Things to do in Chatham
Chatham is a beautiful town on the Medway with an intriguing maritime history that stretches back over 400 years. Just a 23-minute drive down the road from our Kent Coast Holiday Park, Chatham should be one of the first stops on your Kent break.
The town has been an important site since Henry VIII had the famous dockyard constructed to stop his kingdom being invaded. These docks have been visited over the years by various famed seafarers such as Hawkins, Drake and Nelson before becoming the major visitor attraction known today as The Historic Dockyard Chatham. However, there’s plenty to enjoy besides maritime history. From escape rooms to quirky art cafes and even a distillery, there are plenty of things to do in Chatham. We’ve compiled this list of the best places to explore, eat and relax so you’ve got a head start when it comes to planning your visit.
Discover Medway’s maritime history at the majestic Historic Dockyard Chatham
Step into the heart of Chatham’s ship building heritage at The Historic Dockyard Chatham, a large site covering many acres where several Royal Navy ships have been retired. You can peer through the periscope of a Cold War Submarine, stand on the bridge of a World War Two destroyer, and ring the ship’s bell aboard a Victorian Sloop at this diverse attraction. There’s also a large shed housing the UK’s largest collection of RNLI Historic Lifeboats from around the country, a rope manufacturing facility, and for fans of the BBC’s Call the Midwife: tours that focus on the parts of the dockyard that were used in the series.
Get the heebie-jeebies on a Fort Amherst ghost tour
This old military fort has a hidden network of underground passageways, historic structures and gun emplacements all set in 20 acres of beautiful parkland that’s yours to explore. With over 300 years of history, it’s no wonder that Amherst has been subject to rumours of mysterious and sinister happenings. Accompanied by your guide, you can explore the fort by lantern light and listen to the spooky tales on one of the excellent ghost tours. If you think this might be too spooky for your little ones, they also offer a junior version, plus an educational tour.
Feast on Indian food with a twist at Popadom
Popadom is an Indian restaurant, specialising in food from the south of the subcontinent. Known by locals to be one of the best spots for a curry in the Medway area, all their dishes are full of flavour and different to your standard Indian place. The spacious restaurant has a relaxed atmosphere, and the chef is not only a master at producing meals but is friendly with the guests and will be happy to talk you through anything you order. While the prices can be slightly higher than your average curry house, it’s well worth it for the freshly made authentic tastes. We recommend the pani puri, fried fish, dosa, biriyani, and uttapam. This is a must visit restaurant for Indian food lovers!
Solve the puzzles of Hysteria Escape Rooms
Hysteria is a real-life adventure game designed for small groups where you’ll find yourself dropped into a fantasy environment, like actors on a film set. Whether you're a couple, or a group of friends or family, the goal is simple: work together to escape! To do this, you must find the clues, solve puzzles, and collaborate as a team to make it out in an hour or less. There are three different immersive scenarios for you to choose from each with a unique theme – Aftermath, Motel California and Citizen Erased. Whether you play just one, or all three, you’re bound to have a good laugh. With friendly staff on hand to help you along the way, Hysteria Escape Rooms is a great family bonding experience, making it one of the best things to do in Chatham on a rainy day.
Soak up the vibes at Nucleus Arts Centre & Cafe Nucleus
The studios at the Nucleus Arts Centre & Creative Riverside Hub offer budding artists a sanctuary to show off their skills. The centre has become a hub for creative minds in the area and a visit has to be in the top things to do in Chatham for those with an interest in art. However, it’s not just art on display - the venue also boasts an award-winning cafe set housed in an idyllic setting with a sun-drenched courtyard blooming with all manner of plant life. The food is well presented and tasty, the coffee is great, but it’s the vibe of the place that draws people in. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy great company, savour amazing food and drinks, and browse the exhibitions.
Enjoy live music at The Fire Station Brasserie
Converted from the old fire station building that used to serve Chatham and the surrounding areas, this spacious restaurant is filled with intriguing historical references to its original use. The unique venue is suitable for all occasions, whether you join for a couples’ night out, a catch-up with family and friends or a celebratory bottomless brunch. The kitchen serves up warm, hearty and freshly cooked food including a “build your own full English” option. There is even a small music stage with live acoustic performances on Friday and Saturday evenings as well as Sunday lunchtime.
Enjoy art and river views at the Sun Pier House CIC Gallery
Formed in 2013 to support Medway’s unique creative culture, Sun Pier House CIC has a large gallery, workshop space and a delightful cafe. The venue is split over three floors and plays host to a schedule of arts events and exhibitions throughout the year, while offering a base for established and start-up artists to develop their practice. Enjoying a glorious panoramic view of the River Medway, the lovely little tearoom serves fantastic, fresh and in most cases locally sourced food with plenty of vegetarian and vegan options. There's also a wide range of hot and cold drinks on offer, including loose leaf tea and fresh ground coffee. Go to enjoy the art and stay for the relaxed atmosphere, comfort and view from the gallery!
Enjoy a Sunday roast in the historic setting of Command House
Built in the 1800s, this Grade II listed building is home to a fantastic restaurant that’s enjoying a new look thanks to its half a million-pound renovation. The building, found in Dock Road, boasts brick-vaulted ceilings and an incredible interior. You can dine in quiet, secluded nooks or at open family tables depending upon your preference and enjoy the panoramic view over the river towards the former Chatham Dockyard. There's an extensive food and drink menu but guests tend to recommend the classics such as the afternoon tea, lunch set with a drink, or the amazing Sunday roast that includes unlimited roast potatoes, Yorkshire puddings and gravy.
Learn about the gin making process at Copper Rivet Distillery
Visit the Copper Rivet Distillery housed in a stunning red brick Victorian pump house which was previously part of the Chatham Dockyard looking out over the River Medway to historic Upnor. Here, the tour allows you to experience the entire distillation process from grain to glass and will end with a tasting of the distillery’s gin and vodka with an in-depth appreciation of the botanicals used in the process. At the end, a complimentary gin and tonic will round off a thoroughly enjoyable and informative visit. Whether you are a drinker or not, the entertaining guides make the tour of Copper Rivet worth the visit and you’ll be sure to learn a thing or two, even if you don’t partake.
How to get to Chatham from Kent Coast Holiday Park
Just a 23-minute drive from our Kent Coast Holiday Park, getting to Chatham by car shouldn’t cause you any troubles. We recommend the following route:
Heading west out of Kent Coast Holiday Park, take 2 right turns to get onto the Radcliffe Highway
Drive along Ratcliffe Highway for 3.8 miles
Follow the A228, A289 and A228 again for a further 5.5 miles
When you reach Station Road, turn left onto the B2002
Turn left onto the A2 soon after and cross the Rochester bridge, continuing for 1.6 miles until you reach Chatham town centre