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The cheapest seaside locations in the UK

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The Editorial Team
Experts in personal finance, insurance and utilities
Posted
2 JUL 2024
3 min read
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Summer is well on its way in the UK, and with it comes the urge to pack a bucket and spade and head for the coast. But between the ice cream, fish and chips, and parking, a day at the beach can put a dent in your wallet.

Thankfully, the UK coastline is full of charming seaside towns that won’t break the bank. To help you find the perfect spot for an affordable day out by the sea, we in the credit card team at Compare the Market have ranked locations based on a variety of important factors, including the cost of a meal out and drinks, the price of parking, and how much sunshine they get.

We’ve also looked at which seaside locations offer the cheapest parking overall, and which are the most popular according to Google searches.

The cheapest seaside locations for a day out

Rank Rank Avg. cost of a meal Avg. cost of a coffee Avg. cost of a pint of beer Avg. cost of parking Avg. daily sunshine hours in summer
1 Lowestoft £5.50 £2.35 £5.45 £3.15 9.7
2 Margate £7.50 £2.80 £3.18 £7.46 10.1
3 Bexhill £10.00 £3.00 £4.54 £3.43 10.1
4 Eastbourne £13.00 £2.89 £4.54 £5.86 10.0
5 Hastings £13.00 £3.00 £4.54 £7.20 10.1
6 Folkestone £13.00 £3.16 £4.54 £5.78 10.0
7 Ramsgate £15.00 £2.67 £4.94 £7.16 9.9
8 Great Yarmouth £15.00 £2.83 £5.11 £4.42 9.7
9 Weymouth £15.00 £2.50 £4.83 £6.87 9.1
10 Cleethorpes £15.00 £2.67 £4.54 £4.32 8.3
11 Dover £18.00 £3.00 £4.54 £4.37 9.4
12 Southend-on-Sea £15.00 £3.15 £3.98 £8.75 9.2
13 Barry £15.00 £3.01 £5.11 £2.50 7.9
14 Weston-super-Mare £15.00 £2.82 £5.11 £5.71 8.1
15 Wallasey £15.97 £3.18 £4.54 £4.27 8.2

For the cheapest day out at the seaside, head to Lowestoft in East Suffolk. Costs here are relatively low across the board, and you could enjoy a meal out for an average of just £5.50, which is cheaper than any other seaside location on the list. Coffee is also cheaper here than anywhere else at £2.35 on average, and six hours of parking adds up to only £3.15.

Plus, Lowestoft sees 9.7 daily hours of sunshine on average during the summer months, so there’s more than enough time to soak up the rays, build sandcastles, or explore the charming town at your leisure. The town is also renowned for being the most easterly town in the UK, making it the first place to see the sunrise – so you’re in for a treat if you’re lucky enough to get there bright and early.

The second-most affordable seaside spot for a day out is Margate in Kent. Costs are similarly low as in Lowestoft, with a meal out costing £7.50 on average, while sipping a refreshing beer could set you back just £3.18 for a pint- 61% cheaper than the national average. On top of that, Margate gets more sun than most other seaside towns in the UK, averaging a wonderful 10.1 hours daily in the summer.

Bexhill in East Sussex rounds out the top three, also getting 10.1 hours of sunshine in the summer, and offers cheap coffee (£3), beer (£4.54) and parking (£3.43).

The seaside locations with the most affordable parking

Barry, a seaside resort in Wales, offers the most affordable parking out of all seaside locations in the UK. Six hours of parking in the summer costs an average of just £2.50 here, so you shouldn’t have to worry about costs adding up quickly.

Lowestoft comes in second with average parking costs of £3.15 for six hours, followed by Bexhill (£3.43) and Wallasey (£4.27).

Rank City Average cost of parking
1 Barry £2.50
2 Lowestoft £3.15
3 Bexhill £3.43
4 Wallasey £4.27
5 Cleethorpes £4.32
6 Worthing £4.33
7 Dover £4.37
8 Great Yarmouth £4.42
9 Weston-super-Mare £5.71
10 Folkestone £5.78

The most popular beaches in the UK

As well as looking into affordability, we also wanted to find out which beaches in the UK Brits are searching for the most.

The most popular UK beach of all is Bournemouth, with an average of 74,000 Google searches per month for ‘Bournemouth beach’. It’s a beautiful, sandy beach known for its cleanliness, which adds to its appeal for tourists and locals alike.

Brighton comes next, earning on average 49,500 searches each month. Brighton Beach is famous for its vibrant atmosphere, iconic Palace Pier, and trendy vibe, making it a popular choice for a lively seaside escape.

In third is Margate with 27,100 searches per month, followed by Weymouth (22,200) and Scarborough (14,800).

Rank City Average monthly search volume
1 Bournemouth 74,000
2 Brighton 49,500
3 Margate 27,100
4 Weymouth 22,200
5 Scarborough 14,800
Blackpool 14,800
Weston-super-Mare 14,800
6 Hastings 12,100
Newquay 12,100
Cleethorpes 12,100
7 Folkestone 9,900
Eastbourne 9,900
Torquay 9,900
8 Llandudno 8,100
Swansea 8,100

Methodology

To identify the cheapest seaside locations for a day out, Compare the Market pulled together a seedlist of 20 seaside locations around the UK. The destinations were then ranked according to the following metrics:

For the most popular beaches in the UK, locations were ranked according to the average monthly search volume for ‘[location name] beach’ in the UK.

Please note, these calculations are estimates and may change, depending on the travel style of each person. These calculations serve for information purposes only.

The latest available data was used and was accurate at the time of the research in May 2024.

The Editorial Team - Compare the Market

Experts in personal finance, insurance and utilities

Compare the Market’s Editorial Team is made up of industry experts with decades of experience in personal finance, insurance and utilities. Each of our authors has an area of expertise, where they can share their extensive experience to help you get a better deal, by finding the right product and saving money.

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