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Woman walking her dog outside independent shop fronts in Cliftonville, Margate

Woman walking her dog outside independent shop fronts in Cliftonville, Margate

So you’re planning to visit the charming seaside town of Margate, Kent? Are you looking for cool things to do in Margate? Or maybe discover the best brunch in Margate? Well, you’re in the right place!

I’m one of those pesky Londoner types who loves Margate for its ‘Shoreditch-by-Sea’ energy. It’s got amazing food and coffee, creative community vibes, a diverse crowd – and best of all, it’s coastal.

And look, I know how uncool it is to say something’s cool, but these are actually cool things to do in Margate.

So in this blog post I’ve put together a breezy Margate travel guide with some #vibey things to do that might tickle your fancy. Grab your film camera, don your hipster garms, and let’s dive into the Margate guide!

Check out some other exciting destinations to visit around the UK.

10 Cool Things To Do in Margate 2024

My fabulous friend @emsladeedmondson at LIDO during golden hour in Margate

My fabulous friend @emsladeedmondson at LIDO during golden hour in Margate

1. Snap Insta-Worthy Photos at the Iconic LIDO Building

Get your camera ready for a picture-perfect moment with this seaside architectural masterpiece. Vintage seaside attire recommended, so you can channel a bit of Wes Anderson energy.

Fact: Did you know that the LIDO building in Margate dates back to the 1920s? It’s a true architectural gem that has been beautifully restored to its former glory.

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Massage table and sink in Haeckels spa treatment room with a window view of the sea in Margate

Haeckels spa treatment room overlooking Margate’s sea

2. Have a Bougie Seaweed Massage at Haeckels Spa

Haeckels is an award-winning sustainable skincare and spa boutique born right here in Margate. Situated on the seafront, right near the LIDO, they offer up gorgeous marine-based wellness products like candles and handwash – and they’ve also got a wonderful thalassotherapy spa upstairs with views of the water. I had an hour-long deep tissue massage here and it was glorious. Afterwards, you’re served seaweed tea and broth, plus nutritious bites.

Explore the Haeckels range or book a spa treatment directly on their website.

 

Wild sea bass, monks beard, polenta & Amalfi lemon at Sargasso Restaurant in Margate

Wild sea bass, monks beard, polenta & Amalfi lemon small plate at Sargasso Restaurant in Margate

3. Savour the Best of Margate’s Culinary Scene

Don’t just stop at seafood, though – there are some incredible restaurants in Margate. I repeat: INCREDIBLE. Here are some reccs:

  • Sargasso Restaurant: Sargasso restaurant wins for serving up the best of modern British small plates in a fabulous seaside setting. From crispy fish tacos to flavorful beetroot and goat’s cheese arancini, their stunning menu captures the essence of Margate’s coastal charm. This is the sister restaurant of top-rated restaurant Brawn in Hackney, nestled in the heart of London’s Columbia Road.
  • Bottega Caruso: this charming Michelin-recommended Italian restaurant is known for its authentic flavors and warm atmosphere. The food is SO GOOD. Everything is handmade and bursting with flavour. Dessert is amazing too. My top tip for Bottega Caruso: book in advance. It gets so busy.
  • Angela’s Margate: This joint is an absolute must-visit for seafoodies. Based in the harbour, this family-run establishment offers a gorgeous array of fresh, locally sourced seafood dishes. From succulent lobster and crispy calamari to classic but elevated fish and chips, Angela’s signature seafood is a must-try.

 

Battered fish and chunky chips with mushy peas, tartare sauce and a wedge of lemon on a plate at Buoy & Oyster in Margate

Battered fish and chunky chips at Buoy & Oyster Restaurant in Margate

4. Indulge in some Classic British Fish and Chips

On that note… you can’t visit the British seaside without eating some fish and chips! Get your taste buds ready for some of the most tantalising, fresh AF fish and chips you’ve ever had, because Margate is ready to serve!

I love the classic fish-and-chips served up at Buoy and Oyster, a family-run seafood restaurant that is honestly worth every penny. They also do classic oysters, dressed crab, lobster, fresh seafood platters and all sorts!

If you fancy a more rugged fish-and-chips experience, check out their sister restaurant downstairs, Beach Buoys, a contemporary Margs take on the classic chippy, where you can try vegan/gluten-free fish-and-chips and munch away on the beach. Beware of the seagulls, they’re always hanging about!

