Whitstable. At the edge of Eastern England lies many a great British seaside town, and one that is most famous for its Oyster festival is Whitstable. We went to explore what there was to do there for the weekend to bring you our best day out.
We LOVE a staycation. Goodness me, if we’d have known how cheap, quick and easy it was to get to somewhere so wonderful by the seaside then we would have been doing weekly trips for years. As we no longer have a car, (you can read about our experience with HiyaCar here) we decided to get the train. At just over an hour from Kings Cross or Victoria, trains run regularly throughout the day.
Our first stop was for coffee at Blueprint Coffee and books. We are aware that it couldn’t have been more perfect for the pair of us really. A small, locally run and brilliantly stocked coffee shop, with bar staff that knew their stuff and some beautiful books and magazines to browse or buy. Perfect! We had a coffee and shared a slice of their lemon and blueberry cake which was delicious! The perfect start to an adventure!
We knew lots of the things that we wanted to see in Whitstable and one of these was the record shops. We love our vinyl and have no qualms about splashing the cash on something that will keep us occupied for hours. Knowing this, we found two record shops quite close to where we had had coffee. They were perfect for a rummage. Gatefield Sounds was the largest of the two, with a real range of ages and genres. Rock Bottom Records was the perfect place for anything retro and mugs beyond your wildest dreams.
We aren’t brilliant shoppers, but we just couldn’t help ourselves with the beauty of the charity shops in Whitstable. Antique shops, Charity shops and cute independent shops with the most amazing handmade things in. It was brilliant. The high street was buzzing which was lovely to see too! You can’t miss them walking down from the station to the sea, so do yourself a favour and pop in!
Whitstable is famous for it’s oysters. From Wheeler’s (the pretty pink shop you’ve definitely seen photos of) to the Lobster Shack; The annual Oyster Festival to the shops on the street selling locally caught Oysters, you can’t escape them. Neither Tim or I are a massive fan of oysters but that doesn’t mean we didn’t pop to look at the sites! Wheelers is beautiful, and if you don’t fancy a full meal you can just pop to the stall outside for a couple on the go!
Somehow without planning, we ended up down on the Sunday of their annual Oyster festival. What does this mean? Well outside of the harbour not too much. However, the harbour and harbour market was full of all sorts related to the festival. From activities to tasting, music to crafts, it was a great fun-filled environment that encapsulates the best of British.
Street art and cute streets
Whitstable is exactly that, the epitome of British coastal town. If you don’t have plans and just wonder the streets you can fall in love with the street art, vintage signs and pretty houses. They even have their own version of Banksy!
Whitstable castle and gardens
Of course, Whitstable has its own castle too. Less than a 10 minute walk from the high street you will find the beautiful and quaint Whitstable Castle and gardens. Free to go in and look around too, what more could you want. At the moment you can only go inside one room of the castle (obviously the one with the cafe in); you can see more of the castle and learn more about its history through guided tours that happen Tuesday/Wednesday/Friday but you’ll need to book them online beforehand. If you want to see more of the castle, you could time it accidentally well like we did and go in to the antiques fair that was taking place in the grounds and castle that meant we could see more! It was fabulous, and we came away with some of our own antiques too!
Beach and beach huts
Lets be honest, if you’re coming to Whitstable on a nice weekend you’re going to want to see the sea. The Beach at Tankerton (very close to the castle) is the best place to find the beach, sand (just about) and the beautiful beach huts. We spent so long wondering around them imagining what was inside and how much they cost, maybe our next stop is to stay overnight in one next summer!
We even had the chance to meet Mr Chalky, who apparently has been a native of Whitstable for years, encouraging people to leave their non-permanent mark and spread love through chalk on the high sea walls. It was super cute and our favourite part was the part where people had left where they were from on the floor too. It’s a popular place from far and wide!
The beach clean up operation is also in place at Whitstable, where you are encouraged to do a 2 minute beach clean and see how much rubbish and plastic you can pick up. We must admit that we failed at this because the sections that we got to walk on were so clean and tidy already.
Harbour boats, boxes and market
The harbour is an amazing place. Filled for our visit for the Oyster festival, it’s a beautiful array of boxes, boats and market place. It’s not smelly to walk around but it is fascinating. Stop and chat to some of the locals too, they will have so much to tell you about their own personal stories relating to the harbour, we could have listened for ages!
Fish and chips at lobster shack
No matter the weather or the size of the seagulls, fish and chips is a must by the sea! We didn’t make reservations at the Michelin Star restaurant, we didn’t wander into town, we had good old fish and chips by the sea. It was glorious. Bigger than our heads, beautifully cooked, not as expensive as we feared it may be and brilliant chips. Perfect lunch for a day of escape! Lobster Shack is a beach bar and restaurant that serves fresh, local seafood and all of it is delicious. If there is a queue out the door and outside is empty, grab a menu and a table and make yourself comfortable to beat the queues!
Ice cream from Sundae Sundae
You know us, massive Gelato fans, we could probably do a world tour of gelato and maybe that’s not a bad idea you know! Anyway, we knew the ice cream from Sundae Sundae was supposed to be good but we didn’t expect it to be that darn good!
The Shop itself is tiny and quaint and full of everything you could need for a day on the beach. Unfortunately, we were going to share some ice cream but someone (not Jess) decided that we needed to have one each, so Jess obliged. Naturally.
Old Neptune Pub
A short walk away with our ice creams was the Old Neptune Pub. Cash for anything under £5 and not like London where that covers only a pint, it was full of locals, local paraphernalia and was busy outside and in. A really great atmosphere, with quiet music and their own branded cups for a small deposit (trying to get rid of plastic waste). Really, it was the perfect afternoon activity. We had a pint on the wall, people watching and dog spotting. Ideal.
We didn’t have time this time, but will definitely be returning to do a boat trip. Some go around the harbour, some go down the coast and others go out to the Nazi defence system (Maunsell Sea Forts) slightly further out at sea. That’s definitely the trip for us!
Whitstable has its own museum too. For a couple of pounds you can see antiquities and other bits showcasing all of Whitsable’s history. Great for if the weather is bad!
Fish Slab Art Gallery
Another great thing to do if it rains and you get stuck, is pop down to Fish Slab Gallery on the High Street to see some emerging and emerged artist showcases!
The trip away for the day was exactly what we needed. We’re already looking forward to returning and perhaps staying over night somewhere too! Careful though, that sea air might tire you out!
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