Bucket-list builder: Great seaside piers
- Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
Start building your bucket-list - with a memorable trip to the seaside
Lockdown is making a lot of us realise that, when this is over, we should seize the opportunity to do those things we always wanted to do and going to those places we always hoped to visit. But where would you start? We’re using the time inside to plan – to draw up a shortlist of dream destinations and activities, candidates for a post-pandemic bucket list.
We’d begin with a trip to the seaside. Everyone loves Cromer Pier - it has to be on the must-visit list for when the lockdown is lifted. There’s something wonderfully civilised about relaxing by the sea, taking a stroll out to the end of the pier to soak up the fresh air and the atmosphere. There are a lot of great piers around the world that offer amazing views and entertainments.
Perhaps one of the more ambitious ones would make it onto your bucket list?
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This elegant Victorian pier arches more than 300m out into the Bristol Channel on eight tall, slender spans, ending in a broad platform with a beautiful pavilion. It first opened in 1869, but 100 years later it had fallen into disrepair and faced demolition. That threat rallied support and the pier was dismantled and restored, before being reassembled and reopened in 1989.
How to get there: It’s a four-hour drive from Norwich to Clevedon, which is just off the M5 south of Bristol.
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The original wooden pier at this German resort was Europe’s longest when it was finished in 1893. That burnt down in 1958 and the current pier wasn’t completed until 1995, crowned by a pyramid and home to shops, cafes, a cinema and more. It extends more than 500m out into the Baltic from the island of Usedom – famed as being the sunniest place in Germany.
How to get there: There are no direct flights from the UK to the tiny Heringsdorf airport, but you could hire a car and drive from the airports in Berlin or Hamburg (just over three hours).
Santa Monica Pier
It doesn’t get more iconic than Santa Monica Pier in California. It’s where Route 66 and the Pacific Coast Highway meet, it has its own fun-fair and the huge sandy beach that surrounds it was where the original Baywatch TV series was filmed. There’s been a pier in Santa Monica since 1909, though it’s undergone several make-overs – most notably following a battering by winter storms in 1983, after which it was rebuilt and reopened in 1990, with a revamped amusement park.
How to get there: The easy way is to fly direct to Los Angeles. The long way is to fly to Chicago and follow Route 66 all the way to the pier – the final destination on the trip of a lifetime.
The world’s longest pleasure pier is closer to home: the majestic pier at Southend-on-Sea is 1.3 miles long. It’s so vast that trains take visitors from the parade to the attractions and pavilion at the far end. The first pier had been built in Southend in the 1830 but was replaced by the iron Victorian one 1889 – which was so popular it had to be expanded and extended, reaching its current size in 1929. Much more than just a marvel of British engineering, it’s still a wonderful place for a family day out.
How to get there: It’s a two-hour-ish drive from Norwich to the pier; or you could take the train (change in Chelmsford).
The Dutch do things a bit differently. Completed in 1956, this pier that projects 300m into the North Sea has two levels and ends in four distinct “islands”, housing everything from shops and cafes to a bungee jump and a Ferris wheel. The resort of Scheveninghen is close to the Hague, with long sandy beaches and extensive dunes like those on the Norfolk coast.
How to get there: It’s just a half-hour drive from the Hook of Holland ferry, after an overnight crossing from Harwich.
A bucket list needs dramatic destinations, doesn’t it? So put the longest wooden pier in the southern hemisphere on yours: Busselton Jetty is just over a mile long and has a train to get you out to the underwater observatory. It has restaurants, amazing views and – being in Western Australia – hours of glorious sunshine, especially in what are the winter months in the UK.
How to get there: Busselton is a two-and-a-half hour drive south of Perth in Western Australia, or about a week’s drive from Sydney...