Best Things To Do In Margate, Kent

Last Updated on 16/03/2024 by secretmoona

Margate is a popular seaside resort located in the Thanet district of Kent. It has been attracting visitors for a long time due to its unique English charm and a variety of natural and unusual attractions. Margate is an ideal weekend trip from London, being one of England’s first grand seaside resorts. After a period of decline, the town is now doing much better, thanks to the reopening of its famous amusement park, Dreamlands, the opening of the Turner Contemporary Museum, and other recent developments. With its picturesque white sand beach, breathtaking coves and coasts, and charming old-town coastal architecture, Margate has something to offer everyone. Whether you’re interested in exciting restaurants, cultural venues, tourist attractions, or vintage shops, Margate has everything you need for a great weekend by the sea, no matter the weather. In this guide, we will explore the best things to do and places to visit in Margate to help you make the most of your trip to this coastal gem.

Stroll Along Margate Main Sands

Margate Main Sands beach is a wide and clean beach (Blue Flag) with golden sands, crystal-clear waters, and stunning views of the English Channel. The beach is supervised by lifeguards only during peak tourist season. It’s the perfect place for sunbathing, taking a stroll, or relaxing with your loved ones. If you prefer to stay by the sea, you can walk along the coast in both directions. You can swim in a pool when the tide is too low or explore the tide pools between the rocks to the west.

Margate Main Sands - Margate, Kent

As you walk away from the main beach and the tourist crowds, you will find more minor and excellent spots to relax. Heading east, you can follow a path along the cliffs to the beautiful Botany Bay and Broadstairs in around three hours.

Margate Harbour - Margate, Kent

There are games for children, ice cream, and seafood stands such as the traditional Manning’s Seafood Stall towards the port. For the ultimate beach experience, grab some fish and chips from one of the nearby seaside cafes. However, watch out for the seagulls, as they can be quite a nuisance. A picnic on the beach is not always a good idea with them around!

Explore Harbour Arm & the Turner Contemporary

As you walk along the beach, you’ll see the Harbor Arm, the harbour pier, and several great spots, including BeBeached, which serves bread from Bake Off star Paul Hollywood and local produce, and Cheesy Tiger, a cheese specialist.

After that, head over to Turner Contemporary, an iconic art gallery located at the end of the pier. The gallery, named after the famous painter J.M.W. Turner, opened in 2011 and helped kickstart the city’s transformation.

Turner Contemporary - Margate, Kent

Entrance to the gallery is free, and it’s a lively place with original temporary exhibitions, workshops, and a great shop. You’ll find art from artists such as Turner and van Gogh, as well as young creative minds like artist Tracey Emin, originally from Margate and one of Shoreditch’s pioneers, and singer Pete Doherty from the Libertines.

The building itself was designed by architect David Chipperfield. Since then, other private art galleries like the Pie Factory have opened. The Turner Contemporary is a must-visit destination, whether you’re an art enthusiast or simply appreciate beautiful aesthetics.

Experience the Shell Grotto

If you continue towards the hill behind the Old Town, you will first come across the Tudor House. This half-timbered house, dating back to 1525, is an early example of a modern home with two floors, glass windows and two fireplaces. 

A little further on, you will find one of the most unique attractions of this small seaside town: the Shell Grotto. This strange underground passageway is decorated with millions of seashell mosaics, making it a captivating glimpse into the town’s enigmatic past. 

Located beneath the streets of Margate, this hidden gem contains countless patterns and designs made from oyster shells, cockles, and mussels from local beaches. Discovered by chance in 1835, the series of underground caves remains a mystery as no one knows who the creator(s) are or what their purpose was. 

It’s an extraordinary and mysterious place that will leave you in awe of the work and patience it took to create this cave. At the entrance, there is also a small café and a store selling shell-related objects.

Margate Clock Tower

Discover Margate Old Town

The Margate Old Town is a fantastic place to begin your trip to Margate. It is located next to the harbour and is usually bustling, with locals and tourists going about their daily activities. The district is lined with quirky shops, boutique galleries, and cosy cafes, giving it a unique charm and character.

Take a stroll down the streets to admire Margate’s historic architecture and the distinct Georgian central square. Here, you can browse the eclectic range of artisanal goods and sample delicious treats from local bakeries and eateries.

Margate High Street - Margate, Kent

If you are interested in buying local products, be sure to stop by Haeckels. It produces locally inspired perfumes and beauty products using seaweed from the beach.

Discover Margate’s Vintage Shops 

Margate antique shop
Ramsay & Williams

When you walk around Margate Old Town, you will notice that it is quite different from other high streets. Instead of well-known retail giants like Zara and H&M, the High Street has only one former Woolworths store that is now an art school. The independent and vintage shops dominate the area. For one-of-a-kind items, you can visit places like Madam Popoff Vintage, Positive Retail, Handsome Freaks, and Pie in the Sky Vintage Emporium. Albion Stores is the shop for you if you’re searching for designer brands and rare records. If antiques are your thing, be sure to check out Ramsay & Williams (they also have an ice cream bar), Junk Deluxe, and Scott’s Furniture Mart in Cliftonville.

