Sometimes, the urban jungle can be suffocating, repetitive, and stressful – beaches can offer a captivating and alluring escape from the city, which is why they are so appealing to Londoners.
Beaches that are close to the capital are especially attractive, as it means that you can enjoy the beach without a long, stressful ride.
Below, we have compiled a list of the best beaches near London, all being within a 3 hour journey from Central London, ranging from pebbles to sand and piers to amusement parks, so that you can get your well-deserved city break.
The Best Beaches Within a 3 Hour Journey From Central London
1. Brighton Beach, Brighton
- Distance From London: 56 miles
- Journey From London: 1hr 10mins via Train, Approx. 2hr Drive
Only 56 miles away from London (approximately an hour by train and two hours by car) is Brighton Beach, one of the top 10 beach-break holiday destinations in the world.
Well known for all their attractions (including Brighton Palace Pier, Sea Life, and the historic Volks Railway), Brighton Beach can be both a place to relax or do beach and water sports!
Brighton itself is a popular destination, thanks to all their friendly festivals, wildlife parks, and exciting nightlife. There’s plenty to see and do, as well as plenty to eat and drink – for those who love to shop, there are many shopping venues, such as the North Laine and the Lanes.
2. Bournemouth Beach, Bournemouth, Dorset
- Distance From Central London: 108 miles
- Journey From London: 1hr 55mins via Train, Approx. 2hr 30min Drive
Pristine waters and fine sand that slips through your toes are just over a hundred miles away, approximately 2 hours by both train and car. As you approach the beach, you’ll see boats smoothly sailing on a never ending sea and have your breath taken away by the extensive stretch of golden grains (all seven miles of it!).
Explore the beach by hopping on the Land Train, which will take you from Bournemouth Pier to Boscombe Pier, or feel the breeze of the sea as you walk along the piers. You can also take a ride on Bournemouth’s big wheel!
If you have an appetite for adventure, Bournemouth has plenty to offer, ranging from hiking, climbing, backpacking, and even fishing. In addition, there are museums to discover and parks to relax in.
3. West Wittering Beach, West Sussex
- Distance From London: 87 miles
- Journey From London: 1hr 55mins via Train, Approx. 2hr Drive
Just over two hours by both train and car, West Wittering Beach lies nearly 90 miles away from London, waiting to be discovered. An extensive stretch of neatly managed grass lines the long, sandy beach, which is popular with wind and kite surfers.
On the grass, you can park your car (rather than wasting hours searching for an expensive parking space) and have a picnic by the seaside!
West Wittering Beach boasts pristine waters and fantastic facilities, which have helped it become one of the premier Blue Flag beaches of the country.
From the months November to March, you can observe the 10,000 Brent Geese that visit the harbour. Throughout the year, you can also visit solent harbour seals (who have found West Wittering Beach an ideal habitat for them), several species of ducks, and more.
4. Durdle Door, Dorset
- Distance From London: 130 miles
- Journey From London: Approx. 3hr 20mins via Train and Driving
Visit one of England’s most iconic and memorable attractions : Durdle Door. The wondrous arch, which is also a member of a family of natural wonders, was formed by the power of waves that eroded the rock and forged a hole through the middle. Surrounding the phenomenon is a pebble and shingle beach, which you can relax on.
To reach Durdle Door, you must first be brave and hike down a steep hill. At the top of this mountain is a large car park, as well as more hills to hike up (one of which even feature a group of cows!) and a picnic area.
Dorset often attracts tourists and it comes as no wonder why, when they have so much on offer. If you have had enough of beaches, you can explore Lulworth Castle and Park, Lulworth Cove, visit the Dinosaur Museum, experience a fun day at the fair, and more.
5. Avon Beach, Mudeford, Christchurch
- Distance From London: 104 miles
- Journey From London: 2hr 20mins via Train, Approx. 2hr 30 mins Drive
100 miles away, there is a space for both sunbathing and water sports on Avon Beach, which is ideal for families with small children and those with disabilities, as the car park is on the same level as the beach.
From London, a two hour car ride or a three hour train ride will take you to Avon Beach, where you can enjoy the fresh air and sand.
Nearby, there are other attractions to experience, such as Highcliffe Castle and Adventure Wonderland, which is Dorset’s number one family theme park. So if you need a change of pace, you can drive from the beach to the theme park.
6. Camber Sands, East Sussex
- Distance From London: 80 miles
- Journey From London: 1hr 40mins via Train, Approx. 2hr Drive
Unlike other beaches lining East Sussex’s coast (which are covered in pebbles and shingle), Camber Sands boasts beautiful, fine, golden sand. 80 miles away from London, approximately 2 hours by car and 1 hour and 45 minutes by train, Camber Sands stretches over nearly five miles.
