Britain’s seaside towns are perfect for a weekend break or a day trip from the larger cities – and when the sun is out there’s no better time to enjoy them
Sandy beaches, Georgian houses and the longest running Punch and Judy show in the country make this Dorset town an ideal hotspot for traditional British seaside holidaymakers. The host venue of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic sailing events is a gorgeous town with spectacular views of the bay and the World Heritage Jurassic Coastline, while the Old Harbour is the perfect place to sample the best of the fishermen’s catch in one of the many seafood restaurants.
Llandudno, Conwy, Wales
Stroll along the longest pier in Wales in this elegant Victorian seaside resort, the largest in Wales. As well as the amusement arcades and fairground rides, Llandudno is also a hub of North Wales’ thriving contemporary art and craft scene. Visitors should head to one of the several galleries in town – Mostyn is a particular highlight for its cutting edge contemporary art.
Mablethorpe, in the north of England, is a proper old-fashioned seaside town with a long, sandy beach, a theme park, a promenade and some fantastic places to enjoy the British staple, fish and chips. The town also has a seal sanctuary, a fantastic spectacle for families and nature lovers alike.
With the world’s longest pleasure pier (1.3 miles), Southend-on-Sea is a colossus of the seaside resorts. The town’s Sealife Adventure Centre is the perfect place for spot tropical sharks while the 100-year-old Cliff Lift will take you to the High Street, with its art galleries, shops and museums.
Lyme Regis, Dorset
Fishermen’s cottages, thatched houses and elegant Victorian villas make Lyme Regis one of the most picturesque hang-outs on a summer’s day. The town was a favourite with Jane Austen who wrote about “the principal street almost hurrying into the water, the Walk to the Cobb, skirting round the pleasant little bay.” The town has a number of historical landmarks from the watermill, which dates all the way back to the 14th century, to the beautiful St Michael’s Church and the fascinating Lepers’ Well.
In recent years the Kent town of Margate has become synonymous with chic, known as much for the elegance of its Old Town as for its seaside donkey rides and ice creams. While you’ll go for the golden sands and rustic seaside charm, you’ll stay for the rich abundance of art galleries – don’t miss the Turner Contemporary gallery on the seafront – as well as retro funfair Dreamland, vintage shops and cafés.
Tasty crabs, wide open beaches a traditional pier and a lighthouse are just some of the things that Cromer in Norfolk is famous for. Overlooking the town is the Parish Church with its 160-metre tower, while Victorian architecture gives Cromer a truly old-world feel.
Surrounded by attractive towns and villages, Morecambe was the birthplace of the famous comedian Eric Morecambe, and his statue on the promenade, unveiled by the Queen in 1999, has become one of the most photographed in the country. The nearby Midland Hotel is a lovingly-restored Art Deco hotel while music lovers should head to The Platform, the former railway station which hosts everything from jazz and blues to world music, folk and classical.
With its golden beaches and stone and pastel houses which overlook the crowded marina, Salcombe is about as luxurious as the English riviera gets. Take the South Sands Ferry which serves the western shore, and soak up the charm of the this seaside town from the water before heading to the boutiques of Fore Street and Island Street, Salcombe’s arts district. Stay at the newly revamped Gara Rock hotel, which reopens after a lavish refurbishment this August.
How could we leave Blackpool off our list? Cheerful and fun – more kiss-me-quick hats than straw boaters – Blackpool holds the iconic Pleasure Beach, as well as roller coasters, piers and the landmark Blackpool Tower, opened in 1894 and inspired by Paris’s Eiffel Tower. It’s a truly magical day out – the British seaside town at its magnificent best.