7 fabulous coastal breaks in South East England

by Jan

Today I want to share 7 fabulous coastal breaks in South East England.

Whether you’re thinking of a family weekend stay at the seaside or a romantic minibreak on the South Coast, we have something for you.

Our guide to coastal breaks in South East England features some of our favourite seaside towns in Kent, Sussex, and East Dorset.  And they are all within easy reach of London and Surrey.

So, if you are looking for a weekend getaway, here’s our guide to 7 fabulous coastal breaks in South East England.

Whitstable, Kent

First on our list of coastal breaks in South East England is Whitstable in Kent.  This charming harbour town has become very hip and is one of the top destinations for day-trippers from London.  Whitstable has a delightful harbour, contemporary art scene and world-class oysters.

Whitstable Harbour Fishing boat, Kent

Things to do on a weekend break in Whitstable

The first thing to do on a getaway to Whitstable is a tour of the harbour.  Whitstable is a working port, and you can still see the fishing boats in action.  It’s famous for its oysters, and you can’t get much fresher than here.  Afterwards, have a mooch round Whitstable Harbour Market, with its eclectic range of artisan goods.

Although Whitstable beach isn’t sandy, it’s a pleasant walk along the seafront to the colourful beach huts at Tankerton.  You can stop for a cream tea at Whitstable Castle on the way back.

No trip to Whitstable would be complete without a photo of the very instagrammable Wheelers Oyster bar.  Plus, leave some time for a trip to the shops in Harbour Street.

Click here for more information about how to spend a weekend in Whitstable.

Rye, East Sussex

The next town on our list of best coastal breaks in the South East England is Rye.  Rye is one of the quaintest towns in East Sussex and is perfect for a weekend getaway.  The medieval town has cobbled streets, half-timbered houses, and historic pubs.

View of old houses, cobble street, Mermaid Street, Rye, Sussex

Things to do on a weekend break in Rye

Start your weekend break with a leisurely stroll round Rye town centre, taking time to visit the galleries, antique shops, and cosy cafés.

Rye is steeped in history, and nowhere is this more evident than in Mermaid Street.   With its cobblestone road, half-timbered houses and medieval pub, Mermaid Street is undoubtedly one of the prettiest streets in England.  History-lovers could also take a walk under the Landgate Arch or a visit to Rye Castle.

View of Camber Sands from dunes, East Sussex, England

Although Rye started as a coastal town, it is now 2 miles inland.  If you want a glimpse of the sea, head to Rye Harbour or nearby Winchelsea Beach.  However, if you prefer to spend your weekend getaway on a sandy beach, you will love Camber Sands.   This enormous sandy beach stretches 5 miles to Kent.  It’s enormous!

Alternatively,  you could take a nature walk around Rye Nature Reserve.  History-lovers should make time on their weekend getaway for a walk to Camber Castle, former stronghold of King Henry VIII.

Click here for more details on how to spend a weekend in Rye.

Brighton, East Sussex

One of the coolest seaside towns on the South Coast is Brighton.  It is the ultimate party town by the sea and another favourite with day-trippers from London.  Brighton is also one of the most fun family destinations in South East England.

Brighton West Pier, Brighton, UK

Things to do on a weekend break in Brighton

If you’re wondering what to do on a weekend getaway to Brighton, you won’t be stuck for ideas.

By day you can visit one of the many family attractions along the promenade.  Brighton is famous for its pebbly beach and action-packed pleasure pier.  After a walk on the pier, ascend the BA i360 observation tower for panoramic views of Brighton.  Alternatively, make a visit to the Upside-Down House for some crazy photo fun.

Brightly Coloured Hove beach huts, Brighton, UK

Away from the seafront you can wander through the famous Laines and visit Brighton’s many vintage shops and hip cafés.

Make time to wander through the gardens of Brighton’s Royal Pavilion.  History-lovers will enjoy the lavish furnishings and interiors inside the palace.

By night, Brighton comes alive with its abundance of pubs, restaurants and clubs.  It has a vibrant LGBT scene and is also a premier destination for anyone celebrating a birthday or hen night!

