There are plenty of beaches near London close enough for day trips but most of the famous beaches are not – let’s be honest – sandy.
Brighton is great fun but the beach is all stone.
So if you want a really sandy beach near London close enough for a day trip what are the best seaside spots to head for?
Well, this guide to the best sandy beaches near London has you covered with sandy beaches in Kent, Essex and Sussex that are close enough for day trips even with a whole gang of kids in tow.
There’s a good mixture of popular sandy beaches with plenty of facilities plus quieter, little known sandy beaches near London that get less crowded.
You can get to most of these sandy beaches easily by train from London so you don’t have to sit in traffic jams for hours each ways and I have included tips on the best cheap day trips to the beach from London by train.
I do hope you enjoy a great day out on the beach with this guide. For more inspiration check out all these fun things to do in London.
Table of Contents
Essex Sandy Beaches
The sandy beaches in Essex are winners on two fronts. The south Essex beaches are the nearest sandy beaches to London and the cheapest to get to by train for a day trip. Further north you can escape the crowds on wilder beaches on the edge of remote Essex marshes.
Some Essex seaside towns did become scruffy like so much of the British coast but many have cleaned up their act and are coming back to life with cool cafes and beach front hotels.
One downside of the sandy beaches in Essex compared with Kent and Sussex is that the tides comes in very high up the beach so do check tide times before visiting.
Westcliff Beach is the closest sandy beach to London as it is just 50 minutes on the train from Fenchurch Street and a 5 minute walk from the station. You can easily come from London for just the afternoon or evening and there’s plenty of places to eat in Westcliff for all tastes and budgets.
As Westcliff is on the Thames it is muddy when the tide is out but for a super quick trip to a sandy beach from London Westcliff is your best best.
Thorpe Bay Beach
Thorpe Bay Beach is a long stretch of sandy beach just beyond Southend that is backed by beach huts. Thorpe Bay station is just an hour from London Fenchurch Street station with 4 or more trains an hour.
Thorpe Bay is a longer walk from the station than Westcliff taking about 20 minutes. For a long weekend checkout the Roslin Beach Hotel on the front.
Shoebury East Beach
Shoebury East Beach is a quieter sandy beach in Essex you can get to from London by train in barely an hour. There’s two fast trains an hour from Fenchurch Street to Shoeburyness and it’s just 5 minutes walk to the beach.
There are several of places to eat close to the beach including the Shoeburyness Hotel if you come down from London for the evening.
Frinton is just along the Essex coast from Clacton and has a whopping and pristinely clean sandy beach which can absorb a lot of people.
Frinton has for a long time made a massive effort to protect the town from chain stores and arcades and there are still lots of independent shops and cafes and immaculate loos just off the beach.
Frinton also has some of the finest modernist houses in the country and a church with beautiful stained glass by William Morris & Edward Burn Jones, so all in all it’s probably the classiest sandy beach resort in Essex.
There aren’t direct trains to Frinton but it’s less than 90 minutes from Liverpool St. The change at Thorp-le-Soken looks tight on the timetable but they are connecting trains that wait for each other and it’s very easy. The sandy beach is a 10 minute or so walk from Frinton station.
The train journey to Frinton takes the same time as that to Margate but is often half the price and we have had great family deals in the summer.
For a long weekend there is a smart spa hotel in nearby Thorp-le-Soken.
Walton on the Naze Beach
Walton-on-the-Naze is the next stop up the line from Frinton and also has a big long sandy beach. The station comes out almost right on Walton pier.
Walton is not as smart as its neighbour Frinton but it does have England’s second longest pier plus at the end of the beach, the Naze.
The Naze is a beautiful and unusual nature reserve which protects a salt water lagoon – the Secret Water from Swallows & Amazons – and is one of the best places to see seals near London. The Naze has its own beach which is pretty muddy but full of fossils.
Walton and Frinton together are very worth a quick weekend visit from London. There is simple but smart self catering available on the front.
Cudmore Grove Beach
Cudmore Grove beach is a pretty but unusual sandy beach which is part of the Cudmore Grove country park on Mersea Island. It is not pristine sand but a far more weird and wonderful place with wildlife, fossils and an abandoned fort so a great place for adventures with kids.
Cudmore Grove beach is just about doable as a day trip from London. It’s a 2 hour drive and the same by train from Liverpool St to Colchester Town station with a direct bus to the beach but the bus is infrequent so you may want to save for a long weekend exploring Mersea Island & its Oyster bars.
St Peters Chapel Bradwell
St Peters Chapel Bradwell is the best sandy beach near London if you want seriously remote and seriously historic. This is not a quick day trip.
St Peter’s Chapel is the second oldest church in Britain and a pilgrimage site on the Dengie nature reserve. A good 6 mile coastal walk in the nature reserve takes you past the chapel and stretches of sandy beach.
St Peters is a 90 minute drive from London but tricky by public transport. The Liverpool Street to Southminster train (changing at Wickford) only takes 75 minutes but it then takes 2 buses to get to Bradwell although there are taxis or it’s only a half hour cycle. There’s a basic inn in Bradwell for weekend trips and more accommodation in Burnham on Crouch & Maldon.
Kent Sandy Beaches
Kent has some great sandy beaches which make brilliant day trips from London. Margate and Broadstairs need no introduction but there are other sandy beaches around the Kent coast that are fun for a day out.
