Southampton is a coastal city in the South East of England. It’s most famous for its Titanic legacy. The famous Titanic ship sailed from Southampton before it sank on its way to the States. Others know if for its vast shopping centre- West Quay. The city itself does not have any beaches but the good news is that there are plenty of stunning beaches within an hour drive from Southampton. Read more to find out what are the best beaches near Southampton.
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1. Durdle Door beach – the most spectacular beach
Durdle Door is by far my favourite beach and one of the best beaches in the UK! It’s situated in Dorset, just over an hour drive from Southampton. Durdle Door is part of the famous Jurassic Coast featuring white sharp cliffs, crystal clear turquoise water and hills covered with green fields.
Park your car at Durdle Door Holiday Park, which is a campsite (parking fee applies) and walk down and right to see the Durdle Door arc and the stunning beach down the cliff.
You can stay on that beach for the day or walk left to Lulworth Cove. The walk is scenic and takes 30 minutes. Once you’re there, there is a beautiful bay and many cute places for lunch. On the way back you can come back the same way or via the main road. If you want to be on your own, instead of going left from the Durdle Door point, go right. After the first hill, crowds will vanish and you will have peace and quiet.
TIP: Take a snack, water and good hiking shoes.
2. Bournemouth beach- top beach break in the UK
Bournemouth beach is located just 40 minutes drive west from Southampton. On a sunny day in the summer, this is the place where all people from the Southampton head to on a Saturday morning. And it’s not surprising because Bournemouth has it all. The beach is wide, sandy and stretches over a few kilometres. Bournemouth is a very popular UK seaside resort attracting many holidaymakers from the country and abroad alike. For that reason, you will find here all the facilities that you would need for a perfect beach break in the UK. The beach is equipped with showers, changing rooms, toilets and sun chairs to hire. There is a lifeguard on duty so you can swim here safe. There are also plenty of bars and restaurants facing the beach.
TIP: Hire a bike and cycle along the Bournemouth promenade or join a surfing school!
3. Highcliffe beach
Highcliffe beach has been one of my favourites for a long time until there was a land slide and part of the beach was taken by the sea. Today the beach is back and running. Only 40 minutes always from Southampton through Lyndhurst. What I like the most about this beach is that it is quiet. You can park in town for free on one of the side roads and pick up some picnic snacks from a local convenience store on your way to the beach. At the top of the beach, on the cliff there is a cafe and public toilets should you need them. If you walk right and down from the cafe, the beach is pebbly and bordered with rocks. If you decide to walk left, there is a sandy beach. The beach diminishes in the afternoon with a high tide. Also this part is quiet busy, but the further left you go, the less people you’ll meet. Take time to look for your perfect spot!
4. Southbourne beach in Christchurch
Southbourne beach is a perfect compromise between a great beach with all the facilities and a quiet beach. This beach is situated 42 km south-west from Southampton. You can park by the seafront and walk down the steep cliff to the beach.
The beach is wide and sandy. There is a lifeguard on duty so you can safely swim here. There is a bistro and an ice cream place that gets long queues of people on a hot day. There are also toilets and some beach essential shops.
This is the beach that I visit the most because it’s less busy than Bournemouth but it’s equally nice! There is a line of beach huts along the beach and a long promenade that will take you all the way to the next beach- Boscombe.
Mudeford Sandbank beach is situated just off Christchurch harbour. There is no direct road to the beach as the whole area is part of nature conservation scheme. However you can park at Hengistbury Head car park and take a train to the beach. Alternatively you can take a ferry from the mainland either from Christchurch or Mudeford Quay.
The beach is worth the effort getting there, I’ll tell you that! Sandy with breathtaking views extending over the harbour and the Isle of Wight’s famous Needles.
Mudeford is also home to the most expensive beach huts in the country. There are over 300 of them! There is a beach cafe, public toilets and a shop.
You can sunbath there, walk along the beach or try some water sports on the harbour side of the sandbank.
6. Isle of Wight beaches
The Isle of Wight is situated just off the southern coast of England. You can get there by catching a ferry from Southampton. You will have a few beaches to choose from here such as Shanklin Beach and Ventnor Beach. The most iconic landmark of the Isle of Wight is the Needles- 3 massive white chalks rocks and a lighthouse. You can go on a chair lift to go down to the beach and see it.
There is plenty to do here for example discovering fossils and dinosaur remains! You can visit Carisbrooke medieval castle or Queen’s Victoria residence- Osborne House. The place is also fantastic for hiking!
7. Weston Shore
Situated just outside of the city centre across the river Itchen, Weston Shore is the closest to a beach available to the residents of Southampton. Weston Shore stretches from Woolston to Netley. You won’t be able to swim here, but on a sunny day you can bring a blanket and spread on a grass and enjoy a picnic. There is a wide pavement, a free parking area and a playground. The placed is liked by dog walkers, parents with children and runners. I used to live in this area and loved coming here for a Sunday walk.
TIP: Sit down on of the benches and watch huge container ships entering the Southampton docks.
Lee-on-the-Solent is probably closer to Portsmouth than to Southampton, but I include it in this list as it’s reachable from Southampton in under an hour. The beach is located in Gosport Borough; you can park along the coastal road for a small charge or find a back street to park for free.
This place is great for a long walk as it’s got a nice, long promenade along the beach. There are a few cafes and pubs facing the sea.
The beach itself does not have the same soft sand like Bournemouth beach, but it’s covered in very small stones.
9. Hayling Island beach
Hayling Island beach is another great beach within an hour drive from Southampton. Hayling Island is situated just east from Portsmouth. It stretches over 5 km on the Solent side and it’s primarily a shingle beach.
The beach is perfect for a nice long stroll if the weather is not great for sunbathing.
The beach is sheltered by the Isle of Wight which creates perfect conditions for water sports such as sailing, windsurfing, power boating, jet skiing and kite surfing.
10. Southsea beach
Southsea beach is located just a kilometre from Portsmouth city centre. It will take under an hour to get there from Southampton. You can either drive and leave your car in the park and ride facility just outside of the city or you can take a direct train from Southampton.
The beach is mostly covered with shingle and there are all the facilities and entertainment that you would expect from a British beach resort such as fish and chips and ice cream booths.
TIP: Check out D-Day museum located on the seafront.