 

Epic French toast with rhubarb, cream and pistachio at Forts Café

Epic French toast with rhubarb, cream and pistachio at Forts Café

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5. Get Brunchy with Coffee and Breakfast by the Sea

When it comes to starting your day off right in Margate, brunch is the name of the game. So, fuel up with a hearty, Instagrammable brunch before getting on with your cliffside exploring. From classic Brit breakfast dishes to trendy cafs by the coast, with vegan/veggie options for days, here are honourable mentions for the best brunch in Margate:

  • Forts Coffee: This is Margate’s ultimate brunch gem. Artisanal coffee, next-level brunch and all-round good vibes, Forts is a charming popular spot for starting your day off right. They don’t take bookings, so rock up early or prepare to queue. It’s worth the wait!
  • Cliffs Margate: When it comes to brunch with a view, this award-winning café, hair salon and record shop is the place to be for a banging brunch experience. Fluffy syrupy pancakes and a mimosa anyone?
  • Olby’s Soul Café: Brimming with soul and flavour, this lively award-winning café and creative club blends a love for music with a passion for delicious food. Brunch away and bop your head to a backdrop of soulful beats, all while chowing down a classic Eggs Benedict or hearty Full English Breakfast with all the trimmings.
  • The Bus Café: For a quirky, ‘grammable brunch experience, hop aboard The Bus Cafe. This converted bus-turned-café serves up scrumptious, award-winning brunch delights on a red double-decker. Indulge in pancakes stacked high with berries and maple drizzle, or try an avocado and feta smash.
  • The Greedy Cow: This carnivore’s paradise might seem intense in the morning, serving up mouthwatering burgers and hearty brunch fare. But it’s a classic. Sink your teeth into their legendary breakfast baps, replete with sizzling bacon, succulent sausages, eggs cooked to perfection, and a naughty hash brown.

 

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The iconic Turner Contemporary Gallery, cutting an angular silhouette along Margate’s coast

The angular silhouette of the iconic Turner Contemporary Gallery in Margate

6. Immerse Yourself in Modern Art at the Turner Contemporary

The beautifully designed Turner Contemporary is a modern gallery overlooking Margate’s roaring waves. Made of glass and concrete, the two-floor gallery is home to a revolving door of wonderful exhibitions, installations, and an artfully curated gift shop with locally-made prints, posters, cards, books, artworks and products.

Fun fact: Turner Contemporary isn’t just a world-class art gallery but also a tribute to the great British painter J. M. W. Turner, who was captivated by Margate’s stunning landscapes. There’s a blue plaque dedicated to Turner on one of the buildings in the Old Town.

Single man walks outside Turner Contemporary in Margate by the sea

Single man strolling outside the Turner Contemporary in Margate

 

 

Young couple browsing in a Japanese-inspired lifestyle concept store Asobi in Margate

Cute couple browsing the bold, poppin’ wares at Japanese-inspired lifestyle concept store Asobi in Margate

7. Get Your Shopping Fix at Margate’s Boutique & Vintage Shops

Discover hidden vintage gems, from retro clothing to quirky home decor items, and top-tier contemporary design products all around Margate. I loved Asobi, a new little Japanese-inspired concept store tucked down an alleyway. There’s also the classic Margate Bookshop where you can pick up your next read, and more than a few indie fashion shops. Further up, past the Turner Contemporary gallery, is Harbour & Tide, another lovely gift shop and design concept store full of sustainable and beautifully-designed products.

Eco Tip: Bring a reusable tote bag to carry your treasures home and reduce your environmental footprint.

 

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Exploring Margate Caves: the underground chalk caverns hidden deep beneath the ground

Margate Caves: an underground chalk cavern hidden deep beneath the ground

8. Uncover the Mysterious Margate Caves and Shell Grotto

When in Margate, don’t just stay above ground – take a peek at life below the surface at the Margate Caves! It’s pretty strange and kooky down there, with colourful animals painted on the walls from hundreds of years ago.

Around the corner in Cliftonville, you can go and visit the award-winning Shell Grotto too: a mysterious underground passageway adorned with intricate mosaic patterns made entirely of seashells. Its origin and purpose remain unknown to this day. Oooer. Shell mysteries? I’m into it.

