Holiday Entertainment Index (including the best amusement locations)

Updated: 296

The UK’s seaside towns blend traditional and modern entertainment, featuring serene beaches, bustling piers, amusement arcades and slots

Holiday Entertainment Index (including the best amusement locations)
Steve Madgwick Editor-In-Chief

Editor-In-Chief with 20 years experience covering the betting angles to breaking news stories. Daily slots player, Portsmouth fan and League Snooker Player

A UK seaside holiday is not complete without a visit to the Pier and the amusement arcade to grab a toy or traditionally play a fruit machine instead of playing online slots at home. But there are a host of other considerations, and we have taken them all and put together the ultimate UK holiday entertainment index

Here’s a look at some of the best seaside towns for holiday entertainment, considering the number of activities, the cost, and the weather. 

The best seaside towns for holiday entertainment revealed - and Tenby comes out on top!

best seaside town

1. Tenby, Pembrokeshire - 7.71 out of 10

Tenby tops the list as the best seaside town for holiday entertainment, scoring 7.71 out of 10. This charming harbour town and resort in southwest Wales is known for its 13th-century town walls and sandy beaches.

Tenby has 6.4 pubs per 1,000 people and 2.4 featuring live music, so for such a small town, there’s decent nightlife for visitors. Similarly, it has 19.3 restaurants per 1,000 people, the second-most on the list.

The town is also highly regarded for its three miles of beaches. Castle Beach was named the best beach in the UK in 2019 and currently has a 4.8 out of 5 rating on Google.

2. St Ives, Cornwall - 7.29 out of 10

St Ives is another renowned coastal town and has become known as the home of many artists. It ranks second here, primarily due to its excellent weather. St Ives has an oceanic climate and some of the mildest winters and warmest summers in Britain and Northern Europe. Of all the seaside towns analysed, it has the lowest annual rainfall (673 mm) and the fewest average rainy days per year (97).

It also has the second-highest number of museums (3.5 per 1,000 people), including the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden and the St Ives Museum.

It was also among the best-ranking places for its beach review score (4.8), Google searches (80,600 per year) and train stations (36 in the Cornwall local authority).

3. Lyme Regis, Dorset - 7.24 out of 10

Lyme Regis, known as the "Pearl of Dorset," comes in third, combining natural beauty and historic charm. One of the factors it scored best for is zoos and aquariums, mainly due to the Lyme Regis Marine Aquarium, which showcases local sea life and the town’s rich maritime history.

Lyme Regis also has 1.9 pubs with live music per 1,000 people, more than all but two other towns and 4.3 pubs per 1,000 people overall. It has a relatively dry climate, with an average of 98 rainy days per year.

As part of the Jurassic Coast, a World Heritage Site and heritage coast, the town’s cliffs and beaches are an excellent place to discover fossils.

Rank City/Town Population Entertainment score
1 Tenby 4,090 7.71
2 St Ives 5,409 7.29
3 Lyme Regis 3,743 7.24
4 New Brighton 14,664 6.56
5 Swanage 9,113 6.31
5 Southwold 950 6.31
7 Whitby 12,595 6.11
8 Hunstanton 4,228 5.93
9 Cromer 7,524 5.81
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Which UK seaside towns can be considered the best for amusements?

best for amusements

Amusement arcades featuring video games, toy grabbers and other attractions have long been the stable of a UK holiday. They offer a welcome distraction when the weather plays up, and along with all the modern development, you can still find some old classic and historical amusement machines from days gone by.

Amusement arcades and slot machines are such a feature of British seaside towns, with a mixture of traditional and modern games. Great Yarmouth has the most overall, with 16. The Marine Parade is the town’s bustling heart of its seafront, lined with classic arcades like the Flamingo and Atlantis, with games from penny slots to the latest video games.

In second, Bridlington and Blackpool both have 14 arcades each. On the East Yorkshire coast, Bridlington’s seafront is dotted with classic arcades like Treasure Island, while Blackpool’s largest arcades include the pirate-themed Coral Island. Other towns with large numbers of arcades include Southend-on-Sea, with 12, and Scarborough, with 10.

