Once more unto the beach: Which? reveals Britain’s favourite seaside destinations

Bamburgh in Northumberland has been named as Britain’s best seaside destination, as Which? reveals the nation’s favourite resorts and the top towns and villages for avoiding the crowds on holiday. 

With more people expected to book a holiday in Britain this summer than ever before as a result of the pandemic, the consumer champion sought out views on Britain’s coastal towns and villages to find the nation’s favourite seaside destinations.

The survey of more than 4,000 people ranked nearly 100 towns and villages, with Bamburgh rated the best seaside town. It slipped from its first place ranking last year, but reclaimed the top spot after receiving a customer score of 85 per cent, and five stars for its beaches, tourist attractions and scenery. It received an additional five stars for value for money, with prices for accommodation being half those of some popular spots in Cornwall.

Visitors were particularly fond of the castle, and despite the small size of Bamburgh village, the vastness of its beach meant it received four stars for peace and quiet, allowing visitors to easily distance themselves and avoid busy crowds.

Other responses suggest word has spread about Bamburgh’s appeal, with some encouraging visitors to reserve tables in the restaurants in advance as places are often booked up, and arrive at the castle early to secure a parking space.

The good news is that this year’s reader survey of the best seaside towns and villages shows there is room on our coast for us all to find a quiet corner. Visitors rated nearly 60 British seaside destinations at 70 per cent or above, while 30 were awarded four or five stars for peace and quiet.

Tynemouth, in Tyne & Wear, took joint second place alongside Dartmouth in Devon. Both received a visitor score of 84 per cent, and five stars for their seafronts, while Tynemouth was given five stars for its beach and seafront, and four stars for scenery.

Visitors to Tynemouth praised the selection and quality of restaurants and food options on offer, as well as the market at the Metro station at weekends, while those who had been to Dartmouth recommended taking a boat trip along the River Dart or the steam train from Paignton to get there.

In third place – and taking the title of Scotland’s best beach town – was St Andrews. Busier than some of the other destinations at the top of the table, the “home of golf” earned its high ranking perhaps thanks to its five-star rated tourist attractions as well as its shopping options, which received four stars. It also received four stars for beaches and value for money. Those looking to beat the crowds were advised by respondents to visit outside of term time, when fewer students of its famous university are around.

Aberaeron was ranked fourth and named the best seaside town in Wales, with a customer score of 82 per cent. The quiet harbour town was given five stars for its scenery, with visitors commenting fondly on the painted houses in pastel colours. It also received four stars for peace and quiet – likely due to it being a little harder to reach than more popular tourist locations further down the coast in Pembrokeshire.

At the other end of the table, with a customer score of 48 per cent, was Skegness. The seaside town was also rated bottom by visitors last year, but its score has improved slightly as a result of investment and refurbishment in the town centre and higher footfall, with more people holidaying in Great Britain than abroad last summer. And while it only received one star for its tourist attractions and scenery, its beach was still given three stars.

Respondents recognised the family-friendly appeal of Skegness and its amusements, while one commenter described it as “unpretentious and a very pleasant place to visit”, and encouraged visitors to “enjoy the old fashioned 1950s atmosphere of a traditional English seaside town”.

Other destinations at the bottom end of the table included Weston-Super-Mare (55%) and Ilfracombe (56%).

Rory Boland, Editor of Which? Travel, said:

“Many of us discovered the joy of a British summer holiday last year and the trend looks set to continue well into this summer. The results of our survey show that bigger is rarely better, with smaller and less crowded resorts taking the top spots over better-known destinations.

“Given the crowds and prices at some of Britain’s most popular seaside destinations, the best news from the survey is just how many highly-rated destinations we have to choose from. Whether you want a village with a beach or a big town with all the fish and chips you can eat, there is a fantastic spot by the sea for you.

“Do your research and look beyond the big name destinations – and most importantly, book with a reputable provider with a generous flexible booking policy.”


Notes to editors

In December 2020 Which? conducted an online survey of 4,061 Which? members, collecting 7,195 customer scores and star ratings of UK seaside towns and villages. Scores are based on UK seaside towns and villages achieving a sample size of 30+.

Northern Ireland was included in the survey but Which? did not have the sample sizes to include these in the table.

Watch Which?’s video on the top seaside towns: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=13G8CGykddw

View the full results: http://which.co.uk/bestseaside

About Which?

Which? is the UK’s consumer champion, here to make life simpler, fairer and safer for everyone. Our research gets to the heart of consumer issues, our advice is impartial, and our rigorous product tests lead to expert recommendations. We’re the independent consumer voice that influences politicians and lawmakers, investigates, holds businesses to account and makes change happen. As an organisation we’re not for profit and all for making consumers more powerful.

The information in this press release is for editorial use by journalists and media outlets only. Any business seeking to reproduce information in this release should contact the Which? Endorsement Scheme team at endorsementscheme@which.co.uk.

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