We’re just back from a lovely Bank Holiday trip to Whitstable. I’ve not been to the Kent coast before – unless you count driving to Dover to catch the ferry/Eurotunnel. Somehow, having to drive half way round the M25 makes it feel like it’s miilllleeess away. Well, actually it isn’t that far and it’s also worth the trip 🙂
Good for a weekend break
Pretty, quintessential English seaside town
Pebbly beaches framed by cute beach huts
Lots of independent boutiques, art galleries, and restaurants
Easy access to walking and cycling along the coast or in the Kent countryside
Windsurfing and sailing for the more adventurous
You can either enjoy counting the junctions as you go round the M25 or catch the train. There are direct trains from Victoria (1.5 hours) or St Pancras (1¼ hours on the fast train). It’s a small town so easily explored on foot once you arrive.
WHERE TO STAY
We booked a house just off Harbour Street through www.placestostayinwhitstable.co.uk
It was great staying on one of the characterful streets in town just a stone’s throw from the shops and restaurants. Other rental companies include:
For something a bit different, you can stay in a converted fisherman’s hut on the seafront www.whitstablefishermanshuts.com
WHAT TO DO
Shopping – there are lots of independent shops along Harbour Street and the High Street to browse. The Horsebridge arts and community centre has free art exhibitions, often with the art for sale. There are a few stalls in the harbour too.
Seaside – The beach is pebbly, with the sand/mudflats exposed at low tide.
There is a beach in Whitstable and also Tankerton beach on the other side of the harbour, which is lined with colourful beach huts. It’s worth visiting both. We collected shells and pebbles, found lots of snails, and did some crabbing over the sides of the groynes (top tip: crabs love bacon).
If you manage to time your visit with the tides (sadly we didn’t), The Street is a natural shingle causeway that is exposed at low tide. It’s on Tankerton beach near the harbour end. Just make sure you head back before the tide comes in!
Playground – If the kids need a break from the beach, there is a nice little pirate ship playground in Whitstable Castle, where there is also a café.
Cycle hire – we hired bikes from Whitstable Cycle Hire www.kentcyclehire.com . They provide maps and suggestions on where to go depending on how energetic you’re feeling. Herne Bay is about 4 miles away along the coastal path and you can reward yourself with a game of mini golf on the sea front when you get there 😉
Sandy Beaches – if you want sandy beaches, Margate, Ramsgate and Broadstairs are all about half an hour’s drive away.
Zoo – Howlett’s Animal Park is a 25 minute drive away www.aspinallfoundation.org/howletts
WHERE TO EAT
If you’re going on a busy weekend then it’s worth making reservations for dinner as restaurants do get booked up.
Fish n chips – obligatory English seaside fayre. Ossie’s Fish Bar (11 High Street) is Tripadvisor’s top pick for fish n chips in town. We also sampled V.C. Jones (25 Harbour Street) which was a good classic chippie. The Forge (1 Sea Wall) has a good location on the sea front and also does beers, ice creams, freshly shucked local oysters and “the best donuts in Kent” according to Anthony Worrall-Thompson….?!
Lunch or early dinner with kids –
The Lobster Shack www.eqvenue.com/restaurant Unfussy and simple, tasty beers and seafront location – good for a meal with the kids.
Salt Marsh www.thedukeinwhitstable.co.uk/#food Mediterranean small plates
Whitstable Oyster Company www.whitstableoystercompany.com for fresh seafood (bit pricier than the above)
If your kids need a dose of something familiar, Pizza Express, Prezzo, and Zizzi’s all have branches in town.