Which Seaside Towns have the Best Individual features?

Let's take a look through the various aspects you may consider for your next holiday

Which seaside town has the most pubs?

Southwold, East Suffolk - 11.6 per 1,000 people

If you appreciate a pint at the local pub during your seaside holiday, Southwold has the highest ratio, with 11.6 per 1,000 people. The town’s tiny population means that it has an exceptionally high density of pubs for its size, including the Sole Bay Inn, the Lord Nelson, and the Harbour Inn.


pubs with live music

Which seaside town has the most pubs with live music?

Tenby, Pembrokeshire - 2.4 per 1,000 people

Tenby is another town with a lively pub scene, especially if you enjoy live music. The town in Pembrokeshire has 2.4 pubs with live music per 1,000 people, including the Cove and the Three Mariners.


most restaurants

Which seaside town has the most restaurants?

Southwold, East Suffolk - 32.6 per 1,000 people

Southwold’s small size also means it has the most restaurants per 1,000 people, with 32.6. Given its coastal location, Southwold is famous for its seafood. Many restaurants feature fresh, locally sourced fish and shellfish, providing diners with an authentic taste of the sea.


most museums

Which seaside town has the most museums?

Southwold, East Suffolk - 5.3 per 1,000 people

Also topping the list for museums, Southwold’s main museum has several exhibits showing the town's local and natural history. The town also has various other museums, such as the Lifeboat Museum, the Sailors’ Reading Room, and the Buckenham Galleries.


most parks nature attractions

Which seaside town has the most parks & nature attractions?

Bamburgh, Northumberland - 9.3 per 1,000 people

If you prefer to explore the outdoors during your holiday, Bamburgh in Northumberland has the most natural attractions, with 9.3 per 1,000 people. Bamburgh is known for its stunning natural beauty, although this figure is also slightly affected by its tiny population.


most sights landmarks

Which seaside town has the most sights & landmarks?

Bamburgh, Northumberland - 12.4 per 1,000 people

Bamburgh also tops the list for sights & landmarks, with 12.4 per 10,000 people, again influenced slightly by its very low population. The main attractions here include the local castle, built by the Normans, the beach, and the dunes, a Site of Special Scientific Interest.


most zoos aquariums

Which seaside town has the most zoos & aquariums?

Fishguard, Pembrokeshire & Lyme Regis, Dorset - 0.3 per 1,000 people

Two towns are tied regarding the number of zoos & aquariums, Fishguard in Wales and Lyme Regis in Dorset, with 0.3 per 1,000 people. Lyme Regis is home to its own Marine Aquarium, while Fishguard has the Sea Môr Aquarium.


most water & amusement parks

Which seaside town has the most water & amusement parks?

Tenby, Pembrokeshire - 0.5 per 1,000 people

Amusement parks are a big part of the seaside holiday experience, and Tenby has more per capita than any other seaside town. The most popular is Heatherton World of Activities, which offers both indoor and outdoor activities like paintball, fishing, archery, and golf.


most arcades

Which seaside town has the most arcades?

Hunstanton, West Norfolk - 1.4 per 1,000 people

Amusement arcades and slots are another quintessential feature of British seaside towns. Hunstanton in West Norfolk has the most, with 1.4 per 1,000 people. Hunstanton Pier is famous for its amusements, with traditional coin push, toy grabber and fruit machines.


google reviews

Which seaside town has the best beach?

Bamburgh, Northumberland - 4.9 out of 5 Google review score

Bamburgh’s extensive sandy beach has been awarded a Blue Flag rural beach award, but it’s also known for the imposing Bamburgh Castle, which overlooks the shore from a high vantage point on a rocky outcrop. The beach has an almost perfect score of 4.9 out of 5 from visitors on Google.


hotel costs

Which seaside town is the cheapest for a hotel?

Great Yarmouth, Norfolk - £59 per night

Affordability is always important when planning a holiday. The average nightly hotel stay in Great Yarmouth is just £59, meaning it won't break the bank. The town is a gateway to the Norfolk Broads and features the Pleasure Beach, Sea Life Centre, Hippodrome Circus and more.


most searched for

Which seaside town is the most searched-for?

