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Living in a city can sometimes feel a little stifling – and London in the heat can be just that. So being able to escape the big smoke is a real treat and what better way than taking a day trip to the seaside or even spending the weekend by the coast? There are so many beautiful beaches that you can visit – without having to travel too far. So head out early, pack those flip-flops, buckets and spades and feel that salty sea breeze in your hair. And if you’re prepared to travel that little bit further and perhaps stay overnight,  then there are even more Heritage and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty to discover. Here is an essential guide to my pick of the best beaches near London.

Beaches Near London – 2-3 hours

Aldeburgh

For a quintessential British seaside town, Aldeburgh in Suffolk has pretty pastel coloured homes lining the promenade – as well as award-winning fish and chips. Sandy areas are exposed on this shingle beach once at low tide, and love it or hate it, the controversial scallop sculpture by Maggie Hambling is worth stopping by. Enjoy the peace, and watch the fishing boats head out to sea. And perhaps stay a few nights in a luxury cottage and explore the rest of the Suffolk Coast, too.

Felixstowe

Because of its sheltered position, Felixstowe is great for families. Stroll along the promenade or try some artisan ice cream or just relax in one of the many deckchairs. You can even explore the quaint fishing and sailing hamlet of Felixstowe Ferry and walk along the banks beside the river Deben.  Or hop on the little foot ferry for a trip to the coastal village of Bawdsey which has breathtaking views of the Deben Peninsula.

Southwold Beaches Near London | My Travel Monkey

Southwold

Another Suffolk beach gem, Southwold is worth making the extra effort to get to. Perhaps one of Suffolk’s most popular spots, the bright fisherman’s huts lining the sandy beach is a draw, as is Southwold Pier – home to several restaurants, amusements and even a water clock which sniggers. Meanwhile, take a tour of Southwold’s lighthouse which has been guiding ships for many, many years.

Sandbanks

Home to the rich and famous, Sandbanks in Dorset may be the most expensive piece of real estate, but everyone can enjoy the vast expanse of soft golden sandy beach situated on the small peninsular crossing Poole Harbour. Not only has Sandbanks been a winner of the Blue Flag Award for nearly 30 years, but has gorgeous views every which way you turn. For more unspoiled beaches backed by dunes, head to Shell Bay and Studland.

Bournemouth

If you’re looking for something a little livelier then Bournemouth seaside town has so much to offer for families looking for a beach near London. There is so much to do, from all the amusements on Bournemouth Pier including a zip-wire and rock climbing to riding a big wheel. Aside from the huge expanse of sandy beach, there are pretty gardens to enjoy, as well as crazy golf. And it’s totally doable in a day – I’ve done it!

Camber Sands | My Travel Monkey

Beaches Near London – 1-2 hours

Camber Sands

Another MTM failsafe for a great beach near London. Camber is a fantastic retreat at any time of the year. In fact, we once stayed there over Christmas (see above) and look at the beautiful sunny weather! Not only is it near the picturesque village of Rye, but Camber also offers five miles of unspoiled sand dunes and soft golden sands – in fact, it features one of the purest and longest dune systems on the South Coast, and the only one to be found in East Sussex.

West Wittering

A windsurfer’s paradise, West Wittering in Sussex is one of my favourite beaches near London. Its wide sweeping sandy beach produces huge areas of shallow stretches, which is perfect for little paddling feet.

Whitstable | My Travel Monkey

Whitstable

Whitstable is the seaside town we visit the most. Just over an hour for us to get to, we adore it. Why? With several beaches  

Deal

Think charming cafés and oldy-worldly pubs, and Deal in Kent is the archetypal quaint seaside town – with a lovely pebbly beach, castles and tons of history to discover. Voted one of the best places to live by the sea, it’s no wonder that Deal is the perfect beach near London for those looking for a tranquil getaway.

Dungeness

The shingle beach at Dungeness in Romney Marsh has an ethereal quality that gives it an edge. Dramatic views and an abundance of wildlife to discover – there are over 600 species of plant and a number of rare insects – Dungeness has the second largest shingle formation in the world and is officially classed as a desert. Although the advice is not to enter the water due to the nearby power plant, this beach really does offer a surreal and interesting trip to the seaside for the whole family.

Dungeness | My Travel Monkey

Southend-on-Sea

Southend-on-Sea has the largest pier in the world! A traditional seaside resort on the Essex coast, Southend has tons of attractions such as an aquarium and adventure park, as well as six beaches including Bell Wharf and Westcliff. Grab yourself a famous Rossi icecream and pick a spot on the beach after strolling the extensive esplanade. Just an hour from the capital, Southend is really one of the best beaches near London.

*This post was written in collaboration with Original Cottages