Home Destination GuidesNorth West England NEAREST BEACHES TO MANCHESTER


by Helen
three people on horseback riding on a beach at sunrise

There are some beautiful sandy beaches within easy reach of Manchester. From art installations to sweeping golden sands, these coastal spots really do have it all.
This guide will tell you everything must know about the nearest beaches to Manchester so you can plan your perfect day, or longer stay, at the Great British seaside. 

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Manchester is without doubt one of the finest cities in the UK. Being from the north west of England I am of course biased, but the buzzing, cosmopolitan metropolis is widely regarded as the country’s second city, after London. (Unless you’re from Birmingham, which also vies for the title.)

One of the things the more landlocked city in the Midlands lacks, in comparison, is proximity to a beach. To reach the Somerset or south Wales coast from Birmingham will take around two hours or more, whereas the nearest seaside to Manchester only takes around an hour to get to. 

So which is the closest beach to Manchester, how do you get there, what’s it like and what is there to do?

I’ve put together this guide to show you all the great beaches of this part of north western England and Wales – including how to reach them from the city and how long you can expect that to take.

Is there a beach near Manchester? Heck, yes. Why not read on to discover 10 of the best nearest beaches to Manchester, so you can find the best one for you to visit?

Looking for some more city based inspiration? Check out my complete guide to all the fun things to do in Manchester!


Formby L37 1LJ50 minutesTell me more!
CrosbyL23 8SY45 minutesTell me more!
Lytham St AnnesFY8 2NQ1 hour & 5 minutesTell me more!
SouthportPR8 1SD55 minutesTell me more!
SilecroftLA18 4NY1 hour & 55 minutesTell me more!
BlackpoolFY1 5QB1 hourTell me more!
Red RocksCH47 2AB1 hourTell me more!
New BrightonCH45 2JS50 minutesTell me more!
LlandudnoLL30 2XT1 hour & 30 minutesTell me more!
AinsdalePR8 2QD1 hour & 5 minutesTell me more!
RhylLL18 1HD1 hour & 20 minutesTell me more!


Best for: red squirrel and sand dune spotting

Formby beach is known across the British Isles as one of the last – and best – places to see red squirrels in their natural habitat. This coastal spot north of Liverpool has sand dunes, a scenic beach and pine clad forest.

Wildlife fans may also spot natterjack toads, while the prehistoric layers of mud often reveal human or animal footprints once the tide has washed over. Remnants of rusting wrecks may also be seen by keen-eyed visitors.

Grassy sand dunes at Formby Beach
Grassy sand dunes at Formby Beach

This is a lovely unspoiled part of the coastline overseen by the National Trust, with dedicated picnic areas and fabulous views towards the Wirral and North Wales. It’s a great place for picnicking, sandcastle building and revelling in the wonders of nature.

The rippled sands, tumbling dunes and panoramic backdrop also make for some superb, Insta worthy photo opportunities. 

Formby Beach Travel Info

  • Victoria Road Car Park Postcode: L37 1LJ
  • 36 miles from Manchester
  • 50 minutes’ drive
  • 1 hour & 25 minutes by train


Best for: interactive art installations and sculpted sands

Now famous for its Antony Gormley ‘Another Place sculptures, Crosby is a little wilder at heart than the likes of Blackpool. The broad sweep of sand is characterised by mudflats, and is also squeaky clean.

The ‘Another Place’ figures dot the sand and sea for a couple of miles, so it’s impossible to miss them. With a flat, wide coastal path, Crosby is ideally suited to cyclists and scooter riders; in fact it’s on the national cycle route.

An atmospheric photo of the art installation Another Place. One of the iron figures is pictured knee deep in water. The foreground shows sand with water lapping onto the shore. THe sun is just breaking through the clouds.
Anthony Gormley’s ‘Another Place’ sculptures

There are some amenities nearby, including toilets at the nearest car park on Hall Road. Crosby Coastal Park is around 10 minutes’ walk, and is home to an adventure play park and cafe.  

If you want to see all the figures, it’s best to visit when the tide is out, as some are submerged when the water washes over the finely sculpted sands.

Crosby Beach Travel Info

  • Hall Road Car Park Postcode: L23 8SY
  • 33 miles from Manchester
  • 45 minutes’ drive
  • 1 hour & 15 minutes by train


Best for: beach huts and splashing around in the sun

Hiring a beach hut for the day is just one of many things to do at the beach in Lytham St Annes, Lancashire. This quiet stretch of coastline has a decorative Victorian pier and pretty manicured gardens.

row of beach huts on the beach front at St Annes Beach
Hire a beach hut for the day! – Photo by Mark mc neill

There is also a boating lake, duck pond and kids’ splash park. On the pier and in town visitors will also find many of the typical trappings of an English seaside resort, including amusement arcades, fish and chip shops and mini golf.

