Summer is in full swing, and there is no better place to enjoy the weather's fairest season than at the coast. With such a big year for events and happenings in the UK, there seems little reason to leave our fair shores. So this month, we've decided to count down the Top 10 Coastal Towns in the UK.
Weymouth has been earmarked as the coastal destination in 2012, thanks to the Olympic Sailing taking place there and all the attention it's bringing. But if you take a step back from the hype, Weymouth is still a world-class costal town worth visiting when the show is over. The main beach has Blue Flag status, so you can be assured that it's clean and safe, which is always great for families wanting to spend some time in the sun. You've got a great selection of pubs, restaurants and iconic sites to explore in town the Portland Bill Lighthouse, the Pavilion Theatre and Portland Castle. On top of that, Weymouth is sitting on the Jurassic Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that needs to be seen. The Jurassic Safaris of the area take visitors through the more rugged parts of the coastline, across wildlife, ancient architecture and viewpoints that will blow your mind.
Mablethorpe is a good old fashion seaside holiday town, with a serious edge for families with young kids. The Seal Sanctuary is a fantastic place for little ones to learn about marine and bird life in the UK. Its Seal and Wildlife hospital has been taking in injured animals since 1974, and maintains a high release rate once the seals are well enough to make it on their own. As for the rest of the town, Mablethorpe boasts a long, sandy beach for days spent building castles and going for dips, plus a choice selection of amenities the Spanish City Complex, theme park, a lovely promenade and some fantastic eateries.
The Vale of Glamorgan in Wales has been a seaside favourite to holidaying Brits for generations, and the town of Barry (the largest of those making up the Vale) just seems to get better with age. It has all the charm of a small seaside village, backed up by world-class facilities and a packed social calendar. Classic attractions like Barry Island's Whitmore and Jackson Bay (ideal for lazy days on the beach), Pleasure Island and the familiar locations from Gavin & Stacey are appealing to all ages especially older visitors who've been coming back since they were young bucks. The town itself is a mixture of quaint Welsh architecture and gorgeous parks perfect for post shopping snacks and walks. Just a short drive down the coast you have the rest of the Vale to see, with its Neolithic ruins, incredible cliffs and strangely beautiful beaches. It's unlike any other coastal town in the world. One reviewer aptly named it, The Welsh Riviera.
Only a short walk away from the iconic sea-side village of Southwold, you'll find Walberswick, and it's a cute little neighbour. This tiny crabbing community boasts a number of excellent beaches and stunning countryside pubs to keep families busy when they're not taking walks along the harbour trail. The Suffolk countryside is an attraction on its own, as open expanses of rapeseed fields stretch out between the forests that overlook its beaches. Bring bicycles and tour the area in all directions, stopping at the old churches and ruins that will still be there in 200 years time.
Stonehaven is full of the raw, dramatic landscapes and castles that people have come to associate with Scotland's countryside. The coastal trail that runs past Aberdeen goes for 150 miles, allowing walkers to get as much distance as they like. For something a bit lighter, there is a whisky distillery tour that'll still get your legs shaky. Although the harbour has needed to be rebuilt several times since the 1600's, what stands today is one of the finest and liveliest recreational harbours in the UK, adding a nice touch to one of the most picturesque coastal towns in the world. For more information, go to www.stonehavenguide.net/.
The most westerly town in Cornwall may be a very long trek for people living further away than London, but it's worth every hour of the journey (and more). The milder climate makes it ideal for people wanting to maximise their time on the beach and develop something of a natural tan before going home. But it's also fast becoming known as one of the cultural hubs of the Cornish coast; you've got iron-age villages on the periphery of town, Georgian architecture and art galleries on the High Street, plus stunning beaches all around you. These elements work together in a way that bewitches visitors and makes them never want to leave. June is a particularly cheerful time to visit Penzance, as Galowan and Mazey Day Festivals go back to back starting on June 23.
Another reason to head for the Cornwall coast is to experience Newquay, one of Britain's Top 10 Beaches.
Southend On Sea
Home of the world's longest pleasure pier, Southend on Sea is a town built around family fun at the beach. The pier comes in at 1.33 miles long and even has a railway service - that goes to the head - for those not up to walking. The nearby Sealife Adventure Centre is always a hit with kids; they'll have a ball trying to spot and name the tropical sharks, pufferfish, clown fish and other interesting specimens. From the seafront, you can take the newly restored Cliff Lift (a 100 year old structure that only costs 50p per person) to the High Street, where the features in town are equally impressive. There are several art galleries, museums, a planetarium and finally The Rendezvous Casino Centre for when the little ones have gone to bed.
Rock is a little town North East of Newquay, opposite the Camel Estuary, frequented by certain members of the Royal family and a number of celebs. The sheltered waters of the estuary are ideal for regulars to take their yachts, canoes or rowboats for a spin, or to simply drop a line and see if any fish are biting. There's also a large bird population, which people can spot from the deck of their homes tucked into the hillsides, preferably with binoculars in one hand and a glass of Pimms in the other. It's a terribly expensive coastal destination, but the scenery is magnificent and nearby Daymer Bay is perfect for family days on the beach; it's safe and warm. If you can afford a local holiday that costs as much as a trip across the world, you'll find that the juice is certainly worth the squeeze.
Cromer is one of Norfolk's best assets. Its Blue Flag beach is one of the main draws for people wanting a holiday at the seaside, but there's plenty more to back this up. The town is elegantly stylised by Victorian architecture, giving it a surreal, time-warped feeling - especially to visitors from outside the UK. The Parish Church takes poll position of the town, dominating the skyline with a tower that extends 160 metres. If you've got the mustard to take all 172 steps to the top, a mind blowing view of the town awaits you. Like the church, the pier's Pavilion Theatre has been a Cromer institution for more than 100 years, and still puts on shows throughout the year.
Margate is the original British coastal resort, with a tourism history that goes back hundreds of years. There is a great awareness of the past in Margate, which bridges the gap between generations for holidaymakers; the classic Margate sites are constantly being revamped to preserve its original charm. The seafront and harbour have undergone numerous alterations, while the Blue Flag beach in front is still the perfect place for swimming, surf lessons and a day of tanning. Another great example of its timelessness is the unexplainable Shell Grotto (an underground lair of tunnels and rooms that are lined with shells), which is as enthralling today as it was during the 1800's. For outdoor lovers, the Viking Coastal Trail takes you through a nature reserve, past abbeys and other historical sites, all while tottering along the magnificent Kent countryside, right to the spot where the first Vikings landed on our shores.
If you're going on a UK Coastal Town Break, then have you considered UK Travel Insurance to ensure you travel with total peace of mind?