One of the best activities to do on an English summers day is to go to the seaside. Being an island, England is not short of 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 the most charming if not poshest seaside towns. With plenty of things to do, here is why Whitstable is the perfect seaside town for a day trip with plenty of things to do.
Whitstable is located in the south-east, 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:
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 were able to roam along the long seashores. Turn left, and you are in 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, they are plenty of activities you can do. If you are brave enough, you can take a swim (they were some courageous people as you can see in the picture below!). However, if the idea of entering the cold water is not your thing (it wasn’t mine for sure), you can just enjoy a drink in one of the many seafront pubs.
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 along with the high street is filled with stands and restaurants selling the mollusc. They even have a festival celebrating oysters (Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd July). Some of the places you should check out if you like or would like to try out are The Forge by the seafront, Wheeler’s Oyster Bar in the High Street and The Whitstable Oyster Company. All three serve oysters, but they all have their own 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 would be perfect for an evening meal with the 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 (sign of a right place!), so we didn’t stop and decided to come back after the rush hour has died down a bit.
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, along with seeing people with the mouthwatering food was enough for us to go to and try. The shop didn’t look anything special from the outside nor 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)
Fishing nets, crates ready for the morning catch, group of seagulls lingering the quay, fishermen’s huts and boats of all shapes and sizes form the picturesque scene of Whitstable harbour. The harbour is really 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 opened during Sundays Harbour Market.
The dock has an industrial feel to it. However, there are restaurants with outside spaces so you can 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 shopping is something you like doing 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…
We discovered Whitstable Castle by chance really 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. What makes the castle worth a visit is the impressive gardens that the public are free to use.
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 you have stepped on to the pebbled beaches and eaten your fish and chips, you will have to see the bright side of Whitstable. You don’t have to go that far. Just a few minutes away from the seafront are a line of colourful beach huts that seem to go on forever. Most of the shacks were in use by parents keeping a watchful eye on 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 if you have the means, you can purchase one of them!
Mirroring the colourful huts on the seafront are the beachfront houses on Island Wall.
Accommodation in Whitstable
If you are staying more than one day in Whitstable, then you will be able to further explore the surrounding of the coastal town. For a complete selection of hotels, please check Booking.com’s website.
How to get to Whitstable
Trains from London to Whitstable depart from both London St Pancras (about 70 mins) and London Victoria (80 mins). For a slightly quicker journey, opt for St Pancras station. There is also a cheaper alternative albeit with a change and longer commute. We booked our train tickets via Trainline at £20 each, but tickets can cost up to £30 if booked at the last minute. Once in Whitstable, it takes about 10-15 minutes to reach the beachfront.
Moona’s secret tip:
For the perfect day trip in Whitstable, arrive early to browse the antique shops, grab some fish and chips for an improvised picnic on the beach followed by a dip into the water (if you are feeling 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.
Although our day in Whitstable was a short one, we had a lovely time enjoying a real English seaside. We’ll definitely head back again!
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.
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