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Clean and beautiful beaches close to London

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Anna Brech
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Golden sands less than two hours from the capital.

Britain’s cleanest sands have been honoured, thanks to the annual Blue Flag awards – the golden standard for beaches.

This discerning accolade denotes clean bathing water (no industrial, waste-water or sewage spills), along with top-notch environmental standards. 

A total of 68 beaches made the grade this year, including many coastal stretches in the south-east.

We’ve laid out a few of our favourite Blue Flag destinations within easy reach of London.

Hop from a sweaty tube carriage to powdery sands and sea breeze in two hours or less. Have your beach reads handy; seaside, here we come…

Photos: iStock, Rex and Getty

  • West Wittering, West Sussex

    Soak in glorious views of Chichester Harbour and the South Downs on this popular wind-surfer beach.

    Distance from London: 1hr 54 mins by train (Victoria station)

    westwitteringbeach

  • Viking Bay, Kent

    Charles Dickens was a fan of this horseshoe-shaped bay that lines the town of Broadstairs.

    Distance from London: 1 hr 39 mins by train (St Pancras station)

    viking-bay/

  • Margate Main Sands, Kent

    Romanticist painter JMW Turner loved Margate beach. Like him, you can admire “the loveliest skies in all of Europe”.

    Distance from London: 1 hr 33 mins by train (St Pancras or Victoria stations)

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  • Ramsgate Main Sands, Kent

    Grab a deckchair and revel in the vibes of this friendly town beach, with plenty of restaurants all around.

    Distance from London: 1 hr 46 mins by train (St Pancras or London Bridge)

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  • Sheerness, Kent

    Nestled on the north coast of the Isle of Sheppey, tranquil Sheerness is shrouded by open greenery; don’t forget your picnic.

    Distance from London: 1 hr 19 mins by train (St Pancras or Victoria station)

    sheerness-beach/

  • Leysdown, Kent

    Also on the Isle of Sheppey. A typical seaside resort, you’ll find amusements and cafes aplenty here – as well as a nudist beach just down the road.

    Distance from London: 1 hr by train to Sittingbourne (from St Pancras or Victoria station), then 20 mins by taxi or bus

    /leysdown-on-sea

  • Sandgate, Kent

    A secluded shingle beach recommended by the Marine Conservation Society, Sandgate is a great spot for a quick dip.

    Distance from London: 1 hr 12 mins by train to Folkstone (St Pancras or London Bridge station), then 12 minutes by taxi or bus

    sandgate-beach

  • Pelham, East Sussex

    The golden sands of Pelham stretch from Hastings Old Town to the end of the promenade at Bulverhythe. It’s a friendly beach designed with families in mind.

    Distance from London: 1 hr 36 mins by train (St Pancras, London Bridge or Victoria station)

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  • Herne Bay, Kent

    Explore two miles of coastline peppered with ice-cream parlours, candyfloss stands and welcoming local pubs.

    Distance from London: 1 hr 20 mins by train (St Pancras or Victoria station)

    Herne-Bay

  • Saltdean, East Sussex

    Indulge in a spot of old-school rock pooling at low tide on Saltdean, near Newhaven, or hire a surf and cut a few shapes in the waves.

    Distance from London: 1 hr to Brighton (London Bridge or Victoria station), then 15 minutes by bus, car or train

    saltdean

  • Bognor Regis East, West Sussex

    Located right by the town centre, this sloping shingle bank offers a quintessential seaside experience. Exercise junkies can get to grips with the custom-made “Flex on the Beach Fitness Trail”.

    Distance from London: 1 hr 32 mins by train (Victoria station)

    bognor-regis-east-beach

  • Worthing, West Sussex

    This  7.5 mile long beach is the perfect spot for an ice-cream, and the quality of the water is rated as “excellent”. The pier views aren’t bad, either.

    Distance from London: 1 hr 21 mins by train (Victoria or London Bridge station)

    worthing

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Anna Brech

Anna Brech is a freelance journalist and former editor for stylist.co.uk. Her six-year stint on the site saw her develop a vociferous appetite for live Analytics, feminist opinion and good-quality gin in roughly equal measure. She enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content but has a soft spot for books and escapist travel content.

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