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If you’re looking for a fun-filled weekend away, Folkestone Kent is the perfect destination!
With its proximity to London, Kent has become my go-to seaside day trip from London destination with each passing year. From delectable Whitstable oysters, a revitalising dip in Botany Bay‘s seaside waters, gorgeous hikes through the Kent Downs and historic tours of Canterbury, Kent offers something for everyone.
Lonely Planet has named Kent’s Heritage Coast in its Best In Travel 2022. Stretching from Dover’s northern beaches all the way down to Folkestone’s southern shores and featuring a part of Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, this region is undeniably worthy of such esteemed recognition.
The stunning chalk cliffs around Dover and Folkestone, the historic sites like Dover Castle and the Battle of Britain Memorial – are just some of the attractions you can find in Kent. Besides that, other trendy spots such as Folkestone’s Harbour Arm and Creative Quarter will turn your visit to Folkestone UK into an unforgettable experience.
The port town of Folkestone on the English Channel is located in Kent. The town is at the bottom of a valley between two cliffs, just over 122 kilometres away from the illustrious and busy London city, making it a lovely destination for a day trip.
The town’s neighbour is Dover in the southeastern part of England, and both overlook the English Channel.
Best Things To Do in Folkestone Kent
From indulging in the delicious street food on Harbour Arm to scoring a bargain at the Creative Quarter, or enjoying some leisure time along Folkestone’s beach and paying tribute to history with a visit to Battle of Britain Memorial, Lower Leas Coastal Park – these are just some of the unmissable activities that await you in Folkestone UK.
Here are the top things to do in Folkestone if you are planning a visit.
1. Folkestone Creative Quarter
Visiting the Creative Quarters is one of the best things to do in Folkestone. Located in the heart of Folkestone, the Creative Quarter is a perfect place to explore. Exploring the entire quarters can keep you entertained for a whole day; that’s how many things there are to see. The quarters has shops, galleries, studios, and much more.
It is a charming place with some of the most historic streets in Folkestone and is not far away from the sea. The Quarters were created during the 2000s and started the city’s transformation. The Folkestone Creative Quarter has fantastic venues that host live music and events regularly.
Some arcades are perfect for things to do with kids in Folkestone or those who consider themselves to be young at heart. You’ll find a good selection of restaurants and cafes located in the busy Old High Street.
2. Sunny Sands Beach
Sunny sands is one of the three main Folkestone beaches to visit. Locals will let you know that this is one of the trendiest beaches in the seaside town. Since it’s one of the closest sandy beaches to London, it does get pretty busy during summer.
Sunny Sands is nestled conveniently between The Stade on the harbour and a tranquil Country Park is Sunny Sands, an ideal summer spot for families visiting Folkestone. You’ll find tons of small children with their beach buckets building sandcastles on the beach.
There are plenty of outdoor food and restroom options available on the beach should your family grow peckish or need to use the restroom.
But don’t forget that this Folkestone beach is used for walking during the colder months of the year. At its western end, you will find a terrace with stunning views of cliffs stretching along in front of you – talk about picturesque.
Close by this Folkestone beach, you’ll find the Folkestone Mermaid (2011), an awe-inspiring life-sized bronze sculpture, similar to the renowned Copenhagen Mermaid perched upon a rock. This remarkable replica embodies realism; it was fashioned after a local mother of two and its gaze towards the horizon reflects on climate change and increasing sea levels.
3. Folkestone Harbour Arm
With the mid-19th century dredging and screening of Folkestone’s harbour, a long seawall was erected to safeguard its south side. The Harbour Arm was then connected to Southeastern Railway’s London to Dover Line along with ferry services heading towards Boulogne.
During World War I an astonishing ten million individuals passed through this harbour. Unfortunately, after the Channel Tunnel opened in the 1990s, cross-Channel ferries experienced a decline in numbers that resulted in Folkestone Harbour having their old terminal requiring another purpose.
Ever since 2010, the forgotten Folkestone Harbour has been revived as a harbour promenade and summer dining spot. You can find street food stalls here with delectable options like mezze, barbecue ribs, cockles or stone-baked pizzas. Making the Harbour Arm one of the top places to visit in Folkestone.
From the Folkestone Harbour Arm, you can enjoy the stunning views of Sunny Sands Beach, and the White Cliffs of Dover while you feast on these scrumptious treats. You can also catch movies and live sporting events will Wimbledon at Harbour Screen.
Experience Folkestone Harbour’s promenade with all its amazing views. The Harbour Arm is one of the top Folkestone attractions to see.
4. Folkestone Museum
You should plan to visit Folkestone Museum on your next trip to town. Housed in the historic Town Hall, the museum has an extensive collection of items crafted throughout history, the collections dating back to the 1800s.
It was first founded hundreds of years ago with just a fossil collection liquidated from one collector, and by 2013 it had outgrown its original space. Folkestone Museum stayed true to its roots by keeping its fossils on display, but you can also find clothes, and artefacts covering local history to explore. The Folkestone Museum is one of the best things to do in Folkestone.
