Photograph: James Hodgson/Alamy
The historic and dramatic coastal village of Bamburgh in Northumberland, with its sandy beach behind an imposing 900-year-old castle, has been voted Britain’s best seaside destination for the third year running.
Its golden sand, grassy dunes and imposing Anglo-Saxon castle have secured the north-eastern coastal city’s top spot.
Which? asked more than 3,000 people to rate their experiences visiting seaside cities over the past year based on factors such as beaches, food, drink and accommodation options, scenery and value for money. Bamburgh, one of the UK’s 46 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, achieved an overall score of 88%.
Visitors have been particularly impressed by the tranquility of the beach. One commented on the “super-soft sand that stretches as far as the eye can see,” adding that there’s “plenty of space, so the beach never feels crowded.” Another said the castle was “probably the nicest we’ve ever been to.”
Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, he said: “What our survey shows is that it is rarely the famous destinations that visitors enjoy the most. Try somewhere new this year and our survey shows you should find less crowds and better value for money.”
Dartmouth in Devon has overtaken several Welsh seaside towns to climb from fourth place in 2022 to second this year. With a score of 85%, the town on the mouth of the River Dart earned top marks for its ‘atmosphere and vibrancy’, secluded coves, lively character and quality restaurants.
Third place went to the small coastal town of Portstewart in County Derry on the Causeway Coast, praised for its lively seafront and championship golf course.
It was a three-way tie for fourth place, with Portmeirion in Gwynedd, St Andrews in Fife and Tynemouth in Tyne & Wear tied with a score of 83%.
‘St Andrews has it all’, wrote one interviewee, ‘from good shops, pubs and restaurants of all price points to a good selection of places to stay, historic buildings and sites and fantastic beaches’.
Tynemouth, eight miles east of Newcastle, scores highly for its beaches, scenery and value for money.
At the other end of the table, Clacton-on-Sea and Skegness took bottom place with 48%, closely followed by Burnham-on-Sea and Bangor, with 49%.
Despite the low scores, visitors said they enjoyed Skegness’s beach and arcades, with one saying: ‘Skegness is your typical seaside town. The beach is lovely and Pleasure Beach has really nice rides and places to eat.” Essex’s Clacton-on-Sea has been described as a “family holiday destination” and a “typical British seaside resort”. A visitor to Bangor was impressed by the recent refurbishment of the town’s pier and said there were “fabulous views up and down the strait and out to Anglesey”.
Boland defended some of the low-ranking locations. “Clacton, Skegness and Southend have all been awarded one star for a lack of peace and quiet, and some visitors complain that the rowdy atmosphere can make them feel unsafe. It’s a pity, because what [all three] offer is exactly the kind of beach vacation many of us want. Big beaches, big fun and low prices. More should be done to help them level up and become world class resorts.”