While London may not be home to white sand beaches and sunny, scenic coastlines, visitors to the famous metropolis are never more than a couple of hours away from some of the best beachy towns in England, sunny skies, sea breezes, bustling piers: all of this (and more!) can be found just a short train ride away from Britain’s top city.

And while these beach towns are close enough to spend the day, there’s plenty to see and do to keep travelers busy for a long weekend (or week!) relaxing by the seaside. Eclectic restaurants, top-tier lodging, and a parade of fun activities await vacationers looking to mix up their London stay with a visit to one of these iconic coastal retreats.

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The Soft Sands Of Beautiful Bournemouth

With its over seven miles of pristine, golden sand beaches, it’s easy to see why Bournemouth is one of the most popular beaches in all of England. The seaside town’s lush landscapes give it a tropical feel, while its Victorian vibes (funicular railways!) are all quaintness and English charm. The perfect place to plant a parasol and take in the dramatic cliffside scenery, Bournemouth’s bustling vibes are perfect for both one-day getaways and week-long beachside vacations.

  • Distance From London: Anywhere from two to three hours, depending on the rail service
  • Things To Do: Lower, Central, and Upper Gardens; Westbourne (The Village); Hengistbury Head Beach; The Oceanarium; West Cliff Lift (funicular railway); Bournemouth Pier
  • Where To Dine: Twelve Eatery; Arbor Restaurant; Restaurant Roots; Luxor Restaurant; The Coconut Tree
  • Where To Stay: Cavendish Hotel; The Green House; Hotel Miramar; Marsham Court Hotel; Derby Manor Boutique Guesthouse

Broadstairs: The Star Of The Sea

A series of seven beautiful bays and beaches await visitors to Broadstairswhose Latin motto Stella Maris appropriately translates to “Star of the Sea.” And after spending a day (or three) exploring its distinctive stretches of sand and basking in its coastal seaside charm, it’s easy to see why. Each beach has its own personality and cool things to do, so everyone from beach bums to literature lovers (Charles Dickens wrote David Copperfield here!) will find something fun to strike their fancy.

  • Distance From London: About two hours by train
  • Things To Do: Clifftop Victoria Gardens and Promenade (Viking Bay); Viking Coast Trail to Botany Bay; Broadstairs’ art galleries; Joss Bay; The Dickens House Museum; Louisa Bay rock pools
  • Where To Dine: Morelli’s Gelato; The Charles Dickens; The Chapel; The Tartar Frigate; Star of the Sea; Wyatt & Jones
  • Where To Stay: The Bay Tree Hotel; Royal Albion Hotel; The Yarrow Hotel; Broadstairs House B&B; Belvidere Place

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Brighton’s Bustling, Beachy Vibes

The popular (and pebbly) beach at Brighton may be one of the more famous British beaches around. With its bustling, old-school, resort town feels, including a world-famous pier packed with everything under the sun—Brighton is a vibrant, loud, and boisterously bustling good time, complete with roller coasters, fish & chip shops; arcades; bars; restaurants, shopping, and pretty much anything else beachgoers have come to expect from the famed seaside spot.

  • Distance From London: About a one-hour train ride
  • Things To Do: Bike (or walk) the Undercliff Path; Brighton Place Pier; Snoopers Paradise (flea market); The Lanes; LGBTQ+ Walking Tour; British Airways i360 Observation Tower; Volk’s Electric Railway
  • Where To Dine: The Gingerman; The Salt Room; The Coal Shed; Kindling Restaurant; 64 Degrees
  • Where To Stay: Hotel du Vin Brighton; Drakes; The Grand Brighton; Artist Residence; A Room With a View; One Broad Street

Wow-Worthy Whitstable

Day-trippers and vacationers may flock to scenic Whitstable for its lovely beaches; however, the seaside retreat is even more famous for its delightfully delicious (and super fresh!) seafood-centric cuisine scene. Chill on one of Whitstable’s distinctive beaches by day; then relax and soak up the scenery with fish & chips in the evening for the most perfect beach day (or days!) ever.

  • Distance From London: Anywhere from one+ to two-and-a-half hours, depending on train service
  • Things To Do: Tankerton Beach; Whitstable Harbour; West Beach; Whitstable Castle & Gardens; Harbour Books; Tankerton Slopes
  • Where To Dine: The Old Neptune; The New Inn; The Sportsman; Whitstable Oyster Company; V.C. Jones; The Lobster Shack
  • Where To Stay: Crescent Turner Hotel; The Marine Hotel; The Hotel Continental; Driftwood Beach House; Fisherman’s Huts

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Scenic Southend-On-Sea

The perfect place for a British-style holiday, Southend-on-Sea’s bustling, seafront vibes, and big-time beachy fun makes for the perfect day trip/overnight stay from London. Complete with a classic, mile-long pleasure pier (the longest in the world!); a theme park; and a parade of lush parks and gardens waiting to be explored, there’s something special about this coastal gem that makes it one of the highest-rated seaside spots in the U.K.

  • Distance From London: About one hour via the fastest train service
  • Things To Do: Southend Pier; Adventure Island; Shoebury East Beach; Hadleigh Castle; Priory Park; Southend Cliff Railway; Cinder Path
  • Where To Dine: Pieno-Lleno; San Fairie Inn; Il Pescatore; 300 Degrees Restaurant & Bar; The Mews; The Royal Hotel
  • Where To Stay: Roslin Beach Hotel; Seven Hotel; Hamilton’s Boutique Hotel; The Gleneagles Guesthouse; Camelia Hotel

Believe it or not, some of England’s best beaches are within a stone’s throw of London. Easily accessible by train, these stunning coastal gems are the perfect way to escape the hubbub of the city, all while catching some of the best seaside scenery around. From relaxing, laid-back vibes to bustling piers and a bevy of amusements, these retreats have it all and are the perfect getaways for both day-tripping and weekend gallivanting on England’s picturesque sandy shores.