The 11 Best Beach Holidays Less Than Three Hours From The UK

Hankering for a cocktail on the beach or a refreshing swim in cool ocean waves?

Now that overseas holidays are firmly back on the agenda why don’t you treat yourself to a sunny break away.

There’s something instantaneously relaxing about being by the sea so we’ve rounded up some of the best beaches that are three hours or less from the UK. 

However we’ve included a couple of the UK’s finest spots too if you prefer not to go abroad.

No exhausting 15-hour flight to find the perfect beach, there’s one just as nice much closer than you think!

Ploumanac’h, Perros-Guirec, France

Nestled in the middle of the coast of Brittany lies the village of Plouchmanac’h. This quaint seaside resort town has lots of secret enclaves and coves dotting its seafront. The coast is commonly known as Côte de Granit Rose, or “Pink Granite Coast” for its distinctive colour, it’s the perfect escape for the discerning traveller.

Ploumanac'h, France

Ploumanac’h is difficult to pronounce, easy to appreciate © ricok/Shutterstock.com

Flights to France

Beach Hotel Tip: For breathtaking views and easy beach access stay at Hôtel Saint Guirec Et De La Plage

Watergate Bay, Newquay, UK

Surfers, paddle-boarders and locals will already be well acquainted with Watergate Bay, a large open beach in Newquay that meets the swell of the Atlantic Ocean. Its amazing waves, rock pools, clifftops and remote location make it the perfect UK beach to let off steam as well as learning to surf. Wait for a hot day but even on cloudier days this beach still shines.

Watergate Bay Newquay

Watergate Bay is a paradise for surfers and sunbathers alike © antb/Shutterstock.com

Trains to Newquay

Beach Hotel Tip: Newquay is the perfect weekend getaway, stay in the ‘excellent’ rated Sands Resort Hotel and Spa which sits in between Watergate Bay and Newquay.

Caneiros, Algarve, Portugal

Only 30-minutes from Portugal’s main airport Faro, it’s surprising that Caneiros isn’t brimming with tourists. However, the rocks and cliffs surrounding the beachfront give it a cove-like appearance which hides the beach from those who aren’t in the know. So you’ll find yourself in relative peace as you take a quiet dip in the cool waters. That is, until everyone reads about it here.

Caneiros, Algarve

Caneiros is a hidden paradise © LianeM/Shutterstock.com

Flights to Portugal

Beach Hotel Tip: From Hotel Casabela it’s only a ten-minute walk to Caneiros beach. Portimao Harbor is also less than a mile away.

Podrace Beach, Brela, Croatia

Located to the south of Split on the seashore that hugs the Dalmatian Coast is where you’ll find Podrace beach, surrounded by the tourist town of Brela. Podrace Beach is unlikely to be empty, but with its crystal clear water, excellent facilities and a restaurant located on the beach it’s a great place to be. Find a quiet-ish spot and camp down for the day.

Podrace Beach, Brela, Croatia

Podrace Beach is near the historic town of Brela © Anna Lurye/Shutterstock.com

Flights to Croatia 

Beach hotel tip:  Walk straight out of the hotel and you’re practically on the beach if you stay at Bluesun Hotel Soline, rated as a top city hotel as well a great beach hotel so you can have the best of both worlds here.

Calo des Moro, Mallorca, Spain

To reach Calo des Moro you’ll have to ignore a private property sign and climb down some precarious steps to reach the elusive beach, so expect only hardcore-beach goers and locals to greet you. Calo des Moro is most famous for is its picturesque cove that allows swimmers to get a fantastic view of the island from not that far out.

Calo des Moro is a quiet retreat in Mallorca © pixelliebe/Shutterstock.com

Flights to Mallorca

Beach Hotel Tip: Located in the sleepy village of Cala Llombards, only a 15-minute walk from Calo des Moro is the excellent Case de la Vida.

Car hire: Looking to venture off the beaten track? Use KAYAK’s car hire search to find the best deals.

