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30 Apr 2021

Best seaside towns in the UK revealed

Nearly 100 coastal towns and villages are rated by visitors for scenery, tourist attractions, peace and quiet and more
Bamburgh beach and castle

The little village of Bamburgh, on the coast of Northumberland, has been voted the best seaside destination in the UK this year.

Its three-mile-long stretch of beach was awarded the full five-star rating by more than 4,000 Which? readers.

In 2021, stunning natural attractions in lesser-visited destinations proved most appealing to holidaymakers - and Bamburgh offers just that. Overall it gained a customer score of 85%, beating more popular hotspots from Brighton to Bournemouth.

Find out how your favourite British seaside town fared in the full results of our survey.

Britain's best seaside towns

Best seaside town in the UK: Bamburgh, Northumberland
Bamburgh village

The blustery wind that comes off the North Sea hardly makes Bamburgh a top spot for seaside sunbathing. But readers think its dramatic scenery, with an unspoiled golden-sand beach that sits below Bamburgh castle, makes up for it. It also means that the town is rarely crowded. Bamburgh scored four out of five for peace and quiet - something that might be greatly valued this year as domestic breaks have surged in popularity. It was also awarded five stars for value for money, another attractive quality for holidaymakers this year.

Ready to book? Check out ourbest accommodation deals at top seaside destinations

Joint second best seaside town: Dartmouth, Devon
Boats in the harbour in Dartmouth

Dartmouth's narrow half-timbered streets evoke the grandeur of Britain's maritime past. The town offers an abundance of chic shops and lauded seafood restaurants that draw the crowds. While not as peaceful as the likes of Bamburgh, Dartmouth continues to impress readers - it came second overall last year too.

It sits on the estuary on the western side of the River Dart and has no beach in town, but it offers lofty harbour views. There are also coves to explore that are within walking distance from Dartmouth castle.

Joint second seaside town: Tynemouth, Tyne and Wear
Priory overlooking Tynemouth beach

Tynemouth's town peers out over a one-mile stretch of beach, Long Sand. A smaller beach at King Edward's Bay is tucked around the corner between sheltering cliffs. This picturesque seafront scored a full five stars.

Evidence of the town's past is all around, from a smart Victorian railway station to the ruins of Tynemouth Castle and Priory, all ready to be explored.

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Fourth best seaside town: St Andrews, Fife
St Andrews beach

St Andrews has the best beaches in Scotland. While famous for its seven golf courses and university, it is also home to two stunning beaches. West Sands is a two-mile uninterrupted stretch, and smaller East Sands sits on the Fife Coastal Path.

St Andrews is bustling with independent shops and restaurants, and you can take tours to gain an insight into its medieval history. For a small seaside town, there's plenty to see and do, which landed it a rating of five out of five for its tourist attractions.

Find a last-minute flexible accommodation deal in St Andrews or other top-rated coastal destination.

Fifth best seaside town: Aberaeron, Ceredigion

Aberaeron is rated the best seaside destination in Wales. It is more difficult to reach than the coastal towns in Pembrokeshire, making this Cardigan Bay town quieter than some of Wales' more celebrated seaside spots.

Aberareon's harbour is overlooked by ice-cream-coloured Georgian houses that add to the town's five-star scenery. Meanwhile, its beaches are a good place to spot bottlenose dolphins in the bay in summer through to October.

From secret coves in Devon to hidden corners of the Highlands, find a highly rated holiday destination. See the full results of our UK seaside towns survey.

Worst-rated seaside town: Skegness

Skegness seaside pier funfair

Skegness took the less coveted title of worst-rated seaside town in our survey. It failed to impress readers, gaining just one or two stars in most categories - including food and drink, and scenery. It did manage to score three stars for its long golden-sand beach.

While Skegness's 48% customer score reflects that it's clearly not for everyone, the town does have plenty of family-friendly pulling power. From caravan parks and endless beaches, to a gigantic funfair, and fish and chips at every corner.