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Whitstable Beach stones
Photograph: The Lobster Shack

14 totally brilliant things to do in Whitstable

Looking for the best things to do in Whitstable? From super-fresh shellfish to tiny art galleries, one-of-a-kind shops to classic boozers, our ultimate day-trip guide has got it all

Joe Minihane
Written by
Emma Hughes
&
Joe Minihane
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Whether it's Margate, Deal or Ramsgate, the Kent coast is lucky to have some of England's coolest and finest seaside towns. And Whitstable, with its fresh seafood and annual oyster festival, ranks right alongside them. It's long attracted stressed-out city-dwellers in need of a little sea air and RnR.

Whether it's wandering past its pastel-painted shopfronts or taking a dip off its sheltered beach, this is the ideal for day-trippers from the smoke. There’s a thriving arts scene and a genuine community spirit you’ll detect as soon as you arrive. These are the best things to do in Whitstable right now.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best places to visit in the UK

A perfect day in Whitstable: the best things to do

First up

First up

Scandi-cool café Blueprint on Oxford Street is part espresso bar and part bookshop, with a focus on provenance: the beans are from small-batch roastery Ozone and the milk comes from
pampered Kentish cows. Get your coffee to go – in a 100 percent biodegradable cup, of course.

Go for a dip
Photograph: Shutterstock

Go for a dip

Whitstable’s beach is a pebble affair, but don't let that put you off. Hardy souls swim here all year round, but if that's not you you can still  pack some flip flops when the weather's warm and  go for a dip. Remember to check the tide times – when the water’s out, it’s not always possible to enjoy more than a paddle.

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Soak up the vibes
Paul J Martin/Shutterstock

Soak up the vibes

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. Alternatively, The New Inn, Whitstable's oldest, purpose built pub, is a great place for a quick pint.

Stop for lunch
Paul Wishart/Shutterstock

Stop for lunch

You might have to book months ahead, but it’s worth the faff to bag a table at The Sportsman, just down the road. 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. Left it too late? Beachfront shack The Forge has local beer and the freshest fish and chips – perfect.

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Splash the cash

Splash the cash

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. 

See the sights
Photograph: Shutterstock

See the sights

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.

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Get cultured

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.

If you only do one thing

If you only do one thing

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. Shucks!

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And if you stay the night...

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. 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 – The Old Neptune pub is just a short walk away along the beach – but it's equally lovely to stay put and sip tea in bed while watching the waves or, from the little front garden, see the sun slowly set.

From £160 a night.

Want to explore more of England?

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