Our 7 favourite harbour towns in the UK

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Best Harbour Towns
Best harbour towns across the United Kingdom

Mention the word ‘holiday’ and, for many of us, images of blue seas and golden sands pour into our imagination. After all, what better place to truly relax than on a beautiful beach that’s surrounded by cliff-top adventures, award-winning restaurants and family fun for all ages?

If you’re searching for your next seaside break, you don’t need to travel too far either. The UK is home to some incredible beach resorts and harbour towns – whether you’re looking for a bustling centre or something off the beaten path. Also, check out the best wild swimming spots in the UK if you are after something inland.

Firm coastal favourites such as St Ives in Cornwall and Salcombe in Devon always seem to be topping the list, however, and while we’re massive fans, we want to shine a light on some of the other hot contenders in the UK. So, what are you waiting for? Keep scrolling and don’t forget to pack your bucket and spade.


Tynemouth Harbour

Where? Tyne & Wear

Best bit? The good old Geordie spirit 

Must visit: Riley’s Fish Shack

Everyone knows the Geordie’s love a good time and, when you combine that with beachside frolics, it gets even better. Just a 25-minute drive from central Newcastle, you’ll find Tynemouth which attracts locals and tourists every year. In terms of popular beaches, there’s Longsands which is great for surfing and dog-friendly East Beach, Whitley Bay and Ryhope South Beach. There’s also a ruined priory and castle to explore and, if you’re looking for somewhere to enjoy the sunset, the infamous Riley’s Fish Shack at King Edward’s Bay has got to be on your list. 


Southwold harbour

Where? Suffolk

Best bit? Its annual festivals 

Must visit: Adnams Brewery 

Easily one of the prettiest seaside towns and fishing villages in the UK, Southwold in Suffolk offers everything you’d expect – a lovely beach, blue waters, a traditional pier, coloured beach huts, and a gorgeous town filled with shops, cafes and restaurants. There’s also a working lighthouse which is a great place to spend a morning and Adnams Brewery has been mixing up delicious drinks in the same spot for 670 years. They’ve definitely nailed the recipe! Despite having so much to see and do, Southwold still has a quaint feel to it and there’s also lots of coastal walks dotted around. If you are looking for something a little livelier, keep your eyes peeled for Latitude Festival which appears every year!


Hastings Harbour

Where? Sussex

Best bit? Ultra-fresh seafood right by the beach 

Must visit: The Funicular  

Before you roll your eyes, and wonder why we’ve included Hastings in East Sussex, hear us out! While this resort might have previously got a name for being tacky and tired, today it’s one of our favourite UK staycation destinations. For starters, there’s a newly opened pier which has given the town a fresh lease of life, there’s lots of museums which tell the tales of fishermen and smugglers that made this area famous, and it’s also home to the UK’s biggest land-launched fishing fleet which means fishermen sell their catches right on the shores. The Hastings Funicular is a great way to see the whole of the town too. 

Robin Hood’s Bay

Robin Hoods Bay

Where? Yorkshire 

Best bit? Endless adventures 

Must visit: North Yorkshire’s Off Road Centre

If you’re one of those people who get clammy palms at the thought of sitting still and doing nothing, a beach holiday might fill you with dread. But, a beach holiday in Yorkshire certainly won’t. Robin Hood’s Bay along the North Yorkshire coast dates back to the 18th century and was one of the busiest smuggling communities around. Today, you can follow the smugglers route but that’s not the only adventure. The area is ideal for walks, thanks to its coastal paths, and the bay is one of the UK’s best spots for fossil hunting. For something really heart-pumping, why not head slightly inland to the Off Road Centre? Or, take a trip to Whitby Abbey and bring tales of the past to life. Once back at the bay, you’ll be pleased to know there’s a few fish and chip shops dotted around which are often regarded as some of the best in Yorkshire. 