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9. Sip on Artisanal Cocktails Under the Sun

Margate is absolutely packed with incredible cafés, bars and restaurants putting their own twist on playful drinks and aperitivos. Whether you’re into a classic cocktail or an unusual mocktail, Margate’s got tasty concoctions all over the place. Check out some of these top-tier bars to wet your whistle by the sea, and have a boogie to their DJ sets once the sun goes down:

  • Little Swift – this seafront shop and bar have an incredible drinks menu. From Aperol Sour slushies to Tap Craft Beers to alcohol-free botanical cocktails, Little Swift is the joint! Try their Orange Shrub alcohol-free drink, with orange & hibscus syrup, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, soda, and orange salt. Zing!
  • Sargasso – classic Negroni? skin-contact orange wine from Puglia? Sargasso’s got it all, and then some. You should probably book in advance though – this place gets super packed out, especially on weekends.

 

Enjoying a zesty mocktail and an IPA beer at Little Swift restaurant and bar in Margate, looking out to the seafront

Enjoying a zesty mocktail and an IPA beer at Little Swift restaurant and bar in Margate, looking out to the seafront

 

Dreamland’s ferris wheel peeking out from the Margate train station tracks

Dreamland’s ferris wheel peeking out above Margate’s train station

10. Experience Thrills and Live Music at Dreamland

Dreamland is a vintage amusement park that has been a staple in Margate since the 1920s. With over 20 rides, including the famous Scenic Railway, which is the oldest rollercoaster in the UK, Dreamland is a must-visit for thrill-seekers and is the epitome of seaside fun!

But not only does the park have rides, food vendors, bars, and even a retro arcade – it’s home to amazing concerts, gigs and festivals every summer! Some of the iconic artists who’ve played Dreamland include Tom Jones, Dizzee Rascal and Rag n Bone Man.

 

11. Wander Through Margate’s Old Town

Take a leisurely stroll through the historic streets of Margate’s Old Town, uncovering hidden gems, independent boutiques, and delightful cafes along the way. Bring your comfy beaten up sneakers, a film camera, and a sense of curiosity as you explore the charming streets and alleyways of Margate’s Old Town.

Margate Old Town Recommendations:

  • Pride Art Trail: Follow the curated trail that showcases the vibrant art scene in Margate’s Old Town, with stops at renowned galleries, street art murals, and creative spaces.
  • Galleries for Days: Art abounds in Margate. Check out the local artistry at all of the independent galleries dotted around the town. There are loads of ‘em! You may even walk away with a nice little print…

 

Man walking along Margate Harbour Arm at sunset during low tide

Admiring Margate Harbour Arm at sunset during low tide

12. Stroll Along the Margate Harbour Arm

After your old town jaunt, make time for a lovely, lazy stroll following the coastline on Margate Harbour Arm. Marvel at the outdoor sculptures and installations showcasing the town’s commitment to public art. Also if it’s not summer, it might get a bit nippy by the sea – once the wind was so strong on Margate Beach it blew my hat off! So remember to bring a light jacket, beanie or scarf along on your harbour-side adventure.

Margate Harbour Tours and Recommendations:

  • Margate Cycling Tour: Discover Margate’s fascinating past, present, and evolving future on wheels!
  • Live Music at the Harbour Arm Stage: Catch a live music performance at the Harbour Arm Stage, where talented local artists and musicians entertain visitors with their soulful tunes.
  • Have a Cocktail on the Harbour Arm: Order a nice bevvie, grab a table outside and find the perfect spot on the Harbour Arm to watch the sun go down in a blaze of colour over the glistening sea.

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13. Watch the Waves and Windsurfers at Margate Beach

Even though it can get pretty windy, Margate has a soft, sandy golden beach that’s perfect for chilling on in the late spring and summer. Don’t forget your sunscreen, beach towel, and a good book for a relaxing day under the sun.

Souvenirs and beach trinkets at a shopfront near Margate Beach

Souvenirs and trinkets at a shopfront near Margate Beach

If you’re more of a doer, then take a leisurely stroll along the coastline, breathing in the fresh sea air. Admire the Brutalist architecture of Dreamland and the buildings around it. Then treat yourself to either a seafood sarnie from Mannings Seafood Truck near the Harbour Arm or grab an artisanal ice cream from one of the seafront shops. Savoury or sweet – you choose!

