11 Best Beaches Near Bristol & Bath | A guide

Bristol and Bath are right on the cusp between the stunning welsh beaches and the beautiful coastlines of north devon. In under 2 and a half hours from each city, you can be on gorgeous, long, sandy coastlines- perfect either as a day trip or for a proper full holiday.

Some are great for surfing, some are secluded or remote in nature, and some are close to cities, cafes and ice cream carts!

The table below gives an overview of the beaches, with the drive distances from Bristol and Bath and our BristolandLocal beach rating. In our ratings, we value water clearness an swim-ability, nature scenery, space and seclusion. That said, we also love being close enough to somewhere we can grab an ice cream afterwards.

BeachType of beachDistance from BristolDistance from BathRating
( /10)
1Rhossili Bay, Gower peninsulaBig sandy beach, Swimming, Sand dunes, Nature spot~2.5hr Drive~2.5hr Drive10/10
2Three Cliffs Bay, Gower peninsulaBig sandy beach, Swimming, Dunes and Cliff walks, Nature spot~2hr Drive~ 2.5hr Drive10/10
3Saunton Sands, North DevonBig sandy beach, Surf, Swimming, Some houses and shops in view~2.5hr Drive~2.5hr Drive9/10
4Croyde, North DevonMedium-sized beach, Surf, Swimming, Some hops and Cafes~2.5hr Drive~2.5hr Drive9/10
5Woody Bay, North DevonBeautiful Scenery, Stunning Cove, Steep walk down, Rocks to Climb Over~2.5hr Drive~2.5hr Drive9/10
6Woolacombe, North DevonLovely long Sandy Beach, Swimming, family holidays~2.5hr Drive~2.5hr Drive8/10
7Mumbles Beach, Gower PeninsulaSeafront, Quirky arty shops and good food. Lighthouse, Walks around the headland.~2hr Drive~2hr Drive8/10
8Lee Bay, WalesSecluded, Swimming, Picturesque, near the picturesque town~2.5hr Drive~2.5hr Drive6/10
9Cold Knap, WalesLong pebble beach, ok for swimming, some coast walks~1hr15 Drive~1.5hr Drive6/10
10Burnham-on-Sea, SomersetLovely walk at low tide, dunes, a pretty lighthouse, and an amusement arcade pier.~45 mins Drive~1hr Drive7/10
11Clevedon, SomersetPretty pier, fish and Chips and The Marine Lake for Swim. Pebble beach and murky tidal water.~30 min Drive~1hr Drive7/10

In the next section, we introduce you to our favourite beaches with a little description and a bit more info!

Rhossili Bay

Rhossili Bay

Rhossili bay is a stunning sandy beach, a real holiday spot to enjoy in good weather (and still beautiful in the rain!). It’s very long, most people enter around the Hill End holiday park where you walk through beautiful sand dunes to reach the beach.

It is remote, so the views are stunning, there are no cafes or houses in sight, just the elements. The beach is protected from rough seas so it can be a lovely place to swim.

This beach gets full of holidaymakers, families and tourists on sunny days, but it’s so big if you’re willing to walk along- you can easily find spaces that feel more private.

This is a west-facing sunset beach!

Three Cliffs Bay

Three Cliffs Bay

Three Cliffs Hill is a spectacular beach. It is a little inlet, where the sea meets a small stream, surrounded by beautiful dunes and cliff-tops. This is a lovely beach to combine a swim with a cliff walk.

The little inlet streams make it a fantastic place for kids to play, as small lakes and rock pools form in the shallow areas, away from the sea.

It’s quite a walk down, so there are no cars, cafes or houses anywhere nearby. The areas behind the beach are reserved, registered nature and wildlife spots, and really beautiful.

The are a few cliffs on the seafront with great rock faces where groups often enjoy rock climbing!

There is parking, with a little shop, ice creams and a picnic area at the three cliffs bay holiday park- the walk down to the beach is ok- the upwards route is tiringly steep!


Saunton Sands

Saunton Sands is a fabulous swim and surf beach in north Devon. There is a car park and a couple of cafes and restaurants close to the beach for ease. The sea can be lovely but the beach is wide so kids have plenty of space to run around.

They have lifeguards in some sections in the summer months. To each side, you can see grassy clifftops, and there is a lovely coastal path in each direction that you can take a little walk along.

This is one of the best places for beginners to surf near bristol. there are surf shops you can hire kit. They also offer lessons and plenty of good changing and show facilities.


Crodye is a very popular surf beach- one of the best surf spots in the UK. There are large swells and powerful currents- so some serious waves. Better for more experienced surfers on rougher days, and always follow advice from the lifeguards.

If you’re not surfing you can still enjoy the beautiful sands and the grassy clifftops nearby. Walking paths lead from the beach along the coastline in both directions, leaving fabulous views back out over the beach.

This is a gorgeous North Devon Spot!

