/ Travel & Leisure

What’s your favourite seaside town and why?

Bamburgh has topped our Travel survey of British seaside towns, but do you agree with the results? What’s your favourite UK coastal destination?

Bamburgh was rated the best seaside destination in the UK, and one glance at the landscape reveals why: what a beach!

It’s wild and unspoilt, with views to the Farne Islands in one direction and imposing Banburgh Castle dominating the other.

If you’re the kind of person who thinks a good walk by the sea will blow away all manner of cobwebs, then this is the perfect spot for you to wrap up and stride forth.

‘Head to Wales’

Elsewhere in our survey, Wales had four seaside towns in the top 20, from the Italian Riviera-inspired Portmeirion and reassuring seaside tradition of Llandudno to beaches in Pembrokeshire that rival anywhere in the world.

Price pays a part as well; all four Welsh destinations got four or more starts for value for money. That’s no surprise when the average cost of a hotel room is around £100 in every one of them.

To put that in perspective, members told us they paid around £160 in Cornwall’s St Ives.

If you’re worried about the Welsh weather, East Anglia is another good bet. The wrap of wild sandy beaches that surround its coastline means Norfolk has three entires in the top 20 and Suffolk has two.

In some of them, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time.

Where are your favourites?

Nearly 3,000 people in our survey rated 10 categories, such as the quality of the beach, attractions, scenery, food and drink and peace and quiet.

Does your favourite destination feature in the full results? You can take a look at them here.

Do you agree with Bamburgh coming out on top? If not, where would you rate as the UK’s number one seaside town? Have we missed any hidden gems?

Let us know in the comments here and we’ll take a look. We’ll also be continuing to share photos of the top 20 destinations on our Twitter account – so keep an eye out, and let us know any suggestions for places to feature!


I’m not going to tell you my favourite beach as it is beautiful, peaceful and deserted, …..and I want it to stay that way.

I don’t think Portmeirion really qualifies as a normal town – I think it is more like an expensive privately owned 1:1 scale model village.

I do like Barmouth and Criccieth though and I’m surprised that Caernarfon, Aberdyfi and the Welsh New Quay aren’t on the list.

I agree; Portmeirion describes itself as a Hotel, not a town. We love staying there, especially in the evenings, when the visitors depart and we have the place to ourselves.

But the survey is spot on with Llandudno. The North shore beach is pretty ropey, with a lot of stones and not a lot of sand for the building of sand things. The West shore beach is better and they certainly have a lot of sand 🙂

I agree with the high rating of Dartmouth, a lovely riverside town. However rating its beach as 1* when it doesn’t have one seems rather pointless (and misleading, as Blackpool Sands, a short drive away with good facilities and plenty of parking is a lovely beach). And talking of parking, there seems little point in enticing people to a lovely location without mentioning minimal car parking, the case at Dartmouth. Park and ride might not suit everyone.

But please don’t all flock to Dartmouth in season – it is too nice to be overwhelmed.

I have little interest in overpriced British seaside towns. For urban seaside, the ultimate destination is Rio de Janeiro, where we get a 5* hotel on the beach for around £60 to £90 per night. The beach culture there is so much more enjoyable than anything in the UK, and the water is warm.

I agree that sounds very nice, even if UK residents would have to traipse half way round the world to get there.

..and cause the emission of 1.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide. 66 times that emitted per passenger on my recent trip to the West Country.

If you prefer urban seaside closer to home, then Barcelona is also a good option. But it’s no good during the UK winter, unlike Rio, which is up to 40°C in January.

How safe is Rio now, NFH?

It depends on the area. We always stay in Barra da Tijuca in the west of Rio, not far from the Olympic Park, not least as there are no favelas and very few tourists whom criminals attract. Although it’s mostly a residential area for wealthy locals, there are several hotels along the beach front from major international chains. The beach in Barra da Tijuca is much better than the more famous Copacabana and Ipanema beaches, and they have genuine Brazilian beach culture undiluted by lots of tourists.

I feel a lot safer in Barra da Tijuca than in Barcelona for example.

At least the “overpriced British seaside towns” are accessible at an affordable price and in under a day in most cases.

Indeed. And without any need for expensive planet scorching air travel.