Blackpool, Lancashire - 81,600 annual Google searches

The most popular seaside town on Google is Blackpool, with over 81,000 searches in the last year. Blackpool is renowned for its vibrant history and iconic landmarks like Blackpool Tower, the Pleasure Beach, and the Illuminations.


the warmest

Which seaside town is the warmest?

Shanklin, Isle of Wight - 11.6°C average annual temperature

At 11.6°C, Shanklin is the warmest seaside town. Located on the Isle of Wight, it experiences a temperate maritime climate influenced by its coastal location, making it a popular tourist destination.


least rainfall

Which seaside town has the least rainfall?

St Ives, Cornwall - 673 mm average annual rainfall

Regarding rainfall, the driest seaside town is St Ives, in Cornwall, which averages just 673 mm of yearly rain. Its oceanic climate on the South Coast makes it a perfect place to escape the British summer rain.


fewest rainy days

Which seaside towns have the fewest rainy days?

St Ives, Cornwall & Shanklin & Sandown, Isle of Wight - 97 average annual rainy days

Similarly, St Ives has the fewest rainy days, just 97 annually. Two other towns, Sandown on the Isle of Wight and Shanklin, also have the same number of rainy days.


train stations

Which seaside towns have the most train stations in the local area?

St Ives, Newquay & Falmouth, Cornwall - 36 train stations

Good public transport links are essential when travelling; the best connected of these seaside towns are those found in Cornwall. The county has 36 train stations, making navigating the various towns and beaches easy for visitors.


Commentary and quotes

“The Great British Summer is finally here, and although the weather isn’t always destined to deliver the perfect UK getaway, many of the best seaside towns across our shores are jam-packed with indoor and outdoor entertainment - from arcades to pubs, and more!

“Using various data sources such as Tripadvisor and Google Maps, OLBG has created the ultimate ‘Holiday Entertainment Index’ to determine the best places for seaside fun in the UK - including the best amusement locations. 

“At OLBG, we know a thing or two about the best slot games for UK residents. Arcades are there for all the family and amusement arcades and slot machines are a staple of many of the best UK seaside towns - Blackpool, Southend-on-Sea and Scarborough just to name a few. Our research has found that these destinations rank amongst the top five arcade destinations in the UK - but Great Yarmouth and Bridlington pip them to the post with 16 and 14 recorded arcades in the respective areas. 

“Perhaps more understated is Hunstanton in West Norfolk, with 1.4 arcades per 1,000 people, the most of our destinations profiled. Hunstanton Pier is famous for its amusements, with traditional coin push, toy grabber and fruit machines.

“Every seaside town has its own charm to attract visitors from both the UK and worldwide, but if you’re looking for some fun on your adventurous trip, our final index scores have named Tenby the best UK seaside town for holiday entertainment. From the town’s highly-rated Castle Beach to a great selection of pubs and restaurants for the best nightlife experience, it’s hard to look past marking a trip to Tenby in your future calendar!”

First, we created a list of popular British seaside destinations using the following articles:

Each was then given a normalised score out of ten for each of the following factors before an average of these scores was taken.

Populations were sourced from City Population.

Pubs & pubs with live music

Sourced from CAMRA.

Restaurants, museums, nature & parks, sights & landmarks, zoos & aquariums, water & amusement park

All sourced from Tripadvisor.

Arcades

Sourced from Google Maps.

Beach review score

Sourced from Google Maps.

Average nightly hotel price

Sourced from Kayak. Shows the average price of hotels on a Friday and Saturday night selected by users from Kayak’s search results in the last two weeks (as of June 4th, 2023). Data was unavailable for New Brighton so prices for Wallasey were used.

Annual Google searches

The number of UK Google searches for “[location] holiday” and “holiday in [location]” between May 2023 and April 2024 sourced using Google Ads Keyword Planner.

Average annual temperature, rainfall and rainy days

All sourced from Climate Data. For rainy days, an average was taken for the 12 months of the year.

Train stations

The number of train stations in the entire local authority sourced from the Office of Rail and Road’s estimates of station usage (Table 1415).


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