Visit Dreamland Margate

Dreamland Margate

If you’re looking for a place to escape from the sun or rain, head over to Dreamland Margate. Recently reopened in a retro style, it offers a variety of entertainment options, including vintage rides, roller coasters, Roller Disco, live music events, and street food stands. Don’t miss the opportunity to ride the scenic railway, one of the oldest wooden roller coasters in the world, and capture unforgettable memories.

Old Kent Market

The Old Kent Market - Margate, Kent

The Old Kent Market is an iconic building that can be easily spotted across Margate Main Sands. It used to be an old cinema but now serves as a foodie market that offers a wide range of food and craft stalls. You can find anything from fish and chips to ice cream parlours, freshly baked bread and pastries, craft ales, vinyl records, and vintage pieces. While the box office located out front remains unchanged, the market has undergone a significant transformation. Today, it mainly houses several food and craft stalls, but it has retained some of its original features.

Where to Eat and Drink in Margate

During a trip to Margate, you must try the local cuisine, including fish and chips and artisanal ice cream. Recently, many new cafes, pubs, and restaurants have opened up, which are worth visiting.

People enjoying food at restaurant terrace - Margate, Kent

To get the best fish and chips in Margate, you can visit Holly Lanes Fish Inn or Peter’s Fish Factory, both of which have long queues of people waiting to purchase. If you are near the train station, you can find a red double-decker bus that houses a cafe called The Bus Cafe, which serves delicious brunches and hash browns. There are also small bistros like Po Boy Creole Fish Hut and The Juice Project nearby.

Fish & Chips from Fish Factory - Margate, Kent
Peter’s Fish Factory’s Fish & Chips

If you are looking for a place to grab a pint or two, Harbour Arms is the ideal spot to visit, while coffee connoisseurs can head to the Storeroom, a popular roaster, to get their caffeine fix.

Discover the wild beauty of the Thanet Coast 

Margate is one of three towns located in the Thanet peninsula, along with Broadstairs and Ramsgate. During hot days, Margate’s main beach tends to be overcrowded. Therefore, walking towards Ramsgate along the white cliffs is the best option. Starting from the trendy district of Cliftonville, you will discover the immense natural swimming pool of Walpole Bay, followed by the impressive chalk formations of Botany Bay.

Thanet Coast, Margate

The surrounding area of Kingsgate Bay is dotted with picturesque sites. These include the Captain Digby pub, which offers spectacular views, Kingsgate Castle, and Bleak House, which was the holiday home of Charles Dickens. Broadstairs dominates the surrounding area, and it is perhaps the most refined and family-friendly of Thanet’s towns.

Practical Information about Margate, Kent 

How to Get to Margate

Margate is a town situated on the southeast coast of Kent, close to Broadstairs and not far from Whitstable and Canterbury. If you are travelling by train, it will take you 1 hour and 30 minutes to get there with Southeastern from London St. Pancras station. Alternatively, you can take a train from London Victoria, which will take you between 1 hour and 50 minutes to 2 hours. Once you arrive at Margate station, you will be just a few minutes away from the beach! Book your train tickets with Trainline.

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If you prefer to drive, you can reach Margate by car in approximately 2 hours. It is located near the M20 and M2 motorways, which provide direct routes from London. Rent your car with Discover Cars.

If you are coming from abroad, the nearest airports are Heathrow, Gatwick, or London City Airport. To reach Margate from London, you can rent a car or choose one of the above transportation options.

Cheap Car Rental 320x50

If you want to explore the area on a bike, Margate is located on the Viking Coastal Trail. And if you need a car to get around, you can use the Loop Bus, which connects Margate, Broadstairs, and Ramsgate.

Where to Stay in Margate

Margate offers a range of great places to stay, including Airbnbs and guesthouses. Although there are no chain hotels, more and more boutique hotels like the Sands Hotel are opening up. With a location facing the beach and just in front of the old town, this four-star hotel features Art Deco style and sandy tones that create a soothing retreat.

To assist you further with your trip to Margate and the surrounding towns, visit the Margate Tourism Office.  

In conclusion, while I wouldn’t say that Margate, Kent, is my favourite seaside resort town, it still makes for a great day trip option from London. It offers a variety of things to do, from exploring art galleries and strolling along sandy beaches to indulging in delicious fish and chips. Margate has the potential to delight every visitor. So, if you’re looking to visit Margate, pack your bags and embark on an unforgettable journey to this charming seaside town.

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Hi there! I'm Mayi. Welcome to my blog SecretMoona! I hope to share with you the hidden secret of places I visit.

4 thoughts on “Best Things To Do In Margate, Kent

  1. Margate is a classic Victorian seaside town that doesn’t have a great rep, but glad to hear how you found there much there is to do , especially as it’s been given some love with modern attractions.

  2. Margate has a sort of calming charm doesn’t it? We went there for a wedding, so we didn’t spend much time exploring (apart from walking along the beach in the morning…) so it’s quite nice to see all the options for if/when we go back.

    It looks like you were really lucky with the weather!!

    Lovely post Mayi.

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