Are you searching for the best beaches in Somerset?
While this southwest county doesn’t have quite the same allure when it comes to beachy holidays as nearby Devon and Cornwall, there’s an assortment of beaches on the west side of Somerset, and as the coast bends and it peters into Exmoor National Park the beaches become wilder and even more fascinating!
I used to live in Bristol so visited Weston and surrounding beaches a lot; and nowadays, I live in Devon so often head to Exmoor and the Quantocks to check out the Somerset beaches there.
So, whether you’re looking for seaside amusements on Weston Beach or amazing views overlooking Exmoor’s epic cliffs, read all about the best Somerset beaches in this post!
Best beaches in Somerset!
The best beaches in Somerset include Weston, Brean Beach, Burnham-on-Sea, Watchet Harbour, Kilve Beach, Minehead and Porlock Weir in Exmoor.
Some of these have strong currents and vast tidal differences (they’re all on the Bristol Channel) which makes swimming and water sports challenging, but each offers its own charming attractions such as walks, exciting amusements or even fossil hunting.
A popular family-friendly beach in striking distance of Bristol, Weston-super-Mare Beach has buckets of fun for all ages.
Sprawling two miles along the Bristol Channel, this beach is expansive, and it’s landmarked by attractions like the famous pier and the popular Revo Kitchen restaurant.
Bristol Channel has one of the largest tidal differences in the world, meaning that an expansive stretch of sand that emerges during low tide – perfect for sandcastles!
However, this does make swimming a bit difficult. “People do still go swimming here”, staff at Visit Weston told me when I enquired on a recent visit “but it’s important to be mindful of the tidal changes”.
Plus, upon research, I noticed that the water quality was rated “poor” and people were generally not advised to swim.
However, that doesn’t mean that Weston’s not worth visiting. The iconic pier stretches right onto the sand and is packed with thrilling rides and arcade games.
There’s also plenty more on offer in town, including street art, indoor facilities like rock climbing and bowling and a wonderfully well-kept museum.
If you’re looking for a friendly, easy-to-reach (there are some direct trains from London and plenty from Bristol) beach, Weston could be your answer!
Sitting at the end of Weston-super-Mare beach (and the official start of the Mendip Way), I personally prefer Uphill.
It’s a much quieter beach than Weston’s main sprawl – especially during the summer months – and while swimming here still isn’t advised (bad water quality and tidal difference still come into play!), it feels a lot more natural than Weston.
That being said, it’s not as close to the town’s amenities and facilities!
From the sands at Uphill Beach, you can admire views over Steep Holm Island and journey inland on the walking trail of the Mendip Way; it’s at the start of the Mendip Hills.
One of the closest beaches to Bristol, Clevedon is a pebbly affair that runs from the Victorian-esque coastal suburb.
It sits along the River Severn, which means that the currents are quite strong and the tidal difference is vast (similar to Weston-super-Mare).
Generally, swimming isn’t advised, unless you have experience in similar conditions.
However, Clevedon Pier is well worth visiting.
Described as “The most beautiful pier in England” by Sir John Betjeman, Clevedon Pier has coastal views, fishing opportunities, The Glass Box restaurant and The Pagoda Cafe.
Beautiful Portishead is famous for its charming harbour, with ocean-based family-friendly attractions including an outdoor swimming pool and boating lake.
The beach is more muddy and rocky; it’s not a postcard-perfect sandy beach, and swimming here isn’t advised, but its proximity to Bristol (and Bath!) makes it worth a visit!
One of the longest beaches in England, Brean Beach stretches for a whopping seven miles.
Again, it’s home to the vast tidal difference; at low tide, you’ll find huge mud pools! It’s not recommended to venture out to the sea at low tide, as you can literally get stuck in the mud!
However, the huge golden expanse of sand is a wonderful place to explore!
It’s a well-facilitated beach, with parking, toilets and a cafe.
For history buffs, there’s even a 19th-century fort and Roman temple on the stretch of beach!
Sitting south of Brean, Berrow Beach is also a vast and lovely beach, encompassing six miles along the coastline.
It’s a mix of sand and mud flats and is largely flat with sand dunes in the background.
You could walk to either Brean or Burnham on Sea!
Burnham on Sea
A charming coastal town that’s backed with Victorian and Edwardian buildings, Burnham on Sea grew at around the same time as Weston-super-Mare.
Weston-super-Mare’s popularity overtook Burnham-on-Sea, but that means that today it’s much quieter, with a relaxing atmosphere.
That being said, there is a Haven holiday park close by, so it’s not so much a hidden gem!
There are plenty of restaurants and cafes along this stretch of coast, along with all the amenities that you’d expect in a bustling seaside town!
It’s a staggeringly beautiful beach for a walk; the low cliffs run alongside the gently lapping waves, and the beach is ideal for beachcombing and looking for fossils!
It’s not a vast sandy stretch for a beach day by any means, but there are plenty of rock pools here where you can see some of the Bristol Channel‘s best wildlife!
The ancient harbour town of Watchet is one of the most scenic in Somerset, with vistas over the Bristol Channel – on a clear day, you can see Wales!
