If you’re looking for a fun and relaxing weekend getaway, Margate is the perfect spot!
This article may contain affiliate / compensated links. For full information, please see our disclaimer here.
There are plenty of things to do in Margate for an exciting trip. In this charming seaside town, you can explore the local art scene, amusement parks, funky bars, vintage shops, and quirky cafes to dining on fresh seafood. And don’t forget to check out the beautiful beaches!
With its relaxed atmosphere and stunning coastal views, Margate is definitely a place worth visiting. Make sure to add it to your list of must-see destinations.
A trip to Margate offers an idyllic escape from the bustling city, which makes it a superb spot for a beach day trip from London.
Whether you’re visiting for a short period or spending a few days in this charming town, there are a few attractions that shouldn’t go unmissed. In this guide, you can find the best activities and places to visit in Margate.
Margate is located in the county of Kent. You’ll find it on the Isle of Thanet on England’s southeastern coast. It is around 124 kilometres from London.
Margate is renowned for its sandy beaches and has been a popular seaside resort for Londoners since the 18th century. Today, it attracts countless travellers globally with its natural and artificial attractions.
Margate’s trendy Old Town draws in many foodies and art enthusiasts. Here you’ll come across several quirky eateries, vintage shops, museums, and art galleries.
This coastal town boasts a blend of old-fashioned charm, modern culture, and a hipster vibe.
There is an array of exhilarating activities for every type of traveller in this charming town. Here are a few of the best Margate attractions and activities to enjoy during your next trip.
1. Visit Margate Old Town
If you’re unsure about what to do, Margate’s Old Town is a superb spot to start exploring. It features both historical and trendy sites with many hipsters around.
Wander around the winding streets in the Old Town for an enjoyable food and shopping experience. The area is home to many eateries where you can enjoy a tasty treat, an inviting cup of tea, traditional fish and chips, and plenty more.
Head to Bottega Caruso for delicious Italian cuisine and be sure to save some space for dessert. If you want to indulge in seafood in a cosy, relaxed setting, the Hantverk and Found is a great spot to visit.
There are also vintage boutiques, speciality stores, and art galleries to discover. Old Town is an excellent area to pick out a quirky souvenir for yourself or a loved one, perhaps an eye-catching antique.
2. Relax at Margate Main Sands – Margate Beach
Margate Main Sands is a spectacular spot to spend hours soaking up the sunshine and taking a refreshing dip in the North Sea. This sandy beach is popular for swimming and surfing as it is shielded within the harbour, so you’re less likely to experience harsh sea elements.
Here you can laze around on a sun lounger, build sandcastles, or cool off in the shallow tidal pool.
After a fun-filled beach outing, you can take a short stroll to the array of restaurants and bars in Old Town.
3. See Beautiful Artwork at Turner Contemporary Gallery
The Turner Contemporary art gallery is a must-see when visiting Margate, UK. This contemporary art space commemorates the notable painter Joseph Mallord William Turner (aka JMW Turner).
The seaside building houses many magnificent art pieces and exhibitions. It is one of the largest visual arts venues in the county of Kent.
Discover local artistic talent, witness live performances, and marvel at intriguing exhibitions.
There are plenty of fascinating things to explore in the gallery, and all you’ll need is a free entrance ticket. Just remember to book your ticket online and arrive on time for your designated time slot.
While here, you can also shop at the Turner Contemporary store, which offers arts, clothes, homeware, and other unique accessories. The perfect place to grab a memento of your time here.
4. Stroll Around Old Kent Market
The Old Kent Market is a fantastic indoor market for shopping and food adventures. It’s situated across the Main Sands, just a one-minute walk from the Turner Contemporary.
The market is in the former Parade Cinema building that was built in 1911, so expect stunning architecture and interior designs.
You can sit inside this striking building and take in the rich history or relax at the outdoor seating with the fresh breeze.
You’ll come across a number of unique craft and food stalls as well as pop-up stalls throughout the year. The Old Kent Market is a great place to stop by for lunch or coffee and a quick bite.
Whether you’re in the mood for vegan-friendly food or a cheesy pizza, you’ll find plenty of options to satisfy your stomach.
If you have a sweet tooth, Gina’s Old Kent Bakery serves a selection of yummy freshly baked pastries and golden loaves of bread. You can also grab a drink at the bar or a takeaway coffee if you’re on the move.
