Have you ever had made a new discovery that’s left you wondering why on earth it took you so long to actually find it in the first place? That’s how we felt when we decided to take a spontaneous trip to the fishing and harbour town of Whitstable in Kent for a few days. After finding last-minute Whitstable accommodation close to the beach, we weren’t sure what to expect on our long weekend sojourn, having never really explored this area before.
A short break in Whitstable
The first thing that struck us was how close to home Whitstable is. We’ve always been partial to a seaside jaunt and tend to head to Brighton or the West Sussex area. So we were shocked to realise this seaside town is actually easier for us to get to. Huge tick.
More importantly, however, is the seaside charm Whitstable oozes. From the eclectic mix of shops, quaint cafes and vibrant restaurants to the long, pebbled beaches fringed by quintessentially colourful beach huts. Whitstable attracts lots of visitors, but that shouldn’t deter you. The locals we met were friendly and welcoming – proud to show off their homestead and share their insider knowledge.
We left Whitstable feeling rested, relaxed and invigorated – determined not to leave it too long for a return journey. It definitely found a way into our hearts and will now be our first choice, if we ever fancy breathing in some salty sea air.
Here are the many reasons why we fell in love with this laid-back, family-friendly but trendy seaside gem. In fact, since this trip, we have returned regularly, and often enjoy just a day trip in Whitstable. So here are some of the best things to do in Whitstable and I hope you enjoy them, too.
Stroll Along Whistable’s Best Beaches
Take your pick from West Beach, Hampton, Hampton Pier and our favourite, Tankerton. Long stretches of pebbles, divided by wooden breakers, Whitstable beaches are extensive, with slight nuances. Tankerton, for instance, has a large grassy slope which leads towards the beach and, while we were there we were lucky enough to experience ‘The Street’ which leads far out to sea. I can only describe it as a temporary natural promenade – as you walk along the seabed the water surrounds you from all sides. It only lasted 20 minutes before the tide came creeping in.
There’s more hustle and bustle by the East Pier and Harbour, while West Beach extends past the Neptune pub and leads you past a number of pretty beachfront properties.
Discover The Best Places To Eat in Whitstable
Where to even start? If you’re a foodie like me and love your seafood, then Whitstable offers a veritable feast for the palette. It’s impossible not to walk a few steps without coming across a cafe, a bistro, a fish and chip shop, bakeries, and restaurants.
The problem is actually choosing where to go. We ate so much and enjoyed several delicious meals from a good old bag of chips on the seafront, to gourmet dinners at Samphire, The Whitstable Oyster Company and heading out towards Seasalter at the famous The Sportsman pub. Special mention also goes out to one of the best breakfasts we’ve had for some time at The Windy Corner Store Cafe – a delightful eaterie which also stocks local produce. Booking is advisable if there’s a restaurant you really want to eat in and it’s high season or the weekend.
Eat The Best Oysters in Whitstable
I’m not a huge fan of oysters but my husband is. And he really had his fill of them during our stay. And why not? Oysters Whitstable has been farmed since Roman times and the annual Oyster Festival dates back to the Norman period.
You’re reminded of them at every turn. From the piles and piles of shells by the beach to the farming ropes strung up on racks on the promenade. But, of course, it is the abundance of them available to eat from the oldest oyster bar, Wheelers, on the main high street, to the market stalls down by the harbour front. We even stopped by The Lobster Shack to sample some after a spot of crabbing – a great place to just sit back and watch the waves roll in.
Visit Whitstable Harbour
You’ll find a hive of activity in Whitstable harbour which is still a working port. There’s a buzzy atmosphere surrounding the main hub, which sees tourists and locals mingle. We enjoyed wandering around the numerous food stalls, as well as the indoor fish market.
Explore street art in Whitstable
No matter what street corner you turn, you’ll no doubt come across Whitstable’s answer to Banksy. Called Catman, you’ll discover plenty of his graffiti art around town. It was fun seeing how many we could spot. If street art isn’t your thing, then there are also several art galleries housing more traditional paintings and watercolours…
Enjoy Family Days Out in Whitstable
Ask any child and they will agree that any trip to the seaside is fun. And Whitstable is no exception. Although it’s a fashionable area, it’s also child-friendly – with plenty of natural delights to turn small heads.
We got up to all sorts – crabbing on the East Pier, running down the sand dunes, eating plenty of ice cream, wandering Whitstable Castle and exploring the nearby seafront of Herne Bay, as well as the beautiful historic market town of Canterbury. Not to mention the playgrounds and parks we stumbled across. Meanwhile, there’s amusement fun at Dreamland in Margate, as well as plenty of museums, and animal parks – so there are plenty of things to near Whitstable, too, including Herne Bay and Canterbury.
Watch our video about crabbing in Whitstable