12 of the Best Beaches Near Bristol

As the gateway to South Wales and the South West, Bristol is perfectly placed for those who enjoy a spontaneous beach day or trip to the seaside. Many of the UK’s most beautiful beaches are within easy reach of the city via the M4 and M5 motorways and Bristol’s train stations.

Read on to explore our pick of the best beaches near Bristol and find your new favourite location for a day by the seaside.





The Best Beaches In Bristol

Summer Beach at The Mall at Cribbs Causeway


Best for: Keeping the kids entertained

Approximately 15 minutes from Brabazon on foot

Believe it or not, there are local beaches in Bristol, at least from time to time.

Complete with sand, water and palm trees, Summer Beach routinely “pops up” at The Mall at Cribbs Causeway during the Summer months, offering a beach-side fix that’s just a 15-minute walk from Brabazon.

Visit The Mall website for further information and to check opening times and dates for the year.

Image credit: The Mall at Cribbs Causeway

Female surfer catching a wave at The Wave in Bristol


Best for: Guaranteed surf

Approximately 10 minutes from Brabazon by car

Experience the joy of surfing without even leaving the city! You’ll feel your heart race as you paddle out at The Wave - the first inland surfing destination of its kind. With crystal-clear water, children's playground and summer snacks available at the Clubhouse, a visit to The Wave is just like being beside the seaside without even leaving Bristol.

Image credit: The Wave, Bristol

The Best Beaches Within One Hour of Bristol

View across the sand at Brean Beach from Brean Down


Best for: Exploring the landscape

Approximately 50 minutes from Brabazon by car

Mention a sandy beach in Somerset, and most people would think of Weston-super-Mare. And while Weston has plenty of appeal, its popularity can make it crowded.

Those in the know head slightly further South to Brean, which is less than 30 miles from Bristol and the closest beach to Bristol on our list.

This long, flat sandy beach offers easy parking and plenty to see and do, making it a favourite for families. After some time on the beach, set off to explore the sand dunes and marshland which attracts many different types of seabirds, as well as the imposing headland of Brean Down, which is full of historic archaeological sites.

People enjoying the beach at Cotswold Water Park


Best for: Young families

Approximately 55 minutes from Brabazon by car

Mention “beach day” and the Cotswolds is not the first place that typically springs to mind, making the Cotswold Water Park and Beach a wildcard on our list.

This attraction in Cirencester has a soft, sandy inland beach with an idyllic lakeside setting. There is also a smaller paddling lagoon that is supervised by lifeguards in peak season, making it perfect for family beach trips.

Beyond the beach, there is a watersports lake offering activities like kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding, as well as an adventure playground, café, restaurant and other on-land activities to make a day of it.

The site is open from April to October each year and tickets must be booked in advance online via the Cotswold Water Park and Beach website.

Image credit: Cotswold Water Park and Beach

The Best Beaches Within Two Hours of Bristol

Surfers walking along the beach with surf boards


Best for: Beginner to intermediate surfers

Approximately 2 hours from Brabazon by car

Located at the Western end of the Gower peninsula, Llangennith Beach is one of the most beautiful and unspoilt stretches of coastline in the country. It’s home to spectacular scenery and is perfectly positioned to catch the Atlantic swells, making it one of the best places to surf in the UK, whether you are a beginner or more experienced.

Young family swimming in a secluded bay


Best for: Wild swimming

Approximately 2 hours from Brabazon by car

The coast of Exmoor is wild country, with cliffs hundreds of feet high dropping down to the sea. Even in the height of Summer, it can be possible to have the secret cove at Woody Bay to yourself. This shingle beach, which is home to a waterfall and a natural rock pool that is perfect for wild swimming, is a great choice for a secluded beach day.

View of Saunton Sands beach through the sand dunes


Best for: Sand dunes

Approximately 2 hours 5 minutes by car

Saunton Sands is itself one of the best stretches of coast in the South West. But what really makes this place special is the dune system that sits behind the beach, known as Braunton Burrows. The Burrows are not only designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), but also as a UNESCO Biosphere, home to rare orchids, 33 species of butterfly and thousands of nesting birds.

Surfers in the surf at Croyde Beach, North Devon


Best for: Advanced surfing

Approximately 2 hours 10 minutes from Brabazon by car

Croyde Beach is one of the centres of the UK’s surfing scene. The waves here need to be taken seriously – the large swells and powerful currents mean it is essential that you listen to instructions from the duty lifeguards. However, with its beautiful golden sand flanked by rocky outcrops that teem with life thanks to the large tidal range, there’s plenty to enjoy even for those who are not serious surfers.

Views out across Woolacombe beach


Best for: Families

Approximately 2 hours 15 minutes from Brabazon by car

Woolacombe Beach offers something for everyone, with golden sand for sunbathing, cafés and ice cream shacks to cool off, and space to spread out. At 3 miles long, and located right at the heart of a bustling seaside resort town, Woolacombe Beach is a brilliant choice for families.

Rocky coastline on a North Devon beach


Best for: Scenery

Approximately 2 hours 10 minutes from Brabazon by car

Hidden amongst the rocks on the North side of Woolacombe, Grunta Beach is not the easiest to get to – the steep steps down from the South West coast path can be difficult, while visitors need to keep an eye on the tide to ensure they don’t get cut off. But, if you are properly prepared, the payoff is to find one of the prettiest beaches in Devon at the bottom of the path. And because it is not the easiest beach to access, there’s a fair chance you’ll have it almost all to yourself.

So there we have it, our pick of the best beaches and seaside scenery near Bristol. Which one will you visit first?


Looking for a different kind of day out or a long weekend? Explore the best weekend getaways within an hour of Bristol.