Tenby Harbour

Where? Wales

Best bit? Slow-paced coastal walks 

Must visit: Tenby Harbour Brewery 

Tenby’s name in Welsh, Dinbych-y-Pysgod, means Little Fortress of the Fish and we’ve got to say it’s one of the most charming seaside resorts around as well as the popular Cardigan Bay. The beaches are golden and surrounded by bright-coloured houses, and rows of cafes, restaurants and independent shops. As one of the area’s Blue Flag beaches, you can be sure that the whole family will be catered for, and many of the area’s coastal walks start from here. One of them being the Pembrokeshire Coast Path which is a great route to enjoy – with your kids, dogs, and older relatives. Tenby town and the nearby area in Wales is also home to lots of activities for all ages including the harbour brewery, a castle, art gallery and even a dinosaur park. 


Potree Harbour

Where? Skye

Best bit? The range of foodie delights 

Must visit: Scorrybreac

The Inner Hebrides or, indeed, Scotland might not be top of your list for a sunny British seaside staycation but it should definitely be on your list for a seaside staycation with beautiful sandy beaches. Simply wrap up, remember your brollies and get ready to explore one of the most beautiful ports in Scotland. The picture-perfect bay is a deep and cliff-edged harbour packed with traditional fishing boats and surrounded by multi-coloured houses. There’s also a handful of fishing restaurants in the town – one being Scorrybreac, a michelin-starred establishment. To see the best of the landscape, head to The Lump – a scenic headland with trails and adventures. And, if you’re in search of something more vibrant, the annual Skye Live Festival hosts local and international artists.


Lymington Harbour

Where? Hampshire

Best bit? The local sailing experiences 

Must visit: Lymington Seafood Festival 

Okay, so when you first think of Hampshire, you might think about rolling countryside and quintessentially British towns. And you’re right. But the area is also home to Lymington – a charming Georgian sailing town that’s packed with a bustling harbour and characterful pubs. The high streets are postcard-perfect, and are lined with eateries, shops and galleries. If you’re looking for something to blow away the cobwebs then a sailing experience or fishing excursion is just the thing. Or, you could just sit back in one of the many pubs. Every August, the town comes alive – thanks to the Lymington Seafood Festival where top notch chefs cook up a storm and live bands play jazz and blues all day long.

Of course, we’ve only just scraped the surface when it comes to the UK’s harbour towns and coastal resorts. The truth is, if you’re looking for a seaside break this year, we’ve got plenty more where that comes from. Just check out our range of coastal hot tub breaks and browse our family-friendly properties, luxury party pads and romantic boltholes that are perfect for you and your other half. See, holidaying in the UK never looked so good…

Where is the clearest sea water in the UK?

The clearest sea water in the UK can be found in the Scottish Highlands. The remote beaches of the northwest coast, such as Achmelvich Beach, Sandwood Bay, and Sango Bay, are known for their crystal clear turquoise waters rivalling tropical destinations’ clarity.

What is the driest seaside town in the UK?

The driest seaside town in the UK is Bognor Regis, located on the south coast of England in West Sussex. Bognor Regis is known for its mild climate and receives less rainfall than any other seaside town in the UK, with an average of 42 inches of rainfall per year.

What is the oldest seaside town in the UK?

The oldest seaside town in the UK is Scarborough, located on the North Sea coast of North Yorkshire in England. Scarborough has been a popular holiday destination since the 17th century, when the seaside resort was developed around its natural harbor and mineral springs.

What is the oldest harbour town in the UK?

There are several popular harbour towns for tourists in the UK, but one of the most well-known and visited is probably the town of Whitby, located on the east coast of North Yorkshire.

Whitby is a historic fishing town that is famous for its picturesque harbour, Gothic abbey, and associations with Bram Stoker’s novel, “Dracula”. The town attracts visitors from all over the world who come to explore its cobbled streets, quaint shops and restaurants, and scenic coastline.

Which UK seaside town has the longest pier?

The UK seaside town with the longest pier is Southend-on-Sea, which is located in Essex, on the east coast of England. The town’s pier, known as Southend Pier, is 1.34 miles (2.16 km) long and is the longest pleasure pier in the world.