7 reasons to visit Margate
Find top things to do in Margate this summer
Step into the real-life setting of Empire of Light starring Olivia Coleman and Sky's Dreamland with Lily Allen to discover world-class galleries, sandy beaches, music festivals, independent shops and Britain's oldest fairground.
Attractions in Margate
One of the most Instagrammable places in the UK, Dreamland has recently been restored to its former glory (it's over 100 years old). It is one of the biggest and best free-entry amusement parks in the UK, with 25 vintage rides, an eclectic calendar of events including film screenings and music festivals and seaside-inspired street food.
Show off your moves at the roller disco, take a ride on a vintage carousel and see the sights on the big wheel. Also not to be missed is the oldest wooden rollercoaster in the UK - the wonderfully retro and rickety Scenic Railway.
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Margate's Blue Flag Beach, Main Sands, is 200 metres long with a promenade, tidal bathing pool and a children's play area. If you don't fancy a side of sand in your packed lunch, there are great local restaurants and cafés for a break from the sunshine.
For a unique perspective on Margate and a bit of mystery for under a fiver, delve into the Shell Grotto, a Grade-I listed attraction filled with winding passages decorated with 4.6 million shells arranged into fascinating patterns. Discovered by accident over 180 years ago, some think it is an ancient Pagan grotto, others that it's simply an ornate Georgian folly, but its exact history remains unknown.Find more attractions in Margate
Restaurants in Margate
For the freshest catch of the day, Michelin Guide-featured Angela's is a cosy, understated seafood restaurant on the seafront serving excellent local produce alongside simple, seasonal vegetable-based dishes.
For fish in a different style, Angela's little sister, Dory's, is a seafood bar overlooking Margate Main Sands and serves raw, pickled, cured and baked seafood. It also houses a wine shop selling English and European organic, biodynamic and low-intervention wines.
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Award-winning Peter's Fish Factory is Margate's most highly rated chippy and customers can often be seen forming lengthy queues down The Parade. Make sure you time it right!
Family run since 1962, Manning's Seafood Stall is a casual option for locally caught produce, offering hot and cold seafood. With prosecco also on the menu, what's better than watching the sun go down over the sea with your oysters and bubbles in hand?
Sweet tooth? Head to vintage shop-cum-ice cream parlour Ramsay and Williams in Margate's Old Town for frozen treats, including the most delicious handmade ice cream, milkshakes and sorbets. Unique flavours range from peanut brittle to blueberry pavlova.
Looking for something sweet, but with a good conscience? Head for Kiwi-inspired ice-creamery Follow the Swirl, which prides itself on using locally sourced seasonal fruit and sustainably produced ice cream from dairy and plant-based manufacturers. A new arrival to Margate, why not enjoy one of their healthy real fruit ice creams, soft serves, slushies and cheeky sundaes on the beach, or wandering around Old Town.Find more restaurants in and around Margate
Shopping in Margate
Set back from the harbour is Margate Old Town, thriving with independent shops and vintage traders, designers and makers as well as cafes and restaurants. The Old Town vibe is buzzing and arty and a cool mecca for retro rummaging as well as boutique hidden gems, where you can dig out nostalgia-inducing goodies to brighten up even the most style-conscious home.
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The covered Old Kent Market on the seafront is in a converted cinema. You'll find tons of local traders, with the ground floor dominated by a cafe bar in a London Bus and some excellent food stalls selling fruit, fish, cheese and bread. Don't miss The Cheese Box with bread baked by The Bishop's Bread Company on the premises (the smell of fresh bread is divine!).
Haeckels is a Margate-born sustainable luxury skincare brand that uses the likes of seaweed, herbs and grasses in its products which are now available nationwide. With a selection of soothing treatments available in their onsite spa they have also introduced the first Sea Bathing Machine Sauna to the area … worth a try? Let us know!
Etcetera is a sure sign of Margate's rising cool, selling a selection of potted cactuses, hanging plants, bamboo furniture and stationery.Find more shopping and markets in Margate
Art galleries in Margate
Internationally renowned Turner Contemporary displays contemporary and historical art and presents a rolling programme of exhibitions and events. Its home is a striking building on the seafront designed by award-winning architect Sir David Chipperfield, with stunning views over Margate Sands. With free entry to all exhibitions, its aim is to make great art accessible to everyone and since opening has exhibited the work of countless international artists, including Turner Prize nominees and winners Antony Gormley, Tracey Emin and Jeremy Deller.
