Perfect Weekend: 48-Hours in Margate, KentBy Sophie Brown
Searching for a seaside getaway that won’t break the bank? A Margate staycation ticks all the boxes. Tempted by the seaside life, Londoners are flocking to Margate for lazy long weekends with friends and romantic mini breaks; and with gorgeous restaurants, brilliant bars and plenty to see and do – it’s not hard to see why. It’s small enough to explore without a car, and it’s only an hour and a half fromSt Pancras International on the train. Plus, the minute you hop out of the station you can see the sea. Here’s our guide to the perfect weekend in Margate:
Margate Travel Guide: Where to Stay in Margate
While there are loads of options on Airbnb; you can get the full holiday experience by staying in one of Margate’s beautiful boutique hotels.
The Reading Rooms is a three-bedroom B&B on the desirable Hawley Square, just a five-minute walk to the Old Town and the seafront. The gorgeous shabby chic retreat is in a beautifully restored Grade II listed Georgian townhouse, dating back to the 1760s. The spacious bedrooms each cover an entire floor of the building, and all have standalone baths and windows overlook the green square – dreamy!
If you prefer to stay somewhere more contemporary, look no further than the stylish Cliftonville Townhouse. Boasting gorgeous exposed brick walls, relaxing interiors and super comfy beds – you’ll struggle to get up and out in the morning. Breakfast is served in your room for added indulgence!
Margate Travel Guide: Where to Eat in Margate
Margate’s a foodie paradise, with a handful of restaurants giving London’s offering some serious competition. If you’re heading down for a romantic weekend away, make sure to book a table at Angela’s. The stylish seafood restaurant has views across the Harbour Arm and serves up a mouthwatering menu of local, seasonal fish in a small, relaxed restaurant where the staff are as brilliant as the wine list.
Another place to bag a table for two is the beautiful Bottega Caruso, a family-run Italian in the heart of the Old Town. Their fresh, homemade pasta is (in my humble opinion) some of the best in the world; and every ragu they make is to die for.
If you’re visiting Margate with a group of friends, the newly refurbished Buoy and Oyster is where you need to be. With an enviable cocktail menu and brilliant, local, seasonal food – you can’t go wrong. If you can’t choose from the menu, get the iconic Buoy Bowl – you won’t regret it! Another great place for groups is Cinque Ports, home to the best Sunday roast in Margate.
The Walpole Bay Hotel should be on your must-visit list for afternoon tea. Set in a super kitsch hotel, it’s the perfect place to spend an afternoon lounging around reading the papers and tucking into enormous scones piled high with fresh cream and jam.
A trip to the seaside wouldn’t be complete without fish and chips. Grab a takeaway from Peter’s Fish Factory on the seafront; wrap up warm and tuck in on the steps that sweep around the coastline.
Margate Travel Guide: Where to Drink in Margate
One of the best ways to explore Margate is by spending a day walking along the beach and exploring the Old Town, popping in to all of the vintage shops and pubs along the way.
BottleShop should be your first port of call for a welcome-to-Margate bev. Not only is it right on the seafront with stunning views; it’s also home to the best margaritas in Margate. They have a great selection of mocktails, too, if you’re laying off the booze.
Another must-visit is Fez. Tucked away on the high street, this tiny eclectic pub is packed to the brim with retro signs and mismatched vintage furniture. They have an amazing selection of gins to choose from too, so if G&Ts are your thing, make sure you pay them a visit.
If you’re a fan of a traditional pub with a jukebox and a pool table, there’s nowhere better than The Mulberry Tree. A five-minute walk from the Old Town, this spacious pub is under new management and has a warm, homely vibe – perfect for chilling out on a Sunday afternoon.
In the summertime, grab a couple of cans and head to the Harbour Arm. There are steps up to the flat roofs of the micropubs, cafes and restaurants where you can sit and take in the incredible views of the sunset.
Margate Travel Guide: Where to Go Out in Margate
For a small town, there’s nightlife is impressive. Cheap, cheerful and super friendly; a night out in Margate couldn’t be further from the hustle, bustle and £18 cocktails in London. At the weekends, most of the bars and pubs stay open late; so grab dinner and a drink then get ready to dance it off.
Elsewhere is Margate’s newest venue; with live music and club nights most weekends. The huge space is in the shopping centre, and boasts a large bar with reasonably priced drinks, and a basement for gigs and dancing all night long.
Sundowners, Margate’s only gay bar, is friendly, welcoming and super cheesy (in a very good way!). Ru Paul fans will delight in the drag acts that hit the stage on Saturday nights, before the floor turns into a club playing pop favourites and disco classics.
On select Friday and Saturday nights, there are events at Margate Arts Club in Cliftonville. A little further out of town, this unassuming club space feels like you’re partying in a friend’s living room.
The best thing about going out in Margate is that you’re not at the mercy of Uber’s 2.5x charges when it’s time to head home. You should be able to walk home in under 20 minutes (and pick up a kebab on the way!). The morning after, make sure to pay a visit to the Dalby Cafe for a hangover breakfast.
Margate Travel Guide: What to Do in Margate
Even if you spend most of your time in Margate eating out and boozing in the bars, make sure to set aside a little bit of time to visit the Shell Grotto. A 10-minute walk from the Old Town, this subterranean cave is adorned with shells from floor to ceiling. The best part? They have no idea how it got there. It’s one of Margate’s biggest mysteries, which makes it all the more exciting to explore. It’s also got a cute gift shop, perfect for picking up souvenirs from your seaside getaway.
When you’ve finished marvelling at the Shell Grotto, go to the Turner Contemporary. You can spot its iconic frame in Margate’s skyline from the minute you step off the train; and it’s free to enter, making it even more appealing. Home to 2019’s Turner Prize, you can guarantee that whenever you visit there’ll be an exhibition that’ll have you jaw to the floor with wonder.
If you visit Margate in the summer, don’t forget to pack your swimsuit! Avoid the crowds on the Main Sands and instead, walk to the Walpole Bay Tidal Pool, about 20-minutes from the Old Town. You can go for a dip in the huge 1930s pool, that’s still packed with swimmers in summertime. Enjoy a post-swim coffee on the terrace of the Walpole Bay Hotel after to warm up.
Margate Travel Guide: Where to Shop in Margate
No mini break would be complete without bringing home a few reminders of your trip. Luckily, there are plenty of independent shops to score souvenirs from. Peony Vintage is in the heart of Old Town and is totally unmissable – and not just because it’s bright pink. Owned by a stylist and vintage fanatic, Peony stocks a perfectly curated selection of vintage clothes and accessories at hard-to-beat prices.
If you’re into modern, simple. utilitarian fashion – Werkhaus is the shop for you. With a combination of vintage and new pieces that are made to last; this is the sort of shop where you pick up those items of clothing you wear time and time again.
Ditched fashion for homeware? Margate is a treasure trove of antique furniture. Junk Deluxe is about a 10-minute walk from the Old Town and is a haven for interior lovers. The junkyard-style outdoor warehouse is packed to the brim with antique bargains. They even do delivery to London.