Keen to explore what Whitstable in Kent has to offer?
Whitstable is a little seaside town along the north coast of Kent and is known for its oysters. It’s also famous for its annual Whitstable Oyster Festival in the summer.
Here’s an easy guide to touring Whitstable, depending on how much time you have to spare: a one-day trip, a weekend getaway, or a more extended visit.
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Whitstable is an excellent option for a quick day trip. Here’s what you can see and do in this quaint town:
2. Walk Around Whitstable Castle & Gardens
4. Take A Swim in Tankerton Beach
1. Start With A Hot Cuppa
Whitstable has an eclectic collection of coffee shops to choose from. These are our top picks if you’re around for the day:
- Blueprint Coffee & Books: Blueprint is a fabulous Scandinavian coffee shop cum bookshop on Oxford Street. Its coffee beans come from a small roastery, and the milk comes from grass-fed cows.
- Cafe Revival: Cafe Revival is a social enterprise that serves a selection of herbal teas, coffee, and more potent drinks. It also has a quirky vegetarian and vegan menu and delicious ice cream.
Look out for the record player you can use with your vinyl.
2. Walk Around Whitstable Castle & Gardens
If you adore historical spots, pay a visit to Whitstable Castle (formerly Tankerton Towers), built in the 1790s.
The gardens showcase beautiful oak trees, lawns, rose gardens, and other flower beds — perfect for a mid-morning stroll.
3. Stop For Lunch
Try some delicious dishes at one of Whistable’s popular restaurants. Here are a few options to consider:
- The Lobster Shack: Native oysters are in season from September to April. So if you’re visiting Whistable during this time, check out The Lobster Shack for some of the best native oysters.
Fun fact: The Lobster Shack dates back to the 18th Century when it was an oyster-grading house!
- VC Jones: VC Jones is a family-run fish and chips eaterie operated since the 1950s. Its batter-fried cod and delicious chips fried in beef dripping will have you lusting for more.
- Birdies: Birdies is a French restaurant set up in 1993. This leading Whitstable restaurant serves local seafood and traditional French food.
4. Take A Swim in Tankerton Beach
Tankerton Beach is a popular attraction in Whitstable. Take a walk on the shingle-covered beach in front of colourful beach huts and a dip in the sea.
The beach also has a promenade and grassy slopes ideal for picnics or children to play on.
5. Enjoy The Evening
Exhausted after all that activity? Then, head to one of these pubs and enjoy a sundowner:
- The Old Neptune Pub: Affectionately known as “Neppy” by the locals, this pub is right along the Whitstable beach waterfront. On a sunny day, sit outside with a pint and watch the sunset.
Fun fact: The Old Neptune pub was a part of the 2006 movie, Venus, starring Peter O’Toole.
- Twelve Taps: This queer-run pub focuses on gin and craft beer. The bar has 20 gin types and some botanical cocktails. It also serves beer on rotation from 12 different kegs from local breweries.
If you’re not up for a drink and still want a little more activity, immerse yourself in some art and culture:
- Visit The Whitstable Museum and Gallery: This museum displays Whitstable’s maritime traditions through interesting relics and paintings — great for history buffs.
- Check out The Horsebridge Arts and Community Centre: This arts and community centre has art workshops, conference rooms, a learning area, a performance space, and an art gallery.
If you’re planning to stay the night and enjoy everything Whitstable has to offer over a weekend, here are your options:
1. Stay The Night
Check out some of these great inns and cottages to spend the night:
- Tides Cottage: This bright coastal cottage overlooks the beach and is excellent for a quiet night. The terrace has a lot of antiques, and the cottage has no TV.
- The Old Grain Store: This two-storey hotel was formerly a 19th-century warehouse. It has a mix of both modern and retro elements.
- The Lighthouse: The Lighthouse is located on a cliff in Herne Bay — one of Kent’s most romantic coastal spots. Some of the property’s highlights include a heated pool and a cliffside garden.
- The Boathouse: This B&B is one of the popular spots. It has a large balcony overlooking the sea and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) nature reserve. If you’re planning on staying longer than one night, this is the perfect pick.
2. Enjoy Some Grub
Sample the best fare Whitstable has to offer:
- Wheeler’s Oyster Bar: This is the town’s oldest restaurant and serves fantastic seafood that includes Whitstable’s famous Oysters.
The restaurant allows you to BYOB, so grab a bottle of wine from The Offy, a wine and spirit store across the road.