5. Tour the Tudor House
Get a glimpse of the past by touring this historical museum in Old Town. The Tudor House dates back to the early 1500s and is one of Margate’s oldest buildings.
It has been restored and altered over the years, but its old-age charm still remains. You can take a self-guided tour of the house on weekends and Wednesday afternoons.
The house features quaint rooms and hallways full of heritage. Admire the beautiful architecture and Jacobean plaster ceilings or relax on a bench in the landscaped gardens.
There are also information boards in Old English with modern translations to learn more about the interesting history.
6. Explore the Shell Grotto
When touring the town, the Shell Grotto is one of the most mesmerising places to visit. Margate’s mystery can be found in the winding underground passageways of this shell-covered chamber.
The Shell Grotto was discovered in 1835. It boasts around 4.6 million shells arranged from floor to ceiling in the 21 miles of passages. The magnificent shell mosaic features oysters, whelk, scallop shells, and local mussels.
The shells are displayed as patterns of the tree of life and images of gods and goddesses. You can easily explore the unique caves and marvel at the ornate designs in around 30 minutes.
You’ll also find an exhibition with intriguing information to learn fascinating stories. If you’re an art-lover or history buff, this unique attraction is certainly worth visiting.
7. Enjoy Vintage Rides at Dreamland Margate
Dreamland Margate is one of the oldest amusement parks in the town. Here you’ll find tons of entertaining activities as well as the oldest operating rollercoaster in the United Kingdom, the Scenic Railway.
Dreamland is a great place to stop by for a fun-filled adventure if you’re heading on a day trip from London or other nearby cities.
The theme park was first established in 1880, and since then, it has undergone several developments to provide more exciting experiences.
It houses a variety of epic rides for thrill-seekers, couples, and kids. These include bumper cars, a spooky ghost train, gallopers, a Ferris wheel, and more.
In addition to the fun rides, Dreamland amusement arcades has several popup entertainment and live music events. And if you’re a Tina Turner fan, be sure to check out the massive inflatable sculpture of the iconic singer’s head.
There are also a few eateries where you can enjoy burgers, pizza, sweet treats, ice cream, and more. For a classic meal, indulge in tasty beer-battered fish from a local brewery paired with chips and chunky tartar sauce.
If you’re travelling with friends or family, you can rent the roller room for a fun, retro adventure. For those looking for a social or corporate events venue, other spaces include the ballroom, hall by the sea, and VIP party huts.
8. Practice Your Putt at Strokes Adventure Golf
Strokes Adventure Golf provides a splendid environment and great service for some friendly competition on an 18-hole miniature golf course. You can visit with your friends, family, or significant other during summer, spring, and autumn.
While putting, you’ll have stunning views of the gorgeous Westbrook Bay. You’ll also come across several rock formations, water features, and plants scattered throughout the course.
Some of the holes can be a bit challenging, but it allows for a few good laughs and plenty of fun. There is an on-site café for a light snack, refreshing ice cream cone, or a warm cup of coffee.
9. Amble Along Westbrook Bay
Westbrook Bay offers a quiet environment that’s perfect for a relaxing beach day. Take a long stroll along the coast, ride a horse, or meditate on the soft sand. It is also a good place to unwind and watch a stunning sunset.
There are lifeguards present so you can enjoy a swim in the crystal-clear waters. The soft, gentle waves make it great for water activities such as kitesurfing and windsurfing.
Westbrook Bay provides enough space to relax and play in the sand, even during high tide. If you’re on vacation with your furry companion, visiting this dog-friendly beach should be on your itinerary.
While this beach doesn’t have as many facilities as Main Sands, it’s a lovely spot to escape the crowds.
You will, however, still find toilets as well as ice cream and refreshment stands. There is also plenty of free parking nearby.
10. Learn About Local History at Margate Museum
Immerse yourself in local history at the Margate Museum, where you’ll come across many diverse exhibits. It is situated just a short stroll away from the Tudor House.
The Margate Museum is set in a historic building that was once a police station and a magistrates court. You can still view a few of the original features, such as the Victorian prison cells.
While touring, listen to fascinating stories about the building and historical events from the knowledgeable and passionate volunteers who maintain the museum.
You’ll also find plenty of information and pictures by the cells on the ground floor. While you could simply admire the awe-inspiring architecture from the outside, it is certainly worthwhile paying around £2 for an entrance ticket to explore this magnificent site.
