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7 of the Best Beaches in the U.K.

The United Kingdom might not strike you as the ideal destination for a beachy holiday, but the region's actually home to a multitude of charming seaside towns that boast lovely weather during the spring and summer months. The rich tradition of British seaside resorts dates back to the Victorian era, ensuring that a visit to any of these towns will be chock full of great history, beautiful scenery, and, of course, an opportunity to work on your tan.

1. Barafundle Bay, Pembrokeshire, Wales

James Knight/Wikimedia Commons

James Knight/Wikimedia Commons

A small bay surrounded by sand dunes and pine trees, Barafundle Bay is a tranquil, secluded beach that has routinely been voted one of the best in the region. As it's surrounded by rolling countryside and dramatic cliffs, dropping into to the sea, it’s easy to see why Barafundle Bay is so popular among local beachgoers. Be sure to stock up in nearby Stackpole before you go, as there are no facilities along the remote stretch.

A Historic Hotel Pick in Temby, a 30-minute drive from the bay

2. Margate, Kent, England

Antony Stanley/Flickr

Antony Stanley/Flickr

Margate has been one of Britain’s most popular seaside resorts since the 1700s, and rightfully so. Surprisingly pristine sandy stretches are punctuated by sparkling bays, but the town itself is well worth a visit, too. These days, Margate is home to chic cafes, vintage stores, and even a robust art scene, with the internationally acclaimed Turner Contemporary showcasing works by J.M.W. Turner, who famously painted Margate’s seascapes, and local artist Tracey Emin, best known for her works in neon. 

A Boutique Hotel Pick in Kent

3. Pentle Bay, Tresco, Isles of Scilly

Tom Corser via Wikimedia Commons

Tom Corser via Wikimedia Commons

Don’t be mistaken: you’re not in the Caribbean -- but it’s easy to think so at Pentle Bay. The turquoise waters and white sands make for great swimming, shell collecting, and water sports, and the isles have an unusually balmy climate. 

A Kid-Friendly Hotel Pick in Penzance, a 2.5-hour ferry from Pentle Bay 

4. Mablethorpe, Lincolnshire, England

Craig Andrews/Flickr

Craig Andrews/Flickr

Facing the North Sea in Lincolnshire, Mablethorpe is considered one of the best beaches along the coast. Four miles of unbroken coastline features golden sands flanked by grassy dunes and punctuated with colorful beach chalets that are available for rental. 

A Boutique Hotel Pick in Skegness, a 40-minute drive to Mablethorpe

5. Tyrella, County Down, Northern Ireland

Albert Bridge

Albert Bridge

One of the best beaches for kids, Northern Ireland’s Tyrella is a sandy paradise. The shallow, warm water is great for new swimmers, and the scenery -- with the Mourne Mountains in the distance -- is stunning. Afterward, a picnic at Inch Abbey, a 12th-century Gothic ruin, is a must. 

A Kid-Friendly Hotel Pick in Newcastle, a 20-minute drive from Tyrella

6. Sandwood Bay, Sutherland, Scotland

Andrew/Flickr

Andrew/Flickr

It’s a trek to get to Sandwood Bay, but a magical one. Those who undertake the four-mile hike to the beach are rewarded with one of the most rugged, unspoiled coastlines in the region. The beach’s surrounding grassy plain supports more than 200 species of plants and is home to nesting seabirds and the rare great yellow bumblebee.

7. Weymouth Beach, Dorset

Rafaela Ely/Wikimedia Commons

Rafaela Ely/Wikimedia Commons

One of the country’s most popular beaches, Weymouth Beach is conveniently situated just minutes from the town center and historic harbor. The clean three-mile stretch is also home to old-school seaside attractions, such as Punch & Judy and donkey rides. In the summer months, live musicians take to the sand. 

A Value Hotel Pick in Weymouth

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