Condé Nast 12 best beaches within three hour drive of Bristol - plus full best UK beaches list

Condé Nast Traveller magazine has revealed their best UK beaches list - including a couple of corkers within driving distance from Bristol.

Condé Nast has pulled together a list of the UK’s 49 best beaches - and a whopping 12 of them are within a three hours’ drive of Bristol. While beachscapes aren’t always the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the UK, it turns out the city is ideally placed for access to some of the world’s most gorgeous beaches in Devon, Dorset and Wales.

With the cost of living crisis squeezing budgets, many may be looking for a holiday closer to home this year. Luckily, some of the beaches selected by the popular travel magazine have been compared to the Mediterranean and even the Caribbean, especially during the height of summer.

Condé Nast Traveller said: “It takes some by surprise, but it turns out the UK does have some of the world’s most beautiful sandy beaches. From Cornwall to the Isles of Scilly, you can expect sun-kissed sandy beaches, with each stretch of coastline more beautiful than the next.

“While we don’t like to pick favourites, we do recommend exploring the south-west corner of Wales, which has an enchanting stretch of coast and sandy UK beaches.”  So, what are the closest “best beaches” to Bristol?

Here’s everything you need to know including the full list.

Best beaches near Bristol, according to Condé Nast

Blackpool Sands, Devon

Distance from Bristol: 2 hour 20 minutes drive

“Nature’s golden beach, set in an unspoilt, sheltered bay, lapped by clear blue water and surrounded by magnificent evergreens and pines.  Blackpool Sands is the ideal family beach to relax, swim or sail.”

Durdle Door, Dorset

Distance from Bristol: 2 hour 18 minutes drive

“Durdle Door is one of Dorset’s most photographed and iconic landmarks. It is part of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site and is an extremely popular beauty spot.”

 People walk on the beach close to Durdle Door. People walk on the beach close to Durdle Door.
People walk on the beach close to Durdle Door.

Shell Bay, Dorset

Distance from Bristol: 2 hours 29 minutes drive

“Shell Bay Beach is a stunning beach with wide golden sands backed by sand dunes. It is located on the Studland Peninsula in Dorset.”

Mudeford Sandbank, Dorset

Distance from Bristol: 2 hours 31 minutes drive

“A unique and beautiful sand spit which adjoins the ancient headland of Hengistbury Head and forms a natural barrier between Christchurch Harbour and the open sea. The area is designated a Site of Nature Conservation Interest.”

Bantham Beach, Devon

Distance from Bristol: 2 hours 22 minutes drive

“Tucked along the South Devon coast and situated at the mouth of the meandering Avon River, is the prestigious Bantham Beach. Sheltered dunes line the sandy expanse, sloping down to the shallow, lapping waves.”

Sandbanks, Dorset

Distance from Bristol: 2 hours 25 minutes drive

“Recognised as one of the most exclusive areas anywhere in the world, the iconic Sandbanks and its gorgeous beach is the ideal location for a seaside break at any time of the year.”

Woolacombe Beach, Devon

Distance from Bristol: 2 hours 25 minutes drive

“Award-winning Woolacombe Beach is widely recognised as one of the best beaches in the UK. Located on Devon’s north coast, between Croyde and Ilfracombe, the 3-mile sandy beach is popular with surfers and families looking for a traditional seaside experience.”

Three Cliffs Bay in Wales.Three Cliffs Bay in Wales.
Three Cliffs Bay in Wales.

Three Cliffs, Wales

Distance from Bristol: 1 hour 58 minutes drive

“The Three Cliffs Beach at Gower in Swansea is a scenic, sandy beach, backed by three limestone cliffs with a spectacular shoreline of sand dunes, salt marsh and encrusted with rock pools.”

Aberfforest Beach, Wales

Distance from Bristol: 2 hours 54 minutes drive

“Aberfforest Beach is a small bay made up of a mixture of sand and shingle, situated between two majestic cliffs and just under two miles from the local villages of Newport and Dinas.”

Barafundle Bay, Wales

Distance from Bristol: 2 hours 49 minutes drive

“Nestled on the south coast of Pembrokeshire between Broad Haven and Freshwater East, Barafundle is regularly listed as one of the top beaches in the world and could easily be mistaken for somewhere in the Caribbean.”

Rhossili Bay, Wales

Distance from Bristol: 2 hours 15 minutes drive

“Three miles of sandy shore, encompassing one of Gower’s most famous landmarks, Worms Head. The area is great for watersports and in particular surfing while sand-castle builders benefit from the fine golden sand.”

Penbryn Ceredigion, Wales

Distance from Bristol: 2 hours 43 minutes drive

“A secluded sandy cove almost a mile in length which can be reached through the woods of a fern-clad valley.”

49 best beaches in the UK - full list


  1. Blackpool Sands, Devon 
  2. Seven Sisters, Sussex
  3. Sennen Cove, Cornwall
  4. Walberswick Beach, Suffolk
  5. Pentle Bay, Scilly Isles
  6. Holkham Beach, Norfolk
  7. Durdle Door, Jurassic Coast, Dorset
  8. Dunwich Beach, Suffolk
  9. Pedn Vounder Beach, Cornwall
  10. Hunstanton, Norfolk
  11. Shell Bay, Studland, Dorset
  12. Southwold, Suffolk
  13. Mudeford Sandbank, Dorset
  14. Cuckmere Haven, Seaford, East Sussex
  15. Whitstable beach, Kent
  16. Aldeburgh, Suffolk
  17. Branchester Beach, Norfolk
  18. Dungeness, Romney Marsh, Kent
  19. Polzeath, Cornwall
  20. Bantham Beach, South Devon
  21. Filey Brigg, North Yorkshire
  22. West Wittering, West Sussex
  23. Sandbanks, Dorset
  24. St. Bees, Cumbria
  25. Woolacombe Sands, Devon
  26. Cromer Beach, North Norfolk
  27. Whitley Bay, Tyneside
  28. Sheringham beach, North Norfolk
  29. South Bay, Scarborough, Yorkshire
  30. Ventnor, Isle of Wight


  1. Scarista Beach, Lewis & Harris
  2. Achmelvich Beach, North-west 
  3. Machir Bay, Islay
  4. Uig beach, Isle of Lewis
  5. St Cyrus, Aberdeenshire
  6. Luskentyre, Outer Hebrides


  1. Three Cliffs Bay
  2. Aberfforest Beach
  3. Llanddwyn, Anglesey
  4. Barafundle Bay, Pembrokeshire
  5. Rhossili Bay, Gower Coast
  6. Harlech Gwynedd
  7. Penbryn Ceredigion
  8. Whitesands Beach, Pembrokeshire

Northern Ireland

  1. Benone, Ulster
  2. Mill Bay, Rathlin Island
  3. Magilligan Point, Ulster
  4. Whiterocks, Portrush
  5. Whitepark Bay, Antrim