Popular with wind surfers and kite surfers, this beach is regarded as one of the best places for beachcombing in the UK. On top of that, it is home to the only sand dunes found in East Sussex! Despite its popularity, it remains pristine and aesthetic, unspoilt.
Camber Sands is close to Hastings and Rye; whilst Hastings offers both historical and urban experiences that will mesmerise you, Rye offers a quiet village experience, as well as a nature reserve.
7. Botany Bay, Broadstairs, Kent
- Distance From London: 80 miles
- Journey From London: 2hrs via Train, Approx. 2hr Drive
Despite its name, Botany Bay is not particularly floral, but it is ideal for fossil hunting and exploring rock pools. This famous beach offers fantastic views of white cliffs and beautiful chalk stacks, which are often the subjects of photographs.
Being only 80 miles away from London, it is possible for you to experience all this – you only have to travel for 2 hours by train or 2 hours and 20 minutes by car.
Broadstairs itself is fairly quiet with not many attractions, however over time, it has been developed as a seaside resort. Annually, the Broadstairs Dickens Festival is held, during which a production of one of Charles Dickens’ stories is performed.
8. Tankerton Beach, Whitstable, Kent
- Distance From London: 63 miles
- Journey From London: 1hr 45mins via Train, Approx. 1hr 30min Drive
Under two hours away from London by both car and train (1 hour and 45 minutes), Tankerton Beach offers romantic and serene long walks that take you right out to sea. When the sea is at low tide, you can paddle, explore rock pools, and discover sea life.
Characterised by aesthetic, wooden beach huts, this shingle beach offers a perfect spot for sunbathing and having picnics on the distinctive grassy area, all of which you can gaze upon a magnificent view from.
Nearby, there is Whitstable’s Farmer Market, where you can purchase organic food from local sellers, as well as enjoy fair trade cafes and guest cafes.
Every 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month, the market is open. Asides from the market, you can explore Wilwood and encounter over 50 species of British Wildlife in enchanting woodland.
9. Hastings Beach, Hastings, East Sussex
- Distance From London: 70 miles
- Journey From London: 1hr 45mins via Train, Approx. 2hr 10mins Drive
To get to Hastings, you must travel nearly 70 miles by either taking the car (just over 2 hour drive) or by taking the train (1 hour and 45 minutes).
Right by Hastings is Hastings Beach, which has both sand and shingle, so you can enjoy the best of both worlds. You can also enjoy a fine Victorian pier!
Hastings is a town best known for the Battle of Hastings in 1066, but renowned for its fishing port and beach. There, you can shop at Priory Meadow Shopping Centre and explore Hastings Castle, a landmark of Hastings, which was built in 1070 by the Normans. There are a range of things to do and see in the area, so you will never be bored.
10. Margate Beach, Margate
- Distance From London: 76 miles
- Journey From London: 1hr 40mins via Train, Approx. 2hr Drive
Margate Beach is proud of its golden sand that stretches on, as well as its nearby amusement park, which features a large ferris wheel and rides.
Attached to Margate Beach is a rocky area, where snails have made themselves at home. Enjoy the cool, clean water that will wash over your feet and give you the beach feel you have been yearning for all year.
From London, it only takes 1 hour and 40 minutes by train and about 2 hours by car to travel the 76 miles between London and Margate Beach. A short walk away is the Old Town, where there are restaurants, bars, and seafood stalls to feast at.
11. Thorpe Bay, Southend-on-Sea, Essex
- Distance From London: 45miles
- Journey From London: 1hr via Train, Approx. 1hr 30mins Drive
One of the closest beaches to London is Thorpe Bay in Southend-on-sea, which is a mere 45 miles away, approximately an hour by train or an hour and a half by car.
Enjoy the breeze, as you stroll along Southend Pier, which is approximately 1.3 miles long, or simply bathe in the sun and inhale the fresh scent of the sea at the Thorpe Bay.
Southend has other attractions to offer besides the beach, such as Adventure Island, an exciting amusement park; verdant parks that has plenty of space and points of interest; and the Palace Theatre.
Within a 5 minute drive West of Southend are the Casino’s of Westcliff, and 15 minutes drive East of Southend is the more peaceful East Beach of Shoeburyness.
12. Ruislip Lido, West London
- Distance From London: 0 miles!
- Journey From London: 20mins walk from Northwood Hills Station
Believe it or not, there is a beach that you can reach by just taking the tube!
So if you don’t want to take the train all the way out to the coast, then visit the artificial but no less beautiful beach at the edge of the beautiful woodland of Ruislip Woods National Nature Reserve.
There is a gorgeous natural lake with a sandy beach and surrounding greenery, so you can picnic in natural beauty or simply explore and discover the forest. In addition, you can even ride a miniature train that will take you around the lake!