What a line-up! These beaches are officially the most picture-perfect in the UK, according to their popularity on Instagram. Chrissy Harris finds out why they deserve their elevated social media standing.

Durdle Door beach, Dorset

Having an iconic Portland limestone arch certainly helps to draw the crowds (and their smartphones) to this stand-out spot on the west Dorset coast.

If you’re in these parts, you have to pay a visit. The only trouble is, lots of people will probably have the same idea, especially in the summer. If you want a more uninterrupted view, visit between September and May when it’s a lot quieter.

Durdle Door and its pair of shingle beaches are at the foot of a steep path, followed by a set of wooden steps. Those in the know pack light to do this well-trodden 15-minute walk from the South West Coast Path down to the beaches (Durdle Door to the west and Man O’ War Cove to the east).

Once you’re there, spare a thought for the people still making their way down carrying kids, grannies, chairs, kites, buckets, spades, enough food for two meals etc.


Make time for the world-famous 10,000-year-old arch. Durdle Door was formed from a layer of hard limestone standing almost vertically out of the sea. It forms part of the Jurassic Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Swimming at Durdle Door can be dangerous. The beach shelves steeply and there is a strong under-tow. And take care on the shoreline. Sudden large waves can engulf people at the water’s edge.

Take a look at our Devon hotels for some travel inspiration!

Kynance Cove, Cornwall

Turquoise waters, white sands and dark serpentine rocks combine to make this magical place truly pretty as a picture. Many artists, photographers, filmmakers and other creative types have been inspired to capture the beauty of Kynance, located on the west side of the Lizard Peninsula.

Kynance Cove, looked after by the National Trust, was used as a backdrop for an episode of the BBC’s Poldark series (the one where Ross was marched to Truro jail), as well as providing endless aerial shots of clifftop riding scenes.

The drama here is everywhere though, whether you’re a Poldark fan or not. At low tide (watch out for high tide) you can explore the towering rock stacks and interconnected caves named by the Victorians. Topping choices include The Parlour, The Drawing Room and Ladies’ Bathing Pool.


Enjoy a spot of lunch. There’s been a beach café at Kynance Cove since 1927, probably because there’s no better place in the world to enjoy a crab sandwich or a locally sourced Cornish pasty (the excellent Ann’s Pasties in Helston).


The name Kynance derives from the Cornish ‘kewnans’ meaning ravine. A stream cuts through the valley and across the beach.

Sennen Cove, Cornwall

Another proper Cornish gem that hits you with a big dose of sea, surf and sunshine, if you time it right. Sennen beach (known as Whitesands Bay) is Cornwall’s most westerly surfing hotspot. Pros and beginners are drawn to the reliably awesome waves that roll in here from the Atlantic. Swimmers also love it and there is safe bathing within the flagged areas on the lifeguarded section of the beach. It’s great for families, too.


Pop into the pub for a pint. The 17th century First and Last Inn gained a notorious reputation as a headquarters for smugglers and wreckers. The inn is said to have a resident ghost.


The award-winning Sennen Surfing centre is one of the longest running surf schools in the UK. There are a variety of lessons and courses on offer and discounts for large groups, families, schools, colleges and community projects.

Take a look at our Cornwall hotels for some travel inspiration!

Three Cliffs Bay, Swansea

More evidence that the best beaches come to those who wait. You have to park and stride (trek) to Three Cliffs but it’s totally worth the effort. This photogenic spot at Gower, Swansea, is scenic, sandy beach, backed by three limestone cliffs. The shoreline is sand dunes, salt marsh and rock pools with Pennard Pill stream running through the beach.

It gets pretty wild here, so watch the strong tides and currents, even if you’re just splashing around on the shoreline.

Horses and their riders often enjoy a good gallop on the beach and climbers love the challenge of the cliffs. If that sounds like too much energy, a sandwich on the sand will do just fine.


No visit to three cliffs would be complete without stopping by one of the viewpoints. The first is marked by two benches and large wooden shell-shaped carving. The second can be reached from the grassy headland.


The southerly facing Three Cliffs makes it a great place to see the Milky Way (visible from March to late September in the UK).

Take a look at our Wales hotels for some travel inspiration!

Holkham Beach, Norfolk

The sheer expanse of Holkham will make you want to kick your shoes off and run free. Massive skies and miles of golden sands make this an ideal peak season beach visit because you’ll always be able to find a spot to throw down the picnic blanket. In July, you’ll be able to see the impressive sight of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment on their summer break. The Knightsbridge-based Army unit go on a regular beach ride at Holkham where the normally immaculate horses and riders get to enjoy some R’n’R beside the seaside.


Visit Holkham Hall. The Palladian-style mansion was built by Thomas Coke, the first Earl of Leicester, between 1734 and 1764. It’s a thriving estate under the eighth Earl. Children can make the most of the high ropes course and woodland play area, while the grown-ups enjoy a scone and cup of tea in one of the cafés.


The beach is part of the Holkham Nature Reserve, so it’s incredibly well looked after. The diverse landscape – windswept tidelines, grazing marshes, creaks, dunes and saltmarsh – are home to a rich variety of wildlife.

Take a look at our Norfolk hotels for some travel inspiration!

