The nearest beach to London? Lots of people live in or visit London and on hot summer days desire to get away from the heat of the city and visit the south-east coast.
But where is the nearest beach to London?
Here we list our top 10 locations for a day trip to the coast from London. For each, we give an idea of how to get by train and car although journey times can be extended on hot summer days when we have a mass exodus from London. For the train, we give the leaving London station and for car, we estimate from Charing Cross in central London.
Brighton, East Sussex
Brighton has to be on any list with a large promenade, pebble beach and pleasure pier. Although Brighton is a large town it is compact with great options to eat, open spaces and some spectacular independent shops within the narrow Brighton Lanes.
Brighton by train: 1 hour with direct services to Brighton from London Victoria. Brighton station is within the town centre and just a 20 minute walk to the seafront and pier.
Brighton by car: 2 hours leaving London on the M23 and then the A23.
Southend-on-Sea is our only entry on the north side of the Thames estuary and has the famous 2km, Southend Pier, with its narrow gauge railway. The long seafront is backed by amusement arcades and amusement park so beware as this does not result in a quiet trip to the coast.
Southend-on-Sea by train: Southend has a couple of stations both about an hour in time from London, Southend Central and Southend Victoria, both with trains from London Liverpool Street or Fenchurch Street. Southend Central station is a 10 minute walk whilst Southend Victoria is a 15 minute walk to the seafront.
Southend-on-Sea by car: 1 hour 25 minutes leaving London on the A13 and then the A127.
Whitstable is a traditional seaside town with small lanes, harbour, beach huts and sand/shingle beaches protected by wooden groynes.
Whitstable is famous for oysters and is celebrated at the Whitstable Oyster Festival in July.
Whitstable by train: 1 hour 15 minutes leaving London St Pancras direct to Whitstable. Whitstable station is within the town centre and just a 15-20 minute walk to the seafront.
Whitstable by car: 1hour 30 minutes leaving London on the A2 and then the M2 and A299.
Rye, East Sussex
Rye is one of the medieval times five coastal defensive Cinque Ports, but although very picturesque with narrow streets it is the beach that lots come to visit although this is 3 miles away.
The beach to visit here is Camber Sands and along with West Witterings is one of the best sandy beaches on the south coast with expenses of sand backed by a large dune system. Camber Sands can get busy and an alternative is Jury’s Gap (Broomhill) beach a few miles to the east.
Rye by train: 1 hour 15 minutes with one train change from London St Pancras or London Victoria. Rye station is within the town centre but the beaches are 3 miles and so would be a long walk or a 20 minute bus trip.
Rye by car: 1hour 55 minutes leaving London on the M20 and then the A2070 and A259. Note this is just along the coast from Dungeness and so you could combine them.
Dungeness is not a beach to sit on but a large shingle spit to explore. It has been long a place to retreat to with old railway cabins and fishing huts dotted along this flat expanse providing refuge.
A must-visit location for artists and photographers.
Dungeness by train: A little harder to get to, 1 hour 15 minutes with one train change from London St Pancras or London Victoria to Rye. You would then need buses to Lydd-on-Sea taking about 40 minutes.
Dungeness by car:1hour 50 minutes leaving London on the M20 and then the A2070 and A259.
Eastbourne, East Sussex
Eastbourne is to the east of Brighton and has a lot of the same characteristics, with a traditional Victorian seafront and pier. Although not boasting the same level of shops as Brighton it does have the advantage of being alongside the chalk sea cliffs of Beachy Head and the Seven Sisters.
Eastbourne by train: 1 hour 25 minutes with direct services to Eastbourne from London Victoria. Eastbourne station is within the town centre and just a 15 minute walk to the seafront.
Eastbourne by car: 2 hours 15 minutes leaving London on the A2 and then the A21 and A26.
Worthing, West Sussex
Worthing continues the theme of south coast seaside towns although we have now skipped over to West Sussex. The beach is a traditional West Sussex beach of high watermark pebbles and then flat compact sand as the tide recedes. The long seafront is backed by a promenade and the town centre.
Worthing by train: 1 hour 25 minutes with direct services to Worthing from London Victoria. Worthing station is within the town centre and a 20 minute walk to the seafront.
Worthing by car: 2 hours 10 minutes leaving London on the A23 and then the M23 and A27.
Broadstairs is a picturesque seaside town in Kent. The key element to a visit to Broadstairs is that you get 7 accessible bays in one town all offering something slightly different from town beaches, to surfing beaches, and all with soft sand and white chalk cliffs.
Looking for something extra then a visit to The Dickens House Museum on the seafront is a great option with displays relating to Charles Dickens and his life in Broadstairs.
Broadstairs by train: 1 hour 50 minutes with direct services to Broadstairs from London St Pancras or London Victoria. Broadstairs station is within the town centre and just a 10-15 minute walk to the seafront.
Broadstairs by car: 1hour 45 minutes leaving London on the A2 and then the M2 and A299. Note this is just 15 minutes further than Whitstable and so you could combine them.
Littlehampton, West Sussex
Littlehampton is a large seaside town in West Sussex and you have a few beach choices. The main Littlehampton seafront with the famous long bench and East Beach cafe is where most people stop, but we would always say head over the estuary bridge. Here you have West Beach with a nice short walk along to Climping Beach where the beaches are backed by a dune system and nature reserve.
Littlehampton by train: 1 hour 50 minutes with direct services to Littlehampton from London Victoria. Littlehampton station is within the town centre and just a 15 – 20 minute walk to the seafront.
Littlehampton by car: 2 hours 10 minutes leaving London on the A23 and then the A272.
West Wittering, West Sussex
West Wittering is unlike all the others on this page as it is not a town but a beach and also the hardest to get to without a car. Near Chichester, West Wittering is one of the most beautiful beaches on the south coast backed by sand dunes with marram grass.
Can get very busy in the summer although space is always available if you walk away from the car park, the busy beach is the price you pay for the beauty.
West Wittering by train: A little harder to get to, with the closest station at Chichester which is a 1 hour 30 minute direct line train from London Victoria. You would then need to catch a bus for 30 minutes and then a final 15 minute walk to the beach.
West Wittering by car: 2 hours 10 minutes leaving London on the A3 and then the A27.
If travelling to West Wittering by train or wanting to avoid the car traffic you can bring your bike and take the 12-mile Salters Way cycle route from Chichester to East Head through a spectacular Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
I know we have listed just ten beaches near London but in most cases, you can just head to the east or west from each seaside location and have many more choices. If you want to explore the areas more then use our links to the locations above or our interactive beach maps.