Woody Bay

Woody bay is a beautiful, lesser-known bay, with a small pebbled beach but really stunning blue waters in good weather. It’s near the Exmoor national park and in the midst of the best of north devon scenery.

You park at the top and follow a stunning walk down (and a fitness course on the way back up!) looking over the undulating wild hilltops of the national park.

It’s shingly and rocky so can be a bit slippery for young kids, but there are also lovely little rock pools to explore and a real sense of being immersed in nature.

A little train takes people up and down with beautiful views, which is a popular attraction of the area. there are also beautiful waterfalls nearby to be explored!

Mumbles Beach

Mumbles Beach

The mumbles is a lovely city beach just outside of Swansea in a beautiful bay with a stunning picturesque lighthouse. This is a lovely seafront back next to quirky art shops, great food and lovely cafes to enjoy your time in.

The beach itself is better for walking than swimming. When the tide is out there are some lovely sandy parts to walk along, otherwise, it’s a sand and pebble mix as the water meets the shore. Around the headland from the pier are some lovely little beach coves which are fun to test out too- with really gorgeous views!

What’s great, is that being so close to Swansea it’s easily accessible, even without a car.


Woolacombe is a lovely sandy beach next to classic beautiful sand dunes with a view of the white townhouses on the green hilltops at one end. The beach is great for walking and little swims.

It’s a lovely beach, it’s got a 3mile long stretch of clean sand, and it’s perfectly set up for

Woolacombe and Mortenhow are classic devon villages, that attract a lot of tourists in the summer. There is also the well-known Woolacombe bay holiday park- a popular holiday spot with caravans, permanent tents and pool/activities and all sorts of attractions.

Lee Bay

Lee Bay is a beautiful, secluded beach right about 2 miles out of Ilfracombe. It nestles into the coastline, next to the picturesque lee village.

The bay can lead to much calmer waters, so it can be a lovely swimming spot! There is free parking in Lee town. That said it’s a smallish park so the spots are limited. There are also public toilets, so great facilities nearby.

Although the beach is natural and secluded, it’s still close to the town for snacks and ice creams.

Cold Knap

Cold Knapp beach is the beach near barry island. It’s a popular family beach, sandy, and about a mile up from the main barry beach where there are also amusement arcades, ice creams, chips and all sorts of beach snacks.

It’s mostly pebble but there is also a sandy section at low tide. It’s quieter than the main beach, though also popular in summer. There are coastal walk opportunities nearby too. There is paid beach parking so it’s a lovely convenient spot for a day or afternoon.


Burnham on Sea

Burnham on Sea has surprisingly nice dune-side beach walks considering the location on the Severn estuary where the sea itself is highly tidal and therefore often murky and un-desirable to swim in.

In the town itself, there are beachfront cafes restaurants and an amusement arcade on the pier, but northwards and beyond with an adorable little lighthouse, you can go for a lovely. long beach walks.

It is also west facing- a lovely place for long sunset walks in the summer months.


Clevedon Pier

Clevedon is also on the Severn estuary- and the sea water is tidal and murky. what makes Clevedon beach great though is the marine pool that allows you to swim at any time in quality tested sea water captured in a large pool.

Near the pool is a park with a playground, often host to a fun fair, and a little train that kids enjoy watching circle the big field. there are seafront stalls selling fish and chips, coffees and ice creams, and a nice pub with good food too.

At the other end of Clevedon is a picturesque pier, and in low tide, you can enjoy walking over the rocks- though not too far out as the sandy areas can be sink-holey.

What’s best, is that it is so close to Bristol and easily accessible by public transport so you still get a lovely seaside feel without travelling miles. The beachfront is west facing- making for lovely evening sunsets in the summer!

Clevedon Beach

Beaches Near Bristol Accessible by Public Transport

For those without a car, there are a lot of beaches near bristol that you can reach by bus or train. Some of these journeys are quite long and they don’t always run as frequently on Sundays, so definitely check the timings before you go- but if it works out, these beaches will be worth it!

BeachPublic Transport Accessibility
1Rhossili Bay, Gower peninsulaPossible- About 1 hr by bus from Swansea
2Three Cliffs Bay, Gower peninsulaPossible- 2 busses from Swansea
3Saunton Sands, North DevonNot easily accessible by public transport
4Croyde, North DevonNot easily accessible by public transport
5Woody Bay, North DevonNot easily accessible by public transport
6Woolacombe, North DevonNot easily accessible by public transport
7Mumbles Beach, Gower PeninsulaAccessible by train or bus in Swansea
8Lee Bay, North DevonNot easily accessible by public transport
9Cold Knap, WalesAccessible by train or bus from Barry
10Burnham-on-Sea, SomersetAccessible by bus from Bristol
11Clevedon, SomersetAccessible by bus from Bristol

We hope you find yourself a wonderful beach from this guide!

Recent Posts