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The best UK beaches to drive to this summer

There are 7,723 miles of British coastline to discover. From the clear mediterranean-esque waters of Cornwall, to the taste of the salty winds along the east coast of Scotland, there is a beach for whatever getaway you desire. 

Forget the busy, bustling airports, hop in your car and discover the endless miles of the British coastline. Discover the glorious sandbanks at Camber Sands, East Sussex, or the towering white cliffs at The Bay, Kent. Each diverse location offers endless opportunities for exploring and relaxation. Some beaches are along offbeat tracks, such as Sandwood Bay Scotland. 

beach view

Others are situated in lively seaside towns, or located near historic locations such as Bamburgh Castle beach. Whether near or further afield, you don’t necessarily need to own a car to get to the coast. We offer a huge variety of long term car leases to make sure you can make the most of summer at the fraction of the price.

Discover your next destination with our guide to the top 50 beaches to drive to in the UK. 

These are the top 50 beaches to drive to in the UK:

#1 Whitley Bay, North Tyneside is the BEST beach to drive to in the UK 

Whitley Bay

Source: Unsplash

Out of all the beaches analysed, the study found that Whitley Bay in North Tyneside is the best beach to drive to in the UK scoring 241 out of 300 on the index. 

With a short distance of 0.3 miles to the town of Whitley Bay, there are plenty of shops, bars and restaurants to enjoy while visiting the golden sands. This beach is the perfect spot to park up by as the area has one 11 car parks to choose from nearby, for as low as £3 for a day. Dogs are allowed on the sands north of Panama gardens, whilst elsewhere on the beach there are restrictions from May to September. The beach was also rated 3.9 out of 5 by visitors that often enjoy kayaking, canoeing and surfing whilst visiting all year round.  

#2 St Andrews East, Fife is the second best beach to drive to in the UK 

St Andrews East

​​​​Source: Caroline Trotter Photography

Scotland's St Andrews Beach East in Fife is the second best beach in the UK to drive to, scoring an index score of 239 out of 300. 

The beaches' free parking, quick access to the town of St Andrews and lowest petrol prices out of all the regions makes it the ideal day trip  location to drive to. Scoring a rating of 4 out of 5, the beach is also one of the highest rated beaches in the country for those wanting to enjoy a range of activities, from windsurfing, kayaking and fishing. This beach is also dog-friendly, meaning your pooch can enjoy the waves too.

#3 Blackrock, Cornwall is the third best beach to drive to in the UK


Source: Geographical Magazine

The third best beach to drive to in the UK is Blackrock beach in Cornwall. Just 1.3 miles from the town of Bude, the beach is dog friendly and offers an expanse of rock pools when the tide is low. Car parking costs up to £5 for a day with a choice of 5 car parks along the coastline. Those visiting often enjoy a surf in the blue waters. 

#4 The Bay (Margate Sands), Kent is the fourth best beach in the UK to drive to

Margate Main Sands

Source: Thanet District Council

The Bay (Margate Sands), Kent is the fourth best beach to drive to in the UK, scoring 224 out of 300. Just 0.9 miles from the town of Margate and a choice of 10 car parks costing no more than £7.50 a day for parking, The Bay is the perfect picturesque location to drive to. Check out the amusements or enjoy a donkey ride whilst visiting. 

#5 White Park Bay, County Antrim is the fifth best beach to drive to in the UK

White Park Bay

Source: Walkni.com

White Park Bay, County Antrim is the fifth best beach to drive to in the UK. With free parking and no dog restrictions, enjoy the expanse of white sands and wildflowers in the summer months. White Park Bay scored an impressive index of 223 out of 300. Whilst visiting, explore the rockpools and try out surfing in the blue water. 

3 top tips to consider ahead of driving your vehicle to the seaside

Everyone loves visiting the beach, especially in the UK during the summer months. However, it is good to be prepared and understand how you can limit the damage that visiting these sandy shores can have on your vehicle. Follow these tips to make your trip to the beach safe and hassle free:  

1. Wash your car after a trip to the beach

Sand can damage your brake pads, causing premature wearing. The best way to prevent this from happening is to wash your car after a trip to the beach to ensure your car is clear of sand. If you are a regular visitor to the coast, you can use an air pump to blast the sand out of your vehicle to keep it grit free.

2. Line your car boot

Sand can be very annoying once it gets everywhere, as it’s almost impossible to get it all out! That’s why I recommend investing in a boot liner so all sand can easily be removed from your vehicle. You can purchase boot liners that fit the shape of your vehicle's boot to ensure your car is sand free at all times. 

3. Make sure your car is ready to go 

Lastly, this may be an obvious one, but not everyone will do it. It is good practice before every journey to check your vehicle ahead of hitting the road. Simple things such as making sure your tyres have enough air, checking if you need an oil change or even as simple as making sure you have enough fuel, can really have an impact on your entire journey.

Discover the perfect car for you and your family 

Safety and comfort of any journey this summer. Nationwide Vehicle Contracts can help you find the right vehicle for you and your family. Check out their website to find the perfect car or van leasing with exclusive deals and big savings. 


To discover the best beaches to drive to, Nationwide Vehicle Contracts gathered a list of the 50 most desired beaches mentioned from articles and blogs online. 

To then rank these on their suitability to drive to, data was collected on the  average cost of petrol in the area, the number of car parks, the cost of day parking, and distance from the closest town. Data was also pulled on each beach's ratings, whether it is dog-friendly and if the beach had any monthly restrictions in place. 

By comparing the data  each metric was individually scored revealing a total beach index score out of 300 for each location. If any location did not have all the required information, they were omitted from the results. Figures are correct as of July 2021. 

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