5. East Cliff and Warren Country Park
Venture east of the harbour and you’ll be greeted by a 300-acre paradise comprised of cliffs, beaches, and terraces formed after hundreds of years’ worth of landslips – named the Warren, which is also a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
Bird watchers will rejoice at spotting around 150 species at different times during the year. The East Cliff and Warren Country Park area’s dense vegetation attracts up to 330 types of moths along with Kent’s only grayling butterfly colony.
From the East Cliff and Warren Country Park closer to the town lies less wild landscapes where lush lawns and three Napoleonic-era Martello towers watch over pitch and putt courses that give the park its distinct charm. Be on the lookout for fossils at the East Cliff and Warren Country Park, as it’s considered one of the top spots in all of South East England to discover them.
6. The Leas
Along a coastal cliff is a large land area known as the Leas. The site is a field clifftop promenade that is a great place to sit down, relax, and take in the magnificent views.
Decimus Burton designed the Leas in the late 1800s, a well-known artist for creating gardens at the London Zoo. The area features several zones for you to explore. The Lower Leas Coastal Park is a free adventure play area and amphitheatre. The Leas Bandstand is a regularly used venue for concerts in Folkestone together with the Leas Cliff Hall.
The Leas Cliff Hall s just one of the places to see in Folkestone Kent. The final zone is the Leas Lift which used to be a water-balanced funicular railway, one of the oldest in the country.
Lower Leas Coastal Park is a wonderful area that all can explore and enjoy. It can entertain you, act as a relaxation area, or be used to take a walk in nature. The Leas is one of the top things to see in Folkestone.
7. Leas Lift
For more than a century, the Leas Lift in Lower Leas Coastal Park has been transporting passengers between the Promenade at the cliff-top and the seafront below.
An engineering feat of its time, this Victorian marvel suspended by gravity alone required much-needed restoration to keep it running – which began in 2017. By 2018 a company was established with one goal: to raise funds for repairs and maintenance.
The Leas Lift utilises nothing but recycled water as a counterbalance while carrying an estimated 50 million riders over 130 years. This charming seaside attraction is not only the first of four such lifts on Folkestone’s waterfront, but it also remains iconic today too. This is one of the best things to do in Folkestone England.
8. Practice Your Swing at Putters Crazy Golf
If you are looking for fun things to do in Folkestone, then Putters, a new adventure golf course boasting 12 holes on the beach near Harbour Arm, promises an exciting experience. Its varied terrain is marked with eye-catching seafaring features such as boats and palm trees that line the entire stretch of this amazing journey.
9. Take a Trip to Sandgate Beach
Sandgate, formerly an independent village, became a part of Folkestone in 1934 and is now located to the west of Lower Leas Coastal Park. This area boasts a long expanse of beach that stretches for miles from Folkestone to Hythe and features its own promenade along with many activities such as kayaking and sailing.
During the summer season, it’s easy to enjoy delights like ice cream or fish and chips while lounging on the warm sand; out-of-season visitors can instead take pleasure in skipping stones over calm waters, breathing in the refreshing sea air, or simply admiring passing ferries and container ships.
Sandgate Beach is a proud recipient of the Seaside Award and has been praised by the Marine Conservation Society, making it an ideal spot to take a dip if you’re up for braving the chilly waters.
For more inspiration read my guide on is Kent in London?
10. National Memorial To The Few – Battle of Britain Memorial
The National Memorial to the Few is an incredibly important tribute to the brave pilots who fought in the Battle of Britain memorial for their country. Located near The Wall and The Wing at Capel le Ferne, you can explore this incredible memorial and gain a unique insight into twentieth-century British history.
At this amazing site, you can see the names of over 3,000 brave men etched onto The Wall, as well as witness a special statue that is dedicated to those who served their nation so valiantly during one of its darkest hours. If you’re fascinated by Britain’s rich history, then making a pilgrimage to this breathtaking British memorial is an absolute must.
Located a mere ten-minute drive away from the Folkestone town centre is the Battle of Britain Memorial, an essential stop for any history enthusiast.
11. The Channel Tunnel
Both a way to travel and a sight in itself, the Channel Tunnel was just an idea people had nearly 250 years ago. Today, it is the longest underwater tunnel in the world. Stretching 38 kilometres, it links Folkestone England to Coquelles in France.
The Eurotunnel began its operation in 1994 and has been going strong since. Although there are many other ways to travel to France, this mesmerising journey is certainly one to consider. There is none other than taking you there underwater.
12. Do A Folkestone Tours – Folkestone Sea Sports
Still, wondering what to do in Folkestone? Did you know that you can enjoy some adventure by doing a tour with Folkestone Sea Sports! Located on the historic Folkestone Harbour next to Sunny Sands in Folkestone Kent, you’ll be sure to have some unique and stunning views across the English Channel.
Plus, with their licenses from the RYA (Royal Yachting Association) and Adventure Activities Licensing, you can rest assured that they provide top-class guidance and safety.