The town boasts its own art gallery, as well as plenty of shops, cafes and restaurants. Grade I listed Lytham Hall is also well worth a look, and is only a mile from the town centre. 

Lytham St Annes Travel Info

  • North Promenade Car Park Postcode: FY8 2NQ
  • 37 miles from Manchester
  • 1 hour & 5 minutes’ drive
  • 1 hour & 55 minutes by train


Best for: combining smart town attractions with beach life

If you’d like to wander around a pretty town as well as spending time on a picturesque beach, Southport could be your best bet for a beach day near Manchester.

The second longest pier in the UK can be found here, and there are magnificent views from the sands. It’s a great place to paddle, perfect your sandcastles and explore the Victorian town centre.

view of Southport pier from the beach
Southport Pier

Visitors can also take a tram ride between the pier and the pavilion, and the usual array of gift shops, cafes, fairground rides and takeaways are of course present. In the town centre – only a short walk away – there are also some independent boutiques to browse.

As well as the pier, the resort’s King’s Gardens and Marine Lake are pleasant places to explore and relax in or by.

Southport Beach Travel Info

  • Southport Beach Car Park Postcode: PR8 1SD
  • 37 miles from Manchester
  • 55 minutes’ drive
  • 1 hours & 15 minutes by train


Best for: nature lovers seeking a relaxed setting

If you want to discover the ‘secret beach’ of the north west, head to Silecroft beach in Cumbria. Although the county is best known for its lakes, this stretch of shingle is one of the area’s hidden gems.

stoney Silecroft beach with grassy hills
Silecroft – the Secret Beach near Manchester

The 600 metre high Black Combe Fell forms a pleasing backdrop, while the broad, seven mile stretch of sand and shingle is popular with kite surfers, sea anglers, dog walkers and horse riders. There is a trekking centre in the village offering pony hire and riding lessons.

On a clear day, there can be views across to the Isle of Man, and the beach is a great place to watch the sunset. A Site of Special Scientific Interest is by the beach, and natterjack toads are sometimes seen there. 

Silecroft Beach Travel Info

  • Silecroft Beach Car Park Postcode: LA18 4NY
  • 66 miles from Manchester
  • 1 hour & 55 minutes’ drive
  • 3 hours & 30 minutes by train


Best for: seeing a traditional bucket and spade seaside resort

If you’re the sort of person who’s easily bored by beach days, head to Blackpool. Although this traditional holiday resort in the north west is famous for the Golden Mile, the town actually boasts many more miles of golden sands. Seven, in fact. 

The view over Blackpool Beach towards Blackpool Tower
The traditional seaside resort of Blackpool

Blackpool also has a Grade II listed pier, which is one of three. The beach is also close to Blackpool’s attractions, which include the funfair, amusements, gift shops, cafes, fish and chips takeaways and ice cream stalls. 

The attractive promenade with its open aspect is also a popular place to stroll between spotting ‘Kiss Me Quick’ hats and watching kids taking donkey rides. 

Blackpool is a great place for a traditional family day out at the British seaside, and first-timers might want to make time to see the famous Pleasure Beach and Blackpool Tower, as featured each year on TV in Strictly Come Dancing

Blackpool Beach Travel Info

  • Central Car Park Postcode: FY1 5QB
  • 41 miles from Manchester
  • 1 hour’s drive
  • 1 hour & 10 minutes by train


Best for: rock pooling, wildflowers and bird spotting

Travel from Manchester to the Wirral and you can enjoy four great beaches – including the area known as Red Rocks. Other good local beaches include West Kirby, Thurstaston and Leasowe.

The beach is named for its characteristic rust-toned sand dunes, and is also known for its rock pools. They can keep kids occupied for hours, making this a sound choice for families. 

Red rocks beach and sea at sunset
Red Rocks at sunset

A small number of Natterjack toads are resident, and in summer the sand dunes are alive with the sight of butterflies and wildflowers and the sound of skylarks. Up to 200 migrant bird species are also spotted annually in the area. 

Hilbre Island can be seen from the wide stretch of sand, and the beach is best accessed via Stanley Road in Hoylake.

