11 Beautiful Beaches Within Two Hours of London

11 Beautiful Beaches Within Two Hours of London

It’s official: London has entered a scorching heatwave. Cool off by taking a splash at one of these brilliant beaches – all within two hours of the capital.

case you hadn’t already heard, London is in the midst of a major heatwave –
and this time, the celsius scoreboard has well and truly surpassed
double digits. With temperatures set to soar higher than most of
the Mediterranean this week, our makeshift pool
(read: bath filled with cold water) just isn’t going to cut it.

While we love nothing more than slipping on a colourful cossie
and channelling our inner Tom Daley down the local lido, nothing compares to diving into cold,
salty seawater on a balmy day. Sure, London might be lacking when
it comes to a sun-kissed coastline, but its nearby coastal
neighbours are within easy reach. Whether you’re looking for a
post-work plunge or are planning to swap the stifling gym
for a paddle in the channel, you won’t want to miss our
round-up of the most beautiful beaches within two hours of the

Cool-down o’clock: 11 great beaches near London

Camber Sands

East Sussex

Ask a handful of people what the best beach in the UK is and at
least three of them will say “Camber Sands”. Located on the
outskirts of Rye, Camber’s soft dunes stretch some 4km along the
coast. Weave along the weather-beaten boardwalk, before securing
your spot for the ultimate daycation. Want to make it an
overnighter? Check in at nearby hotel The Gallivant for a long,
lazy weekend spent flitting from beach to bed.

Botany Bay


The poster child of the Kent coast, Botany Bay takes its name
from the area’s 19th-century smugglers, many of whom were deported
to Australia. Today, however, you’ll be more likely to knock elbows
with photographers, who get snap-happy around the dramatic chalk
stacks, between which you’ll find smaller coves, rock pools and, if
you’re lucky, a fossil or two. Much like Dorset’s natural beauty
spots of Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door, Botany Bay draws crowds as
the mercury rises. Avoid them by walking 10 minutes’ east to
Kingsgate Bay, where Thanet’s best sea caves are carved into the
cliffs. But be warned: it’s possible to get stranded by the
incoming tide.

Dungeness, Knet



There’s an almost post-apocalyptic feel to Britain’s only
desert. Threaded by boardwalks, Dungeness’s vast expanse of shingle
is decorated with more than 600 rare plant species, the rusting
ribcages of old boats strung with fishing nets and railway
carriages repurposed as homes – all overlooked by two lighthouses
and a nuclear power station, making for a bleakly beautiful
landscape. Nose around the garden of the late filmmaker Derek
Jarman’s Prospect Cottage, before feasting on local-lobster tacos
from the nearby Snack Shack. From here, we recommend hopping on
the steam-powered Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway to explore
further along the Kent coast.

The dunes at West Wittering at sunset

West Wittering

East Sussex

West Wittering is an all-time favourite among beachgoers and
it’s not hard to see why. Soft sand, shallow lagoons and neat
grassy areas beckoning for a picnic rug make it an ideal spot for a
day out, while the area holds a Blue Flag award for safety and
cleanliness. With wonderful views across Chichester Harbour and the
South Downs, and candy-coloured beach huts available to rent, this
is a snapshot of proper British summertime. Night owl? Clear your
inbox to zero and get down here just after 7pm: the air is fresher
and the water remains warm, plus, you’ll no doubt be rewarded with
one of Wittering’s famous sunsets.

Osea Island


Just a 90-minute drive from London, Osea’s calm attitude feels
world’s apart from the capital’s stuffy heat and swamped streets.
Set in Essex’s Blackwater Estuary, the island is backed by
centuries-old oak, sycamore and chestnut trees. The 150-hectare
island is incredibly remote, being home to only 19 clapboard
cottages, with no street lights or traffic. For that reason, we
strongly suggest visiting on a weekend, when you’ll be able to
enjoy the still waters and tranquil atmosphere, minus the risk of
getting lost between wild meadows and sprawling salt marshes – a
very real possibility if you set off after work.

Tankerton, Kent



Nothing screams pain like arriving at the beach and struggling
to find a decent patch of sand that isn’t within arm’s length of a
family of eight. Do yourself a favour and swerve the crowds of
Whitstable’s West Beach, instead strolling to the neighbouring
Tankerton. There, seaweed-clad groynes separate a happy mish-mash
of shingles and sand. In the centre of the beach you’ll find “The
Street”, a 750m-long natural spit that emerges at low tide. Wander
out to its tip, with the estuary waters lapping on either side,
before diving in.

Frensham Great Pond

Frensham Great Pond


Alright, alright. This place hardly qualifies as a beach. But
Frensham’s clear, shallow waters and golden sands make it a worthy
addition to our list. Round up your gang and visit on a midweek
evening, when you’ll likely have the place to yourself, other than
for the odd wild swimmer. Afterwards, swing by local favourite
for experimental cocktails and succulent hanging
kebabs, which taste even better, post-paddle.

Mersea Island, Essex

Mersea Stone

East Mersea

Oyster lovers, take note: this quieter side of Mersea Island is
famed for its production of some of the world’s best bivalve
molluscs. Wander along the shell-strewn beach, before making a
beeline for The Company Shed. The family-run seafood restaurant
rustles up everything from sea bass fillet to smoked mackerel and
green-lipped mussels. Geology nerds will appreciate a visit to
Mersea Stone, thanks to the possibility of unearthing centuries-old
shark teeth and animal bones. Want to cool down but don’t want to
get your hair wet? Rent a kayak at Mersea Island Watersports.


Main Sands


Where kitsch meets cool, and home to “the loveliest skies in all
of Europe”, according to JMW Turner, Margate’s Main Sands can get jam-packed when the
weather’s fair, with city day-trippers setting up camp between
Dreamland amusement park and the vintage shops and vamped-up
street-food stalls surrounding The Sun Deck. While we’re partial to
a cup of cockles from Mannings Seafood stall, we suggest walking
east, towards Turner Contemporary and Walpole Bay, where the UK’s
largest saltwater tidal pool offers a more peaceful alternative to
that of Main Sands. Quieter still are the cliff-backed promenade,
rock pools and no-fuss cafés of St Mildred’s Bay, a 40-minute
coastal walk west.

Hythe Beach

Hythe Beach


Between Folkestone and Dymchurch, Hythe is more of a quaint
rural village than a bucket-and-spade town. Its beach? More than
3km of sloping pebble backed by a wide promenade that’s perfect for
cycling or walking. Get down early enough to swing by The Lazy Food
, which stocks fresh-from-the-sea fish and other Kentish
produce mere footsteps from bobbing boats. Kippers and coffee
always taste better when enjoyed while watching fishermen cast
their lines and octogenarians take their morning dip. Fancy a
jaunt? A steam
links Hythe with St Mary’s Bay, Romney Sands and

Deal Castle Beach


Bohemian Deal is a magnet for city dwellers seeking a coastal
retreat. Between the artisan delis, galleries and indie boutiques
is a town saturated in seaside heritage. Julius Caesar landed here
in 55 BC, Henry VIII built artillery castles and a once-thriving
smuggling trade inspired Daniel Defoe to write of Deal’s “barbarous
hated name”. The 19th-century pier was torpedoed in the Second
World War; today’s brutalist structure was opened by Prince Philip
in 1957. Fuel up in the architecturally inspired Deal Pier
, before tracing the 10km promenade from Walmer to
Sandwich Bay – bikes can be rented from Hut 55. When the sun
shines, swimming is pleasant anywhere along the shingle, though
more serious swimmers will be happiest around Kingsdown Beach and
Sandwich Bay.

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