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The 15 best things to do in Whitstable

From dog-friendly pubs on the beach to the freshest seafood around, this is the perfect day trip spot

Joe Minihane
Ella Doyle
Written by
Joe Minihane
Ella Doyle

Home to the likes of Deal and Margate, Kent has its fair share of gems. But in my opinion, you haven’t really done Kent until you’ve seen Whitstable. Glorious in summer but equally as charming when it’s raining, this seaside town is one of the best in the UK, period. 

Come for the Old Neptune, a historic pub right on the beach, but stay for the beer tasting flights round the corner, and the beach shack serving up cold beer and oysters. Spend your days charity shopping, pub hopping and tucking into the freshest seafood you’ve ever tasted. Be you a local, on holiday or a day-tripper from the smoke, trust us, these are the best things to do in Whitstable right now. 

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🌤️ The best things to do in Margate
📍 The best things to do in Kent
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Ella Doyle is Time Out’s guides editor. She is based in London but her heart (and family) is in Whitstable. At Time Out, all of our travel guides are written by local writers who know their cities inside out. For more about how we curate, see our editorial guidelines.

Whitstable things to do

  • Bars and pubs

If you’d rather not get your feet wet but still want those sea views and the wind in your hair, head to The Old Neptune pub (The Neppy to its friends) – it’s right by the water’s edge. If you do nothing else, you must go here. Even with its soaring popularity, the Old Neppy has maintained its old-school charm, aka there's no Beavertown, and the beers they do have have stayed at genuinely reasonable prices. Make sure you go for the sunset, and grab some oysters (there's table service outside).

2. Go for a dip on Whitstable Beach

Next, walk to Whitstable's Beach (you're pretty much five minutes from it at all times). You’ll see that well ‘ard locals swim all year round here, and it’s well worth it even when it’s a bit nippy out. Just make sure you check the tide times and factor them into your trip – when the tide is out, you can barely get in up to your ankles. 


3. Spend some cash on the High Street

Independent record store Gatefield Sounds specialises in freshly pressed vinyl, while Rock Bottom Records is a crate-digger’s dream full of pre-loved bargains. Clothes-wise, tiny Ruskin on Harbour Street is a kind of Arket-on-Sea. If you’ve had your fill of records and garms, then head to Harbour Books, an excellent indie with all the latest titles and a great kids section. 

4. Take a walk to Whitstable Castle

Once known as Tankerton Towers, Whitstable Castle is really a vast home built for the Pearson family in the 1790s. Today you can take afternoon tea or simply wander around its well-kept gardens and manicured lawns. A quintessentially English experience.


5. Sample delights at Wheelers Oyster Bar

If you’ve been doing a bit of Whitstable Googling, it’s likely you’ve seen this iconic pink shopfront pop up at least once. Wheelers Oyster Bar on the high street serves up oysters (obviously), as well as daily-changing specials and some permanent classics; think deep-fried balls of haddock macaroni cheese, dressed open crab, and main courses like blackened spiced monkfish with curried mussel and squash veloute. Grab a few bits to go or book a table in advance for the restaurant out back. 

6. Buy a souvenir at Harbour Market

If you're on Whitstable Beach, head the opposite way to the beach hut cluster to find Harbour Market Whitstable. This has expanded massively over the years, and now features some really excellent, trendy eateries and arts and craft stalls to pick up some gems. Just before the market itself there's also a bunch of very cheap fresh fish spots, where you can get little cups of cockles and vinegar for about a quid. 


7. Go craft beer tasting at the Twelve Taps

A magical pub on the high street, the Twelve Taps is the place for craft beer and gin cocktails in Whitstable. The best part is you can grab a triple flight taster to sample three craft beers at once, from a 9 percent chocolate stout to a lip-puckering sour. If you're not a beer person, their cocktails are fantastic too – try a Whitstable spritz or their spicy cucumber margarita. 

8. Check out Whitstable's art galleries

Explore Whitstable’s arty side with a wander round its galleries. The Fishslab Gallery (it used to be a fishmongers') supports emerging makers. Visit Chappell Contemporary for limited-edition prints that you can buy on interest-free credit through the Own Art scheme. Whistable Museum and Gallery is well worth a wander round. 


9. Tuck into brunch at Farm & Harper

A lot of places do brunch, but no spot in Whitstable does it quite like Farm & Harper. You'll find all the classics here (shakshuka, avo and eggs, and unreal Bloody Marys), and they're all executed perfectly. But if you fancy something simple, grab a doorstop-sized bacon or sausage sarnie, in deliciously soft, fluffy bread from Grain & Hearth. We'd recommend sitting upstairs by the front window to look out over the high street, or heading to their back garden area if it's sunny. 

10. Check out Whitstable’s beach huts

We know we’ve got a list of 15 here, but really, one of the best things everyone should do in Whitstable is just walk, and walk, and walk some more. If you take a right towards Tankerton, you’ll see beach huts stacked up a hill, but take a left instead (and head past the Old Neptune) and you’ll find this postcard-perfect row of pastel-coloured beach huts, just waiting to be slapped on your Instagram or claimed for your future retirement plans. 


11. Slurp oysters at The Forge

There are oysters all over Whitstable, but beachfront shack The Forge is the perfect pitstop for half a dozen oysters while you’re walking, to be devoured sitting on the wall overlooking the sea. They’ve also got local beer, coffee and scampi and chips, as well those deliciously sugary hot donuts that are so quintessentially UK beach vibes. 

12. Get a coffee at Blueprint

Blueprint, on Oxford Street, is the place for a coffee and a sweet treat, but it also sells books and stationery. The beans are from Ozone, a trendy small-batch roastery, and the milk is from Kentish cows (and it’s delicious). If you decide you are immediately a mega fan, you can also get a tote. 


13. Have dinner at the Lobster Shack

When there’s an R in the month, it’s native oyster season (rock oysters are available all year). As well as doing a nice line in the crustacean it’s named after, The Lobster Shack serves stunning Whitstable ones. In fact, back in the eighteenth century it was an oyster-grading house. Now, you can grab fabulous fish and dine on the sea front. Perfect. 

14. Or splash out at The Sportsman

You might have to book months ahead, but it’s worth the faff to bag a table at The Sportsman, just down the road in Seasalter. It jokingly calls itself a ‘grotty run-down pub’, but it’s a place of foodie pilgrimage. Think home-churned butter, local wines and fish caught that morning.


15. Sleep over at Tides Cottage

To really fill your lungs with fresh sea air, you’ll want to find a bed right on the seashore. Tides Cottage is a bright coastal cottage that looks out on to the shingle and surf, with beach access from the front door (from £160 a night). The tiny terrace is full of rustic antiques. Inside there’s a traditional stove and no telly. This is an ace base to explore Whitstable from, but equally lovely to stay put and sip tea in bed while watching the waves. 

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