UK ranks top 10 globally for best beaches – but it could be a squeeze this summer

Research by hotel booking platform, hoo, has revealed that the UK ranks within the top 10 for the greatest abundance of Blue Flag beaches. However, with a summer of staycations on the cards again this year, UK holidaymakers could be in for a squeeze on the sand. 

The Blue Flag award is one of the world’s most recognised and is awarded to beaches based on a stringent number of environmental, educational, safety and accessibility criteria.

When it comes to the nation boasting the most Blue Flag beaches, Spain sits top of the table with no less than 614. Greece also ranks high with 545, while Turkey (519), Italy (416), France (410), Portugal (371) and, perhaps surprisingly, Denmark (168) are also home to some of the highest numbers. 

The UK is the only other nation to see the number of Blue Flag beaches hit triple figures, with 127 in total around our coastline. Handy given that foreign travel remains an uncertain prospect this summer and many of us are opting to stay put and holiday domestically. 

However, hoo’s research shows that we could struggle to find room for our beach towels this summer, with a heightened number of visitors set to hit UK beaches once again.

Why?

Well hoo analysed the number of Blue Flag beaches in relation to population size to see where offered the most abundant level of best beach availability. Based on the number of Blue Flag beaches per 100,000 of the population, Montenegro ranks top, with 5.95 top-rated beaches for every 100,000 people in a population of 621,718. 

Cyprus (5.63), Greece (5.09) and Portugal (3.61) again rank highly, but it’s not looking as good for UK beachgoers. 

With a population of over 67.2m, the Blue Flag beach to beachgoer ratio in the UK sits at just 0.19, pushing the UK down to 23rd in the list. 

hoo Co-founder, Adrian Murdock, commented:

“With the UK finally enjoying some outstanding and prolonged periods of sunshine, another summer of staycations is suddenly looking like the best plan for what’s been another year of uncertainty surrounding foreign travel. 

Of course, the compromise with a relatively carefree holiday at home is the fact that our beaches are probably going to be rammed.

For those looking for a trip to the beach, planning ahead is the best way to ensure a day without any disappointment – and get there early. It’s also important to remember that while restrictions have been lifted, COVID-19 remains a threat so take the necessary precautions in busy locations such as the beach.” 

Table shows the top 25 destinations for Blue Flag beach availability based on beach number in relation to 100,000 of the population
NationBlue Flag BeachesEst population 2020Blue flag rate – beaches per 100,000 population
Montenegro37621,7185.95
Cyprus681,207,3615.63
Greece54510,715,5495.09
Portugal37210,305,5643.61
Denmark1685,831,4042.88
US Virgin Islands3106,2902.82
Malta11525,2852.09
Ireland834,994,7241.66
Croatia534,047,2001.31
Spain61447,351,5671.30
Italy41659,554,0230.70
Latvia131,901,5480.68
Turkey51984,339,0670.62
France41067,391,5820.61
Israel569,216,9000.61
Slovenia122,100,1260.57
Iceland2366,4250.55
Netherlands5617,441,1390.32
Norway175,379,4750.32
Belgium3111,555,9970.27
Lithuania72,794,7000.25
DominicanRepublic2410,847,9040.22
United Kingdom12767,215,2930.19
Bulgaria136,927,2880.19
United Arab Emirates179,890,4000.17
SourcesBlue FlagWorld Bank 
    
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