Last Updated on 16/06/2023 by secretmoona
If you’re looking to get away from London and spend a day by the sea, check out this guide for the top things to do in Whitstable.
Going to the seaside is one of the best things to do on an English summer’s day. Being an island, England is not short of picturesque seaside towns, and one of the best is undeniably Whitstable. From its colourful townhouses to the pastel-coloured fisherman’s huts, Whitstable is said to be one of Kent’s most charming, if not poshest, seaside towns.
With plenty of things to do, Whitstable is the perfect coastal town for a day trip from London. Whether you’re interested in exploring its vibrant arts scene, indulging in fresh oysters, or simply relaxing by the seaside, Whitstable has something for everyone. Here’s an introduction to some of the things to do in Whitstable.
Where is Whitstable, Kent?
Whitstable is located in the southeast, in Kent, so it’s very close to the capital, making it a perfect option for a day trip from London. My friend and I spend the day exploring the seaside town, so here are some of the best things to do and see in Whitstable.
Things to Do in Whitstable
Visit Whitstable seafront
Whitstable Beach is the quintessence of the traditional English beach. Pebbled beaches separated by large wooden “groins”, colourful beach huts, and families flocking the beach give it the classic image of the English seaside.
We visited during a very sunny and hot day, so the beach was packed with locals and Londoners. Even though it was busy, it didn’t feel too cramped as people could roam along the long seashores. Turn left, and you are on the quiet side of Whitstable West Beach. Turn right, and after a few minutes walk, you will be in the quiet beach area of Tankerton and, again, more beautiful colourful huts.
As well as just lounging around, you can do plenty of activities. If you are brave enough, you can swim (they were some courageous people, as you can see in the picture below!). However, if entering the cold water is not your thing (it wasn’t mine), you can enjoy a drink in one of the many seafront pubs.
Where to Eat in Whitstable
Being a seaside town, you are bound to find great seafood, but what makes Whitstable famous isn’t the usual fish and chips but oysters. The seafront and the high street are filled with stands and restaurants selling the mollusc.
They even have a festival celebrating oysters (Whitstable Oyster Festival – usually held in July). Some places you should check out if you like or want to try are The Forge by the seafront, Wheeler’s Oyster Bar on the High Street and The Whitstable Oyster Company. All three serve oysters, but they all have their character.
Wheeler’s on the high street, with its bright pink shop front, is very picture worthy.
The Whitstable Oyster Company is the second one you will encounter as you reach the seafront. It’s more formal than the rest so it would be perfect for an evening meal with a view over the sea.
The Forge is located further down the seafront and is more like a stand. When we passed by, the queue was extremely long (a sign of the right place!), so we didn’t stop and decided to come back after the rush hour had died down.
If the oyster bars are not for you, then the good old fish and chips are still on the menu. We stopped to get our fill at Ossie’s Fish Bar. The queue forming outside the shop and seeing people with mouthwatering food was enough for us to go to and try. The shop looked nothing special from the outside or the inside, but the fish was the best I have ever tasted.
We took our food to enjoy on the beach. Nothing was better than eating the crispy meal with a view over the sea, the occasional breeze to cool you down and the threats of the hungry seagulls (I am convinced they thought the food was to be shared with them)
Thinsg to do in Whitstable – Explore Whitstable Harbour
Fishing nets, crates ready for the morning catch, a group of seagulls lingering on the quay, fishermen’s huts and boats of all shapes and sizes form the picturesque scene of Whitstable Harbour. The harbour is typical of British seaside ports. It’s good to venture there for a stroll to check out the fishermen at work (since it’s a working harbour) or the little shops open during Sundays Harbour Market. Take the opportunity to visit some of the seafood stalls and restaurants, many of which offer freshly caught seafood.
The dock has an industrial feel to it. However, there are restaurants with outside spaces to have a nice lunch while enjoying the pretty view. The shops in the market were interesting, with crafts and food shops. A stand even had vintage bikes available for rental!
If you like shopping while exploring a new town or city, then you will be happy with the choices in Whitstable as well. We were more interested in reaching the seafront. However, we noticed a few good shops on the way. Whitstable is home to lots of antique shops and independent retailers.
Frank, for example, is one of the most visited shops. It’s a loveable mashup of a shop and gallery, filled with things like cards and handmade pieces like mugs etc…
Discover Whitstable Castle
We discovered Whitstable Castle by chance, and what an excellent little find it was! The castle, previously known as the Tankerton Towers, used to be the place of residence of a notable family. Now it’s a venue used for weddings and other special events. The impressive gardens that the public is free to use make the castle worth a visit.
The central and tearoom gardens offer visitors a peaceful and relaxing green space with views over the sea and coastline. We enjoyed wandering through rows after rows of beautiful roses and other plants, then sat down to recover from our long walk.
Whitstable Castle and Gardens, Tower Hill, Whitstable, Kent CT5 2BW
Pretty colourful Whitstable
After stepping onto the pebbled beaches and eating your fish and chips, you will have to see the bright side of Whitstable. You don’t have to go that far. A few minutes from the seafront is a line of colourful beach huts that seem to go on forever. Strolling in town was one of my favourite things to do in Whitstable. I loved the picturesque architecture.
Most of the shacks were in use by parents watching their kids while they played by the water or friends enjoying a barbecue with a drink or two. Although small, some were well equipped with fully functioning kitchens and bedroom areas. The huts are up for rental, or you can purchase one if you have the means!
The beachfront houses on Island Wall mirror the colourful huts on the seafront.
Enjoy Coastal walks
Explore the stunning coastal views of Whitstable by taking one of the numerous coastal walks available in the area. A popular choice is the Crab and Winkle Way, a charming path that winds through woodlands and provides stunning vistas of the countryside and ocean.
Accommodation in Whitstable
If you stay more than one day in Whitstable, you can explore the coastal town’s surroundings further. For a complete selection of hotels, please check Booking.com’s website.
How to get to Whitstable for your day trip from London
Trains from London to Whitstable depart from London St Pancras International (about 70 mins) and London Victoria (80 mins). For a slightly quicker journey, opt for London St Pancras station. There is also a cheaper alternative, albeit with a change and longer commute. We booked train tickets via Trainline at £20 each, but tickets can cost up to £30 if booked at the last minute. Once in Whitstable, reaching the beachfront takes about 10-15 minutes. Book tickets to Whitstable via Trainline for the best deals.
Moona’s secret tip:
For the perfect day trip in Whitstable, arrive early to browse the antique shops and grab some fish and chips for an improvised picnic on the beach, followed by a dip into the water (if you feel brave). Take a nap, cool down with ice cream and finish your day in one of the many pubs by the seafront while sampling the town’s speciality: oysters.
These are just a few of the things you can do in Whitstable. The charming coastal town offers a variety of attractions that will leave a lasting impression on anyone seeking a memorable seaside experience.
Planning more trips in England, check out these posts:
- Best things to do in Cambridge
- Day trip to Bath: 10 Must-do activities
- Weekend in Bristol – things for your itinerary
- Things to do in Manchester – Perfect long weekend
- 6 Things to Do and See in Liverpool
Have you ever been to Whitstable or any other seaside town? I’d love to hear your recommendations of where I should try next time! Leave a comment and let me know.