A trip to Whitstable is always a good idea. It’s situated on the north coast of Kent and 5 miles from Canterbury, plus London to Whitstable is just under 2 hours so it’s in a great location for an overnight stay or a longer holiday. There’s lots to do in this lovely seaside town whether you’re visiting as a couple, with friends, or family.
If you’re staying over and exploring more fun days out in Kent, Tides Cottage Whitstable is a lovely, relaxing accommodation option, but if you’re just coming for the day and you want to cram in as many fun things as possible, here are 8 of the best things to do in Whitstable (some of which are totally free!)
1. Visit historic Whitstable Castle
A visit to Whitstable Castle is a great start to the day. The castle used to be called Tankerton Towers and was a residence for the Pearson family in the 1790s. It was then refurbished in 2010 and management was taken over by the Whitstable Castle Trust, who keep it looking so beautiful today.
As well as a private event venue, the castle and gardens are both open to the public and offer brilliant tours and learning opportunities for anyone interested in the history of the area.
If you’re bringing the kids along, there’s a pirate play park they’ll love, and the Orangery Tearoom is open daily for a cuppa or a snack. Wander around the stunning gardens, take in the history of this amazing castle, and don’t forget to bring your camera to snap some of the amazing architecture.
Also read: Best Castle Hotels in England
2. Stroll around the harbour
Whitstable Harbour is a working harbour, so there’s always lots going on there and lots to see. As well as watching fishermen bring in and unload their catch of the day, you can chat to locals at the small shacks dotted around the harbour selling fresh seafood and other tasty snacks.
If you’re lucky, there are often bands and other entertainment playing around the harbour which gives a fun, lively atmosphere.
When the weather and the waters are good, you can hop on a boat trip to go seal spotting. These curious, blubbery creatures are always fun to watch from the boat!
When you’re finished at the harbour, head to The Forge Whitstable to try out their oysters and other local seafood. This shack also offers ice cream, doughnuts and beer, so definitely don’t miss it if you’re peckish!
3. Eat lunch at the Lobster Shack
The Lobster Shack is a local favourite with a beach bar atmosphere and a great selection of hot and cold seafood that you can enjoy while looking out over their stunning beachfront views.
It’s both owned and operated by the Whitstable Oyster Company Ltd, who run the oyster farm just off the coast of Whitstable. They even make their very own Whitstable Brewery Oyster Stout which is created to go well with oysters, of all things! Give it a try for something a bit different when it comes to English food.
If it’s summer and sunny, you can sit outside for lunch. Or if it’s winter, their cosy log burner will keep you nice and toasty. They also offer delicious local beers and wine too, if you’re in the mood for it.
Also read: Best beaches in the UK
4. Shop at Harbour Market Whitstable
There’s nothing like a wander around a market to see what the local area has to offer. From British handmade jewellery and ceramics, to creative arts and crafts, to locally made foods, there’s something for everyone to discover at a market, and Harbour Market Whitstable is no exception.
Head back to the harbour for this open-air market and you’ll be met with many traders who set up there and offer some really unique, interesting gifts for your loved ones or for you.
And sometimes you don’t need to spend any money while shopping to enjoy the activity; some window shopping and browsing is fun on its own!
The best part of the market? If you’re somehow still hungry after your oysters and seafood, Harbour Market Whitstable has many micro eateries with a mouthwatering food selection you’ll find it tough to walk past without buying something…
5. Swim in the sea at Tankerton Beach
Whitstable Beach is lovely for walking along the shore and letting the waves lap over your feet, but if you’re looking for a proper beach day to sit out and soak up some sun, Tankerton Beach is where it’s at.
This lengthy shingle beach is picture-perfect with its colourful beach huts and busy promenade. If you’re there to swim, the waters at Tankerton Beach are typically calm (but cold!) and open to swimmers.
There’s nothing quite as refreshing as a cold water swim, so take your towel along with you (or maybe a few so you can get all bundled up!) and prepare to get changed into your warmest clothes after — it can get chilly!
6. Browse the local book shops
If you like reading and filling tote bags with new book purchases, Whitstable will leave you spoilt for choice. With the choice of Harbour Books, The Oxford Street Bookshop, and Blueprint Coffee and Books to visit, you could spend hours browsing spines and reading blurbs ‘til your heart’s content.
Whitstable is a must-visit seaside town for any book lover in England, with plenty of places to buy books as well as sit by the sea and read. Pure bliss.
7. Get some fresh air at Swalecliffe Brook
Swalecliffe Brook offers the best of both worlds; fresh sea air and a large open green space. Head to the Long Rock area and take one of the trails marked out for a great walk to stretch your legs and see some of the local wildlife.
This is a particularly great area for bird watching too, so bring your binoculars along if you have some!
Also read: UK National Parks Guide for Hiking Lovers
8. Have dinner at Chestfield Barn pub
At the end of a long, tiring day, there’s nothing like a trip to a cosy pub for an overflowing plate of dinner, and Whitstable pubs are wonderful for this!
The Chestfield Barn is a great stop before you head home or turn in for the night. With classic meals that the whole family will gobble up, to delicious gourmet dishes for a real celebration.
This pub boasts a cosy atmosphere in winter with its open log fire, and their beer garden in summer is next to none, complete with a koi carp pond. Book Chestfield Barn pub as early as you can to avoid disappointment, and go for dinner to end the best day out ever!
There’s lots to do in Whitstable, but if you want a tried-and-tested itinerary of things to do that have excellent reviews and encompass all the classic seaside town activities and more, Whitstable has it all.
This beautiful town is so popular with anyone looking to escape the city or busier towns, and will continue to be a prime holiday destination for people from all over England.
You can pick one or two of these activities to do while you’re in Whitstable, but all are achievable in one day if you want to try and hit all the top spots in the town.
Book a day out in Whitstable for the family, a solo outing, or a weekend away with friends. No matter the reason, Whitstable will have something entertaining, fun and fascinating for you to discover, so head to this gorgeous seaside town as soon as you can.
Vicky runs Day Out in England.
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