In the center of the Lincolnshire coast, Skegness offered some of the UK’s first bucket and shovel breaks. During the golden age of the British seaside in the 1920s and 1930s, it became one of the country’s most beloved holiday destinations.
Today, the city is full of memories of those happy times. In summer, old fairground attractions line the promenade, temporary stalls sell cotton candy clouds and rock sticks, and a pleasure pier, though rebuilt, still stretches out over the North Sea.
In recent years, more and more arcades have been set up in Skegness, earning it the nickname ‘Skeg Vegas’. However, making the rounds of the 2p machines is now an integral part of a city trip that remains as committed as ever to good old-fashioned fun. For more information see visitlinccoast.co.uk/explore/skegness.
how to get there
Skegness’s tourist attractions are clustered around the compact town center and the beach that fronts it, making it easy to get around on foot. The train and bus station is located right in the center of the city, with East Midlands Railway services from Nottingham. Bus services are operated by Stagecoach and in summer passengers travel in open-top buses. Use the number 1 and 3 buses to tour the city’s main attractions and venture down the coast, stagecoachbus.com.
Where to stay
Opened in 1936, Butlin’s is Skegness’s most famous resort and the group’s first holiday park. However, the minimum stay here is three nights, so it doesn’t lend itself to short weekend getaways.
With a variety of deluxe rooms, family rooms and handicap accessible rooms, The Vine is one of the most established hotels in the city. Standard double rooms are available from £80 per night. Meanwhile, if you want to wake up to a sea view, try the North Parade Hotel. Rates start at £60 per night for a standard double room.
Day one: Up with the sun
Take a taxi or take the bus to Chapel Point for the North Sea Observatory. Opened in 2018, this angular marine observatory is home to the Seascape Café. The menu puts local produce on a pedestal. Breakfast highlights include the Full Lincolnshire which comes with chubby Lincolnshire sausages and the Lincolnshire plum toast. Open year-round, the cafe has both indoor and outdoor seating areas with ocean views.
A short detour back into town will take you to the “Skeg Vegas” sign. Built by Skegness Raceway, the sign has been designed to resemble the famous Las Vegas welcome board and features the words “Welcome to fabulous Skeg Vegas.” This roadside marker has become a popular selfie spot.
do not miss
Visits to Skegness are all about losing track of time at the waterfront attractions. Dive into the arcades to play 2p dealers and stuffed animal grabbers. Do the rounds of the amusement rides. Use the 20p viewers at the dock. For the cooler months, the pier has a covered area with a bowling alley. For something different, follow a Treasure Trail around town. Available for £10.99 online, these packs help you explore Skegness by giving you a series of clues and puzzles to solve.
From pubs to sports bars, there’s no shortage of drinking hotspots in the city. In summer, you can even buy an alcoholic slushie at one of the waterfront kiosks and sip it on the go. However, one place that really stands out from the crowd is the Spirit of Skegness Distillery, which produces a variety of gins and rums using the copper ‘Dora’ pot still. The distillery bar does not accept walk-ins. However, visitors can book a variety of experiences. Saturday nights are Gin School nights, when you can make your own gin.
Dinner translates to fish and chips in Skegness. The town’s main street was once known as “chip pan alley” because it was lined with chips, and over the years these venues have also moved closer to the boardwalk area. Trawlers Catch is one of the most popular. Animatronic pirates welcome you to this restaurant and inside the chefs fry fish that are caught fresh in Grimsby every morning.
Three things you may not know about Skegness…
1) The name Skegness is believed to derive from the Old Norse words Skeggi and Ness and roughly translates to “bearded headland”. It is suggested that this term relates to one of the Vikings who established a settlement in the area in the Middle Ages.
two) John Hassall, the artist behind Skegness’s Jolly Fisherman retro poster, had not visited Skegness when he painted his now-famous artwork.
3) Poet Laureate Alfred Lord Tennyson holidayed in Skegness as a young man and some scholars believe his poetry was influenced by his walks along the beach.
Day two: go to the beach
Long and wide with breadcrumb sand, Skegness’s Blue Flag beach is a Frisbee’s throw from the town centre. Stall owners sell buckets and spades by the sand, and in winter the wind makes it a great place to fly kites.
Time to eat
A half-hour walk north or a five-minute taxi ride from Skegness Pier will bring you to The View. Located inside a former lifeguard station, this cafe overlooks the crumbling sands of Winthorpe Beach. The menu offers everything from seafood platters to loaded fries, all served in Everest-tall portions.
Time to relax
A 15 minute ride on the number 56 bus followed by a 20 minute walk will take you to Gunby Hall. Kissing the edge of the Lincolnshire Wolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, this 18th-century property is home to a grand manor house (open on select dates) and eight acres of gardens.
have a gift
No trip to Skegness is complete without ice cream. In summer, kiosks along the boardwalk carry cones with flavors ranging from birthday cake to blue sherbet. On cooler days, head to Artisan Coffee Design, which serves a dozen different cheesecakes, from Dime bar to Eton Mess. Gluten free and vegan cakes also available.