5 UK cities that are also perfect for a beach break
1. London, UK
OK, so London may be landlocked, but there’s no shortage of places to feel like you’re beside the seaside in the capital this summer. Neverland London has just opened in Fulham, bringing with it a 65-foot white-sand beach that’s open until October. It’s bring-your-own-booze, although there’s a beach butler to turn your spirits into cocktails. And you can rent cute pastel beach huts for up to eight people, or huge ‘day partybeds’ for up to 25 friends. Entry is £10.
Urban London Beach at London’s Royal Docks has more of a family-friendly vibe, and it’s free to pitch up on the sand. And Brixton Beach has a rooftop spot, a Cuban theme and a long list of first-rate DJs.
Urban beaches aside, London’s got some lovely lidos where you can swim and soak up the rays this summer. From May to September, for example, the Serpentine Lido is open to the public in Hyde Park, with the lake to swim in, a paddling pool for kids, and a private sunbathing terrace.
2. Swansea, Wales
The sweep of sand at Swansea Bay is a matter of minutes from Swansea city centre, so you really do get the best of both worlds. And it’s a Watersports Centre of Excellence, so you’ve got all sorts of adrenaline-fuelled pursuits to keep you busy if you don’t fancy lazing on a lounger.
Swansea Bay is also the name given to the wider area around the city beach, including Mumbles and Gower, so you’ve got plenty of award-winning beaches to choose from. Rhossili Bay beach has been voted Wales’ best beach for 2017, and consistently gets voted in the top 10 of the UK’s top beaches according to TripAdvisor. Pick your spot on the three-mile stretch of sand and you’ll soon see what all the fuss is about.
3. Aberdeen, Scotland
Scotland’s third-biggest city may be most famous for its granite buildings, but Aberdeen’s beach is just as worthy of attention. A short walk from the attractions in the city centre, this golden sweep curves from the harbour to the mouth of the River Don. It’s popular with everyone from local dog-walkers to visiting families, and it’s beautiful – if bracing – all year round.
To make a day of it, spend the morning exploring the timeless cobbled streets of Old Aberdeen, which is dominated by the University. Then wander over to the beach for an afternoon by the sea, dipping in and out of the cafés. Just be warned if you’re considering a dip in the water, as it’s fair to say it’s pretty chilly, even in the height of summer.
4. Sunderland, Tyne and Wear
The locals tend to keep schtum about Roker and Seaburn beaches, which are both walkable from Sunderland city centre. And it’s no wonder they want to keep these sandy sweeps to themselves. Perfect for families, they’re dotted with cafés, restaurants and ice-cream pit-stops, and there’s so much sand you certainly won’t be fighting for space.
Speaking of families, don’t miss Roker Park if you’re here with kids. Just minutes from the sand, it’s home to a model boating lake and miniature railway, play areas, tennis courts and bandstand, all spread across seven hectares.
5. Formby, Liverpool
Book a city break to Liverpool and you’ve probably got the city’s epic list of attractions, shops, bars and restaurants on your to-do list. And by all means, do them first. But when you’ve ticked off all the city’s best bits, hop on a train out to Formby – it’s about 14 miles away, and the journey takes about half an hour.
You’ll arrive to a wide ribbon of sand with views over the Irish Sea in one direction, and beautiful pine woods in the other. It’s a glorious spot for a picnic, and you’ll feel a world away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Plus, it’s a haven for wildlife – rare Natterjack Toads and Red Squirrels live in the sand dunes here, and are looked after by the National Trust.
Thinking of jetting off further afield? You can now take the megabus from several UK cities to Heathrow Airport and Gatwick Airport, so you can save money on transport for your overseas holiday, too.