Some of the small Cornish retreats are lovely to visit but probably less so to live in, especially in Summer. Stornoway has a charm that is hard to beat. The local food is fresh and succulent, the light is distinctive and clear and the people are welcoming. Of course it’s rather dark and stormy in Winter when we are not there. I love Salcombe for boat and people watching and for the ice cream, which is to die for. I am less enamoured by the traffic and the price of houses there. Plymouth has broad streets the wonderful front with Smeaton’s tower and the mariner’s quarter to explore, Sainsbury’s is good there too. The walk from Swansea (old Victoria Station of happy memory) to Mumbles is lovely, with the bay to the left and all sorts of interesting titbits to the right, including Singleton Park. Beyond the Gower stretches its welcome. Once again, I feel, better to visit and walk to Worms Head than to live there. Views excepted, the roads are tortuous and it takes some time to get anywhere else. The sand at the end stretches for ever, as does that on Cefn Sidan on the opposite shore with its country park. Indeed, most Seaside resorts make pleasant viewing to the visitor. In the same district, Tenby has a lovely church, a good harbour and a chance to visit the monks on Caldey Island. Their chocolate is something special. Queues to get in in the Summer show how popular it is. One can access it from Paddington Station on some trains.

Is there any reason why Southend-on-sea is missing from the list?

Snobbery, I expect. I quite like it as well as many other traditional resorts along the east coast like Clacton-on-Sea, Frinton, Walton-on-the Naze, Lowestoft, Grear Yarmouth, Mundesley, Cromer and Sheringham. In between are lots of lovely unspoilt settlements many with excellent beaches or coastal margins. I would have included Aldeburgh and Southwold but they have been spoiled by attempts at sophistication . . . and money..

Lots of lovely unspoilt beaches up the west coast of Scotland like Mellon Udrigle,a particular favourite,but Oban/Fort William and Mull are very bonny.I should mention Ayr,as I was born there,but Southport and Llandudno were recently visited and were delightful surprises in their own right.

Living in Norwich we are lucky to have easy access to dozens of seaside towns and villages and we rarely go elsewhere for coastal pleasures. A ten minute walk into the city centre gives us bus services to all the main coastal places from Southwold in Suffolk all the way round to Hunstanton which faces west across the Wash. In fact it is easy to follow the sun from the most easterly point in England at Lowestoft all the way to Hunstanton where it sets.

We tried Rio de Janeiro but it was unbearably hot and not really our style, so we stick with simpler places.

That’s also a very long bus journey John 🙂

Yes – but it did include a stop in Paris!

When I was a child I enjoyed summer visits to the beach, which was a short walk from home. Nowadays it does not appeal, any more than cities at busy times. I do enjoy a walk on the beach a sunny day out of season and poking around rock pools is just as fascinating as it always has been.


One point about your header. Despite its perfectly innocuous nature, the aside “If you’re worried about the Welsh weather,” does carry certain implications, the obvious one being a perception that Wales has more rainfall than other places.

I think it’s important to point out, however, that Llandudno, for example, has an average of 11″ per year – far lower than most places in the UK. The rather stereotypical image of persistent rain in Wales is only accurate for relatively well-defined areas: to the East of Snowdonia and Snowdonia itself do have a higher rainfall – sometimes the highest in the UK – but it’s a remarkably localised phenomenon. The entire Isthmus of Llandudno sticks out into the Gulf Stream, enjoys significantly warmer winters (and cooler summers during the rare heat wave) and suffers from the low rainfall levels to which I’ve alluded. I say ‘suffers’ because there are still a lot of farms in the Llandudno area, as well as many houses that don’t have mains water.

So I’d ask that W? exercise care in even hinting that all parts of Wales are akin to Noah’s homestead and emphasise that the rainfall variations, even within very short distances, are truly remarkable.

Holidaying – or even days out – anywhere in the UK carries the risk of rain so we simply need to be prepared for it – both in clothing and planned activities. Personally I like the variety of UK weather; nice to have long dry sunny spells but I wouldn’t want to live with that all the time. Particularly for the garden – being well-watered at the moment.

