| | |

20 best beaches near Bristol (2024 guide!)

Are you looking for beaches near Bristol? Take a look at this list of sandy shores in the South West!

The squawk of seagulls at Bristol harbour reminds locals and visitors constantly that they’re only a stone’s throw from the UK’s coastline.

But despite having a harbour, Bristol isn’t right by the sea; you’ll need to embark on a journey by car, bus or train to reach the country’s shoreline.

However, Bristol’s seafaring history and water-based culture are there for a reason; it’s not far at all from its nearest beach (Weston-super-Mare is just a half-hour drive from the centre).

I lived in the South West’s biggest city for six years, and I spent many a heatwave seeking out the closest beaches to Bristol (and found a few that were perfect for winter coastal walks!).

So, I’ve put together all of my favourite beaches around Bristol!

Whether you’re living in the city and want a coastal retreat, or are visiting and are keen to see the West Country coast while you’re here, this list has something for everyone.

From long, sandy shores to rocky coastlines that beg to be hiked on, here are the best beaches near Bristol.

Best beaches near Bristol

The best beaches near Bristol include:

  1. Uphill Beach
  2. Sand Bay
  3. Kilve Beach
  4. Porlock Weir
  5. Minehead Beach
  6. Clevedon Beach
  7. Brean Beach
  8. Weston-super-Mare
  9. Burnham-on-Sea
  10. Steart Beach
  11. Lilstock Beach
  12. Watchet Harbour
  13. Severn Beach
  14. Southerndown
  15. Barry Island
  16. Ogmore by the Sea
  17. Rest Bay
  18. Exmouth Beach
  19. Dawlish Warren
  20. Weymouth Beach

Bristol Beaches: the top 20

Here are the top 20 Bristol beaches in a little more detail!

1. Uphill Beach, Somerset

Church and tower on Uphill Hill, with cliff exposed by quarrying, on the outskirts of Weston-super-Mare

The laid-back beach atmosphere at Uphill Beach beckons when crowds populate the more popular nearby beaches.

Because even on one of England’s hottest days, this beach, sitting just two kilometres from Weston-super-Mare feels off-the-beaten-track.

Most visitors settle at the nearby Weston Beach.

However, the south end of the beach beckons those savvy enough to seek a prime spot on the coast.

Grassy dunes behind you and views of boats cruising in the Bristol Channel are a gorgeous setting for your day at the beach.

There’s not much in the way of amenities here – those are all back at Weston – but pack a picnic, spend some time exploring the dunes and Uphill Nature Reserve (it’s also the start of the Mendip Way) and bask in the knowledge that you’ve found a true West Country hidden gem!

There’s parking by the beach, or you could enjoy the short coastal walk from Weston, which has more parking and train and bus links to Bristol.

Note: This is common for lots of beaches in Somerset, but swimming’s not recommended here, due to strong currents and the world’s second-largest tidal difference (yes, really!).

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.

2. Sand Bay, Somerset

sand bay

Experience the natural charm of Sand Bay Beach.

This sand strip, north of Weston, has become quite popular for beach recreation.

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 – it’s completely dog-friendly.

Swimming’s not recommended here, but do check out the Sandbay Circular Loop Trail which travels around Sand Bay.

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.

3. Kilve Beach, Somerset

Clifftops at Kilve Beach ont he Somerset coastline

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 in every stone, each holding undiscovered fossils as you unknowingly step over to reach the bay shores.

Or, you can explore shallow rock pools dotting the shore!

The West Somerset Coast Path runs along the low cliffs, and with the rolling Quantock Hills in the background, it’s an idyllic pet-friendly beach near Bristol.

How to get there: 1 hour 14 minutes by car. No feasible public transport route.

4. Porlock Weir, Somerset

Boats in the outer harbour at Porlock Weir, Somerset England UK

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 hamlet boasts a handful of shops and restaurants established in cottages once housing the early fishing families.

Enjoy the relaxed atmosphere as you step over the pebbles of the beach.

There might not be any sand here, but Porlock Weir’s famous for its oysters, which you can try at the aptly-named “Porlock Bay Oysters“.

Later, return to the beach to sit in the sand with views looking out towards Hurlstone Point.

You can even walk to Lynmouth, Devon from here – although be wary, this is one of the most challenging South West Coast Path walks.

How to get there: 1 hour 49 minutes by car. No feasible public transport route.

5. Minehead Beach, Somerset

Minehead Somerset England UK beach and seafront towards the harbour in summer with blue sky on a beautiful day

Minehead Beach is a bustling slice of seaside near Bristol along the Bristol Channel.

Home to a Butlins Holiday Resort and countless waterfront hotels, Minehead is a popular resort beach with fun perks around town like adventure golf and arcades.

The broad beach has plenty of space for everyone!

Bring a frisbee or football to throw around or build sandcastles.

You could even start at the trailhead marker for the South West Coast Path to begin a journey on the longest national trail in the country!

Take a look at my directions for the Minehead to Porlock walk – the first walk of the South West Coast Path.

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.

6. Clevedon Beach, Somerset

Clevedon Pier in Somerset , England as the sun sets

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.