Rhossili Bay, Swansea 

Another contender for the best beach in the Gower crown. Rhossili Bay, once described as ‘the supermodel of British beaches’ by The Independent, is a permanent fixture in any top beaches list. The three-mile expanse of coastal beauty is famous for several landmarks, including the Gower’s famous Worm’s Head, a serpent-shaped tidal island just off the coast.

When the tide goes out, the remains of the Norwegian Helvetia, shipwrecked here in 1887, can be seen on the beach. The hull of the ship still protrudes from the surface of the sand.

Surfers and other watersporty-types love it here for the Atlantic swell and sheer amount of space to kitesurf, parasail and even hang glide.


Have your spirits truly lifted by the sight of some 400,000 sunflowers, planted in Rhossili Vile, an example of medieval strip farming. The Rhossili sunflowers have become a social media sensation in their own right.


Spot a bit of Devon. On a clear day there are fine views of Lundy Island, just off the coast of Ilfracombe in North Devon.

Filey Beach, Yorkshire

Filey’s five-mile stretch of sandy beach is great for a full-on family day out with all the traditional seaside trimmings – sandcastle building, rockpooling, fish and chips and ice-creams and a walk along the prom, prom, prom. This place will take you right back to a simpler time.


Walk along Filey Brigg, a long narrow peninsula jutting out into the North Sea. The cliffs are 20m high and will give you the best over Filey and down the coast to Scarborough.


Load up on bacon barms (or butties/batches/cobs – depending on your bread roll lingo) at the Sunrise Snacks kiosk.

Take a look at our Yorkshire hotels for some travel inspiration!

Southwold Pier beach, Suffolk

Another kiss-me-quick, traditional seaside experience. The beach-hut lined promenade and famous 190-metre-long pier make this a favourite with visitors all year round. A boating lake, model yacht pond, tearooms, gift shops magic mirrors and more add to the nostalgia of a place that’ll delight the generations.


Go under the pier. Southwold Pier is the home to some utterly eccentric amusements created by the engineer Tim Hunkin.


The model boat pond next to the pier is used for Southwold Model Yacht regattas, held since the late Victorian period. Some of the boats entered are up to 80 years old and include replicas of beach yawls.

Take a look at our Suffolk hotels for some travel inspiration!

Luskentyre Sands, Harris

Going to the Outer Hebrides for your beach fix takes some doing but boy is this one worth the effort – a proper mindblower. Luskentye Sands is one of the largest and most spectacular beaches on Harris with miles of white sand and stunning green-blue water. You’ll think you’ve been transported to another dimension. Scenery includes vast sand dunes and the island of Taransay, famous for being the setting of the BBC’s Castaway series.


Take a dip. The sea is shallow for a good distance, so it’s perfect for bathing – if you can brave the temperature. The Hebrides are well known for having chilly seas at all times of the year, even in the height of summer.


Bring food. If you haven’t got a picnic, it’s 11 miles to Tarbert, which has a couple of small shops, as well as a cafe in the Harris Distillery.

Keen to visit the Hebrides? You’ll love our island hop expedition cruise.

Aldeburgh Beach, Suffolk

This unspoilt stretch of pebble and shingle coastline with sandy areas near the shore is still a working beach, where fishermen pull up their boats and sell their catch from small huts.

There’s a wide, open promenade at beach level, passing many of Aldeburgh’s attractions, including The Moot Hall, a 16th century Tudor building that houses the town’s museum.


Just south of the beach at Aldeburgh is Orford Ness, an internationally important coastal nature reserve and former military testing site. Top secret experiments were conducted across both World Wars and into the nuclear age. It’s now looked after by the National Trust. Visitors are welcome on certain days from Easter onwards.


The coastline here inspired the music that made Aldeburgh resident Benjamin Britten one of the greatest composers of the 20th century.

Blackpool Sands, Devon

One of South Devon’s most beautiful beaches (and that’s saying something) Blackpool Sands glows like a tropical paradise. The beach – more shingle than sand, actually – is backed by evergreens and scented pines. Spirits are immediately lifted when you see it for the first time, usually after a complex journey through some tight turns and narrow roads.


Pay a visit to a secret garden. Nearby Blackpool Gardens, established in 1896, has been brought back to life over the past 23 years. Gently sloping paths criss-cross through the trees and shrubs, offering glimpses of the sea. Visit the Crow’s Nest and the Captain’s Seat for spectacular views of Start Bay.


Blackpool Sands hosts various events in the summer for the whole family. This year’s entertainment includes a music festival and a rockpool ramble.

Barafundle Bay Beach, Pembrokeshire

A sparkling jewel from every angle, Barafundle Bay is a real gem on the Pembroke coast. The beach, managed by the National Trust, is accessible only via the coast path and there are some steep dips and stairs before you reach your rather lovely destination.


Much of the land in this area forms part of the Stackpole Estate, and includes the nearby Bosherston Lily Ponds, a wildlife haven famous for its otters, wildfowl and dragonflies.


Sharks are regularly spotted off the Pembrokeshire coast. Species include blue sharks and basking sharks.

Luxury travel company The Thinking Traveller recently researched and compiled a list of the most Instagrammable beaches in the UK. See thethinkingtraveller.com.