Take a day-trip (or two) to an English seaside town and explore stunning coasts

by | Feb 24, 2020 | Great Britain

Seven Sisters, Eastbourne, Sussex, England.

If you haven’t visited an English seaside town or seen England’s stunning coastline before, then consider a day-trip to the seaside when you next visit Britain. Even if you’re short on time and only have a day or two to spare, you can easily take a day-trip out of Central London by train, bus or by car to experience a little of what an English seaside town has to offer and to explore England’s stunning coast.

Who wants to be beside the seaside?

Who doesn’t want to visit the seaside when they’re on vacation? From Central London, it is entirely doable in a day as it is only 42 miles to the nearest English seaside town! Of course, it entirely depends on which side of London you’re staying but as I mention in another post, you’re never more than 70 miles from the coast.

If you’re staying at or near Heathrow airport, it’s about a two hour train ride to the nearest English seaside town, so even if you only have a day and you’ve done London’s must see-do sites before, it’s still possible to visit the seaside before your onward flight the next day.

South Coast

Just an hour away from Central London (two from Heathrow, 25 minutes from Gatwick) by train is the south coast where you’ll find the seaside town of Brighton with its vast pebble beach, historic 200-year-old Palace Pier and the best fish and chips you’ll taste (just ask my Mum), and where I dare you to eat an entire Eton Mess on your own!

If you have more than a day, drive or take a bus tour along the south coast in either direction, and you’ll discover stunning white cliffs (such as the Seven Sisters near Eastbourne, pictured above), more beautiful sand or pebble beaches, rolling hills and ancient pastoral landscapes, vibrant coastal towns and historic ports, castles and forts.

East Coast

An hour and a half away to the east of Central London (around two to three hours from Heathrow Airport depending on the time of day), you’ll find the east coast and another English seaside town, Clacton-on-Sea (not the closest but it’s where many of my family live and I’ve visited many times). Here you’ll discover shallow (family friendly) tidal waters, flat sandy beaches, colourful beach huts and a long paved, coastal promenade.

If you have more time to explore, the east coast is home to a number of flat sandy beaches and seaside towns, estuaries and salt marshes, farmland and forest. If you’re a bird lover, you’ll find several bird and animal sanctuaries for bird watching.

West Coast

You’ll need more time if you want to see the stunning west coast, but drive just three to four hours (from Heathrow airport), to Devon or Cornwall, and you’ll discover the most dramatic coasts you’ve ever seen, with high cliffs, rocky shores and stunning white and yellow sand beaches that stretch for miles, as well as lots of English seaside towns.

The journey is longer by train, taking six to eight hours from Central London, but if you have a few days and prefer not to drive, it’s well worth it if you have several days to spare. If you don’t mind driving, you could even take a road trip along the south coast (from Gatwick or Brighton) via Dorset and Somerset and stop along the Jurassic coast to see some of the prehistoric landscapes and visit other English seaside towns en route.

Aside: Cornwall is also accessible by air. A short flight from London (around an hour), will have you in Newquay (area), but you’ll need to rent a car or get a taxi into town as the airport is 15 minutes away by car along the coast road. I often take this flight when I visit my mum, but my preferred airline keeps changing its departure airport between Gatwick and Heathrow…so if you plan on a sidetrip to Cornwall, you would need to check which airport is being used before booking your international flight to London. There are other airport options, such as Exeter and Bristol, but the drive to Newquay is much, much longer..


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