A Weekend in Whitstable
If you're looking for a break at this time of year, Whitstable really has it all. This lovely fishing town is known for its food, its vibrant art scene, and its huge variety of live music. With things to do and see no matter what the weather throws at you, you will find it hard to squeeze everything in, in just two days.
So here’s a guide to help you make the most of your stay in this lovely, fishing town.
Start the day with a scrumptious breakfast in one of the many cafés such as Elliot’s @ No. 1 Harbour Street, or The Windy Corner Stores and Café.
Then head to the harbour and watch the working fishing boats come and go with their daily catch. If your visit is between April and September, then you might be lucky to see The Greta moored in the harbour. This beautiful Thames Sailing Barge was built in 1892 and was used a working barge transporting cargo on the River Thames and Thames Estuary. Today, Steve the skipper runs trips out to the Maunsell Forts, the iconic World War Two defence towers, and the wind farms. A trip not to be missed but they are so popular make sure you book well before your visit.
Also in the harbour are the famous fish markets where you can stop for oysters, cockles, whelks and more – an essential part of the Whitstable experience!
From the harbour, head back into town along Harbour Street, with its fabulous selection of independent boutique shops, selling original gifts and clothing. Continue your shopping experience along the High Street and into Oxford Street.
Pause to explore the many art galleries and art shops especially The Horsebridge Art and Community Centre, which hosts art exhibitions, films, live comedy and music. The Fish Slab gallery at the other end of town is also a must.
For lunch, there is too much choice to list all the great cafés and restaurants on offer, such as a seafood platter at Wheelers, mussels and chips at Birdie’s or a deli experience at David Brown’s delicatessen – all to be found in Harbour Street.
As the afternoon ends, it’s time for a drink and The Duke of Cumberland is a great place to chill out over a pint or cocktail. It is a large rambling pub with a great atmosphere and the benefit of welcoming children and dogs.
If the sun is shining then head to The Old Neptune on the beach, a wooden built pub dating from 1897 with oodles of character. Sit outside on the beach tables and watch one of the most glorious sunsets you’ll ever see in Britain.
You are spoilt for choice again for dinner, but do be warned the best restaurants get booked very quickly so plan your trip in advance a make a table reservation to enjoy the delights of The Whitstable Oyster Company restaurant or The Pearson’s Arms, both right on the beach, or The Crab and Winkle overlooking the harbour.
And if you have any energy left, then check out the Local ‘n’ Live website and see what pubs are hosting live music, or take a stroll along the sea path for some fresh air.
Day two starts with another opportunity for a leisurely breakfast in one of the lovely cafés.
Depending on the weather, you may want to work off breakfast with some activity and there’s lots to choose from. The Whitstable Boating Company hires paddleboards, kayaks and dinghies for some fun on the waves. Or if indoor sports is more your thing then there is a lively bowling alley, an indoor swimming pool and gym all at your convenience near the harbour.
You could also hire a bike from the Kent Cycle Hire company in Harbour Street, but you will need to book ahead. Then head off on the Crab & Winkle Way which is an exhilarating 6 mile ride on cycle paths following the original line of the railway that linked Whitstable to Canterbury. In fact it was the third railway line to be built in Britain, and it transported fish from the town to the restaurants of Canterbury. The line takes you through woodland and countryside.
Or take the opposite direction and cycle along the sea path all the way to Herne Bay and on to the iconic Reculver Towers. A bracing scenic route, but nice and flat so perfect for young and old.
Back in Whitstable, we suggest you head out of town along the coast path from the harbour, past The Continental Hotel, maybe stop for a drink, and then stroll along the sea path beneath the Tankerton slopes, lined with colourful beach huts.
If the tide is out then you are in for a treat – The Street! Extending out from Tankerton Beach, The Street is a shingle strip about half a mile (750m) long that is exposed at low tide. This is a pleasant stroll that's unique to the area.
Tankerton has two fabulous restaurants ideal for lunch or dinner, so do check out Jojo’s on Herne Bay Road, and the East Coast Dining Room on Tankerton Road.
Heading back in to the town centre, why not explore the 22 alleyways of Whitstable. Each one created as a means of access for the locals from the harbour to the town, each one with its own little bit of history, including the famous Squeeze Gut Alley, named after a rather corpulent policeman who used to chase the local boys down the alley and get stuck!
Finish the day with a night cap and stroll through the harbour listening to the gentle lapping of the sea against the harbour walls and the clink of the masts in the breeze.
Then off to bed and thoughts of a return journey to this lovely fishing town…