Red Rocks Travel Info

  • Charles Road Car Park Postcode: CH47 2AB
  • 41 miles from Manchester
  • 1 hour’s drive
  • 1 hour & 15 minutes by train


Best for: views over Liverpool and visitor attractions

New Brighton lies right at the tip of the Wirral peninsula, and is a popular place to be during summer. This seaside spot has broad stretches of soft sand, and has recently benefited from huge cash investment – to the tune of £60 million.

The longest promenade in the UK is located here, and it stretches out to sea for around two miles. When the skies are clear, there are incredible views over Liverpool.

two people walking on new brighton beach with buildings of liverpool in the distance
Views across to Liverpool from New Brighton Beach

Other than the lengthy pier, New Brighton’s landmarks include the lighthouse and Fort Perch Rock, with its Aviation and Archeology Museum. There are also plenty of visitor attractions for families, such as a splash park and amusement arcades.

Crabbing, playing on the pirate ship, eating ice cream and exploring the fairy garden are also popular pastimes in this part of the Wirral.

New Brighton Beach Travel Info

  • Marine Promenade Car Park Postcode: CH45 2JS
  • 41 miles from Manchester
  • 50 minutes’ drive
  • 1 hour & 35 minutes by train


Best for: a traditional breath of fresh Welsh air

Like Blackpool, Llandudno is a traditional British seaside resort, so you can expect a pier, amusement arcades, ice creams, deck chairs and donkey rides.

view of Llandudno waterfront from the top of a hill
Fantastic views across Llandudno

Both the North and West Shore are sheltered by the headland and have won awards for cleanliness. The North Shore tends to be busier, but while it may be more crowded there is also the longest pier in Wales plus an attractive promenade.

At the East Shore there is a kids’ play park as well as Wales’ largest paddling pool, and visitors can alsosavour superb views over Puffin Island and Anglesea. 

Llandudno itself – also known as ‘The Queen of Welsh Resorts’ – has some impressive examples of Victorian and Edwardian architecture. Visitors can also take a tram ride up to nearby Great Orme. 

Llandudno Travel Info

  • The Parade Car Park Postcode: LL30 2XT
  • 67 miles from Manchester
  • 1 hour & 30 minutes’ drive
  • 2 hours & 15 minutes by train


Best for: swimming, trails, kite sports and discovery

Lesser known than its neighbours Formby and Southport, Ainsdale is located between the two. With Blue Flag status, this huge beach is renowned for its clean water and golden sands.

A large sign on the beach in the shape of a footprint reading "leave nothing but your foot prints on the beach"
“leave nothing but your footprints”

Ainsdale beach is one of the UK’s best known spots for kite sports, and it has a specially designated area for this. It’s also a great place for sea bathing and wandering among the sand dunes.

As you can drive right up to the beach there’s no need to walk far to reach it. The Ainsdale Discovery Centre can also be found here, which offers free cycle hire, educational resources and activities and local information. 

Keen walkers can follow the trails across the landscape, and even during peak periods this beach is not often overly busy.

Ainsdale Beach Travel Info

  • Ainsdale beach Car Park Postcode: PR8 2QD
  • 34 miles from Manchester
  • 1 hour & 5 minutes’ drive
  • 1 hour & 55 minutes by train


Best for: cutting edge attractions and spacious sands

The bustling Welsh seaside resort of Rhyl offers plenty of rewards for those willing to venture a little further from Manchester. As well as plenty of shops, eateries and attractions, the town boasts two miles of broad, sandy beaches.

Rhyl walk way in front of the beach
Take a walk along the beachfront

Rhyl’s most central beach is close to the high street, and is sizable even when the tide is high. This gives it a feeling of spaciousness that can be missing from other British beaches on a sunny summer’s day. The SeaQuarium is located by the promenade here.

On the western end, towards the harbour, there’s a more peaceful area with impressive views over the ocean and Pont y Ddraig. There’s also a kids’ play park here, as well as the reinvented Sun Centre – now known as SC2. This is now home to a water park.

Rhyl Travel Info

With a balanced mix of golden sands, traditional seaside amusements like donkey rides and modern attractions like SC2 and the SeaQuarium, Rhyl can be a refreshing place to visit.

  • Rhyl Central Car Park Postcode: LL18 1HD
  • 53 miles from Manchester
  • 1 hour & 20 minutes’ drive
  • 1 hour & 35 minutes by train


Once you’ve picked which beach to visit on the nearest coast to Manchester, what do you pack for a fun-filled family day out? Here are some of our top suggestions.


