The 7 Best Beaches Near London - Get Ready for this Summer

Published on April 10, 2021
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It’s getting closer to summer and we’re constantly checking the weather forecast to see when the sun is going to grace us with its presence.

If you’re starting to think about lying back on soft sand, listening to the waves as they rush to shore, and the sun warming your vampire-like skin, then you’ll want to know what beaches near London you can get to the quickest.

Your skin needs that Vitamin D like a fish needs water. So, get that swimsuit out of the closet and get ready to head to the beach because I’m about to share with you the best beaches near or within Greater London.

1. Camber Sands, Sussex - Beaches near London

beaches near london camber sands

Walk along the large stretch of beach of Camber Sands with the sand soft under your feet. Tufts of sand dunes rise behind in mounds. Camber means safe haven, and this stretch of beach certainly makes you feel like you’re leaving reality behind.

Where is it

Situated on the south coast of England, it is the only sand dune system in East Sussex.

With over two miles of beach, it is one of the few sandy beaches in the area.

How to Get There

Camber Sands is two and a half hours by train or one and a half hours by car from London.

What to do

It is ideal for relaxing with a book, the sound of the waves in the background, or getting an adrenalin hit with some watersports.

There is a designated jet ski launch and anything from kitesurfing, paddle boarding, and sailing is permitted.

Nearby is the Rye Harbor Nature Reserve, 465 hectares with a saltmarsh, lagoons, and reedbeds. A new discovery center should be open later in 2021 but there is an information cabin currently open.

It’s a great place for birdwatching and hides are scattered across the area to patiently wait to see the Common Redshank or see a colony of Little Terns.

Another attraction nearby is Camber Castle, once belonging to Henry VIII. It lies between Rye and Winchelsea. The huge foreboding, flower-shaped fortress has a large circular tower in the middle and rounded walls jutting out like petals. Inside weeds grow in the cracks in the walls along the paved tunnel-like corridors.

Where to Stay

There are plenty of options of accommodation from quaint cottages to holiday parks, and B and B’s leading straight on to the beach.

2. Botany Bay, Kent

botany bay

Walking down the steps to get to the beach, the white chalk cliffs act as a backdrop. The white chalk stacks jutting up from the sand like sharks’ teeth.

The beach is around 200 meters long and at low tide you can walk to Kingsgate Bay, another picturesque beach.

Where is it

Situated to the east of England on the furthest point that juts out into the English Channel.

How to Get There

Nearly two and a half hours by train from London and an hour and a half drive.

What to do

Rock pools provide a home for many organisms and you can explore the caves if you dare walk inside as the darkness consumes you. With its history of smugglers during the 1700s maybe you’ll find some buried treasure.

Where to Stay

The Botany Bay Hotel is in the town above the cliffs. It has a restaurant and bar where you can watch the pinks and oranges of the sun setting over the sea. There are other options such as holiday apartments and B and B’s.

3. Ruislip Lido, West London

Ruislip Lido

A large lake calmly sits in woodland on the outskirts of London but feels a million miles away from the bustle of the city. Technically a reservoir, it is a peaceful place where ducks glide over the water, and pink flowers blossom on nearby trees creating a wall of color.

There’s a beach area where you can lie and soak up the sun on those scorching summer days.

Where is it

It is in Greater London, to be precise the north west of London, beyond Wembley and Harrow.

How to get there

Around an hour by underground from Central London and around forty minutes by car.

What to do

It’s one of the best beaches near London for families on a day trip. You could spend a whole day here. The steam train with its shiny green exterior and open carriages, creates clouds of steam rising in front of it as it chugs along.

The playground provides entertainment and there’s a café and pub. The Water’s Edge pub is an attractive circular building with an outside seating area and there are plenty of picnic tables overlooking the lake.

Take a walk through the Ruislip Woods, a national nature reserve. Or the Poors Fields which is an Area of Special Scientific Interest. Walk past the cows lazily chewing on grass and around the pond. Or take a pony ride at the Ruislip Park Stables to enjoy the countryside.

For history buffs, the Battle of Britain Bunker is nearby. Get a tour of World War II history. Stand in the footsteps of Churchill when he stood at the plotting table as German bombers came over the English Channel.

Ruislip Lido is only open during certain hours and the car parking seems to be confusing so check this before you go.

4. Frensham Great Pond, Surrey

Frensham Great Pond

The soft sands surround clusters of woodland. Little sail boats bob on the water. Reeds rise from the water and sway in the breeze.

This green flag site is owned by the National Trust and is 1,000 acres of tranquil landscape.

It is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, a Special Site of Scientific Interest, a Special Area of Conservation, and a Special Protection Area. Phew, that’s all the accolades you could ever want.

You will need your walking boots for Frensham Common with dirt tracks, spindly trees, and purple heather blanketing the ground.

Where is it

In south west London, south of Farnham.

How to get there

It takes just over an hour by car from London and about an hour and a half by train.

What to do

After a day at the beach and walking through the woods, relax at the Frensham Pond Hotel and Spa. Maybe a nice pedicure to ease those feet.

The Sculpture Park nearby is a unique place. Packed with larger-than-life metal sculptures from a large stag, its horns like tree branches to huge tank-like structures.

How about being Tarzan for the day? Go Ape at Alice Holt is a treetop challenge and adventure. Make your way from one high platform to another. Maybe don’t look down as you are suspended high above the ground. Instead admire the view of the south downs. Then zip wire to the ground and try to calm your beating heart.

