Bristol is the biggest city in the West Country. There are so many incredible things to do here, including admiring street art, going on board the SS Great Britain and feasting on its amazing food scene.
But Bristol is a city of half a million people, and sometimes, especially during a heatwave, everyone needs to get out of the city centre.
Luckily, there are dozens of beaches near Bristol, where you can take in the fresh sea air and enjoy a fun holiday atmosphere.
Whether you’re looking for somewhere for a sunbathe and swim in the summer, or want to go for a wintery walk in the cooler months, you’ll find a stretch of sand to love in this list of Bristol beaches!
Beaches near Bristol in Somerset
Bristol has a border with North Somerset at the Clifton Suspension Bridge, so some of these Somerset beaches are really close to the city – in fact, Clevedon is sometimes considered to be part of Somerset itself.
Uphill Beach, Somerset
How to get there: 44 minutes by road, or take a train from Bristol Temple Meads to Weston Super Mare (34 minutes) and walk from there or change to the number 20 bus to Uphill.
The laid-back beach atmosphere at Uphill Beach is a place to go to escape the crowds. Because even on one of England’s rare hot days, this beach feels off-the-beaten-track.
Most visitors settle at the adjacent Weston Beach. However, the north end of the beach is for those savvy enough to seek a prime spot on the coast.
Grassy dunes behind you and views of boats cruising in the Bristol Channel set the setting for your day at the beach.
Weston Bay creeps far up the flat beach like a runway guiding you into the refreshing waters.
Sand Bay, Somerset
How to get there: 40 minutes by road, or take a train from Bristol Temple Meads to Weston Super Mare (34 minutes) and change to the number 1 bus to Sand Bay Beach.
Experience the natural charm of Sand Bay Beach.
The undeveloped sand strip has become quite popular for beach recreation. The tide washes away footsteps as it washes on the marble-coloured sands.
The coastline arcs around Sand Bay with beachfront resorts on one end and quieter shores on the other.
Beachgoers to Sand Bay include everyone from families enjoying a holiday beach retreat, couples going for an afternoon walk, and locals walking their pets on the beach.
Go for a dip in the bay, then dry off with a hike on the Sandbay Circular loop trail.
Kilve Beach, Somerset
How to get there: 1 hour 14 minutes by car. No feasible public transport route.
Pebble jump across Kilve Beach, one of the most unique beaches around Bristol.
Nestled in the Quantock Hills, one of the best day trips from Bristol, this is a pebbled beach – large rocks and boulders dominate this slice of Somerset’s Jurrasic Coast (not to be confused with the Jurassic Coast in Dorset and Devon!).
Kilve Beach awaits to prove that there’s beauty found in every stone.
Trek the West Somerset Coast Path with waterfront views en route to Kilve Beach.
Stones unturned hold undiscovered fossils as you unknowingly step over to reach the bay shores.
Explore shallow rock pools dotting the shore, best sniffed out by dogs on this pet-friendly beach near Bristol.
Porlock Weir, Somerset
How to get there: 1 hour 49 minutes by car. No feasible public transport route.
Porlock Weir has a population of fewer than 1,500 people, but the beach season gets a slight swell with the number of visitors.
The quaint beachside village boasts shops established in cottages once housing the early fishing families. White masts of ships bobbing in the harbour welcome you to the Porlock Bay coast.
Feel the soft sands of Porlock Weir beach as you walk barefoot towards the bay.
Then, climb into a kayak or paddleboard to cruise the shoreline.
Later, return to the beach to sit in the sand with views looking out towards Hurlstone Point.
Minehead Beach, Somerset
How to get there: 1 hour 35 minutes by car. Or, take the train from Bristol to Taunton (about 35 minutes) and change to the number 28 bus to Minehead.
Minehead Beach is a tranquil slice of seaside near Bristol along the Bristol Channel.
Plan a stay at a holiday resort or a wellness retreat at Minehead Beach—a popular resort beach with fun perks around town like adventure golf and arcades.
The broad beach gives space for everyone’s beach pleasure.
Bring a frisbee or football to toss around and make splashing catches in the sea.
Grainy sand texture makes constructing elaborate sandcastles a breeze.
You could even start at the trailhead marker for the South West Coast to begin a journey on the longest national trail in the country!
Clevedon Beach, Somerset
How to get there: 30 minutes by road, or take the X7 bus from Bristol City Centre.
The Victorian era is prominent in Clevedon, from the Victorian architecture seen when arriving in town to the Victorian pier as you make your way towards the coast.