Over much of Wales, the number of days with a rainfall total of 1 mm or more (‘wet days’) tends to follow a pattern similar to the monthly rainfall totals. In the higher parts, over 50 days is the norm in winter (December-February) and over 35 days in summer (June-August). In the driest areas of the east and south, about 40 days in winter and about 25 days in summer are typical……

……..Throughout Wales, the months from October to January are significantly wetter than those between February and September, unlike places in eastern England where July and August are often the wettest months of the year. This seasonal pattern is a reflection of the high frequency of winter Atlantic depressions and the relatively low frequency of summer thunderstorms.

Incidentally when God designed the Earth I wonder why it wasn’t arranged for rain to fall only at night.

You see, what those quotes are saying is simply and utterly incorrect for the North Wales Coast and give out an incredibly misleading impression. The problem, in fact, for the coast is the reverse of that. And, as I pointed out, as well as being inaccurate they’re indiscriminate, when the rainfall patterns vary so wildly within a very short distance.

It continues to be a source of fascination for us, living in Snowdonia, where it’s well known that rain in Betws means sun in Llandudno, heavy rain in Betws means cloudy sun in Llandudno and torrential thunderstorms in Betws mean thick cloud in Llandudno. The figures for a couple of years back were Betws: 70″ per year, Llanrwst 40″ per year, Llandudno 11″ per year. Capel Curig was in the 140″ per year range.

We visit Llandudno every week and I can’t remember the last day we went and it was raining.

Just quoting what the Met Office say 🙂 No doubt a generalisation, but really of little matter because it does rain, often, when we’re on holiday and we Brits need to be prepared 🙂 wherever we go in the UK.

But perhaps not in Llandudno.

As an excellent example today, there have been dire severe weather warnings for torrential rain yesterday and today. However, it’s worth checking the Met office site for Llandudno. Watch how the appalling weather completely misses Llandudno throughout the day.

Check any met site you wish and the story is always the same. There’s good reason why the Victorians designed it as a holiday resort instead of a coal terminus.

And only 26 years ago…………
Llandudno 1993 floods rare live footage – Great Orme

I come from the land of bad weather stereotypes but from the part that has its own dry microclimate. It used to annoy me but I recently started to look at it a different way.

If people go expecting good weather they might be disappointed. If they go with expectations of rain it will either meet their expectations or exceed their expectations. Pretty much everyone I know who has gone to Ireland has come back with good things to say about the weather!

malcolm r says: Today 16:41
And only 26 years ago…Llandudno 1993 floods rare live footage – Great Orme

Well, if they only get heavy rain every 26 years then it must rate as one of the driest places in the UK. I was actually in that flood, and it was vastly overrated. I drove a car up the Orme, which was supposed to be impassable.

But my point is that W? needs to exercise care when making asides which can have implications for the unfamiliar. The North Coastal climate of the Welsh coast is one of the most benign in the UK.

Anthony TATE says:
25 July 2019

Don’t know where you got 11in of rainfall from…. the average rainfall/precipitation on the Internet has it at 851mm of rain which is considerably more than 11in (280mm). I will stay in east anglia which is dry

On the question of why some places were left out of the survey that people thought they should be – we just didn’t get enough replies for some places even if they were on the list for the survey.

This is why there are no Northern Irish seaside towns on the list even though Newcastle in Co Down is obviously (in my humble opinion) the very best in the UK. With Ballycastle in second place, Dundrum in third, Port Stewart in forth and Ballintoy coming in 5th.

I well remember a holiday near Bamburgh in 1969. It was the last family holiday we had and also some guy called Armstrong walked on the moon.

Geoff Wright says:
16 August 2019

As an exiled “Geordie” I must agree Bamburgh has a lot going for it – not least, the village/town of Seahouses, a few miles south along that wonderful beach.
However, having resided in S. Wales for many years, I, too, must sing the praises of Tenby – full of real character, good shops, a wide variety of places to eat to satisfy all tastes and two lovely beaches – North Beach can be a sun-trap on fine summer days, and South Beach. Parking, particularly in “high season”, can be difficult to find and quite expensive in the off-street car parks. It would pay a “day visitor” to get there early – on street parking is very limited.
A boat trip from the harbour to offshore Caldey Island is always worth taking for the peace and tranquility one finds there.
Tenby may be a little “old fashioned” in some ways but, to me, that is a feature of this town I treasure!