Although there are shops close to the beaches detailed in this guide, it’s always a good idea to take an adequate supply of water – at least to get you started. Remember that you’re going to be travelling for an hour or more, and could encounter traffic jams or train delays. Why not invest in some great water bottles for the kids and adults, so you can refill them as required? It helps to save the environment as well as some cash. 

We love these ion8 water bottles as they are BPA Free and leakproof! They also come in lots of different colours and patterns so you’re bound to find one that suits your personality.

Adult Size Kids Size


Make sure to pack a high SPF sunscreen for both kids and adults. A waterproof formula is essential, as you’re bound to do some paddling or splashing about, even if you’re not quite brave enough for a swim. 

We highly recommend this sunscreen. It’s highly water resistant, non greasy and provides protection for up to 10 hours.


If you don’t yet have any for the kids, an affordable but sufficiently protective pair is best. That way there will be fewer tears if they are lost. From you as well as the kids!

We like these sunglasses for kids. They’ve survived a fair bit of abuse from my heavy handed 2 year old so they get top marks from me!

A Sun Hat

Small kids in particular need shade for their heads when the weather is warm and sunny. One with a broad, flopping brim will help to protect their face and neck too – although you still shouldn’t skimp on the sunscreen!

We recommend this sun hat for creating some much needed shade!


When your little ones have outgrown last year’s swimsuits, invest in one that’s great for summer holiday trips to your local pool as well as the beach.

We really rate this type of swimsuit. It offers some UV protection and has great options suitable for both boys and girls.

Beach Shoes

If the beach you’re visiting has shingle or stones, then beach shoes are a must to protect small, tender feet. They’re a great idea even on soft sands, in fact, as who knows what man-made or natural nasties lurk beneath the surface?

We like the look of these closed toe beach shoes for kids and these Crocs clogs.

Closed Toe Crocs

Beach Towels

Beach towels are an absolute must – what else would you sit on or dry yourselves with? Picking out a fun design can help kids to get really excited about their trip to the seaside.

We love these Dock & Bay beach towels for children and adults as seen on Dragon’s Den. They come in different sizes and there is a huge range of patterns and colours. They’re also super absorbent but quick drying and have ‘sand free’ technology which means you won’t be bringing the beach back home with you!

Beach Toys

Do not – I repeat – do not – forget the buckets and spades. Simple sand toys, like those that create shapes, are also a great idea to keep little minds and hands occupied. Don’t forget a net if you plan to go rock pooling too!

We recommend this set of beach toys. Everything you need to make the best sandcastle on the beach!

A Cool Box

If you’re packing a picnic, then you need a cool box. No one likes warm, soggy sandwiches or sausage rolls! If you’re taking the car, then you can pack it full of cold drinks and snacks as well as lunch.

We rate this Igloo coolbox. It’s strong and sturdy and will literally keep food cool for days. The best bit? It’s got wheels!

Car Awning

Now, this might not be something you’ve ever thought of (or even heard of!) before.

I’ll admit it’s a new discovery for me too! But I can’t stress how handy these things are.

Imagine being at the beach, on a campsite, at a remote picnic spot (I could go on….) and being able to quickly create a shelter for your family to enjoy some privacy and protection from the elements.

I’ve actually written a detailed post all about the best car awnings available as they’re not simply a one size fits all gadget.

One thing they do all have in common though is how EASY they are to put up! No roof racks required!

A Change of Clothing for Children

I know you’ll say don’t let the waves catch you out but you also know there’s a fair chance that will happen. With an hour or more to travel home, it makes complete sense, if only to reduce the chance of them whining all the way. They may also need clean clothes after a messy ice cream eating session!

A Good Book

What are you going to do while the kids clamber over stones, poke about in rock pools, construct sandcastles or splash about in the waves? A paperback book doesn’t weigh much, yet can keep you entertained all day long. Or invest in a Kindle – they’re waterproof so ideal for the beach! Why not check out

A Pack of Cards

If there are older kids, teens or adults, then a pack of cards can keep several of you amused for some time. There are also some great card games for younger kids too.

We really rate these playing cards as they’re wipe clean and waterproof – perfect for the beach!

And we never get bored of these card games with the kids…


So there’s the rundown. Which of these nearest beaches to Manchester will you visit next?

From wildlife rich Formby or rock pool haven Red Rocks to the bustling British seaside resorts of Southport, Rhyl, Blackpool or Llandudno, these are our contenders for the title of best and closest beach to Manchester.

Enjoy your day of sand and fresh sea air. If you’re really lucky, the sun might even shine on you!

Have you been to a beach near Manchester? Let us know in the comments!

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