It’s coming up to that time in the UK calendar when it seems safe to start thinking about three things: the possibility of lasting sunshine, more time off, and hitting the seaside for one of your best beach holidays yet.
While we’re not always a sun-baked nation, we are spoiled for choice when it comes to holiday spots on our beautiful coastlines. There are some fantastic beaches to choose from, whether craggy with jutting rock formations, piled with smooth pebbles or bordered with golden sands, just waiting for the sandcastle builders to arrive.
We’ve analysed the review scores across our UK inventory of beachside holiday lettings and whittled the locations down to a reviewers’ top ten. They’re not necessarily the most obvious destinations, so not only can you find some of the UK’s top-rated holiday rentals here, but you might even discover a new favourite holiday spot. Each pick is blessed with wonderful coastal views, welcoming communities and various attractions and activities to make your holiday on the beach a blinder.
When you’re planning a beach break, booking a private rental makes so much sense. Your cash generally goes further, giving you more space, more amenities and the privacy to unwind properly. You can eat out one night, cook up a feast at home the next, and enjoy the independence of coming and going according to no one’s schedule but your own. And as the glowing reviews suggest, someone has already worked hard to make your rental a home – full of useful practical touches, as well as welcoming personal ones.
So, here you have it: some of the best beach holidays in the UK for rental accommodation, according to our reviewers*. Buckets and spades at the ready? Average ratings below are out of five (5.00).
Budleigh Salterton is a top holiday spot by the beach, set in the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and around 15 miles from the pretty city of Exeter. There’s a two-mile pebble beach here, rightly popular with bathers in the warmer months, and complete with beach cafés and a children’s play area. Spot birds along the Otter Estuary, rent bikes and follow the two-mile cycle path to Exmouth or wander the magnificent Jurassic Coast. A couple of miles away you can find the lovely Bicton Park Botanical Gardens, a series of gracefully manicured gardens, plus glasshouses, mini golf, and a narrow-gauge railway.
This pretty Moray fishing village offers sandy beaches, great golfing and plenty of scenic walks. The town and bay are also overlooked by the striking Cullen Railway Viaducts. Active types can bike the Moray Coast Cycle Route, while wildlife enthusiasts can spot seals, puffins, and dolphins from the shore. Naturally, the best beach holidays come with some tasty local grub, so when in Cullen be sure to grab a hearty plateful of ‘Cullen Skink’. This smoked haddock and potato soup originated here – there’s even an annual Cullen Skink World Championship.
Broadford is a great place to start exploring the incredibly beautiful Isle of Skye. The village draws climbers and walkers for its mix of bay and mountain views. Bring your camera for the orca whales, seals and otters, your fishing gear for the catch of the day, and your sense of adventure for a sea plane ride or a guided sea kayaking session. There’s a range of interesting speciality shops in town and just a short distance to the east at Ashaig there’s a sandy beach that’s good for a wander and a picnic at low tide.
This tiny town is stocked with tea shops and pubs, and offers easy access to several spectacular stretches of sand. There’s Castlerock Beach, a hit with families for swimming and surfing, Downhill Beach, overlooked from a cliff edge by the striking Mussenden Temple, and Benone Strand, which is the place to head for the finest local jet skiing and kite surfing. You can enjoy a game of golf with views of the dunes and rolling waves from Castlerock Golf Club.
Lower Largo sits on Largo Bay, with its picturesque sandy beaches, rocks and pools, all ripe for exploration. You can watch the boats bobbing in the harbour, snap the impressive Lower Largo Viaduct or head up to Largo Law for soaring views of the surrounding area. The large sandy stretch of Leven Beach is a short drive away and also offers arcades, crazy golf and a swimming pool.
Around an hour westwards along the coast from Cullen is Nairn, one of the best beach holidays according to rental reviewers. Here you’ll find a flat, sandy beach, perfect for building sandcastles alongside awe-inspiring views of the Moray Firth. Excellent golf courses draw visitors from all over, and the stunning vistas attract walkers for long, bracing rambles along the coastline. It’s under an hour’s drive from here to vast Loch Ness for some inland water views and a nose around Urquhart Castle.
The Mourne Mountains and welcoming sands make this little resort town a magical backdrop for a great holiday on the beach. Explore it further on a boat tour, looking out for seals and discovering smugglers’ caves. You can tee off at Royal County Down Golf Club, taste the freshest mussels and oysters at the local eateries, and pay a visit to Soak, a seaweed bathhouse that’s just the tonic for troublesome skin. It’s a short drive from here to Murlough Nature Reserve, where you can see moths, butterflies and various bird species.
The best beach holidays in Britain don’t get much better than this. This little Cornish gem sits in a lovely enclosed bay within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The pebbly beach here is popular in the summer months with bathers, surfers and rockpool explorers. Bring your binoculars for close-ups of skylarks, kestrels, grey seals and bottle-nosed dolphins. You can learn about the legend of King Arthur at Tintagel Castle, which is within half an hour’s drive.
Around half an hour’s drive from Castlerock is Portrush, a popular resort on the Ramore Head peninsula. From here you can enjoy the beaches of West Strand and East Strand, and three miles to the east there’s Whiterocks Beach, named for its white cliffs and rock formations. There’s plenty of family-friendly entertainment at the Waterworld swimming complex, the Coastal Zone marine centre and Barry’s Amusements. Portrush is just a short drive away from the much-photographed basalt columns of the Giant’s Causeway.
This Pembrokeshire seaside village signals the start of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path. There’s a broad sandy beach here at low tide, with flat sands for families to play on together. See what’s lurking in the rockpools, grab an ice cream, try some windsurfing or simply wander the coastal path and take in those wonderful watery views. When the tide’s at its lowest, look out for the stumps of a petrified forest sticking up out of the sand. Finish the day with a hearty meal in a local pub, before heading back to your comfortable holiday cottage. The good news? Like all the destinations in our list, Amroth has some of the best beach holiday lettings in all the UK, according to traveller reviews.
*Methodology: We analysed all UK holiday rental reviews on TripAdvisor. Holiday Lettings is a TripAdvisor company. Selected seaside destinations needed to be among some of the highest-rated in the country (minimum 100 total reviews), and have a sufficient amount of properties available to book on Holiday Lettings.