This iconic pier is a photographer’s favourite, whether capturing shots from the shore or gazing out into Clevedon Bay.
Relax on the sloping beach serenaded by music from performers on the Clevedon Promenade. Then, step over tiny pebbles to make your way into the water for swimming and other water activities.
How to get there: 1 hour by car. No public transport.
You’ll have plenty of beach to yourself wherever you lay your towel on the seven-mile-long Brean Beach.
Walk past the bucket-sculpted sandcastles and sunbathers already soaking up the sun.
Views of dunes in the background meet with expansive coastline along the Bristol Channel.
Ripples wave across the water surface as you splash around in the steady waters of the channel.
Brean Beach is easily accessible, with lots of beach parking available.
Weston-Super-Mare Beach, Somerset
How to get there: 40 minutes by road, or there’s a direct train link (34 minutes).
The coastal town of Weston-Super-Mare has earned a bit of a bad reputation in previous years, but it’s still worth visiting, if not due to its accessibility.
—eye level on the flat beach or panoramic views atop the Weston Wheel. This bayside strip of golden sand extends two miles long and is lined with a lively promenade.
Chow down on a basket of fish and chips while strolling the promenade and admiring the famous pier, home to lots of thrilling rides and food stalls.
You might happen upon one of the local music or arts festivals. Prepare to get sandy as you walk on the broad beach en route to going for a dip in the bay.
This is one of the best beaches to visit from Bristol by public transport – you can take trains from Weston Super Mare to Bristol Temple Meads.
Burnham on Sea, Somerset
How to get there: 44 minutes by road. No feasible public transport.
Since the 18th century, Burnham on Sea has attracted England’s beachgoers seeking an escape to a seaside resort town.
Be a part of the beach crowd still enjoying the shores of one of the nice beaches near Bristol generations later.
The award-winning Burnham on Sea has its busy season from May 1st to September 30th.
Lifeguards monitor people on the beach or enjoying the water.
Sunbathers layout in the maple brown sands while others play watersports in Bridgewater Bay. It’s also home to the shortest pier in Britain!
Watchet Harbour, Somerset
How to get there: 1 hour 20 minutes by road, or take a train from Bristol Temple Meads to Taunton (35 minutes) and change to the number 28 bus to Watchet.
The sounds of chatty seabirds and water rushing from boats as they rev up their engines are part of the English coastal charm of Watchet Harbour.
With upwards of 30,000 tourists visiting this seaside village during the peak summer months, it’s a lively beach atmosphere that you’ll surely enjoy.
Reminisce on the town’s maritime history while tanning on the shore or feel the cooling waters of the channel.
Keep a sharp eye while patrolling the cliffs at Helwell Bay for fossils, or stroll the walkway of the Watchet Marina for coastal views set behind the Ancient Mariner statue.
Bristol Beaches in South Gloucestershire
Gloucestershire isn’t that well known for beaches; as the River Severn marks most of the border, with the Severn Beach at the bottom, just before the border of Somerset.
How to get there: 25 minutes by road, or take the number 1 then the number 12 bus from Bristol centre.
The sandy shores of Severn Beach have stood the test of time to remain popular and is the closest beach to Bristol.
A direct train ride from Bristol is all it takes to arrive on the maple brown sands that cushion your feet with every step towards the water.
Hot days mean you’ll see ample people swimming in the Severn Estuary or sunbathing to views of the boat cruising into Avonmouth Docks.
Severn Beach has long been a destination for holiday resort-goers. Its nickname during the 20s to the 70s golden era, ‘The Blackpool of the West,’ still rings to this day.
Beaches near Bristol in Wales
Just over the River Severn, you’ll find a whole other country – Wales is in striking distance of Bristol, and it’s easy to reach some incredible beaches by road and rail.
Whether you want to visit the popular surfing destination of Ogmore by the Sea, or enjoy the amusement arcade and funfair rides at Barry Island (perhaps even enjoying a very British ice cream or candy floss snack!), there is plenty on offer at these beaches in Wales.
How to get there: 1 hour 15 minutes by road.
Stunning cliffs rise above the Wales coast at Southerndown, providing panoramic views from the top or shade for the beach below.
Make your way down the cliffside to reach the secluded shores. You won’t spend much time lounging on the pebble beach because you’ll miss out on experiencing a swim session in the top-quality water of Dunraven Bay. Walk the scenic shoreline and keep a keen out for fossils buried on the beach.
Southerndown is a pet-friendly beach near Brixton during the off-season from October 1st to April 30th.