Chia, Sardinia, Italy

Chia Beach is 750 metres long and almost 100m wide, meaning even in the busier months of July and August the beach has plenty of room for avid beach bums. Peach coloured sands are lined by juniper trees and if you’re very lucky you may even spot some of the native flamingos sleeping in the warm sand.

Chia Sardinia

Sardinia is a great place for a beach holiday © pointbreak/Shutterstock.com

Flights to Sardinia

Beach Hotel Tip: The luxurious 4-star Aquadulci Hotel is a hop, skip and jump away from Chia beach and has wonderful amenities including an outdoor pool.

Petani Beach, Kefalonia, Greece

Lesser known than Myrtos beach, Petani has a lot of the same qualities but with fewer sunburnt tourists. A curved seafront lines the sand and pebble-dashed beach, one of the favoured local traditions is swimming in the evening to watch the sea change colour as the sun sets in the west. Sounds dreamy.

Petani Beach, Kefalonia

The famous curved Petani Beach in Kefalonia © Adisa/Shutterstock.com

Flights to Greece

Beach Hotel Tip: For a hillside view right over the curved beach try Petani Bay Hotel – adults only, sorry kids – this hotel features more apartment vibes than a traditional hotel but with all the amenities of a hotel with a bar, pool and room service.

Playa de Migjorn, Formentera, Spain

Formentera is Ibiza’s sleepier and more chilled brother, so its beaches are more relaxation-focused than party central. This long stretch of beach has amazing facilities; you can rent a beach chair for the day and enjoy the oceanfront drinks service while watching fellow visitors play volleyball.

Playa de Migjorn Formentera

Playa de Migjorn is on the quieter Balaeric island of Formentera © holbox/Shutterstock.com

Flights to Ibiza

Beach Hotel Tip: The four-star rated Insotel Hotel Formentera Playa has something for everything with access to onsite scuba, diving and windsurfing and it’s only a few minutes to the beach.

Durdle Door Beach, Dorset, England

The Jurassic coast of Dorset is covered in a dramatic array of rocks, the most famous of which is the natural limestone arch named Durdle Door. The almost perfect semi-circular beach surrounding this eye-catching landmark is as soft as anything and has served as the backdrop for famous movies and music videos.  So practice your best rock star beach pose and get yourself down to Dorset. The nearby town of Weymouth has lots of restaurants and activities for all the family if the weather isn’t playing ball.

Durdle Door Beach, Dorset, England

You’ll find the iconic Durdle Door Beach on the Jurassic Coast © Simon Greig/Shutterstock.com

Trains to Devon

Beach Hotel Tip: The Smugglers Inn is located between Durdle Door and the livey town of Weymouth.

Palombaggia, Corsica, France

Considered one of the most beautiful stretches of coast in Corsica you certainly won’t be alone at Palombaggia, but it’s big enough so you can still find a patch of sand to make your own for the day. If you fancy trying your hand at snorkelling you’ll find plenty of facilities offering equipment to rent or simply lie back and relax with a good book.

Palombaggia Corsica

Palombaggia is a perfect place to experience Corsica © gevision/Shutterstock.com

Flights to France

Beach Hotel Tip: You’re on holiday, treat yourself with some massages or body treatments that are on offer at Les Bergeries de Palombaggia – a five-star dream just a few minutes from the beach.

Praia da Adraga, Sintra, Portugal

Located a 35-minute drive from Lisbon, Praia da Adraga is for committed beach-goers only as you need a car to get there. It’s well worth the trip though, with fine sand, dramatic views from the towering volcanic rocks, great waves and a lovely fish restaurant built into the cliff face, Azenhas Do Mar.

Praia da Adraga

Praia da Adraga is a magical place © Beketoff/Shutterstock.com

Flights to Portugal

Beach Hotel Tip: The Arribas Sintra Hotel  is at the centre of everything, close to the beach and you’re also only a 15-minute drive to the beautiful castle Quinta da Regaleira.

Originally published 07 2017, updated 05 2022.

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