With a fascinating 1,000 years of history, Watchet is home to historic cottages and pubs, along with an ancient harbour where boats bob on the bright blue waters.
This beach is part of Somerset’s Jurassic Coast (which is different to Devon’s and Dorset’s Jurassic Coast!), so you can find a range of fascinating fossils when you walk along the coastline here!
While it’s a stunning spot by the sea, Watchet Beach isn’t a vast sandy stretch; you’ll need to head to Minehead for some serious beach time.
The beach is quite rocky, and it disappears at high tide.
Tides can come in very quickly too, so it’s important to be fully aware of the tide times while you’re exploring!
Sprawling across the southwest peninsula’s northern coastline to Exmoor National Park, Minehead Beach is a popular spot with local holidaymakers.
Minehead is a comparatively large town (with around 11,000 people) and one of Somerset’s main beach resorts; at a mile long, it’s dotted with beach cafes and mini golf courses.
There’s even a huge Butlins resort here!
It’s possible to swim in the bay (it’s safer to swim here than on beaches further west, as the bay is sheltered), and there are also watersports rentals on the beach too!
Looking for quiet beaches in Somerset? Head down to Bossington!
Located between Minehead and Porlock, Bossington is usually only visited by hikers completing the first section of the South West Coast Path.
It’s a pebble beach (which also makes it not that popular!), but it basks in surrounding picturesque hills and is backed by rolling farmland fields.
The natural surroundings that Bossington’s in are certainly beautiful, and the beach has its own staggeringly beautiful ecosystem too; there’s marshland here, along with the settlements for bird and insect life.
You’ll also find historic lime kilns and World War II Pillboxes.
The beach is run by the National Trust, and there are public toilets to use and a cafe.
Don’t swim here – even if it looks tempting – the currents are strong in this part of the Bristol Channel, so it’s not advised!
Bossington Village is a typical English rural village with gorgeous thatched-roof cottages.
Immerse yourself in the allure of Porlock Beach, one of Somerset’s well-kept secrets.
While Porlock Village entices tourists with its rustic charm and picturesque campsites, you’ll need to head a mile and a half to enjoy this picturesque beach on the Exmoor coastline.
Porlock Weir boasts a serene and secluded shoreline, granting visitors breathtaking views that stretch across the Bristol Channel and back towards the majestic Exmoor National Park.
The name “Porlock Weir” pays homage to the weir row of stakes that were once driven into the beach, serving as a vital component in the salmon-catching process during high tide.
While fishing activities have diminished over time due to the perilous currents between Lynmouth and Minehead, the remnants of this historical practice still permeate the atmosphere.
It’s well-known for its oysters, with Porlock Bay Oysters being a farm sitting within the harbour. You can pop in and grab some of their local oysters at their shop!
For those with an adventurous spirit, Porlock Weir presents the opportunity to traverse a historic smugglers’ path or meander through the surrounding fields which ultimately lead to Porlock.
Porlock Weir also provides a gateway to the awe-inspiring South West Coast Path; although I personally consider the particular section it is on, that leads to Lynmouth, to be one of the most challenging!
The other way it leads to Minehead, which is the official start of the South West Coast Path.
I wouldn’t recommend Porlock Weir for a swim – as tempting as it may look – due to the strong currents and the fact that there’s no active lifeguard.
FAQs about visiting Somerset’s beaches
Does Somerset have nice beaches?
Somerset’s not as well-known for its seaside spots as places like Cornwall and Devon, but there’s still plenty to enjoy here! From the busy Weston-super-Mare to the quiet Porlock Weir, Somerset’s natural beaches are ideal for nature lovers or anyone looking for bucket and spade fun!
Does Somerset have sandy beaches?
Somerset does have sandy beaches, although you’ll also find mud flats along the Bristol Channel.
While some areas like Weston-super-Mare may have mud and silt due to the tidal differences, there are plenty of sandy stretches too!
Can you swim on Somerset beaches?
Swimming is possible at select Somerset beaches, but consider factors like tidal movements and water quality; it’s usually inadvisable to swim in Weston and Uphill due to the poor water and vast tidal differences!
Some beaches are lifeguarded, which makes them safer and easier to access. Also, remember that swimming in UK waters is often rather chilly!
How many beaches are there in Somerset?
Somerset has a range of beaches, from the coastline near Bristol to the northern coastline on the South West peninsula.
Popular beaches include Weston-super-Mare, Burnham-on-Sea, Minehead, Watchet, and Porlock Weir.
What are the best beaches near Taunton?
While Taunton itself is inland, there are appealing beaches within reach for day trips. Kilve Beach on the Quantocks Coastline showcases natural beauty, and for those willing to travel a bit farther, Exmouth in Devon and Lyme Regis in Dorset are popular coastal destinations near Taunton.
Are you ready to explore the best Somerset beaches?
A trove of fossils at your fingertips, rock pooling opportunities, a vast expanse of sand to run around or bucket-and-spade fun and amusement arcades at your fingertips…
Somerset’s shores connected this region to the rest of the world for thousands of years, and you can step right into it – and enjoy some family-friendly fun – by exploring the coastline!