Enjoy sandy bays, cute cafés and plenty of traditional seaside fun in this laid-back beach town.

Sitting prettily along the picturesque coastline of the Isle of Thanet, the charming enclave of Broadstairs beckons visitors in all seasons, inviting explorers to stroll along sandy shores and wander meandering streets. A tranquil summer ambiance envelops this idyllic seaside retreat year-round, creating a serene beach town vibe that lasts well into the winter. In the midst of a scorching summer day, Broadstairs exudes the carefree spirit of a surfer’s haven or Mediterranean getaway, with flip-flop-clad crowds traversing its lanes, laden with beach gear and traditional seaside treats. In winter, bracing beach walks set the scene for the most dramatic of outdoor adventures, and plenty of cosy pubs and cafés to choose from once the gallivanting is done.

A favoured destination of Charles Dickens, Broadstairs retains the quintessential Victorian charm that’s become synonymous with British seaside nostalgia, evident in its architectural splendour and timeless attractions. Merely an hour’s train ride from London, Broadstairs offers an unparalleled sandy sanctuary within the UK, boasting beachfront restaurants, scenic coastal trails, and all the elements you’d expect from a brilliantly British summer holiday.

What to do in Broadstairs

A trip to Broadstairs wouldn’t be complete without experiencing Viking Bay in all its glory. Broadstairs’ crown jewel, the picturesque bay gracefully curves along the coastline, a cheerful parade of striped beach huts framing a scene straight from a postcard, with vibrant fishing boats gently swaying at the jetty. Amble along the cliff-top promenade, soak in panoramic vistas, or leisurely wander up the boardwalk, and you’ll soon discover just what it is that makes Viking Bay so charming. Spread your beach towel upon the golden sands for a sun-kissed reprieve, and find endless entertainment at the nearby amusement arcade and surf school – great options for both children and adults alike.

For those cooler days when swimming and sunbathing is less appealing, embark on the Viking Coastal Trail, a picturesque route winding through serene leafy lanes and breathtaking stretches of shoreline. Make sure to carve out time to linger – perhaps even spend an entire afternoon – at Botany Bay, one of the most secluded of Broadstairs’ seven magnificent sandy bays. Meander amidst towering chalk stacks, as the majestic ‘Rock Arch’ stands as a striking centrepiece against the horizon, and engage in the timeless pursuit of fossil hunting and rock pooling as you unveil nature’s splendid wonders with each step.

As well as outdoor amazement, Broadstairs is also rich in cultural and historical heritage, including a profound connection to one of Britain’s most celebrated literary figures, Charles Dickens. Captivated by the town during his first visit in 1837, the esteemed author continued to return for two decades, drawing inspiration from the town’s charming locales for many of his literary masterpieces. Explore Dickens’ relationship to Broadstairs at two iconic locations: the Dickens House Museum, where a treasure trove of artefacts and curiosities that vividly depicts his life and works live; and Bleak House, his former residence where he penned the immortal words of David Copperfield. Though Bleak House’s opening times are notoriously unpredictable, making visits hard to plan, its imposing presence atop the cliff overlooking the town and beach continues to captivate tourists, offering a poignant glimpse into Dickens’ illustrious legacy.

Where to eat in Broadstairs

In the heart of town, Beaches Café Bar epitomises Broadstairs’ laid-back surfer ethos with its ‘funky, surf shack’ ambiance, offering hearty home-cooked fare with a stylish flair. Its vibrant pink and turquoise façade catches the eye (and makes for some brilliant photos!), while its spacious windows overlook the bustling high street, providing the ideal vantage point for people-watching as you indulge in delights from their extensive brunch menu. Fuel your big day at the beach by breakfasting on the likes of the ‘Sunrise Bagel’, or the renowned ‘Big Beach Breakfast’, which is crafted with care from locally-sourced ingredients.

Blending surf-style coolness with delightful English tradition, Broadstairs invites visitors to indulge their senses and nostalgia, not just in its sights and landscapes, but also in the delectable offerings of eateries like The New Old Bakehouse. Adjacent to its original bakery, this darling tearoom offers a wide range of homemade delights crafted on-site, from hearty soups and scrumptious sandwiches, to freshly baked scones or cakes that pair perfectly with steaming pots of English tea. Whether you opt to dine in or grab a takeaway, The Old Bakehouse can accommodate, courtesy of cosy interiors, sun-kissed outdoor seating, and its location just a stone’s throw from the seaside. 

For those wanting something a little more substantial at lunchtime or at dinner, visit family-run Italian restaurant, Posilippo. With a menu that captures the essence of Neapolitan cuisine, Posilippo showcases cherished recipes with unwavering passion and attention to detail. From iconic wood-fired pizzas to tantalising pasta dishes, each mouthful takes guests on a culinary voyage to the bustling streets of Naples. To further elevate your dining experience, the restaurant’s extensive wine list pays homage to Italy’s esteemed winemaking heritage, with plenty of robust reds and crisp whites. Seeking something a little more relaxed? It’s not a problem at Posilippo, whose assortment of Italian artisan beers are also a delightful accompaniment to their signature dishes.

Where to stay in Broadstairs

Sleeping up to three guests, Samphire Cottage is a wonderful accommodation for couples and small families, perfectly positioned right in the heart of Broadstairs. Distinctly homely, the property combines modern amenities (including a fully-equipped kitchen and Tassimo coffee machine) with beautiful decor that champions the local area through nautical touches and hand-picked artwork. A wood burner comes in handy for wintry days and cooler evenings, perfectly setting the scene for cosy moments spent watching DVDs, reading books, or playing games (all provided). On balmier summer days, meanwhile, the cottage’s private courtyard garden calls for al fresco dining.

For larger groups, the South African styled homestead of Beadles can accommodate up to 14 guests and is built to impress, its Dutch gables just one of many unusual features. Located in Sandwich Bay, this period property has it all; with a traditional snooker room, children’s playroom and ‘secret gardens’, there’s something for everyone. Alternatively, The Willows offers stays amid unspoilt countryside, and enough space to sleep eight. The roomy kitchen-diner, large sitting room, and outside dining area offer plenty of opportunities for socialising, with barbecues available for warmer days. A welcome surprise comes in the form of a hot tub, providing the perfect close to a day spent exploring.