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Staycation: Marvellous Margate

Ok, we’re going to put it out there, we had a blooming marvellous time in Margate for our recent staycation, but it isn’t for you if you’re looking for Gili T standard white sand deserted beaches and high class luxury…but that’s not what we’re about.

What to do

There’s loads to do in Margate it is a proper British seaside town. Here are some of our favourites in more or less the order that we did them in.

Turner Contemporary

What a fabulous place. Free entry to the galleries, built in J Turner’s name as it is where he used to come and stay and paint. We saw the Animals & Us exhibition, with pieces from Picasso, Perry and Turner amongst others – looking at the relationships between animals and humans in all their forms. It’s brilliant for all the family too, and the shop is FABULOUS.

Anthony Gormley

As part of the Turner, there is an Anthony Gormley statue…situated in the sea when the tide is in and at the end of a plinth when the tide is out, as part of his ANOTHER TIME exhibition. It is there until late 2018, and as great as the ones you can find in Liverpool, London etc.


OK, so Dreamland is the real pull of Margate. An amusement park that was in such disrepair that they shut it down, and re-opened it a few years ago in all its retro glory. Ferris wheels, dodgems and all other rides you could imagine, coupled with candyfloss and a roller room it is brilliant, and one of the main reasons people visit the seaside town. The only drawback we found were the opening hours and the price. It’s £5 to get in if you’re not paying in advance for your rides, and then rides are extra, and it’s open on average between 10 and 6, and 8pm for the roller room.

Botany Bay

We got the Loop bus up from town to Botany Bay (otherwise it’s about a 45 minute walk), which was £2.60 return, and it was definitely worth it. What a beautiful place! A cove in the white chalk cliffs, and grassy knolls, and far less busy than the main sands at Margate. If the weather is nice it’s definitely worth the walk/cycle/bus up there.

Joss Bay

We didn’t get to Joss Bay, but it’s just along from Botany Bay, and Valerie our amazing Airbnb host recommended it and said it’s the best around. We were short on time which was a shame so we couldn’t get up to it, but it’s on the list for when we return!

Shell Grotto

What a place. It’s under £5 to get in and is so fabulously English it’s amazing. Found at the end of the 1800s, and no one really knows what it is or why it was built. The story goes it was found by accident by a man and his son.

Found down a side street about 15 minutes (max) walk from the main town.

It’s a tunnel and cavern full of shells – walls in such incredible mosaics with no real meaning…or lots of meanings! The best part in our view, was the cavernous room at the end where one of the walls was ruined by a WW2 bomb, and they have a giant picture of an early 1900s seance that took place there.

Margate Caves

We had read about the Margate Caves online, but couldn’t find too much about them…that’s because they don’t exist and have been filled in. All except this sad looking sign to what used to be the caves. The locals are devastated and we were sad we couldn’t explore more too!

Vintage Shopping

This is the reason that all the hipsters from East London head to Margate, except for how chilled it is. Streets full of junk shops and vintage shops, and hundreds of vintage clothes stores, Tim’s favourite was Breuer and Dawson (King Street) which is great for European workwear, and Jess’ favourite was Margate Superstore (Town Centre) which was basically like a high street shop packed full of vintage bargains starting at £1!


The great thing about being at this end of the country is that all the beaches are sandy and beautiful. The busy, atypical Margate main beach, beautiful Botany Bay and Joss Bay just some of the fantastic ones on offer. We only really touched the beach after sunset on Saturday night as neither of us are massive beach fans, preferring instead to explore the loacl area, but we couldn’t resist a night-time explore down the beach.



Where to eat and drink


The best ice cream parlour in Margate, with amazing flavours, we loved it!

Old Kent Market

Fabulous looking on the outside, with outside seafront seating from the bar, and inside an array of retro stores selling all sorts. Even an inside bus!

Bouy and Oyster

You MUST book this in advance, particularly if you are visiting at the weekend/in summer. The most amazing restaurant, with brilliant service, really excellent food and space on the balcony with a beautiful sea view.

We had 2 courses and as we managed to get a spot inside we only had our table for 90 minutes but after some lovely aperol spritzes, olives and burrata, fish and chips and whatever else was in Tim’s bowl of freshly caught seafood we headed out to their balcony and sat talking the night away with some cocktails and the most beautiful sunset view. Couldn’t recommend this restaurant enough.

The Bus Cafe

We were going to head out for breakfast elsewhere, but our fabulous Airbnb host recommended we headed down to the big red bus on the seafront (you can’t miss it), and we did. It was fab, we started to sit inside, and then moved to a free table outside – the breakfast options are amazing, and there are loads of vegan options too!

Where to stay

We stayed in an Airbnb and I would highly recommend the lovely woman we stayed with – send us a message and we will send you her details.

If you haven’t yet used Airbnb use this link to get £25 off your first trip!

There are some amazing hotels and B&Bs around too, but we wanted to make the most of local knowledge and live like locals, which is exactly what Airbnb is for.

If this has tickled your fancy for places to visit in the UK, take a look at our other staycations in Suffolk and the New Forest.