Beaches near London: Five of the best seaside towns less than two hours away

We’ve rounded up five of the best seaside towns, under two hours away from the capital.

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London is set to reach a sizzling 30 degrees this week, with many hoping to escape the sweltering Tube stations and busy city.

For those of you craving a weekend by the sea, there are plenty of stunning beaches within two hours of London.

We’ve rounded up five of the best seaside towns, just a short train journey away from the capital.

Margate, Kent

Margate is one of England’s most beautiful beachside 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.

Things to do

Highlights include the Turner Contemporary art gallery, retro funfair Dreamland and the Margate Caves, an 18th-century chalk mine decorated with unusual carvings and paintings.

Get there

One hour 30 minutes by train from London St Pancras to Margate; around two hours by car.

Hastings PierHastings Pier
Hastings Pier

Hastings, East Sussex

Described as the “new Brighton” Hastings is a historic seaside town with impressive views and a bubbling creative scene.

Its pier has undergone a £14 million renovation and hosts a range of enterprises from farmers markets to film festivals.

Things to do

A trip on the East Cliff railway is a must on a visit to Hastings. It’s the steepest funicular railway in Britain, running from Rock-a-Nore at the base of the cliffs to the top of the East Hill.

Other highlights include St Clements Caves, where you can learn about the town’s history of smugglers, the Shipwreck Museum and Hastings Aquarium.

Get there

One hour 30 minutes by train from London Bridge to Hastings; around 2 hours by car.

Botany Bay in KentBotany Bay in Kent
Botany Bay in Kent

Broadstairs, Kent

In Broadstairs you’ll find fishermen’s cottages, cliff top walks and independent shops lining unspoilt streets.

Although it is smaller than its neighbouring towns Margate and Ramsgate, the coastline boasts seven beaches.

Things to do

Broadstairs was Charles Dickens’ favourite holiday spot and his legacy includes Dickens House Museum and every year the town holds a Charles Dickens festival.

Other highlights include Viking Bay, which boasts gaily painted beach huts and rural Botany Bay which has photogenic chalk stacks.

Get there

One hour 40 minutes by train from London St Pancras to Broadstairs; around two hours by car.

Ramsgate, Kent

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.

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.

Things to do

Visitors should join the Ramsgate Blitz Walk, where you can visit the places and hear the stories from the front line of Britain’s heaviest bombed seaside town.

Other highlights include the Petticoat Lane Emporium, the Micro Museum and the Ramsgate Tunnels.

Get there

One hour 40 minutes from St Pancras International

Whitstable, Kent

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, this delectable gastronomical delight is part of the town’s character.

If you crave a dose of culture during your beachside getaway, or simply to spend a weekend incognito amongst cobbled lanes and coastal paths, Whitstable tends to win-over all its guests.

Things to do

A trip to pebbly Whitstable beach is a must, where you will see quaint beach huts, weatherboard cottages and fishing boats pulled up on the beach.The Old Neptune pub is also right by the water’s edge.

Other highlights include Whitstable castle, Whitstable Museum and Gallery and a trip to the Lobster Shack, for a serving of the famous Whitstable oysters.