Near me: 7 beach getaways less than 2 hours from London

By Katherine Sparshatt,

The Southeast edition

The great British seaside may seem a world-away from the hustle and bustle of London, but in fact it’s a lot nearer than you think. In less than 2 hours by train you can have sand between your toes and the sea breeze in your hair.

Infographic showing beaches near London

We’ve teamed up with Trainline so you don’t need to look any further for your perfect transport and hotel combination. Get ready to pick your favourite, and be sure to book your trains in advance for extra savings.


Book in advance with Trainline and save an average 43% versus booking your train on the day.


1. Beach break in Margate

Margate is one of England’s most beautiful beach-side towns, and has recently undergone a revival to restore it to its former glory. Everything from the scenic Victorian promenades to the seafront mansions and vintage tea shops have enjoyed a wealth of regeneration, making it a perfect beach break.

turner-contemporary-Margate-Kent

Photo courtesy of Visit Britain.


London St Pancreas Int. – Margate Station

1 Hour 25 Minutes

It’s not all about the fish and chips and white sandy beaches; if the weather is being typically British, there’s plenty more to see in Margate. The world-class Turner Contemporary Gallery is right on the seafront and features a rolling programme of temporary exhibitions from all over the world.

A hidden treasure in Margate is a subterranean shell grotto; discovered by a small boy in 1835, the age and use of the grotto is still largely unknown. The mysterious series of passageways leading to a rotunda are completely covered in shell mosaics, and the overall effect is both eerie and awe-inspiring.


2. Cheeky getaway in Ramsgate

Further down the coast from Margate and a little more charming, Ramsgate is the only Royal Harbour in Britain and its busy port atmosphere gives it a bustling, energetic vibe. In a shabby-chic way, Ramsgate is also regenerating, Lonely Planet describes it as “one celebrity chef away from being described as ‘up and coming.”

ramsgate harbour

Photo courtesy of Visit Britain.

Ramsgate Main Sands is a golden sandy beach surrounded by white chalk cliffs and protected by environmental sanctions, keeping the waters clear and the beach clean.

London St Pancras Intl – Ramsgate Station

1 Hour 11 Minutes


3. Beach weekend in Folkestone

With the Highspeed line you can get from London St Pancras Intl to Folkestone in under an hour!


Since the ferry port closed in Folkestone in 2000, the city has undergone a transformation and its proximity to golden beaches, the Romney marshes and Kent’s glorious countryside make it the perfect destination for a short break from London.

visit Britain_Folkestone_Kent_beach_hotels

Photo courtesy of Visit Britain

Cobbled streets, hipster cafes and an array of galleries and boutiques make the town feel quaint and unique, with its Creative Quarter building a name for itself amongst designer-makers and specialist retailers.

London St Pancras Intl – Folkestone Central

53 Minutes


4. Getaway to Broadstairs

Broadstairs is a smaller town than its neighbouring Margate and Ramsgate, and was a favourite of Charles Dickens who often holidayed there in the 1850s and 60s. Every year the town celebrates Dicken’s week in full costume, and the Dickens House Museum is filled with fascinating Dickens memorabilia.

small-boats-on-the-beach-at-broadstairs-kent-avisitbritain-rod-edwards-1

Photo courtesy of Visit Britain.

The town has a wealth of beachfront cafes and restaurants, plus 1950s style ice cream parlours and chic boutique shops. If you want to learn to surf, head over to neighbouring Joss Bay or for smaller waves, stick to the town’s main beach, Viking Bay, where the Kent Surf School can assist you.

London St Pancras Intl – Broadstairs

1 Hour 17 Minutes


5. Foodies weekend in Whitstable

Whitstable’s main claim to fame is its oysters. Whether you get them from the harbour-side fish markets or in any of the surrounding restaurants and pubs, Whitstable’s oysters are part of the town’s character and every July the town celebrates the Oyster Festival.

whitstable-oyster-festival-2

Photo courtesy of Visit Britain.

Whitstable beach is a pebble beach, with a promenade along the coast so that long walks towards Tankerton, can take in the views without risking injury on the stones. There’s also a chance you will catch views of Whitstable’s skyline from ‘The Street’, a stretch of shingle that only reveals itself at low tide.

Whether it’s culture you’re looking for, or simply to spend a weekend incognito amongst cobbled lanes and coastal paths, Whitstable tends to win over all its guests.

London St Pancras Intl- Whitstable

1 Hour 11 Minutes


6. Beach walks in Hastings

Hastings’ summer pier has just undergone a £14 million renovation, and alongside this there’s a new cookery school and film festival as well as artisan shops, and farmer’s markets. Hastings is a seaside town that has become cool.

Visit_Britian_Hastings_East_Sussex_Beach_Hotels

Photo courtesy of Visit Britain.

The shopping is linked by Twittens (lanes) with boutique clothes shops, flower shops, specialist cheese shops, and of course chic restaurants.

London St Pancras Intl – Hastings

1 Hour 23 Minutes


7. White cliffs and beaches in Dover

Of all the seaside resorts that saw some decay in the later years of the twentieth century, Dover probably suffered the most. But for those who can look beyond the shabby there is plenty of chic to be had.

Visit_Britain_Dover_Beach_#~Hotels

Photo courtesy of Visit Britain.

The iconic white cliffs that so many consider a symbol of home are just a short walk away, there’s a sprawling 2000-year-old castle strategically placed on a hill above Dover and of course the nearby Dover Harbour, Shakespeare Beach and, a little further along, Lyddon Spout.

London St Pancras Intl – Dover Priory

1 Hour 5 Minutes