11. Watch a Show at the Theatre Royal Margate
The Theatre Royal Margate is a prominent site in the town and has welcomed some of the best performers and actors from the Victorian era. Constructed in 1787, it is one of the oldest working theatres in the country.
In 1874, a famous architect Jethro Thomas Robinson remodelled this iconic theatre. Most of the interior designs and décor dates back to this time.
The theatre features many old-fashion furnishings and exudes a magical and enchanting ambience. You can enjoy captivating performances and programmes, including dance, theatre productions, and stand-up comedy acts.
It’s a lovely place to relax on a comfy seat and witness magical shows or have a good laugh at a comedy show.
When visiting this cosy theatre, it’s best to wear layers that you could easily remove as it gets a bit toasty when the heating is on.
There are around 38 stairs in the building, and only the ground floor is wheelchair accessible.
12. Visit the Margate Clocktower
This 19th-century clock tower was inaugurated to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. You’ll find it centrally located in Margate, opposite Main Sands.
The clock tower boasts breath-taking architecture with a time ball at the top. In the past, this ball was used to assist passing ships in setting the time as it dropped at 13:00 each day.
There is seating in the area, so you can relax and marvel at the Victorian clock tower and the beautiful beach.
It is a good spot to have a quick bite but be sure to keep an eye out for seagulls, especially if you’re enjoying fish and chips.
13. See the Historic Drapers Windmill
This traditional windmill is another spectacular historical landmark that you should visit. Constructed in 1845, this black weatherboarded smock mill features four storeys and four double Patent sails.
Drapers Windmill is open for visitors to tour and see the inner workings of the mill on Sundays. However, you can still admire this gorgeous structure from a distance if you’re in the area.
14. Explore Margate Caves
Discover ancient murals and exhibitions at the Margate Caves. This former chalk mine was first dug in the 17th and 18th centuries. Today, you can visit to explore the captivating cave paintings and learn more about the cave’s origin and its impact on Margate’s history.
You’ll receive a map of the site and can wander around on your own. However, it’s best to gain more insights into the rich history, local stories, and the fight for preservation from knowledgeable guides and volunteers. The staff is extremely friendly and happy to answer any questions you may have.
In addition to the stunning paintings and fascinating stories, you can enjoy a bite at the on-site restaurant. There is also a small shop on the premises if you’d like to browse amongst the quirky products or pick up a souvenir.
15. See Model Trains at Hornby Visitor Centre
Visit Hornby Visitor Centre to see exquisite displays of rare items from famous manufacturers, including products from Hornby, Airfix, Scalextric, and Corgi archives.
A trip to the Hornby Visitor Centre will take you on an enjoyable journey with displays of the founder Frank Hornby’s magnificent inventions. Here you’ll come across large model railway displays with interactive buttons for kids or those who consider themselves to be young at heart.
The Hornby Visitor Centre is home to many model planes, toy cars, toy-building systems, collectables, and more. There is also a charming café and gift shop on the premises.
You can visit each day of the week. Day tickets cost around £5 for adults and £2.50 for senior citizens and children. You can also opt for a daily family, annual, or group ticket.
16. Walk in Northdown Park
If you want to go on a scenic stroll, a trip to Northdown Park is an excellent option. This dog-friendly park features lush, landscaped gardens, hiking and biking trails, a play area, and benches to relax.
Initially, the park formed part of the Northdown House. This Georgian house sits on the edge of the park and is available to rent out as an events venue.
There is a Secret Jungle play garden on the grounds, designed for disabled children and their families in the community to have fun in nature.
Amble around the scenic park and admire the beautiful plants and rock garden. You won’t find a café at the park, but it’s a lovely destination to pack a picnic basket and spend time with friends and family.
You can also take your furry friend for a leisurely evening walk and watch the sunset.
After a few fun hours of exploring, you’ll want to satisfy your belly with something delicious. Here are some of the best eateries in town that you should visit.
Angela’s is a quaint seafood restaurant with a daily changing menu depending on the fresh products from the boats each morning. They also serve tasty seasonal vegetable dishes.
It’s a lovely café to indulge in a healthy meal. Additionally, the seafood is sourced ethically, and the veggies are organic.
You can also visit Angela’s nearby sister brand Dory’s, for light meals and drinks. This seafood bar also overlooks Margate Main Sands.
Buoy and Oyster is a vibrant restaurant and seafood bar. Enjoy seasonal dishes and innovative cocktails in an airy setting with stunning dark wood tables and chairs.