This town is right on the edge of Bristol and is often thought to be the closest beach to Bristol.

Like other beaches on the West Somerset coast, swimming should be undertaken by the experienced only – but head to Clevedon Marine Lake where there are some designated areas for water sports, including swimming!

How to get there: 30 minutes by road, or take the X7 bus from Bristol City Centre.

7. Brean, Somerset

Brean beach and Brean Down Somerset England.  Near to Brean Leisure Park and the town of Burnham on Sea.

You’ll have plenty of beach to yourself wherever you lay your towel on the seven-mile-long Brean Beach, which is located south of Weston-super-Mare.

Views of dunes in the background meet with expansive coastline along the Bristol Channel.

Brean Beach is easily accessible, with lots of beach parking available.

How to get there: 1 hour by car. No public transport.

8. Weston-Super-Mare Beach, Somerset

Taken from the beach at Weston Super-mare

The coastal town of Weston-super-Mare is super close to Bristol.

Chow down on a box of fish and chips while strolling the promenade and admiring the famous pier, home to thrilling rides and food stalls. 

You might happen upon one of the local music or arts festivals; there’s street art all over the town, and it comes alive in the summer.

Finish your day with dinner at Revo Restaurant and a game of glow-in-the-dark golf (also at Revo).

At Weston, you can see the huge tidal difference – the waves pull back to reveal mud flats at low tide.

It’s not generally thought of as a swimming beach, although some experienced bathers do take to the waters.

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. 

How to get there: 40 minutes by road, or there’s a direct train link (34 minutes).

9. Burnham on Sea, Somerset

Wooden lighthouse from 1932 standing tall on stilts at a Somerset beach

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 nicest beaches near Bristol generations later.

Swimming is possible here, although I’d only recommend it when the RNLI lifeguards are working in the summer months.

Sunbathers layout in the maple brown sands while others play watersports in Bridgewater Bay.

It’s also home to the shortest pier in Britain, at 37 metres long, and a quirky “low lighthouse”.

How to get there: 44 minutes by road. No feasible public transport.

10. Steart Peninsula

One of Somerset’s hidden gems, Steart Peninsula isn’t a beach paradise by any means, but it’s a refreshing retreat from the county’s busier coastal resorts.

Step into tranquillity as you embark on a peaceful walk through its marshy, low-lying terrain.

This place is actually buzzing with avian action – it’s a veritable playground for waterfowl and wading birds, making it an essential hotspot for bird enthusiasts.

Get up close and personal with nature at the two incredible hides where you can get in touch with your inner twitcher.

It’s not somewhere to swim or spend a day at the beach, but if you want somewhere really offbeat, Steart has a certain charm.

How to get there: 1 hour 20 minute drive, no public transport route.

11. Lilstock Beach

Lilstock Beach in Somerset, England, UK - looking over the Bristol Channel

Lilstock Beach lacks the usual creature comforts, but it’s a popular spot for anglers and geologists.

The water is murky, but fish are abundant here.

Plus, Lilstock is a treasure trove of prehistoric wonders, from ammonites to jaw-dropping ichthyosaurs.

Just remember, extracting fossils from the cliffs or bedrock is strictly forbidden—leave no trace, but take all the memories.

How to get there: 1 hour 30 minutes drive, no feasible public transport.

12. Watchet Harbour, Somerset

Watchet Quayside

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.

The ancient village has been a fishing hub for over 1,000 years, but nowadays it’s tourism-focused.

There aren’t any huge sandy beaches here, but it’s a charming fishing village (reminiscent of those in Cornwall), with a rocky shoreline at low tide.

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.

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.

13. Severn Beach

Severn Bridge Crossing UK

The sandy shores of Severn Beach have stood the test of time to remain popular and is the closest beach to Bristol.

However, to manage expectations, this is very much an estuary beach.

The sand is a little muddy, and the water is tidal, with strong currents.

But, it is super close to Bristol, and accessible by train from Bristol Temple Meads.

It was actually once a destination for holiday resort-goers, with the nickname The Blackpool of the West.

Nowadays? It’s muddy and usually not all that inviting – but it is close to Bristol.

I’m including it on this list for accessibility alone, but in all honesty I’d recommend the not-much-longer-journey to Weston-super-Mare.

How to get there: 25 minutes by road, or take a train from Bristol Temple Meads.

14. Southerndown, Wales

Aerial view of Southerndown Beach, Wales, UK

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 shores, which are part of the Glamorgan Heritage Coast – you’ll even find the Glamorgan Heritage Coast Visitor Centre nearby, where you can soak in information about this part of the Welsh coastline.

Lounge on the sandy part of the beach, or head out for a swim.

Walk the scenic shoreline and keep a keen out for fossils buried on the beach.

Southerndown is a pet-friendly beach near Bristol during the off-season from October 1st to April 30th.

How to get there: 1 hour 15 minutes by road.

 15. Barry Island

Barry Island, Wales - 6 August 2017: People walking along the promenade with the tracks from a tractor cleaning visible on the beach beach visible

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.

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.