There are lots of cute little seaside knick-knack shops and streetwear boutiques dotted along the harbour, so pop in there and have a browse around too if you fancy a Margate souvenir to take home with you.

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Crab bants at Margate’s Crab Museum

Banterous welcome message at Margate’s Crab Museum

14. Scuttle over to the Crab Museum for some #FunFacts

Rogue pick, but bear with me. Margate’s Crab Museum is not only 100% free, but it’s 100% lolz. Anyone with a sense of humour should spend half an hour here. They’ve got amazing crab facts and hilarious illustrations all over the walls, plus they have an original print from Japanese artist Hokusai, known for creating iconic artwork ‘The Great Wave’. Did you know that human vaccines are tested on crabs? No? Well, get thee to the museum to learn more! It’s the biggest crab museum in Europe which is a low-key flex.

If crabs ain’t your thing, you can check out the Margate Museum too. Delve into Margate’s past as you explore the heritage museum’s exhibits and artefacts, and find out more about the town’s history. C’mon, pub quiz!

 

Casual windswept stroll outside the iconic Margate LIDO

Taking a casual windswept stroll outside the iconic Lido Tower in Margate, Kent

Getting to Margate from London

Margate is in the southeast county of Kent, along its lovely coastline. It’s only 75 miles away from London, meaning it’s close enough for a sponty day trip or a cheeky weekend getaway. You can escape the big city bustle and be basking in Margate’s salty sea breeze in no time at all. Here’s a quick how to get to Margate guide:

  • By Car: Fancy a road trip? Margate is about 75 miles (120 kilometres for the non-Brits), which translates to an easy 1.5 to 2 hours of cruise time, depending on how much traffic joins the party. Follow the A2 and A299 routes, and voila – you’ll be seaside, pronto. If you don’t have a car, it’s super easy to rent one for the day or the weekend. I’d go for Rental Cars or Discover Cars.
  • By Train: All aboard the Margate Express! If you’d rather leave the driving to someone else, the train’s your trusty steed. From London’s bustling stations like Victoria and St Pancras International, you can hop on a choo-choo straight to Margate. The high-speed service from St Pancras will whisk you there in a mere 1 hour and 30 minutes. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the scenic views rolling by. This is my favourite way to get to Margate, because it’s so fast and convenient.

 

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Where to Stay in Margate: Top-Rated Boutique Hotels and Apartments in Margate

First things first, here are some of my favourite cute, bougie, boutiquey places to stay in Margate:

  • Margate Suites – For a stylish and contemporary apartment/hotel experience, Margate Suites offers trendy, quirky suites each with their own design. Each Suite is a thoughtfully-themed chic retreat: Courtyard (incredible), Emerald, Pearl and Samphire. I once had a photoshoot in the Courtyard suite, which was beautiful. One room had a round bed. Such fun. (Rating: 8.7 ‘Fabulous’)
  • The Reading Rooms – Nestled in Margate’s Old Town, this luxury boutique bed and breakfast exudes charm and sophistication. It’s a gorgeous, darling getaway. Each room blends modern design with vintage touches, replete with REN skincare. Prepare to be pampered in style! (Rating: 5 stars on TripAdvisor)
  • The Dreamland Apartment – Indulge in luxury with breathtaking sea views at The Dreamland Apartment. Right on the seafront, you’ll have unrivalled views across Margate Beach, the North Sea, and iconic sights. The spacious rooftop terrace offers the perfect spot to sip your coffee, or tuck into dinner overlooking the twinkling lights of Dreamland. Prepare to be spoiled! (Rating: 8.9 ‘Fabulous’)

Margate is such a soulful little seaside gem, and the perfect weekend escape from London. Whatever your vibe is, there are so many things to do in Margate.

I hope you found this Margate guide useful!

Next up: check out these Epic Things To Do In London in the Spring.

Mel Legarda

Melissa Legarda is the founder of illumelation. She has worked as a travel blogger, creator and writer since 2015, and has collaborated with well-known brands worldwide. She has helped over 1,100+ students improve their travel photography skills since launching her creative courses. Her mission is to encourage and empower others to travel and create more. Find her on Instagram.

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