Planning your visit to Formby

Crowded beach at Formby

Formby is a popular nature haven for people and wildlife. It’s often extremely busy on sunny days or during school and bank holidays. Long traffic queues can be frustrating for visitors and put pressure on the residential roads of this small town. Here's some useful information and top tips to help you plan your visit.

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Travelling to Formby

Trains, buses, cycling and car sharing - there are plenty of ways to travel to Formby to help beat the queues on busy days. Plus, you'll be doing your bit to help the environment too. 

Formby by train

Formby has great public transport links, especially by train:

  • Freshfield station is located 1 mile from Victoria Road. 
  • Formby station is located 1.2 miles from Lifeboat Road. 

To quickly check your train times click here

Formby by bike

Cycling is a great way to get to Formby and take in the scenery. Due to the fragile landscape, we ask that cyclists keep to the designated cycle path, tarmacked roads or beach. Cycle racks are available next to the entrances at both Victoria Road and Lifeboat Road.

There are plenty of cycle routes and paths in the local area. Bike hire is available at both the Eco Visitor Centre and Southport Train Station. You can take your bike for free, without pre-booking, on the Merseyrail network. Entry is free for visitors arriving on foot or by bike.

Download cycle route maps here 

Parking at Formby


There is limited parking at both Victoria Road and Lifeboat Road, with space for around 600 cars in total. Most people tend to spend the day, this means on busy days car parks often fill up quickly and close by mid-morning for the rest of the day. This is to help prevent queuing and keep everyone wandering across the site safe. If car parks are full please consider planning your visit for a quieter day. Formby's nature haven is open 7 days a week all year round.  

Top tips for parking at Formby

  • Plan ahead and check opening times here.
  • Check @NTFormby social media before you head off for updates.
  • Head to Lifeboat Road (L37 2EB) for beach access as more space.
  • Download the PayByPhone app from paybyphone.co.uk for a simple, contactless payment. Coins only in the machines.
  • Avoid fines and unnecessary stress for local residents and emergency services by parking responsibly. 
  • Regular visitors can save money on parking, visit special National Trust places across the UK and support vital conservation work by becoming a member find out more here.

Every time you pay to park or scan your membership card you’re helping to protect Formby’s precious wildlife.

 

Being mindful of local neighbours

The local community love Formby’s precious coastline too and understandably get upset by littering, traffic congestion, blocked driveways and pavements. We want Formby to be a place that everyone can enjoy, today and in the future.  

Top tips for being neighbourly

  • Park responsibly taking care not to block driveways or pavements.
  • Observe local speed restrictions to avoid accidents. 
  • Take your litter home with you to throw away or recycle.
  • Resist the urge to honk your horn.
  • Support local business by popping to a pub, café or shop.

If queues are long and car parks full please consider planning your visit for a quieter day and discovering alternative destinations. Thank you for being mindful of local residents. 

 

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Protecting Formby's wildlife

Look past the parasols and the ice creams, and you’ll find a place with one of Europe’s best mobile sand dune habitats, where many rare species thrive. Issues such as littering can cause significant harm to wildlife, and it only takes one stray spark from a barbecue to start a wildfire that can damage large areas of countryside. With your help we can continue protecting this nature haven for generations to come.

Top tips to help protect wildlife

  • Bring a bag to take your litter home and recycle. 
  • Scoop that dog poop and drop off in the car park or pavement bins.
  • Keep dogs close by - dogs are welcome but please keep them under control. 
  • Stick to the sea for paddling to protect the natterjack toad dune pools. 
  • Keep your distance from resting, shoreline birds they have a long journey ahead.
  • Tread softly - you never know what special wildlife might be under your feet.
  • No fires please – enjoy a picnic but please don't have a BBQ or fire.
  • Help reduce air pollution - switch off engines in queues or at railway crossings.
  • No overnight stays please - search for designated campsites here .

Thank you for leaving only your footprints behind.

Image: Andrew Lakin

Creating an enjoyable experience for everyone

We're working hard to keep Formby's nature haven accessible, enjoyable and safe for everyone. During opening hours members of the team are always out and about on site to welcome you.

Top tips to help us open safely

  • Plan ahead and consider alternative destinations at busy times.
  • Park responsibly and keep access clear for emergency vehicles.
  • Check tide times here before visiting - often very little beach at high tide.
  • Leave alcohol at home - for safety reasons alcohol is not permitted. 
  • Say hello to the team we’re always happy to chat and share information.

Finding solutions for nature and people


There's no quick fix to the challenges busy days can bring, but we know that collaborating with Sefton Coast Landscape partners and listening to feedback from visitors and the local community is the right approach to help us find solutions that work for both people and nature. Here’s just a few of the ways we’re improving your experience;

  • Regular group meetings with Sefton Council, Merseyside Police, Merseyside Fire and Rescue, RNLI, The Coastguard, Natural England and Merseyrail to share information and plan ahead.
  • Increasing awareness of car park capacity and how busy they can get.
  • Signs to highlight when car parks are full and direct people to Lifeboat Road.
  • Closing car parks when full, to stop queues and keep people safe on site. 
  • Promoting alternative destinations to explore nearby on busy days. 
  • Space line markings at Lifeboat Road to park more cars. 
  • Free designated parking for Blue Badge holders close to access paths.
  • Portable toilets at Lifeboat Road for the summer season.
  • Additional large bins in the car parks and more frequent emptying.
  • Support from fantastic volunteers to help with the day to day running of the site.
  • Seasonal staff to provide extra support on busy days.

Working with such a delicate and changing coastline like Formby is a challenge and it takes time to plan. This is to ensure anything we do helps protects this precious landscape for future generations.

" Thank you for showing kindness and respect to nature and people when you visit Formby's nature haven. Together we can protect this special place so that it's here for everyone to enjoy, for ever. "
- Kate Martin - Lead Ranger

Coastal places to visit nearby

We understand that visitors want to enjoy Formby, but on busy days it isn’t always possible to welcome all visitors onto our car parks. Here are some suggestions for other coastal places to visit nearby:

Beach car parks nearby (open 1 April – 30 September)

  • Ainsdale PR8 2QB - 11 min (4.1 mi) via Coastal Rd
  • Southport PR9 1RX - 17 min (8.2 mi) via Coastal Rd

Crosby promenade pay and display parking – 19 minutes (8.4 mi) via A565

Find out more about Sefton Coast car parks here 

  • Blackpool - 1 h 7 min (55.4 mi) via M6
  • Morecambe - 1 h 13 min (64.1 mi) via M6

These coastal areas can also become very busy during the holidays and warmer weather, we recommend checking local websites, social media and travel updates before visiting.