16. Ogmore by the Sea, Wales

Sunset off the South Wales coast. Ogmore-by-Sea is a popular destination to swim and surf. A long shutter speed has been used to create a milky sea effect

Close to Southerndown on the Glamorgan Heritage Coastal Path is Ogmore-by-Sea, one of the best sandy beaches near Bristol.

Give yourself a break from urban areas and spend a beach day in a remote place.

Situated where the River Ogmore estuary meets the sea, Ogmore is a popular swimming and surfing spot (although waves are quite flat in the summer).

Don’t swim where red flags are present (ask the lifeguards if you’re unsure).

The dune and grassy hill backdrop complement the seaside setting, and the village has a handful of shops and restaurants.

How to get there: 1 hour 11 minutes by road.

17. Rest Bay, South Wales

Surfers line Rest Bay, taking turns riding the large waves rolling in from the Atlantic Ocean.

A local institution, Porthcawl Surf School, helps first-timers achieve their first ride.

Or enjoy beachfront views on the golf course at Royal Porthcawl Golf Club.

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.

There are also miles of golden sand and low cliffs to walk on; so there’s plenty of everyone at one of the best beaches for surfing near Bristol.

How to get there: 1 hour 12 minutes by road.

18. Exmouth Beach, Devon

Jurassic Rocks at Orcombe Point, Exmouth, Devon

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.

Kayaking, kite surfing, and stand-up paddle boarding are always favourite things to do at Exmouth Beach.

Dogs are welcome in the winter (or on parts of it in the summer months!).

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!  

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).

Dawlish Warren Beach

Dawlish Warren Beach

Located in Devon, across the River Exe from Exmouth, the sandy paradise of Dawlish Warren is calling your name.

Unlike Somerset beaches, Dawlish is popular with swimming and has the prestigious Blue Flag status, given thanks to its pristine bathing water and safety.

Whether you choose to hop in your car for a 1-hour 45-minute drive or prefer the scenic train route (just one change at Exeter St Davids), this hidden gem is within easy reach.

And hold your breath for a bonus treat: en route, discover the awe-inspiring beauty of “the most beautiful railway in England,” as hailed by The Guardian.

It was also where Isambard Kingdom Brunel (architect of Bristol’s Clifton Suspension Bridge and SS Great Britain!) built his atmospheric steam railway, which ultimately failed.

Plus, make a pit stop at the enchanting Powderham Castle to add a touch of history to your adventure, or pop into the nearby towns of Dawlish or Teignmouth.

How to get there: 1 hour 45 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 Dawlish Warren (about 20 minutes).

20. Weymouth Beach

Dorset weymouth harbour at sunset, England, UK

Get ready to make a splash at Weymouth Beach, the ultimate family-friendly paradise on England’s Jurassic Coast.

Dive into safe, shallow waters which boast the prestigious Blue Flag Award.

It’s also a popular place with water sports, with kayakers and SUPers dotting the horizon on a summer’s day.

Lifeguards are on duty from May to September, ensuring peace of mind for all.

On land, enjoy traditional Punch and Judy shows, putt your way to victory at the crazy golf course or indulge your inner child at the funfair.

Need a pit stop? With convenient facilities like toilets, cafes, and shops in the busy town of Weymouth, you’ll have everything you need at your fingertips.

Accessibility is key here, with wheelchair access and even a free beach wheelchair for hire.

How to get there: there’s a direct train from Bristol Temple Meads, or you can hit the road and arrive in just over 2 hours.

Other beaches in the West Country

Fistral beach, Cornwall, South West England in summer.

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

Jurassic Rocks at Orcombe Point, Exmouth, Devon

What is the nearest sandy beach to Bristol?

The nearest sandy beach to Bristol is Severn Beach, located on the eastern side of the Severn Estuary – although it’s more muddy than sandy at times!

Other nearby beaches include Weston-super-Mare, Brean and Clevedon.

How far is Bristol from the beach?

Bristol is approximately 15 miles (24 kilometers) away from the nearest beach, Severn Beach.

This short distance makes it a convenient option for residents and visitors of Bristol to enjoy a seaside getaway without having to travel far – although there are much nicer beaches further south in Somerset, in Wales and in Devon and Dorset.

Are there any nice beaches near Bristol?

Yes, there are several nice beaches near Bristol that are worth exploring.

Apart from Severn Beach, other nearby beaches include Weston-super-Mare, Brean Sands, and Sand Bay.

Each of these beaches has its own charm and attractions, ranging from traditional seaside fun to picturesque coastal walks.

Is Bristol a seaside town?

No, Bristol is not a seaside town itself.

However, it benefits from its close proximity to the coast, with Severn Beach being the nearest seaside location.

This allows residents and visitors of Bristol to enjoy the best of both worlds, with the vibrant city atmosphere and the coastal delights just a short distance away.

Can you swim in the sea in Bristol?

No, you cannot swim in the sea directly in Bristol since it is not a coastal city.

However, being close to the seaside, there are plenty of opportunities for swimming in the sea at nearby beaches such as Weston-super-Mare, Brean Sands, and other coastal areas within a short drive from Bristol.

Are you keen to check out the best Bristol beaches?

Many of these amazing beaches sit just a stone’s throw from Bristol, and they’re perfect for 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! 

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *