The Best Beaches near London

Becky blog author avanti social team

By the Avanti Web Team

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5 min read | 1st Published April 11, 2023 - Updated 28 May 2024


Living in London can be exhilarating, but the city's constant hustle and bustle can also leave you craving a change of scenery. Sometimes, escaping the urban jungle for some fresh sea air is necessary. 

The good news? Some of the UK's best beaches are not only within easy reach of London, but they’re also accessible without a car. 

In this article, we'll guide you through the best beaches near London. Whether you're planning a quick day trip or fancy a relaxing weekend getaway by the sea, discover why these coastal gems are worth a visit and how to get there using public transport.

What is the closest beach to London?

Ducks on the sandy beach of the Ruislip Lido Lake.

If you’re in urgent need of some sand therapy, you’ll be pleased to know that Ruislip Lifo is the closest beach to London that is accessible by tube. 

Ruislip Lido is a 60-acre lake with sandy beaches in North West London. It’s surrounded by woodland and has a café and kids’ play area. A Woodlands Centre onsite offers plenty of interesting activities, including nature walks and craft sessions.

Swimming isn’t allowed, but it’s the best beach in London you can get to without leaving the Transport for London network. Simply take the Metropolitan or Piccadilly Line to Ruislip and catch bus H13 or 331 to Reservoir Road or Ruislip Lido. 

The best beaches less than one hour from London

A longshot of Folkestone's Sunny Sands Beach at sunset, with an orangey-blue sky and lots of birds on the sand.

While we can’t guarantee the sun, there’s certainly plenty of sand and sea near London. Let’s explore the beaches you can reach in less than an hour from the capital. 

Southend-on-Sea, Essex

Southend-on-Sea is a classic British seaside resort town that’s been through a fair bit of regeneration over recent years. It was once considered the longest pleasure pier in the world and has a small train to shuttle you from one end to the other.

There's also an amusement park and 11 kilometres of sandy beaches, which have earned a bunch of Blue Flag awards between them. 

Getting to Southend-on-Sea

Leigh-on-Sea, Essex

Not far from Southend-on-Sea, you’ll find Leigh-on-Sea. If you prefer your beaches to have history and charm, this one is worth visiting. Old cockle sheds and cobbled streets hark towards the town’s historic past, making it a photographer’s dream. 

Although the beach is modest in size, it offers sandy shores, and you'll find excellent seafood options nearby. Osborne's Cafe and Seafood Hall’s cooked cockles won the 2021 British Food Awards in the Fish & Seafood category.

Getting to Leigh-on-Sea

Brighton Beach, East Sussex

Located just an hour south of the capital, Brighton Beach is a popular choice among Londoners looking for a beach escape. With miles of golden sand, it’s perfect for sunbathing, swimming, and long walks along the shoreline. 

There are also plenty of fish and chip shops, restaurants, and ice cream parlours just steps away from the beach, so you can easily make a day out of it.

Getting to Brighton Beach

  • Trains from London Bridge or London Victoria to Brighton take around one hour

  • Driving to Brighton Beach from Central London takes approximately an hour and a half

Sunny Sands, Kent

Sunny Sands in Folkestone is a prime destination for those seeking sandy beaches near London. As the name suggests, it boasts sandy shores that are particularly popular during summer.

Make sure you take your bucket and spade, as Sunny Sands is renowned as one of the best beaches for building sandcastles. It even hosts an annual sandcastle-building competition! 

Convenient facilities include parking near the harbour, a promenade, and accessible toilets. There's also a beachside cafe, local pubs, and a beach shop. Note that from May to October, it's a dog-free zone.

Getting to Sunny Sands

  • Trains from St Pancras International to Folkestone Central take around one hour

  • Driving to Sunny Sands from Central London takes approximately one hour and 45 minutes

The best beaches less than two hours from London

A daytime view of the dunes, grass, and sea at Camber Sands.

Within two hours from London, there are even more beaches worth checking out. Whether you’re looking for family-friendly spots or want a quiet escape by the sea, there’s plenty to choose from. Let’s take a look at what they have to offer.

Camber Sands, East Sussex

In East Sussex, Camber Sands is one of the best sandy beaches near London. This stunning stretch of golden sand is backed by dunes and picturesque views of the English Channel.

Camber Sands is a popular spot for sunbathing, swimming, and sandcastle building. It's also a great place to try water sports, such as kite surfing, windsurfing, and paddleboarding. 

The beach is also surrounded by a nature reserve, providing opportunities for wildlife spotting and scenic walks.

Getting to Camber Sands

  • Take the train from St Pancras International to Ashford (40 minutes), then catch a connecting train to Rye (20 minutes). You can then catch the 100 bus to Pontins, and Camber Sands is a four-minute walk from here. 

  • Driving to Camber Sands from Central London takes approximately an hour and a half

Margate Beach, Kent

A popular destination in Kent, Margate has a long sandy beach, a historic pier, and a charming old town with vintage shops and art galleries. 

Over recent years, Margate has seen an influx of cool coffee shops and trendy small-plate restaurants. But if you want to keep it simple, grab some classic fish and chips from Peter's Fish Factory. 

If you’re particularly keen on a dip (warning, it’s chilly!), head over to Walpole Bay. This tidal pool is a local favourite and has some fantastic sunsets. 

Getting to Margate Beach

  • Trains from St Pancras International to Margate take around one hour and 30 minutes

  • Driving to Margate from Central London takes approximately one hour and 45 minutes

Botany Bay, Kent

Up the road from Margate, you’ll find Botany Bay. This picturesque spot is particularly suited to those looking for a nice beach near London where you can enjoy some peace and quiet.

You won’t find any funfairs or slot machines here. Just a stunning stretch of coastline set against Britain's longest continuous stretch of chalk cliffs.

It is a particularly great spot for a day out with your furry friend. Dogs are allowed on the beach year-round, with the exception of between 10:00 am to 6:00 pm from the 1st of May to the 30th of September. There are also plenty of walking trails and picnic areas nearby.

Getting to Botany Bay

  • Trains from St Pancras International to Margate take around one hour and 30 minutes. You can then catch the 8A bus to Yardhurst Gardens, and Botany Bay Beach is a seven-minute walk from here. 

  • Driving to Botany Bay from Central London takes just under two hours

Whitstable Beach, Kent

Whitstable Beach is another popular destination in Kent among dog owners, as they’re allowed to walk along the seafront path and grass areas just above the beach. They’re allowed on the beach proper too, but not between the 1st of May and the 30th of September. 

There’s no sand, but its beach huts and weatherboard cottages make the destination just as charming. 

Later in the day, wander across to Tankerton Beach (around a 30-minute walk). This stretch of coastline is known for its beautiful sunsets.

Getting to Whitstable Beach

West Wittering Beach, West Sussex

Featuring clear waters and picturesque dunes, West Wittering is one of the nicest beaches near London. 

With beach huts available, it's also an excellent spot for various activities. On sunny days, you can relax and sunbathe or do a spot of rock-pooling. During the summer, lifeguards ensure safe swimming. 

The South Downs behind the beach offer plenty of countryside walks for those looking to explore the area. 

Getting to West Wittering Beach

  • Trains from London Victoria to Chichester take around one hour and 30 minutes. You can then catch the 52 or 53 bus to Old House At Home, and West Wittering Beach is a 14-minute walk from here. 

  • Driving to West Wittering Beach from Central London takes approximately two hours and 20 minutes

Pett Level Beach, East Sussex

Pett Level Beach is a secluded beach on the East Sussex Heritage Coastline. It features stunning chalk-white cliffs and offers excellent opportunities for kite surfing, fishing, and even fossil hunting. 

For those who appreciate nature, this beach has an abundance of wildlife, including seals, dolphins, and seabirds. There's also a pet cemetery nearby that can be visited as part of your day trip.

Getting to Pett Level Beach

  • Take the train from St Pancras International to Ashford (40 minutes), then catch a connecting train to Rye (20 minutes). You can then catch the 101 wave bus to New Beach Club, and Pett Level Beach is a five-minute walk from here. 

  • Driving to Pett Level Beach from Central London takes approximately two hours and 10 minutes

Joss Bay, Kent

Joss Bay is a popular family beach in Broadstairs. It’s known for its vast expanse of golden sand and clear waters and is an excellent place to enjoy a day out in the sun. 

The beach is surrounded by cliffs and is sheltered from the wind, making it a great spot for swimming and other water activities. Lifeguards are on duty during the summer months to ensure everyone remains safe.

There are also several cafes and restaurants in the area, as well as public restrooms and showers.

Getting to Joss Bay

The best beaches just over two hours from London

A longshot of Bournemouth beach and pier, featuring people sunbathing on the sand.

Got a little more time on your hands? Don’t miss out on these other beautiful beaches near London, especially as they’re easily accessible by train. 

Bournemouth Beach, Dorset

Bournemouth Beach is one of the most popular beaches on the South Coast. With its seven miles of golden sand and crystal clear waters, it's easy to see why this beach attracts locals and visitors alike. 

Dogs are welcome on Bournemouth Beach from the 1st of October to the 30th of April. Thanks to this, it’s an excellent destination for those looking to spend a day out with their four-legged friends. There are also plenty of doggy-friendly pubs and restaurants nearby if you want to grab a bite after your day at the beach.

Getting to Bournemouth Beach

  • Trains from London Waterloo to Bournemouth take around two hours

  • Driving to Bournemouth Beach from Central London takes approximately two hours and 20 minutes

Sandbanks Beach, Dorset

If you're looking for a Dorset beach that’s a bit quieter than the rest, Sandbanks Beach might be the one for you. It’s known best for its stunning views across Poole Harbour and Studland Bay. 

Sandbanks Beach is ideal for families because there's plenty of space, making it easy to find that perfect spot away from everyone else. 

Plus, there are lots of shops nearby, so you can pick up whatever supplies you need before settling down for the day on this secluded beach near London.

Getting to Sandbanks Beach

  • Trains from London Waterloo to Poole take around two hours and 10 minutes. You can then catch the 60 Breezer bus to Banks Road, and Sandbanks Beach is a seven-minute walk from here. 

  • Driving to Sandbanks Beach from Central London takes approximately two hours and 20 minutes

More UK beaches you can get to by train

Blackpool Tower and Ferris wheel as seen from the sandy beach.

Happy to go further afield on your quest for the coast? There are plenty more UK beaches to explore, especially if you travel by rail.

For more inspiration, check out our roundup of the 10 nicest beaches in England. If you’re based in the UK’s second city, you won’t want to miss out on these top beaches near Manchester. And don’t forget that Scotland’s beaches are some of the best in the world. 

Wherever you choose to visit, book your train journey in advance to take advantage of the best prices. It’s also a good idea to travel off-peak if you can and consider purchasing a Railcard for further discounts. 

Start planning your train trip to the beach today!

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