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10 of the UK’s best seafood destinations

With one of Europe’s longest coastlines, the UK has some of the continent’s finest seafood. But which coastal destinations make the most of it? Here are 10 of the best spots for seafood lovers.

Published 4 Aug 2021, 06:07 BST
The remains of old fishing boats on the Aldeburgh beach, Suffolk. Here, the local catch includes sea ...

The remains of old fishing boats on the Aldeburgh beach, Suffolk. Here, the local catch includes sea bass, whiting and skate.

Photograph by Getty Images

There’s no doubt that along its almost 19,500-mile coastline, the UK is blessed with some of the tastiest seafood you could wish for, from cod and haddock to oysters, mussels, lobster and crab. Yet seeking out the best fresh fish and shellfish isn’t as easy as it sounds — for while some seaside resorts like to showcase what’s in their waters, in others, the local catch is sent straight on elsewhere. In short, if you’re on the hunt for fresh fish, it pays to do a spot of research before you set out. So here are 10 locations in the UK where seafood lovers will be spoilt for choice.

1. North Shields and Tynemouth

The fishing industry has long been part of the North East’s very fabric and, happily, it’s also highly accessible to the average punter. Riley’s Fish Shack — much loved by Jay Rayner – does creative things with the region’s day boat catch, while over at Fish Quay there are many restaurants and bars serving seafood plus, in the shape of Phil’s Plaice, a great fishmonger who promises “quay to counter in under 10 minutes”.

2. Wivenhoe, Essex

Nearby Mersea Island and oyster specialists The Company Shed get much praise and publicity but push ‘upstream’ to Wivenhoe and you’ll find great accessible seafood. The Wivenhoe Fish Company, for example, sells catch such as mackerel, plaice and flounder from its own trawler, as well as other local boats, while Henley’s offers fish and chips with a wet counter — so you can choose your fish and have it cooked to order.

3. Hastings

Home to the largest beach-launched fleet in Europe, Hastings has also built up a strong reputation for sustainable fishing practices. The local catch — such as cod, skate, sole and plaice — can thus be enjoyed guilt-free, battered and fried from many a fish and chip shop (or, at weekends, as a sandwich from the Hastings Fish Rolls hut), or for sale in myriad forms at places such as ‘fish traders, smokers and curers’ Rock-A-Nore Fisheries.

4. Roseland Peninsula

Cornwall has long celebrated both its local larder, and its catch. The Roseland Peninsula takes in several great Cornish seafood destinations, including Mevagissey, where local sardines are freely available straight off the boat; Portscatho, home to Simon Stallard’s wonderful Hidden Hut restaurant; and Falmouth, with its multiple fish shops, restaurants and cafes.

5. Topsham

As with Cornwall, the seafood in Devon is easy to find countywide. And while Topsham is not as well-known as some other Devonshire seaside spots, it’s home to great fishmongers, such as Salt at the Salutation Inn, excellent informal dining options such as The Fish Shed, plus, in the case of River Exe Cafe, a sit-down option that floats on the very waters that provided your lunch.

When it comes to showcasing its seafood, Scotland really puts much of the rest of coastal Britain to shame.

Photograph by Getty Images

6. Margate

Kent has many a seafood gem, but Margate’s relatively recent food evolution is worthy of note. While Mannings Seafood hut has been selling cockles, whelks and suchlike since 1962, there are also places like Hantverk & Found — which has morphed from seafood cafe to first-rate Japanese restaurant since opening in 2015 — and Angela’s, offering a daily changing menu based on the morning’s catch.

7. Aldeburgh

Further up the coast in Suffolk, the local catch includes sea bass, whiting and skate. These and other species can be purchased directly from the people who caught them at the fish huts on Aldeburgh Beach. Or you can enjoy them prepared and cooked in various forms throughout the town, including at local Indian restaurant Sea Spice.

8. Cleveleys and Fleetwood

While the centre of Blackpool errs towards deep-fried fish, venture further north and you’ll find Cleveleys and Fleetwood, and local seafood in all its forms. There are multiple fishmongers, such as Dockside Seafood and The Fish Plaice, served by local fishermen, and even more takeaways, offering some of the region’s best fish and chips.  

9. Oban

Resort town Oban boldly claims to be the seafood capital of Scotland. It has a point. The local catch — scallops, langoustines, lobsters, crabs and halibut, to name but a few — can be found on many a wet counter — such as at fishmongers D Watt & Son, Oban’s oldest family business — and in many a restaurant, from the stylish setting of famous Ee-Usk to several more ‘grab-and-go’ places such as Oban Seafood Hut.

10. St Monans

When it comes to showcasing its seafood, Scotland really puts much of the rest of coastal Britain to shame. St Monans is a case in point. Here the local catch of haddock, coley, halibut and creel-caught langoustines (plus squid when in season), can be found in places such as Craig Millar’s acclaimed restaurant, David Lowrie Fish Merchants or the East Pier Smokehouse. What’s more, it’s just a short drive to the famous Anstruther Fish Bar and the idyllic fishing village of Pittenweem.

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