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Where to start with a wonderful day-trip to Whitstable? One of the best English seaside escapes and just over an hour’s train ride from London, there are so many things to do in Whitstable.
A fishing town primarily known for its delicious oysters and colourful beach huts, Whitstable has stunning sea views, incredible seafood and is genuinely one of the prettiest coastal towns in England we’ve visited.
From sublime seafood (oi oi oysters!) to a historic pub literally ON the beach, here is our guide to the best things to do in Whitstable in Kent, 2023 (a wonderful weekend retreat):
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Table of Contents
How to get to Whitstable from London
Whitstable is located on the north coast of Kent and is a super easy day trip from London, with several direct trains running a day from London St Pancras International and London Victoria stations.
The train journey usually takes around 1 hour 15 minutes and Whitstable Station is just a 10 minute walk to the seafront.
If you are planning a visit to Whitstable, it is best to try and book your train tickets at least a day or so in advance to get reduced train fares.
We also use a Two Together railcard to save a third on our rail journeys – if using a Two Together railcard and booking in advance, you can get a return day ticket to Whitstable for as low as £18.90 (prices correct as at summer 2023).
1. Whitstable Harbour
The first of our ‘things to do in Whitstable’, this is also likely your first port of call due to its proximity to the train station and town centre car parks.
Whitstable Harbour is a picturesque working marina (and featured on most of the tourist postcards and fridge magnet souvenirs), with various colourful working fishing boats bobbing up and down in the water.
Whitstable Harbour also had a good range of seafood stalls and restaurants, many of which offer seafood that has come straight off the boat (these harbour restaurants are all metres away from the trawlers so this could be the freshest fish you’ve ever had).
This is the best place to try the famous oysters, with several stalls offering to ‘shuck’ (open) the oysters before your very eyes – delicious salty goodness, served with a dash of tabasco and lemon juice.
Prices vary but you’d expect to pay around £1 to £2 per oyster. We found the best deal was £5 for half a dozen oysters from the Whitstable Fish Market, located in the heart of the harbour.
Note that the trade here can be quite seasonal so during the week or in winter months, a lot of the stalls you’d usually encounter in summer won’t be open.
Address: Whitstable Harbour, Kent CT5 1AB
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2. Whitstable Oysters
Whitstable is world famous for its oysters and as you’d expect, Whitstable Harbour is one of the best places to try them
In the harbour, there are several oyster stalls offering to‘shuck’ (open) the oysters before your very eyes – delicious salty goodness, served with a dash of tabasco and lemon juice.
Whitstabe oyster prices vary but you’d expect to pay around £1 to £2 per oyster – we found the best deal was £5 for half a dozen oysters from the Fish Market, located in the heart of Whitstable Harbour.
Another prime oyster spot can be found at the oyster bar along the Whitstable sea wall – appropriately titled the Whitstable Oyster Company.
The prices here are a bit more expensive than the harbour vendors but the views of the beach are simply stunning. They also have a little shack outside for alfresco oysters – if you don’t want to pay the higher prices, you can ‘shuck-off’ back to the harbour.
Note that the oyster trade in Whitstable can be quite seasonal so during the week or in winter months, a lot of the oyster stalls you’d usually encounter in summer won’t be open – so this is more likely a summer thing to do in Whitstable.
Address: Whitstable Oyster Company, Horsebridge Road, CT5 1BU
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3. Harbour Market
Comprising around 40 or so cute and kooky beach huts, Whitstable Harbour Market is an open air shopper’s paradise, selling all manner of alfresco arts, crafts and souvenirs. The Harbour Market also has several food stalls selling everything from oysters and cockles through to pad thais.
Whitstable Harbour Market is always open at the weekends, winter and summer but with extended opening hours during the warmer months. From June to August, The Harbour Market is open seven days a week from 10am (times correct as of summer 2023).
During the summer months, there are also several pop-up bars at the market that serve many local favourite tipples including Whitstable Brewery Oyster Stout.
Address: Whitstable Harbour Market, South Quay, Whitstable Harbour, CT5 1AB
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4. Whitstable Beach
Whitstable Beach seemingly goes on for miles, with various holiday homes and beach huts dotted along it – whilst not the most sandy or silky, Whitstable’s pebble beach has a real charm and is popular with holidaying families and local dog walkers.
Several famous stars have holiday homes here such as David Essex and Harry Hill – some jokers refer to it as ‘London on sea’.
As a random aside, on one visit to Whitstable, we even saw Cold Feet star Fay Ripley holding a jumble sale in her back garden, looking out onto the beach – we wanted to go and buy something but alas got cold feet…
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5. Beach Huts
Along the coastal path towards Tankerton (the next town along from Whitstable, on the seafront), you’ll come across a kaleidoscope of colourful beach huts (very popular on Instagram)
These are the colourful Whitstable beach huts at Tankerton which local families and tourists use for days out at the beach and summer picnics. Incredibly, despite having no running water or electricity, beach huts can sell for £200k upwards (as at 2023) given their beachside locations.
