I had never really ever considered going to Margate and I hadn’t really heard much about it other than when it was in the Only Fools and Horses episode when they have their disastrous jolly boys outing to Margate.
A little a while a go one of my oldest and closest friends asked me to be her maid of honour at her wedding, so straight away I knew I had to organise her an epic hen weekend with the other bridesmaids. When I asked my friend where she would like to go on her hen do he reply was ‘I really fancy going to Margate’ shocked at her response half expecting her to say somewhere hot and exotic abroad or a big booming city in the UK, I decided I best get to work researching this small seaside town.
While googling I was pleasantly surprised at how trendy Margate seemed to be as I had no idea how hipster Margate really was, with lots of cafes, bars and quirky shops on offer, the hen do planning had officially begun!
When we arrived into Margate we were so amazed at how lovely everything was and it was so good to see a Great British Seaside town being bought back to life, and small little businesses booming in the area. We honestly had such a great weekend in Margate and it really exceeded our expectations so much so I really would love to go back for another weekend in the future. If your looking for retro seaside kitsch – then don’t delay and head to Margate!
Sights & Activities
Dreamland is one of Margate’s main draws, like many British seaside towns Margate has its own amusement park. Dreamland is along one of the main streets and directly opposite the beach. It has something for everyone from a variety of rides, entertainment, art installations, food and drink vendors, music venues and even a roller disco. We didn’t really know what to expect from Dreamland half expecting it to be your usual tacky seaside amusement park, well did not disappoint one bit!
While from the entrance it doesn’t look particularly appealing, however once your in its full of vibrant colours and a really relaxed atmosphere. It was also really good value for money, we bought wristbands online prior to going and paid about £9 per person which included entrance into the Dreamland and unlimited rides. We spent a few hours trying many of the rides and wandering around. We were lucky when we visited as queues weren’t too bad, however I can imagine in the height of summer the park being quite busy. Dreamland is an absolute must to any Margate trip!
Haeckels is a shop and spa which promotes coastal natural ingredients as well as conservation and beach clean ups. This small luxury skin care brand showcases many of Margate’s coastline natural supplies and ingredients. I stumbled across this little shop overlooking the seafront just before heading home, and wish I had known about it before as they offer a variety of spa treatments onsite too. I treated myself to the most gorgeous smelling candle. If your a girly girl like myself then make sure you pop into Haeckels and possibly even try out one of their spa treatments.
Margate Clock Tower
Margate Clock Tower is in the centre of town and was constructed to celebrate the golden jubilee of Queen Victoria in the late 1800s. When walking along the Margate Main Sands or heading to Dreamland this beautiful Victorian clock can’t be missed! It’s one of Margate’s stand out landmarks.
Margate Harbour Arm
The Harbour Arm is a concrete pier in Margate overlooking Margate Main Sands and the beach front high street. The pier was created in the early 1800s for its lighthouse. Today as it stands it’s a small extension of Margate’s trendy scene with a few small cafes, restaurants, galleries and even a micro pub (The Harbour Arm) and showcases many art exhibitions and music events which run during the summer, check individual businesses for opening times during the winter period.
A symbol of Margate also stands at the end of the Pier – ‘Mrs Booth’ a famous statue in Margate which is also known as the shell lady, which is a large scale replica of the shell lady ornaments sold in all of Margate’s souvenir shops. The Harbour Arm is a lovely pier to walk along (although very windy) you get amazing views over the ocean and the seafront.
Margate Main Sands
Main Sands is Margates main stretch of beach and has its own tidal pool. The beach is really clean and well kept and a sandy beach too. The promenade is lovely to walk along both during the day and the evening. The beach is really popular with dog walkers and families and during the summer has beach bars and seafood stalls. Just by the Turner Contemporary by the Harbour Arm are some steps to sit on and enjoy ocean and beach views.
Margate is a regenerated seaside town and when stepping into the old town you can see why so many hipsters are attracted to this trendy part of town. All of Margate oozes retro seaside chic. The old town is really quirky and full of buzzing cafes, galleries, vintage shops, junk yards and niche shops and has lots of colourful street art to view.
The old town really is the hub of Margate and you can easily spend a few hours wandering the old streets and dipping in and out of its many eccentric shops. Some of the shops that stood out in the old town were Peony Vintage, Madam Popoff Vintage, Pothead, Little Bit, The Light Keeper, Kings Emporium, Handsome Freaks and Fort Road Yard to name but a few. It’s really great to see so many independent shops and businesses open and running it’s so refreshing to see and a nice change from your box standard high street chain shops. A trip to Margate wouldn’t be complete without a meander through its colourful old town!