- The Sportsman: Depending on when you’re going, you may want to book a table at this Michelin-starred foodie haven ahead of time. It’s known for its selection of local wines, fresh fish, and home-churned butter.
- Harbour St Tapas: This tiny restaurant focuses on tapas that include small seafood plates, tortillas, grilled prawns, butterflied sardines, and more.
- Whitstable Castle Tearoom: Head to the Whitstable Castle in the afternoon and enjoy tea in the Orangery Tearoom. After that, take a stroll through the beautiful rose garden and manicured lawns.
3. Things to See and Do
There’s plenty to see and do in Whitstable. Here are our best picks:
- Enjoy Watersports At Oyster Coast Watersports: Whitstable has many watersports to enjoy, like kayaking, paddleboarding, kitesurfing, and more.
- Tour Whitstable By Boat: The Whitstable boat trips start from the right-hand side of the Harbour. You can choose to tour some of the coast and Tankerton Slopes, the Swale Estuary, the Kentish Flats Windfarm, or Maunsell Sea Forts.
- Check Out Harbour Market: Harbour Market is a small open-air market made up of eclectic vendors who sell locally made items like t-shirts, tea towels, art, fresh produce, takeaway food, and more.
- Cycle Around Whitstable: If you enjoy taking in the sights on a bicycle, rent one and explore different cycle routes like Crab And Winkle Way, Herne Bay, and the Whitstable Coastal Trail.
- Explore Some Art: Try one or both of these cool, artsy spots:
- The Fish Slab Gallery (formerly a fresh fish shop) caters to mainly emerging artists.
- Visit The Chappell Contemporary if you’re interested in the limited edition prints.
- Shop By The Sea: Whitstable has many local and independent stores that include art galleries, gift shops, boutiques, and family-owned businesses. So, pop into stores like Peekaboo Kids Boutique, the Fabric Shop, and Granny Smith’s grocers.
- Browse Some Books: Head to Oxford Street Books for an incredible book collection on art, modern fiction, and collectibles.
For The Long Haul
If you’re hoping to enjoy an extended stay in Whistable, check out the guide below:
1. Book A Place To Stay
You can choose to stay in one place or check out a couple of different properties. Here are a few options:
- The Front Rooms: This three-bedroomed B&B was formerly a Victorian townhouse. Today, it’s tastefully outfitted with art, sculpture, and photography pieces.
- The Crescent Turner Hotel: This hotel is a mid-range stylish boutique hotel with an incredible coastal view.
- Hillview Whitstable Bed and Breakfast: This peaceful little B&B is located in a rural part of the town close to the Crab and Winkle Way.
2. Wander Around The Town
Soak up everything Whitstable has to offer. Here are some exciting things to do:
- Catch a Play at Playhouse Theatre Whitstable: The Playhouse is a theatre right in the middle of Whitstable. It was formerly a congregational church and has a Theatre Bar open during performances.
- Walk or Bike The Whitstable Coastal Trail: Explore Whitstable’s ecology, wildlife, geology, and history along this coastal trail. In the summer, check out the maritime festival and boat show.
- Gatefield Sounds: Pop into this independent family-run record store if you love vinyl records. It’s been in business for more than 40 years.
- Rock Bottom Records: This store is ideal if you’re looking for a second-hand bargain on vinyl records and DVDs.
- The Street: The Street is a kilometre-long natural sandbank at the bottom of Tankerton Slopes. (Yes, you can walk on it!).
It reveals itself only during low tide, but you can still view it during high tide at the top of Tankerton Slopes.
3. Eat, Drink and Be Merry
If you’re stuck with where to eat in Whitstable, check out these options:
- Samphire: Head to Samphire if you’re looking for modern sharing plates with fish, meat, and seasonal produce.
- Windy Corner Stores: Have a cup of coffee at this cafe cum store or pick up one of their barbecue packs and enjoy a picnic on the beach with a bottle of wine.
- Sundae Sundae: Enjoy the goodies at this tiny, retro ice cream shop – it would be a fun trip down memory lane.
Getting to Whitstable, Kent
There are a few ways to reach Whitstable, Kent:
Go to Victoria Coach Station first, then get on a National Express bus to Canterbury.
Next, hop on a local bus to get to Whitstable.
Regular train services run from St Pancras and Victoria stations in London to Whitstable.
The train station in Whitstable is only about a 10-minute walk from the town centre.
If you’re heading to Whistable with a few friends, renting a car and driving there may be the easiest. But remember, you’ll likely have to pay for parking in Whitstable.