Although you aren’t allow to sleep in the beach huts (there are no toilets / showers etc inside), they prove a popular respite from the ever changing British seaside weather and reveal a tantalising glimpse into a very broad range of interior design skills (sea-shell and boat motifs seem to be winning the war).
Note that whilst you can’t stay overnight in the beach huts, owners can rent them out for the day but beach hut rental prices in 2022 / 23 have risen steeply in an attempt to curb anti-social behaviour.
Like colourful beach huts? Try Littlehampton Beach in West Sussex.
6. Fisherman’s Huts
Fancy a unique Whitstable beachside ‘hotel’ or overnight stay in a luxury Whitstable beach hut?
Try these boutique converted Fisherman’s Huts – they are ‘reel-y’ nice with incredible ocean views. Located literally just a few steps from the beach, the converted fisherman’s huts are over 150 years old and an important part of Whitstable’s heritage.
From your balcony, you can see Whitstable’s famous oyster beds or grab some fish and chips from the local ‘chippy’ and Oyster stout for one of the most memorable seaside meals you’ll ever have.
Address: Whitstable Fisherman’s Huts, 3 Sea Wall, CT5 1BX
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7. Shops on Harbour Street
A mix of independent stores and the usual high street chains, Harbour Street in Whitstable is a nice place to while away a few hours browsing shops, if you want a break from the beach.
Wheelers Oyster Bar is one of the most renowned eateries here – it is also the oldest restaurant in Whitstable. Wheelers is famous for its delicious oysters but equally known because of its bright pink exterior which often pops up on the ‘gram. Given Wheelers Oyster Bar is a relatively small space and restaurant, expect to queue or wait in the busier summer months.
If oysters aren’t your thing (sacrilege) there are numerous independent arts and crafts stalls along the High Street, plus the usual ubiquitous gift shops selling tat.
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8. Fish and Chips
A English culinary rite of passage is to enjoy fresh battered fish and chips on the beach and Whitstable is no exception – this has to be one of the best things to do in Whitstable (and tastiest!). And if you don’t like fish, simply get a cone of chips – a small cone generally costs between £1 and £2 – cheap as chips (literally).
Popular fish and chip shops (“chippys”) include Seven Seas Fish Bar, Ossie’s Fish Bar on the High Street plus V C Jones.
Depending on taste, try to add salt and vinegar to your fish and chips plus we’d recommend you try ‘mushy peas’ as a side (just keep them separate if you don’t like them).
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9. Whitstable Seafood and local beer
No trip to Whitstable is complete without grabbing some fresh seafood from one of the beachside stalls, followed by setting foot in one of the local brewery bars and washing all down with a glass of Whitstable oyster stout (think Guinness with an earthy overtone).
We’d recommend the outdoor pop-up bar at the Whitstable Oyster Company which has a nice line in local beers with a beer garden overlooking the beach.
The Forge is also nearby, a no-frills beachside shack offering freshly shucked oysters and champagne.
If you have cash to splash then head over to the Lobster Shack for an amazing seafood platter (you’ll definitely need to book a table in advance during the summer months).
The Forge, 1 Sea Wall, CT5 1BX
The Lobster Shack, East Quay, Whitstable Harbour, CT5 1AB
Whitstable Oyster Company, Horsebridge Road, CT5 1BU
10. The Old Neptune Pub
Could this be the best beachside pub in Kent? We think so given the Old Neptune is literally on the beach with panoramic coastal views, cranking out classic British pub.
In the summer months, it even has a pop-up bar on sand (well, pebbles) and the beer garden has incredible vistas, particularly at sunset; all in all, the Old Neptune is one nice Whitstable pub.
There is no better way to spend a summer’s evening, sipping on local Whitstable oyster stout at the ‘Old Neppy’ pub, eating fish and chips as the sun goes down over the sea.
Right on the beach (like, literally on the beach) and dating from the 19th century, earlier versions of the Old Neptune were washed away by fierce storms but the current ‘Neppy’ has stood the test of time since the turn of the century.
Also used as a filming location for various films and TV series, the Old Neptune pub walls inside are adorned with pics of visiting celebrities. The inside of the pub is quite small but with a charming interior.
We had the feeling the Old Neptune pub has become a little slanted / crooked over the years after all the coastal storms (although this was after several beers so who knows…)?
Address: Old Neptune, Marine Terrace, Island Wall, CT5 1EJ
11. Whitstable Rocks Oyster Festival
If you don’t mind crowds, you could try to coincide your trip with the annual Whitstable Rocks Oyster Festival (formally the Whitstable Oyster Festival), held every year in September to celebrate the town’s historic links with the oyster industry.
The event takes place around East Quay and The Grading Shed, where you will find live bands. beach related activities, street food, a craft beer festival bar, live music and DJs.
12. Whitstable Community Museum & Gallery
Home to one of the world’s oldest steam engines (The Invicta), the Whitstable Community Museum and Gallery is a small but perfectly formed attraction where you can learn about Whitstable’s rich oyster history, ship building and fishing, plus a small section on former famous local resident Peter Cushing, who lived in Whitstable for almost four decades.