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The Carl Freedman Gallery, housed in the former Thanet Press Building, a 1960s converted commercial space, was formerly based in the East End of London before its seaside move in 2019. Free to enter, the gallery represents emerging British and international artists, with upcoming exhibitions in 2023 set to include a solo show by Daisy Parris and a major group exhibition curated by Ronan McKenzie.
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The King Street Studio and Gallery in the heart of Margate Old Town support a local charity and are renowned for exhibiting homegrown talent as well as housing a studio for budding artists. Their tea rooms with homemade cakes are reputed to serve fabulous refreshments to keep you sustained as you view the artwork.
Outdoor activities in and around Margate
Beginning at Cliffsend near Ramsgate and following clifftops to link numerous bays and coves, the entire Viking Coastal Trail is just over 32 miles long. Divide it into sections and pick and choose your own routes and you'll find some fantastic days out; from pedalling your way through rural villages to hiking along the coast and taking in vibrant seaside towns, historic gems and the haunts of Charles Dickens and JMW Turner. From Margate Harbour enjoy some, or all of the 3.7-mile trail to Minnis Bay, discovering six sandy bays and hidden coves along the way.
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For guided cycle tours in and around Margate, Col's Kent Bike Tours take you on fun, leisurely day trips, always in small groups and catering to all abilities. This is a fabulous way to experience the dramatic coastline, quaint villages and beautiful Kent countryside. Plus, they come with the added bonus of an experienced local … for stories, recommendations, little-known titbits and enroute entertainment, Col has it covered!
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How about getting out on the water? Margate Sup and Surf is perfect for water babies of all abilities, their experienced team offers everything from group lessons to guided rental tours and takes you to the best locations to explore Margate safely by sea.
Bars and nightlife in Margate
A family-run micro pub in former fisherman's huts, The Harbour Arms serves a selection of local and national real ales and ciders in a beautiful location right on the end of Margate's harbour arm with stunning views. Food at the Harbour Arms is wholesome and tasty, don't miss the fish and chips! South facing, it gets the sun all day and with some great walks nearby it's the perfect pit stop for a quality craft beer (or two) along the way (dogs are very welcome too!).
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'Cider Pub of the Year' in the Thanet CAMRA Awards 2022, you'll find Little Swift on the seafront, and it's a lovely spot for a drink at the end of the day to watch the sun setting over the water. Alongside 12 craft beers, it also offers a selection of wines and seasonal cocktails and hunger-busting deli platters.
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A prominent feature in The Good Beer Guide, Fez, serves craft beer alongside an extensive selection of drinks (including a fabulous gin collection) in a relaxed atmosphere. Filled to the brim with retro memorabilia to the point of sensory overload, it really is one of a kind! If you're a fan of gigs look out for their live nights, including local acts and tribute bands.
Where to stay in Margate
Fort Road Hotel
With its fabulous sea views, Margate's Fort Road Hotel is a stone's throw from Bay Beach, the Old Town and the Turner Contemporary. Formerly a boarding house built in 1820, it was painstakingly revived and renovated in 2022 to create a luxury boutique hotel. The 14 guest rooms are individually designed and feature carefully selected artworks, vintage furniture and beautifully tiled ensuite walk-in showers or baths. Their restaurant, using quality ingredients sourced from local suppliers and with a focus on seasonal produce is a favourite in the town. For 360° panoramic views of the Margate seascape, take a walk up to their guest-only roof terrace, it's a real highlight of your stay.
More hotels in Margate
Named after its location in the historic heart of Margate, Old Town Retreat is a Grade II-listed cosy cottage, just minutes from the beach, Turner Contemporary, Dreamland, and more of Margate's many attractions. Sleeping up to six, it's the ideal choice for a weekend getaway with family or friends and with cool cafes and fabulous restaurants on your doorstep, you'll find everything you need!
Coming to the town in July 2023, No.42 Margate, with 21 bedrooms, a restaurant, rooftop bar and spa takes over an existing Victorian beachfront hotel. Perfectly placed above the main swathe of golden sands, expect dreamy views across the bay and beyond.Find more places to stay in Margate