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Best places to visit on the English coast

Stone Bay in Kent

As an island nation, we Brits are never too far from the sea. 

And this year, more people than ever will be planning a coastal staycation as travel restrictions start to relax.

The English seaside has many different faces and plenty of room for all. Whatever sort of seaside floats your boat, you’ll find inspiration on englandscoast.com, a browse-and-book tool covering accommodation, activities, and attractions, as well as restaurants and events. 

If you like the great outdoors, you might like to walk some of the England Coast Path.  Now almost complete, it will eventually be the world’s longest signposted walking route, stretching for 2,683 miles through a huge variety of coastal landscapes. Designed to fill in the gaps between established long-distance trails, this unique trail has been more than 10 years in the making and is now more than 90% complete.  

Tempted? Here are a few more ideas around England’s coastline for a fabulous waterside staycation:

St Bees Heritage Coast in Cumbria

North West

  • Travel on the Cumbrian Coast Line for one of England’s most scenic rail routes.  Stop off at the Senhouse Roman Museum in Maryport, take a bracing walk up St Bees’ headland and explore the Victorian seaside resort of Grange-over-Sands.
  • Take the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway for a narrow-gauge trip by steam train. The 7-mile journey begins at Ravenglass, the only coastal village in the Lake District National Park, and finishes in the foot of England’s highest mountains, the Scafell Range.
  • Explore the historic waterfront of Liverpool, a maritime city where the river Mersey meets the Irish Sea. There’s culture a-plenty in its museums, art galleries and two cathedrals, not to mention the legacy left by the city’s Fab Four musicians, The Beatles. 

Northumberland coast featuring Bamburgh Castle

Northumberland

  • Relax on more than 30 miles of spectacular beaches, some of England’s wildest and most rugged coastline. Discover fishing communities nestled in sheltered coves, walk the broad sandy beaches, or watch wildlife at one of several nature reserves.
  • Drive across the causeway to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, birthplace of the famous Lindisfarne Gospels.
  • Harry Potter fans in the family? Then don’t miss Alnwick Castle, the movie location for Hogwarts. As the second-largest inhabited castle in the country, it features fabulous state rooms and spectacular gardens.

Seaham Beach and Northerly Coastline

Durham and North East

  • Smoked fish is just one seafood speciality of the Northumbrian coast; try the world-famous Craster kipper as well as cod, haddock and salmon. Delicious!
  • Explore Seaham, a small harbour town with spectacular views from the clifftop down to the harbour and sandy beach below. And find out about the role of the local World War I ‘Tommy’, portrayed in an evocative statue.
  • The seaside towns of Redcar and Saltburn-by-the-Sea were popular in Victorian times; ride the water-powered cliff lift and walk the 200m-long pier to take in the views.

Seaside town of Whitby at dusk

Yorkshire

  • From Staithes in the north to Spurn Point in the south, this 90-mile stretch includes Scarborough, considered to be the world’s first seaside resort; historic Whitby with its ruined Abbey and connections to Bram Stoker’s Dracula; and pretty Robin Hood’s Bay.
  • From March to October, watch half a million seabirds at RSPB Bempton Cliffs, close to the dramatic chalk cliffs of Flamborough Head. First puffins, then gannets. You might even spot porpoise, seals and minke whales from the viewing platforms.
  • Discover the architecture and cultural history of Bridlington, along with traditional seaside entertainment, pleasure cruises, and stylish galleries.

Beach huts in Mersea Island

East Coast

  • Sample some of the world’s best seafood including oysters from Mersea Island, Cromer Crab from Norfolk, and today’s fresh catch from the fish huts at Aldeburgh beach.
  • Discover Structures on the Edge, a series of small-scale coastal art and architecture installations on a 10-mile stretch of the Lincolnshire coast between Mablethorpe and Chapel St Leonards.
  • Go birdwatching on the Norfolk Broads, the largest protected wetland and third largest inland waterway in England.
  • Visit RSPB Minsmere at Saxmundham in Suffolk where you might hear the booming call of a bittern.

Aerial view of Eastbourne in Summer

South East

  • This year, Margate celebrates the 10th anniversary of the Turner Contemporary gallery and the bicentenary of poet John Keats, who sought inspiration from the sea during his time there between 1816-17.
  • Be one of the first visitors  to the Beachy Head Story, opening this spring, and enjoy traditional fish and chips on Eastbourne’s 150-year-old Grade II listed Victorian pier.  
  • Meet the artists and designers at Hotwalls Studios, Portsmouth’s thriving arts hub built into the arches at Battery Point at the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour.  Watch artists at work, buy or commission a piece of artwork, and relax over a leisurely lunch at the deli-style café.

Freshwater Bay on the Isle Of Wight

South Coast

  • Go fossil hunting on the Isle of Wight, the sixth region in the UK to be designated a UNESCO Biosphere and with more fossil remains than anywhere else in Europe.
  • Browse for prehistoric remains along the Jurassic Coast, England’s only natural World Heritage Site. Must-see geological features include Durdle Door, Lulworth Cove and Chesil Beach.
  • Take a six-mile steam train ride through the beautiful Purbeck countryside on the Swanage Railway, passing beneath the ruins of Corfe Castle, inspiration for stories in Enid Blyton’s Famous Five series.

Coastal pathway in Mortehoe Devon

South West

  • Walk over England’s highest sea cliffs on Exmoor’s 37 miles of coastline with views across the Bristol Channel to Wales. Tucked behind marshland, the village of Porlock is a great base for exploring the area on foot or by car.
  • Take a ride along the Devon coast on the Dartmouth Steam Railway and River Boat. This is a one-stop ticket to the delights of the English Riviera, including Torquay, Brixham, Dartmouth and Totnes.
  • Cornwall’s Eden Project is a day out the weather can’t spoil. Nestled in a huge crater, its massive Biomes house the world’s largest indoor rainforest, plus exhibitions, stories, and a range of seasonal events.
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