Ahhh, the wonderful world of Whitstable, one of our favourite seaside escapes and just over an hour’s train ride from London. We were actually loathe to write this blog as Whitstable has always been one of our favourite coastal retreats, the kind of place we aspire to move to when we are (probably) older and wiser. It knows how to get our attention – fresh sublime seafood, a gorgeous coastal setting and one of the best beachside pubs in the whole of the UK. Read on for our Whitstable witterings… (all photography by CK Travels).
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.
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 (as featured on most of tourist postcards), with various fishing boats bobbing up and down in the water, and a number of seafood stalls and restaurants, all claiming to have the freshest seafood.
This is the best place to try the famous Whitstable oyster, 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 Whitstable 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.
Whitstable Harbour Market
Comprising of around 40 little black huts selling all manner of arts, crafts, souvenirs alongside food and drink, Whitstable Harbour Market is always open at the weekends, with extended opening hours and days during the summer months – full opening hours can be found here.
During the summer months, there is also a pop-up bar there that serves many local favourite tipples including Whitstable Brewery Oyster Stout.
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. On one visit, we also saw Cold Feet star Faye Ripley holding a jumble sale out of her back garden, looking out onto the beach (maybe TV doesn’t pay so well after all).
Colourful beach huts
Along the coastal path towards Tankerton (the next town along the seafront), you’ll come across a bevy of beautifully painted beach-huts, which local families and tourists use for days out at the beach and summer picnics. Although you aren’t able to sleep in them (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).
As you aren’t able to stay overnight in a beach-hut, if you are looking for historic overnight digs close to town, you can stay in a boutique converted fisherman’s hut.
Shops on Harbour Street
A mix of independent stores and the usual high street chains, Harbour Street 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 in Whitstable, likely due to its delicious oysters but equally because of it’s bright pink exterior which often pops up on the ‘gram.
If oysters aren’t your thing, there are numerous fish and chip shops along the high street, as well as lots of independent arts and crafts stalls, plus the usual ubiquitous gift shops selling tat.
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 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 Old Neptune pub
A quaint historic pub you say, right on the beach with panoramic views of the beach?! Take me there right now!
One of our favourite pubs ever (and boy have we been to a few), there is no better way to spend a summer’s evening, sipping on local Whitstable oyster stout, 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 pub 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 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 bar has become a little slanted / crooked over the years after all the coastal storms (although this was after several beers so who knows…)?
Whitstable Oyster Festival
If you don’t mind crowds, you could try to coincide your trip with the annual Whitstable Oyster Festival, held every year (usually in July) to celebrate the town’s historic links with the oyster industry. Growing in size each year, the festival used to take place mainly around Whitstable Harbour but having outgrown the marina, most of the festivities take place on the slopes of Tankerton, about a 20 minute walk from the harbour, and also a parade on the high street.
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
Other UK blog posts
- London by train – the best day trips
- Ramsgate to Margate walk – guide to the Viking Coastal Trail
- Things to do in Tunbridge Wells – a local’s guide
- Top things to do in Ramsgate, Kent
- Top things to do in Hastings – the perfect day trip
- Things to do in Brighton – a day trip from London
- Top things to do in Margate, Kent – a day trip from London
- Visiting Margate on a ‘microgap’ with Visit England
- Guide to the Village of ‘Beer’ in Devon
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