Taste a tipple at Greyfriars Vineyard. Their tours and tastings take you through their vineyard, the juicy grapes weighing down the branches. Sip on their award-winning sparkling and still wines on the viewing deck and watch the sun set in an array of colors.

5. Mersea Island, Essex

Mersea Island, Essex

Rows of pastel-colored beach huts stretch in a neat row along the beach in lavenders, sunny yellows, and delicate greens. Views across Blackwater Estuary with fishing boats in different sizes rolling with the waves.

The eight-mile square island is a traditional fishing village that feels like you could be abroad and not just off the coast of England.

Where is it

This quaint island is nine miles southeast of Colchester. It is the most easterly inhabited island with a population of under 7,000.

How to get there

It takes an hour and a half by car and three and a half by train. Get the train from London Liverpool Street into Colchester Town Station then hop in a taxi to take you in twenty minutes to the island.

What to do

Are you up for a trek? Take the 13-mile long walking challenge around the island. It takes around three hours through this charming little gem.

Cudmore Grove Country Park is at the eastern end of the island with beaches, meadows, and grasslands. The remains of a 16th century blockhouse fort are within the park among the abundant wildlife. From the idyllic beach you can see civilization in the far distance across the water.

Take a boat trip to view the island from its waters or get on your wetsuit and do some windsurfing.

In the evening try some fresh oysters from the many restaurants, caught off the coast of the island. I must warn you; they taste like sea water.

Where to stay

There are lots of options for accommodation including hotels, the Mersea Island caravan park, or your own little seaside studio.

6. Brighton Beach

Brighton Beach

Chill out on the sands of Brighton Beach, the famous Brighton Pier stretching out into the sea. Its white buildings stand proudly with ‘Brighton Pier’ in huge letters above them.

The beach huts behind you in bright orange and cobalt blue.

Where is it

Brighton is in the south of England overlooking the English Channel over to France.

How to get there

By car it is nearly two hours and by train it is just over an hour.

What to do

Apart from chilling on the beach, Brighton is packed with activities.

Visit Sea Life to view multi-colored marine life gliding through their underwater homes.

Take a bike tour through the city to take in the atmosphere. The tours go twice a day on a two and a half hour guided tour past iconic landmarks in the bohemian city.

For thrill seekers, try Hatt Adventures. They have rock climbing, abseiling, survival courses, and lots more.

Or try your hand at Escape Rooms. Like the Crystal Maze, you have to undertake tasks to escape. It could lead to some arguments as you and your group try to work out how to get out.

Relax afterwards at the Beach Box Spa. An authentic Finnish sauna on Brighton beach. The wood-fired sauna is in a converted horse trailer. It’s quirky wooden exterior and glass doors lead onto a pebbled chill out area.

You can shop until you drop in Brighton. Packed with everything you could want. From shopping centers to boutique offerings.

Beyond Retro is a great place for all things vintage. Packed into a warehouse with breeze block walls and beams holding the ceiling. It is crammed from floor to ceiling with bright yellow jumpers, wigs, and tops with enough sequins to make you shield your eyes.

Where to stay

From luxury hotels to glamping, Brighton has it all.

Stay at Brighton Experience Freedom Glamping. Set up your tent or stay in the wooden huts with the water glinting in the distance.

Or if you fancy being good to yourself, how about Drakes Hotel, a boutique hotel with a bathtub in your room with views across the water.

7. East Head at West Wittering, Chichester

West Wittering Beach

Colored beach huts sit at the beach entrance before the sand slopes down to meet the sea. Land can be seen in the distance, rising up from the horizon.

Boats bob about on the water, their sails flapping in the breeze against the clear blue sky.

There are two blue flag beaches here, East Head and West Wittering beach, making it some of the best beaches near London for swimming.

East Head is a site of Special Scientific Interest and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It’s not hard to see why with the beautiful white sand beach and tufts of grass from the dunes rising behind you.

The saltmarsh here is one of rarest habitats in the south of England. With the sea lavender making the marsh purple during certain seasons.

Where is it

Situated on the south coast of England between Brighton and Bournemouth.

How to get there

By car it is two hours from London or by train it is over two and a half hours.

What to do

Watch out for wildlife. Seals live in the waters around East Head. You might see their heads popping up from the waves or at low tide you might see them on the mud flats.

Look out for sand lizards with their bright green markings or the sandy colored females.

Fancy getting into the water? Sign up for some canoeing or kayaking with Fluid Adventures.

Nearby is Jungle Paradise Adventure Golf. Try not to get too competitive.

For a bit of culture visit the Fishbourne Roman Palace. These recreated roman gardens are the earliest gardens found anywhere in the UK. It has the largest collection of mosaics and it was the largest roman home in Britain. See the tiles on the floor depicting creatures and intricate patterns.

Watch artists at work at the Bosham Walk Art and Craft Centre and buy a unique gift.

With so many choices, it’s hard to know which you’d prefer. Since we’ve all been cooped up, why not try them all?

Now all we need is the sun and to peel off those onesies that we’ve been living in since the first lockdown.

And if you got inspired then also check out my article about the most romantic places in UK.


About the Author
I’m a blogger, Londoner, self-confessed travel junkie, and lover of all good things. I help you to travel like a local so you can live the real experience and learn something new and unique everywhere around the globe.

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