How to get there: 1 hour 8 minutes by road, or take a train from Bristol to Cardiff (50 minutes) and change to a train to Barry Island.
Locals call it “Barrybados”, and while it’s not exactly Carribean-esque, there’s definitely a certain charm to Barry Island.
Colourful huts line the beachfront to create a vibrant beach setting. SUP along the coastline or go swimming. Walk along the seaside promenade at Whitmore Bay Beach to find a host of restaurants and the Barry Island Pleasure Park, with 17 rides and arcade games to play.
Later, take a Gavin and Stacey Tour to see the homes of Stacey, Doris, Uncle Bryn, and other film locations around the island of everyone’s favourite TV show.
Ogmore by the Sea, Wales
How to get there: 1 hour 11 minutes by road.
Soon after passing the Ogmore Castle on the Glamorgan Heritage Coastal Path, you’ll reach Ogmore by the Sea, one of the best sandy beaches near Bristol. Give yourself a break from urban areas and spend a beach day in a place that feels remote.
Wind along the River Ogmore estuary until it meets the sea. Jump in the fresh waters to feel the power of the current – although be careful, it’s a popular surfing spot and rips are common. You’ll see surfers wade patiently offshore at Ogmore Beach, waiting for the next wave to rip!
The dune and grassy hill backdrop complement the seaside setting.
Rest Bay, South Wales
How to get there: 1 hour 12 minutes by road.
Slip on your wetsuit and head out for a surf at Rest Bay.
It’s one of the trendiest hotspots for surfers, regardless of your skill level. So, whether it’s your first time on the water or a seasoned pro, you’ll have a splashing good time at Rest Bay.
Surfers line Rest Bay, taking turns riding the large waves rolling in from the Atlantic Ocean.
Local surfing schools help first-timers achieve their first ride. Or enjoy beachfront views on the golf course at Royal Porthcawl Golf Club.
Beaches Near(ish) Bristol in Devon
Devon is a bit of a drive from Bristol for a day trip, but if you’ve got the time, you’ll find some of the South West’s best beaches. Exmouth, in particular, is a glorious sandy beach with towering red cliffs.
Exmouth Beach, Devon
How to get there: 1 hour 30 minutes by road, or take a train from Bristol Temple Meads to Exeter St Davids (1 hour 20 minutes) and change to a train to Exmouth (about 30 minutes).
The rugged Jurassic Coast shocks you with the two-mile-long Exmouth Beach. The UNESCO world heritage destination is just one of the accolades that qualify it as one of the top sandy beaches near Bristol.
Exmouth Beach kicks off the Jurassic Coast with golden sand slopping gently into the sea.
One of the closest beaches to Exeter, it’s an accessible beach, with plenty of parking right by the sands, and it sits opposite Dawlish Warren Beach.
Swim across the bay in the high-quality waters well-deserving of the Blue Flag Award. Kayaking, kite surfing, and stand-up paddle boarding are always favourite things to do at Exmouth Beach. Dogs are welcome in the winter.
Exmouth is a lovely seaside town, with a selection of restaurants and plenty of attractions including the scenic estuary and the National Trust-run A La Ronde, a 16 sided house!
Other beaches in the West Country
These West Country beaches are a bit too far as day trips from Bristol, but they could make nice overnight trips!
- Fistral Beach: Situated in Newquay, this golden sandy beach has massive waves, and you’ll usually see beginner, intermediate and advanced surfers taking to the waves here.
- Woolacombe Beach: An award-winning beach in North Devon, this is a popular surf spot and glorious place to spend a summer’s day.
- Croyde Beach: One of the best surf beaches in the country, Croyde Beach is quite small, but many watersports clubs have their bases here.
Bristol’s beaches FAQs
What is the nearest sandy beach to Bristol?
Severn Beach is the nearest sandy beach to Bristol.
How far is Bristol from the beach?
Bristol is about 15 miles/ 25 kilometres to the nearest beach.
Are there any nice beaches near Bristol?
Yes, there are loads! Take a look at the beaches listed in this article for more information.
Is Bristol a seaside town?
No, Bristol isn’t a seaside town, but it’s less than half an hour drive to the nearest beach.
Can you swim in the sea in Bristol?
No, Bristol isn’t coastal – but it is very close to the seaside, where you can swim!
Many of these amazing beaches sit just a stone’s throw from Bristol, and they’re perfect as an affordable day trip. Whether you’re looking for a beach for walking in the winter or an attractive beach to sit on all day and even take a dip in the summer, this list should have you covered!