They offer a variety of kayak, paddleboard and powerboat courses run by fully qualified instructors. Or if you just want to rent out some Kayaks or Paddleboards for an hour of exploration at your own leisure, they have those too.
Wetsuits & buoyancy aids are provided free of charge, so no need to worry about bringing your own. Prices start from £20 per hour for solo rentals or £40 per hour for doubles. Have an unforgettable time on the coast at Folkestone Sea Sports today.
For more inspiration read my guide on is Kent in London?
There are many attractions to see in Folkestone England, so you’ll want to fill your belly before touring the spectacular sites. You’ll find many restaurants in Folkestone scattered all around – it’s just a matter of which one is best.
One of the best parts of Rendezvous Street is Lucky Chip. It is much more than just a tiny chip shop. Lucky Chip is a burger joint that offers fantastic side dishes and homemade sauces.
Located in Cherry Garden Lane, this pub and cookhouse caters to everyone that walks into their doors. They take tons of pride in their menu and use nothing but the freshest ingredients. The cookhouse also offers a great ‘meatless’ menu and serves great kid’s meals.
El Cortador Tapas Bar
Located in the Creative Quarter, this Folkestone restaurant brings traditional Spanish dishes to the port town. Their menu is about classical, small dishes made with old-school recipes. They offer amazing tapas as well as great drinks.
Rocksalt is located right next to the gorgeous English Channel in Folkestone. This beach restaurant makes unique seasonal Kentish dishes that will have your taste buds tingling. Rocksalt doesn’t just have fantastic food but has an incredible view as it sits above the channel.
Finding the right hotel can be tricky, but Folkestone in Kent has excellent options for any stay. Below are the best places to stay in Folkestone Kent.
The Southcliff Hotel
Located one minute away from the Leas, the Southcliff Hotel offers many rooms mostly suited for couples.
You can choose either a balcony, sea view, or general rooms at the hotel. The hotel is pretty central and within walking distance to the beach and many activities in Folkestone.
The harbour is a 15-minute walk away, while the railway is one kilometre away. The rooms offer a comfortable stay, and there is an on-site bar with regular live music performances.
Where To Go From Folkestone
While on an extended solo vacation or family trip, it’s a good idea to explore surrounding areas. If you are looking for things to do near Folkestone then below are a few suggestions for day trips from Folkestone:
How to Get to Folkestone
Travelling to Folkestone can be a bit tricky unless you reside in London. They do not have an airport, and the only way to get there is by train, bus, or car.
Folkestone by Train: If you want to travel to Folkestone by train, you can stop at Folkestone Central or Western. The closest and quickest way to get there is from St. Pancras International or London Cannon Street.
The fastest train would take around 50 minutes and the regular train takes one and a half hours. Overall, a trip from London by train is a great way to get to all the adventures on offer in Folkestone.
Folkestone by Car: You can also travel to Folkestone by car or bus. Various buses are travelling from Folkestone to other cities around Kent.
Folkestone by Bus: However, if you are travelling from London, they have direct buses that travel from the Victoria Coach Station to Folkestone’s bus station. The ride will take you just under three hours.
Frequently Asked Questions About Folkestone
You may have some concerns about visiting Folkestone, especially if you’re a first-time traveller.
Below are a few frequently asked questions and answers that most would like to know before visiting the wonderful port town.
Is Folkestone Worth Visiting?
Yes, Folkestone is worth visiting with much to offer from its 19th-century Victorian architecture and packed harbours to grand museums and wonderous galleries. Whether it’s partaking in a guided tour of the town or treating the family to a day out at one of the local amusement parks, there’s something in Folkestone for everyone.
Is Folkestone Safe?
Yes, Folkestone is a safe seaside town in England. However, petty crime does occur in this busy destination.
How are the Locals in Folkestone?
The locals are very welcoming in Folkestone, and it is a city with high spirits. It’s a great family-friendly port town that embraces tourists visiting the fantastic city.
What is Folkestone known for?
Folkestone is known as a seaside resort, the famous Channel Tunnel and harbour, while laid-back tourists flock to the beautiful beach and picturesque views of the North Downs countryside. Taking a stroll on cobblestoned streets will bring you to tourist attractions and grand structures built in the Georgian style.
Is the Folkestone Market still on?
Yes, the Folkestone Market is still on. For those who don’t know much about the market, it is a stretch of boutiques. It starts at Meander and all the way to the harbour. It’s open every Sunday from 10:00 to 16:00 from April until October.
Can You See France From Folkestone?
Yes, you can see France perfectly in the distance on clear days. You can also view France from the neighbouring Dover.
What to do in Folkestone
Folkestone is a wonderful town in Kent worth adding to your UK travel itinerary. The port town has been progressing a lot more throughout the years but look forward to must-see sites from the famous seaside city.
I hope you enjoyed this Folkestone guide and if you’re looking to explore more places in the UK, check out this guide on a day trip to Canterbury.