Immerse yourself in the very best of traditional seaside nostalgia, artistic expression, and Kentish kitsch in the bustling town of Margate.

Margate stands as the pinnacle of creativity in Kent, boasting an abundance of galleries, museums, eateries, and events. Standing at the forefront of the county’s cultural renaissance, this timeless seaside holiday town captivates visitors with its combination of nostalgic old world charm and 21st-century bohemian-tinged culture.

In the Victorian era, Margate reached its zenith, adorning itself with the grand architectural marvels that still grace its landscape. The town thrived as a haven among day-trippers from London, who would travel to enjoy Margate’s golden sands and enchanting promenade, strewn with amusement arcades and funfair attractions aplenty.

With many of the remnants of its Victorian past still intact, Margate echoes a bygone era, standing as a compelling fusion of contrasting identities: a once-genteel Victorian resort, entwined with a retro, kitsch heritage. Add modern art and contemporary cafés into the mix, and this eclectic blend finds harmony amid the town’s cultural renaissance, heralding a complete rejuvenation and the birth of a new moniker – ‘Shoreditch-on-Sea’ – drawing in tourists from far and wide to bask in one of the sunniest corners of the UK.

What to do in Margate

In sync with its reimagined identity, Margate has become a playground for artisans and innovators alike, developing a diverse landscape of artisan bakeries, sophisticated eateries, vintage emporiums, and bespoke boutiques. This tidal wave of creativity and commerce includes a plethora of art galleries, none more illustrious than Margate’s crown jewel: the Turner Contemporary. As a celebrated beacon of artistic expression, this world-renowned hub has served as the driving force behind Margate’s revitalisation, igniting a transformative wave to the town.

Established to honour artist J. M. W. Turner’s profound connection to Margate, and built on the site of the artist’s former boarding house, the David Chipperfield-designed gallery emerged as a beacon of artistic excellence upon its unveiling in 2011, swiftly ascending to become one of the UK’s premier art institutions. The gallery has since welcomed more than 3.8 million visitors, who flock to experience the gallery’s rolling programme of temporary exhibitions, workshops, and events. Turner Contemporary stands as a testament to Turner’s enduring legacy, and his belief in the transformative power of art as a catalyst for societal change. A trip to the Turner Contemporary is an essential part of any visit to Margate; here, you can immerse yourself in the latest art exhibition, take part in engaging tours or activities, or simply unwind in the café, savouring the tranquil harbour vistas while indulging in a steaming cappuccino.

Another of Margate’s cultural gems is the Tom Thumb Theatre, a cherished family-run establishment nestled within a Victorian-era coach house, transformed into one of the world’s smallest theatres in 1984. There’s something for all preferences here, its diverse program spanning everything from theatre, music, and film, to comedy, poetry, and cabaret. Adding to Margate’s eclectic arts scene is award-winning Cliffs in Cliftonville, which blends a café, record shop, and hair salon, and offers a platform for emerging talents of all stripes to find a welcoming platform for expression. Meanwhile, the iconic Dreamland stands as a cornerstone of Margate’s entertainment landscape, its vintage rides evoking the nostalgia of seaside resorts at their zenith. Beyond its whimsical attractions, Dreamland hosts an array of world-renowned acts, sell-out concerts (make sure to plan ahead!), and unforgettable events, ensuring Margate remains a beacon of cultural vibrancy and artistic innovation.

Joining Margate’s vibrant cultural landscape are its fair share of museums and historical marvels, each adding to the eclectic allure of the town. Step into the whimsical world of The Crab Museum, a charming tribute to these crustacean creatures, or venture into the Powell-Cotton Museum, home to one of the most extensive collections of antique taxidermy. Delve deeper into Margate’s enigmatic past at the perplexing Shell Grotto. Discovered by chance in 1835, its underground passages are adorned with 4.6 million intricate seashells, their fascinating mosaics shrouded in mystery and intrigue since ancient times.

Where to eat in Margate

Culinary delights weave seamlessly into Margate’s creative experience, with chefs demonstrating their artistry in each dish. One such culinary haven, which offers breathtaking views of Margate sands alongside its exquisite dishes, is Dory’s. At its heart, Dory’s is a seafood bar, serving raw, pickled, cured and baked seafood and vegetable dishes. But what makes this spot particularly notable is its menu, which comprises carefully curated small plates (all the better for sharing!) and, like sister restaurant, Angela’s, changes according to the daily catch. Accompany dishes with a wine from their curated list – each bottle has been specifically chosen for its coastal influence, and is organic, biodynamic and low-intervention. Not far from Dory’s, Little Swift is a charming wine bar that’s perfect for whiling away an evening overlooking the sunset. Here, visitors can unwind with a glass of wine while basking in the sunset’s golden glow, and – if hungry – savouring a beautiful curated, locally sourced charcuterie board.

For those with a penchant for finely crafted cocktails and innovative Asian cuisine, Mori Mori beckons. This Japanese izakaya-style restaurant tantalises the palate with expertly prepared dishes, making it an essential destination for any discerning food enthusiast visiting over a long weekend. Another culinary gem not to be overlooked, especially by seafood lovers, is Buoy and Oyster. It has proudly held two coveted AA Rosettes since 2019 and is celebrated in Harden’s UK top-rated restaurants. The majority of the menu is sourced directly from a local fishmonger’s 18-day boats, which cast their nets in the pristine waters off the Isle of Thanet. With something on the menu for every occasion, diners have plenty of choice when it comes to savouring locally sourced and impeccably fresh ingredients, elevating the dining experience to unparalleled heights.

Where to stay in Margate

Accommodating up to three guests, Broadstairs’ Samphire Cottage is ideal for couples and small families, and is located within a short drive to Margate. The property exudes a homely charm, blending modern amenities with beautiful decor. A wood burner creates a cosy atmosphere on cooler days, creating an ideal environment for watching DVDs, reading books, or playing games (all provided). Meanwhile, on warm summer days, make sure to head out to the private courtyard garden – the perfect place to enjoy al fresco dining.

We have two beautiful options for groups of up to eight, both of which offer a hot tub for relaxation after fun-filled beach days: Margate Beach House and Little Beach House. The former is perfect for design-conscious groups who want to hang out in uber cool Margate, with stunning interiors, 1970s-inspired furniture, and the Turner Contemporary Gallery located just a stone’s throw away. Buckets and spades, beach boards and ping pong are also provided, allowing guests to make the most out of the local amenities. Little Beach House, meanwhile, offers a coastal gem of a holiday house with its accompanying beach hut, and is located just down the road from Margate in pretty Tankerton. A fantastically equipped kitchen opens out to the garden with bi-fold doors, providing perfect holiday vibes with a Big Green Egg calling out to be cooked with.

Alternatively, Beadles, a South African-style homestead, can host up to 14 guests and is designed to impress with its unique Dutch gables, among many distinctive features. Situated in Sandwich Bay, this historic property offers a range of amenities, including a classic snooker room, a children’s playroom, and enchanting ‘secret gardens’, ensuring enjoyment for all guests.