The UK’s cheapest regions for beach parking holiday cottages

The UK’s cheapest regions for beach parking

Jemima Kirkwood 07 May 2021

A day at the beach can be an expensive day out. Not only do you have to factor in sunscreen, buckets and spades, towels, windbreaks and brollies, snacks and refreshments, but you also have to figure out where you are going to park and what that’s going to cost you. We’ve searched for the cheapest car parks across the UK so you can maximise your ice cream budget and have more money to spend on fun!

We have done a bit of digging to find out who charges what when it comes to beach parking, locating the cheapest regions throughout the UK to give your purse strings a break. Using the handy parking app, Parkopedia, we gathered average costs over 37 different coastal regions of England, Scotland and Wales for a day's parking at the beach. Now we are able to highlight the UK’s cheapest regions for beach parking. Check out our colour-coded map below to discover the cheapest regions.

It turns out that Scotland is by far the most generous country when it comes to free beach parking, with most of its regions charging absolutely nothing for a full day of fun on the coast. This could be down to the fact that many of the Scottish beaches are wild and remote, where the car park consists of a layby or a slightly widened track! Nonetheless, Scotland has pulled it out of the bag as being the most cost-friendly place to spend a day on the beach. Money saved on parking can go towards water sports, kayak hire, a banana boat ride or yummy refreshments - it’s definitely worth doing your research beforehand!

Beach parking in Scotland

These are the regions in Scotland where the beaches generally offer free parking:

  • The Highlands
  • The Scottish Islands
  • Moray
  • Tayside
  • Fife

You can enjoy the lovely beaches in these Scottish areas without worrying about pennies for parking.

Aberdeenshire in the north-east turns out to be the most expensive, costing on average £10 to park for a day! However, you can enjoy a day of parking for under £5 in the east and west Borders as well as Lothian and Strathclyde. 

Whilst Scotland may not be the obvious choice for beach holidays in the UK, on a hot sunny day, there is nowhere better than a Scottish beach where the waters are almost tropical in colour! There are so many hidden gems to be discovered.

Discover our self-catering cottages in some of the cheapest regions:

Highland cottages - Scottish island cottages - Moray cottages - Fife cottages

St Ninians Isle, Shetland, Scotland

Here are some of our favourite beaches in Scotland

St Ninian's Isle, Shetland - park at the beach tombolo car park and enjoy an easy stroll to the shore.

Tolsta Beach, Isle of Lewis - pull up in the beach car park and spend the day enjoying white sands, with no costs to think about.

Sango Bay, Highlands - a five-minute walk to the beach and completely free.

Sango Bay, Highlands, Scotland

Balmedie Country Park Beach - car park located four minutes from the beach, and options for woodland adventures too.

Calgary Bay, Isle of Mull - this beach is within easy walking distance from its car park, which is free to park in all day.

For more on Scotland’s beaches, check out our guide to the best beaches in Scotland

What about the rest of the UK?

Whilst the parking in Scotland is cheap and cheerful, the same can’t always be said for England and Wales.

Beach parking in England

Dorset has been revealed as the most expensive county when it comes to beach car park costs. On average, it costs £13.30 for a day of parking, with some of the most popular beaches in Bournemouth reaching £20 for the day! You get value for money here though, with a 24-hour parking window, so you can stay as long as you want to make the most of the whole day. Take enough food for lunch and supper and watch the sun set whilst relaxing on the sand - bliss.

East Sussex, Isle of Wight, Yorkshire, Somerset and Devon are also in the more expensive category, with parking costing between £5 and £15 for a day on the beach.

The cheapest regions in England include:

  • Essex
  • Tyne and Wear
  • County Durham
  • Northumberland
  • Norfolk

Bamburgh Beach, Northumberland

The beaches in these regions all cost, on average, under £3 for a day of parking.

Beach parking in Wales

Gwynedd in Wales is the most expensive region, with an average cost of £3.22 for a day’s parking. Ceredigion has the highest percentage of free beach car parks, with 87% of them being free to park in, and those that do charge costing under £5 for the day.

The cheapest regions in Wales include: 

  • Carmarthenshire
  • Ceredigion
  • Clwyd
  • Anglesey

Newborough Beach, Anglesey, Wales

The beaches in these regions all cost, on average, under £3 for a day of parking.

Other findings on the UK's beach car parks 

What should I expect to pay for a day’s parking at the beach in the UK? 

On average, it costs £2.33 to park for a full day in a car park on or near a beach in the UK, so unless you are travelling to the remote parts of Scotland, you should probably keep some change in the glove box!

Can I pay by card and online payments?  

Many of the beach car parks in the UK accept card or online payment, but if you haven’t looked it up before your trip, it’s safer to carry cash with you.

  • 58% of England's beaches offer card or online payments, with companies and apps including MiPermit, PayByPhone, RingGo and JustPark.
  • 45% of Wales' beaches offer card or online payments, with companies and apps including MiPermit, PayByPhone and RingGo.
  • Just 6% of Scottish beaches offer card or online payments.

Is there disabled parking within the UK’s beach car parks? 

52% of the beach car parks in the UK offer disabled parking. These are always marked and often have the spaces closest to the beachfront offering easy and secure access.

Is there electric car charging in the UK’s beach car parks? 

Only 7% of car parks near beaches in the UK offer electric car charging. 

A day at the beach is a wonderful way to spend time during your holiday, and Scotland certainly doesn’t fall short of great beaches. If you want to know more about some of our favourites, check out our guide to the best beaches in Scotland

Hopefully, now you have a better idea of the varied prices in the different regions throughout the UK, so you can be better prepared for your day on the beach. If you are interested in exploring Scotland’s many free beaches, take a look at our coastal cottages which make for the perfect base for any adventure.

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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