There are plenty of seafood dishes on the menu, including the classic fish and chips, crispy fried squid, and monkey fish curry. You’ll also have breath-taking views of the beach while dining.
If you want some delicious Italian dishes, head to Giorgios for delectable pasta, pizza, risotto, bread, and more.
Giorgios features a modern space with a casual, relaxed ambience and friendly service. It’s just a short stroll away from the beach and Turner Contemporary.
This lovely Turkish restaurant serves mouth-watering meals that’ll have your taste buds tingling in Margate. The menu features delicious charcoal-grilled meats, vegetarian moussaka, and delectable desserts.
The restaurant also has a wide selection of cocktails and mocktails to accompany your meal.
Roost Restaurant and Café offers a relaxed environment to enjoy a meal or cup of coffee with friends, family, and dogs.
Their menu includes several tasty dishes, but the soft-shell crab burger is certainly a dish to try. There are also a few vegetarian options.
Visit The Ambrette for an exquisite fine dining experience. It’s a lovely restaurant to enjoy Anglo-Indian meals in a cosy setting.
In addition to the delectable flavours, the restaurant boasts spectacular sea views. So, you can expect epic sunsets as well.
Enjoy Indian tapas for lunch or a delicious roast and seasonal veggies from the dinner menu. There are also excellent vegetarian and vegan options on the menu.
With so many fun things to do when you visit Margate, you might want to spend a few days to experience it all. Here are a few of the top accommodation options to consider.
The Crescent Victoria Hotel is a superb option if you want luxury accommodation in this seaside town. It’s centrally located in a Victorian house, just a short walk from Main Sands.
The beachfront hotel offers contemporary rooms with stylish designs. You’ll have several modern comforts, such as flat-screen TVs, coffee and tea stations, and free Wi-Fi.
There is also a lush garden, restaurant and bar on the premises.
The Sherwood Hotel is a charming guesthouse that offers comfortable rooms in a friendly atmosphere. Some of the rooms have balconies with beautiful sea views.
You’ll have several amenities, including a private bathroom with complimentary toiletries. You can also enjoy a drink at the cosy bar or relax in the shared lounge or scenic garden if you need some downtime.
Sherwood Hotel is situated near several popular points of interest, such as the Shell Grotto and Turner Contemporary.
If you are travelling by car, you could easily drive to Margate from other nearby cities such as London. It’ll take just under 2 hours to drive from London to Margate.
Alternatively, Margate is well connected to London with regular trains. If you want a shorter journey, a 90 to 105-minute train ride would be best.
The Southeastern trains are the main operators that travel at high speeds from London’s St. Pancras International Station.
Now that we’ve looked at the best hotels in Margate, what to do, and where to eat, there might be a few more things that you will want to know. Here are a few answers to the most asked questions about Margate.
Margate is worth visiting for a seaside vacation. You’ll come across several quirky eateries and bars, vintage boutiques, museums, and intriguing art galleries.
Whether you’re looking to hang out at a lively bar or relax on serene shores, there are plenty of things to do in this charming town.
One of the best things to do near Margate is visiting the coastal towns of Ramsgate and Broadstairs in the district of Thanet.
Ramsgate is just a 15-minute drive away with plenty of fun attractions. A few of the most popular things to do in Ramsgate is visiting the Ramsgate Tunnels and Port of Ramsgate.
Broadstairs is located 5.8 kilometres away from Margate. It is home to many beautiful beaches and fun attractions. For a relaxing day, head to Botany Bay, Dumpton Gap, Joss Bay, or Viking Bay.
There are many free things to do in Margate, including relaxing on the beach, strolling around Old Town, and picnicking in the park.
You can also marvel at famous landmarks like The Shell Lady, Drapers Windmill, and the Margate Clock Tower.
You won’t necessarily need a car in Margate as many of the popular points of interest are near each other.
While you could easily drive from nearby cities to this seaside town, it’s often easier to travel by train. This way, you won’t have to deal with traffic and finding parking as well.
Now that we’ve looked at the best attractions and activities, it’s easy to see why Margate is such a popular vacation destination.
There are plenty of enjoyable experiences on offer, from relaxing on the picturesque shores to marvelling at local artwork.
So, start planning your well-deserved getaway – a rejuvenating adventure awaits. If you’re a Londoner seeking more wonderful places to visit, check out this guide on London day trips by train.