The Community Museum & Gallery is open year round Thursday to Saturday from 10.30am to 4.30pm and also during school school holidays Wednesday to Saturday 10.30am to 4.30pm. Admission costs £3 per adult as at summer 2023.
Address: 5A Oxford Street, CT5 1DB
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13. Whitstable Castle
Located near Tankerton Beach and once known as Tankerton Towers, Whitstable Castle does an afternoon tea fit for a King. Built for the Pearson Family in the late 18th century, the castle is a popular thing to do in Whitstable.
The Orangery offers stunning views of the Castle and Tankerton Beach and is open daily for breakfast and serves afternoon tea. Whitstable Castle Orangery afternoon tea costs £26 per person (with Prosecco for an extra £6). Prices correct as at summer 2023.
Regular events at the castle include monthly murder mystery evenings (whodunnit?!), psychic and witches fairs plus one off events like Mother’s Day teas and a May Day Fair.
The xastle grounds are open daily from 8am to 5pm to visit.
Address: Whitstable Castle, Tower Hill, CT5 2BW
14. Whitstable Tours
There are several boat trips and tours you can do from Whitstable included 20 minute tours of the bay, priced at £10 per person or get up close with the iconic Maunsell Sea Forts, built at sea during the Second World War to as a coastal defence.
Prices are £40 per person for an hour long sea tour from Whitstable. Visit whitstableboattrips.co.uk
Also, as of 2023, a Whitstable Beach yoga sunset session is available >
15. Bear’s Ice Cream Imaginarium (coming soon to Whitstable)
One of West London’s ‘sweetest’ ice-cream shops is coming to Whitstable in 2023 – moving from their Shepherd’s Bush location, Bear’s Ice Cream is coming to Whitstable High Street (Number 81 to be exact).
Famed for their homemade soft-serve ice-cream, Bear’s is a popular spot to grab some desserts on the go and enjoy them on Whitstable Beach.
We’d recommend Bear’s Glacier ice-cream combo, where you can pick three ice-cream flavours which they then smash up into your very own ice-cream concoction (a bit like Cold Stone Creamery).
Coffee, sweet treats and savoury snacks like croissants and toasties are also available at Bear’s Ice Cream Imaginarium in Whitstable.
Address: Bears Ice Cream Company, 81 High Street, Whitstable CT5 1AY
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16. Other Kent Beaches and things to do near Whitstable
Folkestone in Kent
The coastal town of Folkestone is one of Kent’s most popular towns for day trippers and overseas tourists. In fact, so many people visit here from the capital that they are known as ‘DFLs’ – ‘Down from London’.
Folkestone is a historic port with incredible beach views, seaside walks and an alfresco art scene. Throw into the mix an array of beachside bars and harbour front hang-outs and you know you are in for a fine day out in Folkestone.
From cobbled streets and ‘Sunny’ sands to fresh fish and chips, here is our guide on the best things to do in Folkestone, Kent >
Ramsgate in Kent
A charming coastal town in Kent, Ramsgate was named in 2023 as one of the ‘coolest places in Kent’ by The Times newspaper. Just over an hour from London by train (from St Pancras), there are plenty of seaside things to do in Ramsgate.
Boasting the spectacular Royal Harbour and Marina, incredible hilltop views and walks, Ramsgate is perfect for a spot of rest and recreation.
Ramsgate also has dozens of pubs overlooking the water primed for a perfect sunset pint accompanied with the freshest fish and chips.
Margate in Kent
One of Britain’s best beachside resorts and less than an hour away from London by train, Margate is a joyous mix of amusements, arts and an awesome sandy beach.
Located in Kent, Margate has become increasingly popular in recent years with both day trippers and people relocating to the area to escape the city ‘rat-race’.
There are so many things to do in Margate – from modern art at Turner Contemporary Gallery to the Bansky mural at Dreamland or cheap as fish and chips on the beach, there is something to suit all tastes and budgets in Margate.
Ramsgate to Margate walk – the Viking Coastal Trail
One of the best and most accessible walks on the southeast UK coast is the Viking Coastal Trail – a walk from Ramsgate to Margate (or vice versa).
The Viking Coastal Trail is approx 7 miles, which is around 3 to 4 hours long (excluding time for stops like fish and chips or ice-cream) and takes in several scenic bays, beautiful beaches and numerous views and vantage points.
From the majestic Broadstairs beach and cobbled streets, through to the white and sandy beach at Botany Bay, this is one of the most beautiful coastal walks (and most accessible) in the UK.
Where to stay in Whitstable
If you are looking to staying in Whitstable overnight, then there are a few lovely accommodation options to choose from to suit all budgets. Advance booking during the summer months is recommended though!
Hotel Continental – highly rated seafront hotel just 10 minutes walk from the town centre. The bar and bistro overlook the ocean and serves seafood specialities. Hotel Continental also offer boutique rooms inside fisherman’s huts right on the beach. Check out prices and availability for Hotel Continental and Whitstable Fisherman’s Huts
The Marine – Oceanfront hotel with stylish rooms set on the coastal promenade just outside of Whitstable, with an à-la-carte restaurant and bar offering sea views. Check out prices and availability for The Marine
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