The popular sandy beaches in Kent do take longer to get to than the Essex sandy beaches even if you are coming from south London but the sandy beach at Folkestone is only 55 minutes away on the train.
Sadly trains to the Kent beach are sometimes double the price of a day trip to the Essex beaches so do plan ahead and look out for Advanced tickets.
Broadstairs is one of the most family friendly seaside resorts with sandy beaches near London. It’s a bustling little holiday town but with the white cliffs behind the main sandy beach on Viking Bay, it’s got real character.
The fastest trains from St Pancras take 80 minutes or from Victoria nearly two hours and the station is a 15 minute walk from Viking Bay.
Further around the coast Joss Bay, Kingsgate Bay and Botany Bay have sandy beaches and stunning cliffs and sea arches although fewer facilities. There is an hourly bus service from the station to these bays but it does usually involve quite a bit of walking.
For more details read these tips on Broadstairs day trips from London.
Margate’s big natural harbour make it the best sandy beach near London for kids to paddle and swim easily. You literally walk onto the beach from the station and trains take 90 minutes direct from St Pancras or one hour 45 minutes from Victoria.
Everyone has heard of Folkestone though most Londoners don’t think of it as a great sandy beach near London for a day trip. But Folkestone – who knew? – is only 52 minutes on the train from St Pancras and has a big sandy beach with a cool adventure playground above the beach.
Sunny Sands beach is 15 minutes walk from Folkestone station just beyond the harbour arm where there are loads of cool places to eat. High tide does come right in on the beach so check tide times but there’s plenty to do round the harbour including the Folkestone Triennial and there are loads of original shops in Folkestone creative quarter.
Greatstone Beach is a big sandy beach in Kent on the edge of beautiful Romney Marsh and just around the coast from better known Camber Sands. Greatstone beach has fewer facilities and the sand can get a bit muddy when the tide is out but it is not as busy so a good alternative on hot days and it’s a good base for walks round to weird and wonderful Dungeness.
Unfortunately, the beach isn’t easy to get to from London by public transport unless you’re a keen cyclist and want to enjoy the 10 mile cycle over the back lanes of Romney Marsh from Appledore Station – it’s a beautiful ride – which is an hour from St Pancras changing at Ashford.
There are plenty of cool and quirky places to stay on Romney Marsh for a long weekend from London which will let you go onto the sandy beaches at Greastone, Camber Sands and Broomhill Sands before the traffic jams.
Sussex Sandy Beaches
Sussex is that bit further to get to from London for sandy beaches but the Sussex sandy beaches are magnificent. Camber Sands and West Wittering are beautiful and well known but there’s also Broomhill and Littlehampton.
The trains to Littlehampton and Chichester for West Wittering do take over 90 minutes but you can get some great deals with returns for a family of four being under £20 so they are definitely worth checking out.
Camber Sands probably is the most beautiful sandy beach near London. It’s miles of lovely sand backed by big dunes.
Unfortunately, it can also be the most popular and although the beach takes a lot of people you can get stuck for hours in traffic.
Camber is not the easiest sandy beach to get to by train for a day trip but if you don’t want to drive it’s just 70 minutes on the train from London St Pancras to Rye changing at Ashford. There is then a bus to Camber Sands beach or you can take bikes on the train as it is only a 20 minute cycle. For a weekend there are cool places to stay on Romney Marsh.
Broomhill Sands is Camber Sands is less well known neighbour. The beach has fewer facilities and isn’t quite as sandy – there’s some shingle – and it lacks Camber’s beautiful dunes but it it can be easier to get in and out of by car on the Lydd Road and is better located for exploring Dungeness.
There are some cool coastguard cottages to rent behind Broomhill Sands.
West Wittering is a big sandy beach in an area of outstanding natural beauty in Sussex that really is enormous when the tide goes out. There are basic facilities including toilets, a cafe and ice creams.
The beach is very popular on sunny days but gets quieter as you head over to the National Trust’s East Head. You now have to book parking online ahead of your visit but there can still be big traffic jams.
West Wittering is definitely not the quickest sandy beach to get to from London by train but you can get it down to 2 hours taking a train from Clapham Junction to Chichester and then a bus to West Wittering. As mentioned previously you can get return train tickets for 4 for under £20.
For a long weekend from London, Chichester is a pretty place to stay and you can then easily be on West Wittering’s big sandy beach in half an hour.
Littlehampton in Sussex has two big beaches which are a bit shingly at the the top when the tide is right in but sandy otherwise.
East Beach has a funfair and amusements and is 15 minutes walk from Littlehampton station whilst West Beach over the river has sand dunes and a nature reserve. Both have very cool beach cafes.
It’s an hour and 40 minutes direct on the train from Victoria and there are frequently cheap tickets available.
You can read more tips here on Littlehampton day trips from London including details on the cool ferry from East beach to west beach.
So there you go, a big guide to the best sandy beaches near London including the quickest and cheapest beaches to get to from London plus some cool and unusual sandy beaches that make great days out from London and weekends away. Enjoy.
For more ideas for fun things to do in London check out these posts:
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- 55 Historic Houses & Palaces in London
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- London’s Best Woods
- London Steam Trains & Railways