There’s always been a unique magic surrounding Margate; a magic that has been celebrated since its heyday as a Victorian seaside escape for anyone wanting to shake off the stresses of city life. That’s what it is: an escape with everything an English beach town should have.
Nostalgic theme parks, 2p slot machines, eccentric indie cafés and far-out cultural attractions, golden sands, cobbled streets and so much retro kitsch that this place has become undeniably cool. And yet we’ve barely scratched the surface of this coastal resort just 90 minutes from London by train. Get ready to discover the magic of Margate.
Vibrant, eccentric, retro and wonderfully kitsch, Dreamland is the historic pleasure park that will have you head on a swivel as you try to take it all in. Dating back to 1880, the history here feels palpable, while its fashion-forward redesign will make it the most stylish place you’ve ever swerved a dodgem. Packed full of retro rides, landscaped gardens, outdoor film screens and a Grade-II-listed railway with truly thrilling views, this amusement park is a destination like no other. Yet it’s the bright lights of nightfall that bring Dreamland to life.
Botany Bay is more than just a beach; it’s a tide-dodging paradise where the unspoiled stretch of white sand is pockmarked with chunky chalk stacks topped with lush grass and busy wildlife. And that’s just the beginning. Surrounded by a wall of skyscraping cliffs on one side and gentle waves on the other, this Kentish coastline is a place transformed by low tide when rock pools burst to life, secret spots become explorable and mellow adventures become the dish of the day.
The Viking Coastal Trail
Strolls don’t come any more serene than the six-mile stretch from Broadstairs to Margate, a peninsula that is packed with some of the most spectacular sights Kent has to offer. Taking in quiet inland villages, the 7th Century Minster Abbey, the towering chalk stacks of Botany Bay and a plethora of bays for you to take a life-affirming dip, this stretch of coast promises to update your core memories. Better yet, throw a pack on your back and ride your bike along the 32-mile Viking Coastal Trail around the Isle of Thanet, taking in the sandy vistas, rolling waves and the vibrant towns scattered along this epic shoreline.
Fish & Chips
Tea & biscuits. Pie & mash. A kebab and, like, six beers. There are certain culinary combinations that will always remain classic, but none have enjoyed a marriage quite like fish & chips – and Margate is right up there with the best of them. From Peter’s Fish Factory to Holly Lane’s Fish Inn, there are plenty of places to order your favourites before strolling down to the seafront to watch the colours of sunset mirrored on the water as you savour the taste of the seaside.
Hire a baby-blue bike from Ride, wind your way down the promenade, spend a penny at the arcades and then get ready to play a game of hide and seek with the Grade II listed Walpole Bay tidal pool, which twice a day slips beneath the water for a few hours as high tide rolls in. When that happens, take a seat on the sea wall and watch as the sun glistens on the gentle waves as you wait, the top of the yellow steps gradually appearing in front of you, followed by the faint outline of the pool walls as the water flows over the stone, leaving you with just one move left to make: braving the wilds of the Walpole Bay Tidal Pool, the UKs largest saltwater pool.
This is the real magic of Margate, the stunning sunsets decorating the sky, sea and the east-facing harbour in soft pastel hues as you stroll along the endless sands with a sundowner in hand, the tide washing over your feet as you wander aimlessly, soaking up the sights. These are Margate’s little moments that have never gone out of fashion; moments that led JMW Turner to claim this place has the loveliest skies in Europe.
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