The Shell Grotto has to be one of Margate’s more kooky attractions, discovered in 1835 and with 4.6 million shells covering these once hidden passageways, it is definitely a pretty odd site to behold. The Shell Grotto is still steeped in mystery to this very day with so many unanswered questions who, what, why and when?! You really have to come and see the Grotto for yourself and you will leave as puzzled as when you first arrived, but it really is such a cool place to see, and it’s less than a fiver to enter which is an absolute bargain, as I really have never been to anywhere like the Shell Grotto before!
Food & Drink
Beet Bar is a little hidden vegan oasis tucked behind a street in the old town. This quirky cafe delivers the most delicious healthy vegan food, juice drinks and health shots. The service was really welcoming too. We visited on a Sunday for some brunch and opted for the avocado on toast with sun dried tomatoes, and it came with a small dessert of your choice, I chose the mango sticky rice and it was just delicious! I really liked the decor in Beet Bar, basically to sum this place up its just super cool and has great food and drink at affordable prices!
Fez is a wacky bar located on Margate’s high street, this micro bar has a friendly atmosphere, and the decor is very off the wall with a floor covered in sand, and bric a brac covering the walls, ceiling and every surface going. We popped into this cool little bar in the afternoon for a quick shot which was part of the task for our hen party treasure hunt that one of the bridesmaids had organised. We did try to come back in the evening but got there too late as last orders were at 11.30pm.
GB Pizza Co
GB Pizza Co is situated looking out on Margate’s seafront and is small little locally owned restaurant which serves up delicious fresh wood fired pizzas. We came here for a late lunch/dinner and the pizzas were just fab and they have prosecco on tap too, what more could a girl ask for?!
Harbour Cafe Bar
Harbour Cafe Bar is a cute and cosy cafe overlooking the sea and serves up cooked food as well as a selection of hot drinks and cakes. We stopped in here for a quick pick me up and grabbed a drink and cake while we waited for the weather to clear.
Mar Mar is the new place to go in Margate and is honing in on the recent trend of plants and succulents. Stepping into this cafe/shop is liking walking into an exotic jungle set just on the streets of Cliftonville. A selection of cakes are made daily onsite. I had a delicious chocolate and coconut flapjack and chai latte, and afterwards did some plant shopping to bring home some cute little succulents, which hopefully I won’t kill off! As well as selling lots of plants they also sell lots of cute stationary, accessories and books etc.
Sundowners is Margate’s only LGBT bar, club and restaurants and overlooks the coastline. Set in an old building we headed here for a few drinks before we were meant to hit another club in Margate, but we all ended up having such a good time in Sundowners we ended up staying. The night we visited they had a Boy George tribute act on which was fantastic. It was such a great vibe and everyone both staff and punters were so friendly, everyone just gets along and starts up conversation in this place.
The Bus Cafe
The Bus Cafe sits on the promenade and overlooks the beach. This old 1980s double decker bus has been converted into the cutest cafe and cooks up delicious fresh and seasonal food and uses as much local produce as possible.
The cafe also does lots of good within Margate’s community and supports lots of local charities, and as well as doing all this also ensures it’s not creating to the waste problem and uses only biodegradable and recyclable packaging. We came to the cafe for lunch when we first arrived in Margate. This cafe has gorgeous views of the beach, delicious food and great staff. The Bus Cafe is also next to a few little street food stalls and Ziggys Bar which during the summer months I can imagine are really popular.
The Old Kent Market
The Old Kent Market used to be a cinema and bingo hall years ago, and has been lovingly restored, and still holds lots of its original charm.
The market has a range of different stalls selling food and drinks, as well as some cute micro pubs/bars. There are also some units selling crafts and a variety of products and services.
Sea View Terrace Air Bnb
As Margate is a seaside town it has a good selection of hotels, bed and breakfasts and guest houses to choose from. As we were a group of 11 we opted to search on Air Bnb, and we stumbled across the most beautiful 4 storey beach front townhouse situated in Sea View Terrace. It was perfect for our group with 6 bedrooms all with en-suites, it was great for 11 girls trying to get party ready! The downstairs space was also amazing and meant we could have pre-drinks and hen party games without feeling like we were crammed in. The house was in such a great location we could walk into the town centre within a few minutes, and it was a refreshing stroll along the beach promenade.
Transport & Getting Around
Margate is really easy to get around once you have arrived, I would recommend going around the town on foot, as everything is easily walkable and you get to walk along the seafront and take in Margate’s cool and edgy vibe.
The only top tip I would have is for girls with hair, my god Margate is windy (or was when we were there), so expect to look windswept the whole time or just wear your hair up so you can actually see where your going!