, the increased number of tourist is slowly turning St. Ives into a popular seaside resort.
Talking about the best summer destinations in Cornwall, we also have to mention Pentewan; a coastal village and a former port on the southern coast of Cornwall. This small village was historically known for being a source of fine building stone that was used to build many medieval churches in Cornwall. However, after 1945, Pentewan has become one of the most popular seaside camping spots in the UK. So, if you’re looking for a camping destination for your summer holiday, only a few places can compare to Pentewan.
Isle of Arran, Scotland
Covering an area of 432 square kilometers, Arran is the largest island in the Firth of Clyde. The island is oftentimes rightfully described as a miniature Scotland and it’s incredible that such a small stretch of land features so many diverse landscapes. Recently, Arran has been gaining popularity being featured in famous travel magazines as a “must-visit destinations for people that want to experience a world away from modern life”.
Blackpool is probably one of the most popular tourist destinations in the UK, and as such, it needs to be included in this list. The city has been a tourist hotspot for years and it shows no signs of slowing down even with all the emerging small resort towns around. Blackpool offers different kinds of activities for all ages. This includes beautiful beaches, magnificent surrounding landscapes, amusement parks, and a fair share of historic sites.
Neist Point, Scotland
If you’re planning a trip around the Highlands, Neist Point is one place you really shouldn’t miss. Neist Point is a viewpoint in the westernmost part of Skye and one of the most picturesque places in Britain. It’s one of those places that’ll make you feel like you’re standing over the edge of the world. There might not be any pretty beaches near Neist Point, but what this town misses in beaches, it (more than) makes up for in scenic rugged coastlines and mesmerizing views.
Cromer is a coastal town located in Norfolk; a county of sleepy villages, medieval castles, and half-timbered towns. This part of England gets the least amount of rain compared to other holiday destinations in the UK. However, the temperatures around here are a bit lower than most other places. However, this doesn’t take away from the beauty of the city. During the summers, you can just relax on the beach, while during winters, you can go trekking on some of the coastal trekking routes that pass in the region. In addition to the beautiful beaches, you can also find a lot of parks, interesting museums, and of course the Cromer Pier and the famous lighthouse.
Portrush, Northern Ireland
You might think that there aren’t any famous summer resorts in Northern Ireland. And you probably would be right if it wasn’t for Portrush. Portrush is the only city from Northern Ireland on this list but it’s on par with all the other famous holiday destinations in the UK. If you’re looking for a charming coastal town with a rich history and medieval buildings, Portrush is a great option. This small coastal town has some of the most beautiful sandy beaches in the UK, a medieval castle, the Skerries (a collection of rocks that are an important habitat for several different rare species), and of course, some of the best night clubs in Northern Ireland.
The main reason why Bournemouth is one of the most famous holiday destinations in the UK is the fact that it’s completely surrounded by seven miles of sandy beaches. Bournemouth is also home to a big Oceanarium, a pier zip-line, and it’s also an up-and-coming casino city. But Bournemouth isn’t only a seaside resort; it’s also a city with arich history and in the city center, you’ll find some fascinating remnants of Victorian architecture. Being located only 150 kilometers away from London and close to the southernmost point of the UK, the city also has a great location. This is just another reason why more than five million people visit Bournemouth every year.
Llandudno is one of the most popular holiday destinations in the UK and the largest seaside resort in Wales. The city is home to several medieval churches, a beautiful marine drive that has some of the most spectacular sights in Wales, and happy valley, consisting of beautiful gardens, miniature golf courses, and an open-air theater. If you’re visiting in May, you’ll also witness a three-day Victorian carnival. Around this time of the year when Mostyn Street (Llanduno’s version of London Carnaby Street) turns into a real funfair.
Devon is another beautiful summer resort that combines dreamy beaches with vibrant countryside, medieval castles, and historic monuments. The mild climate and beautiful landscapes make Devon one of the most popular seaside resorts in the UK. Devon County is also home to Dartmoor and Exmoor national parks, collectively known as the English Riviera and North Devon’s Biosphere Reserve which is also a UNESCO-protected site. While around, you can also take day-trips to Exeter and Plymouth; two more exciting seaside resorts that have a lot to offer.
Gower Peninsula, Wales
This list couldn’t be complete without the first area in Britain to be designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Today, the area is a popular summer destination and a haven for surfers and outdoor enthusiasts. Gower is also home to the mesmerizing Local Nature Reserve. The reserve features many forests, hidden caves, and beautiful rocky beaches, four of which have Blue Flag awards.
The seaside town of Poole is one of the oldest settlements in the UK with first human traces in the region dating back to the Iron Age. Today, Poole is the largest natural harbor in Europe and has some of the most beautiful beaches in the UK. One of them is the iconic Sandbanks but there are a lot more beautiful beaches around. In fact, Poole’s beaches have been awarded a Blue Flag 21 times since 1987! However, this isn’t the only thing Poole has to offer. One famous tourist attraction is the Poole Quay- a street filled with traditional public houses, pubs, and historic buildings. Poole also has several natural parks, including two Victorian parks that date back to the 19th century.
With outdoor adventure parks, forests, wildlife parks, mountain railways, and a fair share of indoor activities, Aviemore is one of the most popular vacation spots in Scotland. The town is situated within the Cairngorms National Park, offering the best of the Scotland Highlands. Unlike most places on this list, Aviemore doesn’t have any beaches but it makes up for it with all of its natural beauty. If you prefer mountains rather than beaches, only a few other holiday destinations in the UK can compare to Aviemore.
If you’re looking for a family vacation destination, Dorset is one of the best ones in the UK. The county has several great seaside resort towns like Swanage, Studland and Weymouth, a UNESCO-listed beach filled with eroded fossils (Chesil Beach), and an array of English Heritage properties. Along the iconic Jurassic Coast, you’ll also find Durdle Door; a natural limestone arch that’s home to one of the prettiest beaches in the county and one of the most photographed spots on the Coast of England.
Last but not least, this list can’t be complete without Portmeirion. Portmeirion is a charming coastal village in Wales that will make you feel like you’re somewhere around the Amalfi Coast. The village was designed by Clough Williams-Ellis who wanted to turn the small Welsh village into a tourist attraction. Half a century later, I think it’s safe to say he succeeded! More people visit Portmeirion every year and the village was even showcased in several movies and TV shows.
Helpful resources for visiting the UK
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Looking for the best deal for flying to the UK? Use this special offer by Air France and save up to 50% on flights to the UK.
If you’re a student traveling to the UK, you can get the cheapest flights on STA travel.
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Would you like to visit any of these holiday destinations in the UK? That’s great but don’t forget to make sure that your home is secured before you leave. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Finally, don’ t forget about UK’s very strict regulations and make sure you know all you need to know about FCO legislation before visiting.
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