Retro romance: British seaside trips

Retro romance: British seaside trips

The sun has certainly been shining on Britain this summer, so what better time for a romantic seaside trip? Make like the honeymooners of the 1950s and head for the coast

Before the days of long-haul flights, budget trips and package holidays, couples who wanted a bit of romance headed for the shores of Blighty. Fish 'n' chips, slot machines and saucy postcards might first spring to mind, but with 10,000 miles of coastline to explore, Britain can be just as beautiful as the Bahamas.

1. Brighton, Sussex

What's not to love about Brighton? There's traditional seaside fun, a thriving cultural scene, unique shopping and an eccentric bohemian bustle. Home to England's largest arts festival every May, Brighton also has a lively arts scene all year round. Enjoy a pre-West End production at the beautiful red-and-gold Theatre Royal or a concert at the magnificent Dome theatre. If shopping is more your thing visit the North Laine, Brighton's Bohemian Quarter, with quirky and unusual shops selling everything from bonsai trees to vegetarian shoes and its Saturday street market.

For traditional seaside offerings, head down to Brighton Pier and visit the full-size funfair as you share some candyfloss. For a romantic trip, catch the Volks - the world's first public electric railway - along the seafront to Brighton Marina admiring the elegant seafront squares as you go.

Find out more: www.visitbrighton.com

2. Whitby, North Yorkshire

Cobbled streets, romantic coastal walks and a sandy blue-flag beach (meaning its standards are high), the maritime town of Whitby makes a great weekend escape. Explore the ancient ruins of the 13th Century Whitby Abbey, which inspired Bram Stokers' Dracula with its gothic splendour, before descending the 199 steps to the old town.

There are plenty of shops, cafes and restaurants to stop off at, but for a romantic and intimate afternoon tea, visit the quirky La Rosa Hotel. Housed in a beautiful early Victorian building with views out to the sea, the hotel has eight boudoir rooms all uniquely themed and decorated. The tearoom has a distinct Mad Hatter feel (Lewis Carol stayed in the building on many visits to Whitby) and the walls are heaving with display cabinets containing 'curios and kitsch-like wonders'.

For the ultimate retro experience, hop on board the North Yorkshire Moors Railway - an old steam railway - and take in the beautiful surrounding scenery.

Find out more: www.discoveryorkshirecoast.com/whitby

3. Torquay, Devon

With an 81% rise in bookings, compared with this time last year (according to Expedia), Torquay is seeing an influx of Brits heading to its shores. Nestled on the south coast's English Riviera, being in Torquay really does feel as though you've nipped on a tropical holiday - but taken the British seaside with you.

Palm trees line the promenade, there are great beaches, exciting attractions and an abundance of restaurants to enjoy over a candle-lit dinner. For a completely unique and unforgettable experience, get face-to-face with penguins at Torquay's coastal zoo, Living Coasts. The first place in the UK to offer diving with penguins, the zoo's experts are on hand to assist as you frolic with African and macaroni penguins.

If your sea legs aren't up to scratch, there's plenty to do back on dry land. The South West Coast Path (National Trail), which stretches for 630 miles of beautiful coastline, makes a perfect romantic walk. Stroll hand-in-hand along the Torquay section of this coastal path, which is a gentle four miles long, starting and ending at the harbour.

Find out more: www.torquay.com

4. Southend-on-Sea, Essex

Let's be honest, Southend isn't exactly the most romantic place on earth but it does have a certain charm all of its own. Once a popular seaside resort in the Georgian era, the town drew in hordes of tourists in the summer months, all seeking some sunshine along the seven miles of coast. It might not have the same appeal today, but there's lots of fun to be had on a weekend here. Aside from enjoying the twinkly lights of the funfair, throw together a picnic and take the Victorian cliff lift from the promenade to the pretty Prittlewell Square. There are ornamental gardens and fountains, which make the perfect setting.

Active couples can try cycling to neighbouring Leigh-on-Sea, which has excellent fish restaurants and is home to the famous cockle sheds. There's also lots of little craft shops and galleries to potter about in.

Southend's biggest draw, however, is its pleasure pier. The world's longest, (at 1.34 miles) it features a mile of railway line and The Royal Pavilion, which hosts a variety of events, concerts and exhibitions.

Find out more: www.visitsouthend.co.uk

5. Llandudno, Conwy, Wales

Here you'll find promenades, piers and Punch and Judy, but you can also enjoy castles, climbing and coastal walks. Llandudno, on the north coast, is Wales' largest seaside resort and its prettiest. There's two beaches to bask on - the award-winning North Shore and the quieter, sand duned West Shore - where you can embrace the Victorian-esque feel and relax on an old-fashioned red-and-white striped deckchair. The West Shore looks across the Conwy Estuary to Snowdonia, which if you're feeling adventurous enough you can try climbing!

For a less strenuous and more romantic experience, enjoy dinner at the award winning Terrace Restaurant at St George's Hotel, which has sweeping views of the Bay of Llandudno and the chance to spot dolphins as you eat.

Nearby there's Conwy Castle which is worth a visit, as well the amazing Great Orme Country Park, which has an Edwardian cable tramway and a PermaSnow ski slope.

Find out more: www.visitllandudno.org.uk

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