Click here for more information on how to spend your time in Brighton.

Broadstairs, Kent

View of Broadstairs Beach with Seagull perching, Kent, UK

Next on our list of fabulous coastal breaks in South East England is Broadstairs.  Known as “the jewel in Thanet’s crown”, Broadstairs is one of the prettiest seaside towns in Kent and perfect for a weekend getaway.

Things to do on a weekend break in Broadstairs

One of the reasons Broadstairs is such a popular seaside destination is for its lovely sandy beaches.  Broadstairs has a stunning coastline, with some of the best beaches on the East coast.   You’ll find Viking Bay in the centre of Broadstairs, or head along the coast to picture-postcard Botany Bay.

In Broadstairs town it’s hard to miss the strong association with Charles Dickens, a frequent visitor here in the 1800s.  You can visit the Dickens House Museum or see Bleak House.

Or, if you’re visiting Broadstairs with kids, you could follow the Town Trail.  You can collect a trail map from the Information Kiosk.  Afterwards, take them for a game of minigolf.  Don’t forget to leave some time for a super sundae at the iconic Morelli’s ice-cream parlour.

Bournemouth, East Dorset

One of the biggest seaside resorts in South East England is Bournemouth.  It is a vibrant seaside town, with plenty of entertainment for the whole family.

View of Bournemouth pier at sunset from beach, Dorset, England

Things to do on a weekend break in Bournemouth

Without doubt one of the best things to do in Bournemouth is a day on the beach.  With 7 miles of golden sand, Bournemouth has one of the best beaches on the South Coast.  Located in the middle of the beach is a traditional seaside pier.  It’s a bustling pier with amusement arcades, a zip wire, shops, and its own indoor activity centre.

Other family attractions to try on a weekend getaway in Bournemouth are the aquarium, crazy golf or Ferris wheel.

Finally, leave some time for a wander through Bournemouth’s beautiful Pavilion Gardens.

Click here for more great days out in Dorset.

Hastings, East Sussex

Next on our list of coastal breaks in South East England is Hastings in East Sussex.  Hastings is a historic seaside town on the South Coast, not far from Rye.  You’ve probably heard of the 1066 Battle of Hastings, though this famous conflict actually took place in the nearby town of Battle.

The Stade Fishing Boats pulled up onto shingle beach, Hastings, Sussex

Things to do on a weekend break in Hastings

Hastings has its fair share of historic buildings, including its Norman castle which looks down over the sea front.  You can get to the castle on one of the funicular railways lifts.  These historic lifts will also take you up to Hastings Country Park.

In Hastings Old Town you’ll find a choice of old pubs, curiosity shops and boutiques.

Down by the seafront, you can see the ancient Net Huts on the Stade or visit the contemporary art museum.  At the other end of the promenade, you can visit Hastings Pier, which recently underwent a £14 million renovation.

Now, if you’re visiting Hastings with kids, it has several family attractions, including Blue Reef Aquarium and a crazy golf.  However, one of the best things to do with children is a visit to Smugglers’ Adventure.  Explore the caves to discover Hasting’s smuggling history and walk in the footsteps of the smugglers who once lived here.

Click here for more information on how to spend a weekend in Hastings.

Deal, Kent

Finally, the last of our coastal breaks in South East England, is Deal.  Deal is a quintessential English coastal town in Kent, between Ramsgate and Dover on the East coast.

View from underneath Deal Pier, Kent, UK

Things to do on a weekend break in Deal

One of the very best things to do on a weekend getaway to Deal is visit Deal Castle.  Deal Castle is one of three artillery castles built by Henry VIII to defend the Kent coastline.  You could also walk along the sea front to Walmer Castle & Gardens, which is only a mile away.

Deal is one of the smaller coastal towns, so it’s easy to wander the narrow alleyways of the old town.  On the second day of your weekend break in Deal, you could head inland to the gorgeous medieval town of Sandwich.

Click here for more information on the best things to do in Deal.

Where’s your favourite place for a coastal break in South East England?  We’d love to hear your comments below.

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