Things to do in Margate
Margate is a timeless English coastal holiday location. Lying on the east Kent coast, it combines the nostalgia of a classic seaside town with 21st-century culture. This unique combination has come about through the revitalisation of the town which has taken place over the last decade.
These days, a trip to Margate involves quirky eateries and bars, museums, vintage boutiques, and intriguing art galleries. Whether you’re looking to dine on gourmet cuisine, relax on serene shores, or get the adrenaline flowing on white-knuckle rides, there are plenty of things to do in this charming town. Our wonderful Kent Coast Holiday Park is just over an hour’s drive away so there’s no reason to miss this off your Kent itinerary. We’ve compiled this list of the best things to do in Margate so you can get a feel of what’s on offer and plan your trip ahead of time!
Relax on Margate Main Sands
Margate Main Sands is the largest beach in town and a real must-visit spot for those wanting to experience the famed English seaside in its authentic form. The beach has drawn in visitors for well over a century now thanks to its golden sandy bay and shallow tidal pool. The North Sea waters can get a little nippy should you choose to take a dip or try your hand at surfing, but there’s no better place on the Kent coast to lounge in the sun, build sandcastles and picnic on the shore.
Hunt for bargains at The Old Kent Market
Located across the Main Sands, The Old Kent Market recently opened inside a grand old cinema building dating from 1911 that previously served as a bingo hall and snooker club. It’s the place to go for fresh produce in Margate. Come to shop for fresh produce sourced from Kent farms, high quality antiques, local craft ales and freshly made sushi. You’ll also happen upon an old London bus that has been refashioned into a cafe, and a building that claims to be the smallest pub in the country!
Visit the Turner Contemporary Art Gallery
Margate’s recent fortunes are intertwined with the establishment of the Turner Contemporary art gallery. Since the gallery opened its doors in 2011 as part of the town’s efforts towards “culture-led regeneration”, a variety of shops, local art exhibitions and cafes have sprung up around it. Turner Contemporary hosts a rolling programme of temporary exhibitions, intriguing events and learning opportunities which will inspire you and your kids to expand your creative potential and discover new ways of thinking.
Stroll around Margate Old Town
Only a short walk from Main Sands, the Old Town is Margate at its most stylish and bohemian. There’s barely a chain store to be found in this little maze of cobbled streets and alleys lined with colourful Georgian and Victorian facades. Instead, you’ll find independent art galleries, an array of vintage clothes and antiques shops, and have a choice of kitsch cafes and specialty food shops, alongside old seafarers’ inns when you get hungry or thirsty. Old Town is undoubtedly one of the trendiest and most characterful quarters in the UK, making it high on our list of the top things to do in Margate.
Gaze at The Winter Gardens
From new entertainment to the old, The Winter Gardens has a long and fascinating history dating back to 1911, a full century before the opening of the Turner Contemporary. This is evident if you look at the building itself, a fantastic example of Edwardian Architecture, which has retained its charm and atmosphere. Boasting a capacity of close to 2,000 guests, you can book tickets at the Winter Gardens for your favourite comedians, plays, musicals, and everything in between.
Enjoy fish & chips by the seashore
At Margate you can enjoy playing in the sand, paddling in the sea, or having an ice cream in a scenic spot. However, your trip wouldn’t be complete without tucking into some fish and chips by the beach. We recommend Peter's Fish Factory Margate, a famous chip shop that has built up quite the reputation since its launch all the way back in 1969. The eatery has been visited by famous faces in the area, and many customers travel down from London just to try the food. This place has no pretensions, it’s just good old-fashioned fare - the mark of a true quality fish and chip supper!
Discover the mysteries of the Shell Grotto
The Grade I-listed Shell Grotto is shrouded in mystery. It is an ornate subterranean passageway of shells. But who created it, when, and for what purpose? Some theories speculate that the Shell Grotto was built by Freemasons, the Knights of Templar, or even the Romans, but none of these have been confirmed, making it an unsolved mystery. 4.5 million shells are embedded in the mosaic walls of the numerous passageways, chapels and hallways of this magical, subterranean world making it a real spectacle and definitely one of the top Margate attractions.
Explore Margate Caves
If your visit to the Shell Grotto sparks a desire for more underground exploration, then head to the recently reopened Margate Caves. This former chalk mine, dating back to the 18th-century, has served many purposes – from air raid shelter to smugglers' cave to wine cellar during its storied history. These caves are home to vibrant cave paintings and host a small exhibition on its history at the ground level. Make sure to hop over to the excellent souvenir shop and the community cafe for a quick bite to eat after your visit.
Soak up the atmosphere at Margate Harbour Arm
The harbour wall on the east side of the Main Sand is home to a number of bars, cafes and a pub, with benches out the front so you can take in the views with a cold pint. Towards the end of the pier are a series of single storey buildings originally constructed for storing fishing equipment and since converted into artists’ studios. Following this arty theme, there’s a lively calendar of exhibitions at the Harbour Arm Gallery as well as the bronze statue of the “Shell Lady”, a scaled-up version of a figurine that is sold in Margate’s many souvenir shops.
Take a walk in Northdown Park
If you fancy a scenic stroll inland then a trip to Northdown Park is an excellent option. Once connected to the splendid Georgian Northdown House, this dog-friendly park features pretty, landscaped gardens, biking and hiking trails, a play area, and benches to relax on. Step into nature as you amble around the scenic park and admire the beautiful plants and rock garden. The kids will also enjoy the Secret Jungle play garden which was designed for all accessibility needs.
How to get to Margate from Kent Coast holiday park
If you fancy a scenic stroll inland then a trip to Northdown Park is an excellent option. Once connected to the splendid Georgian Northdown House, this dog-friendly park features pretty, landscaped gardens, biking and hiking trails, a play area, and benches to relax on. Step into nature as you amble around the scenic park and admire the beautiful plants and rock garden. The kids will also enjoy the Secret Jungle play garden which was designed for all accessibility needs.The coastal gem of Margate is around a 58-mile drive from our excellently equipped Kent Coast Holiday Park. As a result, it will require a little time on the road to get there, but it’s well worth the drive. Here’s how to get there:
Heading west out of Kent Coast, take 2 right turns to get onto Avery Way
Get on the M2 in Kent via the Ratcliffe Highway, A228 and A289
Continue along the M2 and take the Thanet Way/A299
At St Nicholas Roundabout, take the 2nd exit onto Canterbury Rd/A28
This will take you all the way to The Main Sands in Margate