“I’ve been to the beautiful seaside town 2 hours from London and it’s my favorite beach in the UK” – Ella Doyle
This place shows up in lists of “best places to live in the UK” again and again, and for good reason. But I’m one of those Londoners who prides myself on having an even closer relationship with the seaside town – knowing it just a little better than everyone else.
While most of my family lives in the capital, my aunt is in Whitstable, an absolutely stunning little seaside town in Kent. On a windy summer day, in my humble opinion, there is no better place to enjoy a Bloody Mary and an oyster on a pebble beach.
So, true Whitstable residents aside, I feel pretty qualified to offer some travel tips for a weekend (or more) by the sea. Read on for all the things to eat, drink , see and do in the beautiful little town of Whitstable.
READ MORE: I visited a small town just over 3 hours from London which is even prettier than the Cotswolds
How to get there
First, get there. Your best bet as a North Londoner like me is a train from St Pancras International, Victoria or London Bridge which costs around £30 return. If you book in advance, you can get to Whitstable for just five cents.
The train itself takes around 1 hour 15 mins to 1 hour 30 mins, so it’s worth stopping for just one day to soak up the sun. You can also drive, which takes around two to three hours, depending on traffic.
Where to stay
Because Whitstable isn’t exactly a well-kept secret anymore, finding accommodation can be quite expensive. For those of us who aren’t lucky enough to sleep on an inflatable bed in our aunt’s house, there are options.
Airbnb has a whole host of cottages and apartments for weekends away, or grab a beach hut for around £70 a night. There is also Tides Cottage by the sea, which overlooks the beach, which costs around £150 a night.
Where to eat
The correct answer here would be, where not to eat? Like really, you should just make your way down the main street, eating everything in sight. Whitstable offers some of the most delicious options for foodies. But to make your life easier, I’m going to suggest a few must-see visits.
For breakfast, Farm and Harper offers a delicious brunch menu until 11:45 a.m. I had an impeccable shakshuka, lukewarm and a bit spicy, with crispy toasted sourdough, yogurt and cilantro. My friends had hot waffles (with bacon and maple syrup, of course) and sausage and an egg.
For lunch you really should get the best fish and chips in Whitstable, possibly the world. It would be rude not to. VC Jones is an absolute classic for the quintessential British meal, hot and vinegary on your lap, but be warned, they’re not open every day, so be sure to check. If they are closed, head to Ossie’s across the road instead.
For dinner, Whitstable Oyster Company is a must at least once. The seafood is delicious, and you can even get an Oystertini – literally a cocktail that tastes like seawater, with a real oyster floating in it. Bucket list stuff. Samphire, Birdies and the Lobster Shack are also delicious, depending on your budget.
Note: nothing prevents you from taking fish and chips and eating them in bed in your Airbnb. Just say.
What to do
Of course, the best thing to do is to walk and keep walking. Walk down one way to the beach huts (and some of the most extravagant houses you can imagine, for a little snooping), or walk the other way to Tankerton. And then swim, even if you just run and scream and run away.
Another non-negotiable is going for a pint at the Old Neptune, Whitstable’s iconic seaside pub. You might find you spend a whole day here, as they have delicious food, and sometimes someone will come by. with a guitar and sing a few tunes. It’s also the best place for the inevitable beautiful sunset, which will blow you away the moment you see it for the first time.
And be sure to spend a few hours browsing the High Street – there are record stores, clothing stores and bargains galore, and you can even buy some local art, if you fancy it (pardon the play on words). While you’re there, head to Twelve Taps for a beer tasting or Croatian bar Amedea for wine and olives.
If you have some time, it’s well worth a trip to Whitstable Castle, which is just behind the beach huts at Tankerton. Along the way, you can stroll through the harbor market, with a huge range of local traders selling everything from Thai food to art.
Where to find your snacks
I know I’ve talked a lot about the food in Whitstable, but there’s one thing I’d hate not to mention: the bread. Lots of cafes in Whitstable are supplied by the same baker, Hubbles Bakery.
It’s the softest, fluffiest grain bread you’ve ever tasted. Head to Tea and Times for a sandwich or regret it for the rest of your life – grab a crab, lettuce and cucumber or chicken and avocado; light, fresh, delicious. They even do cocktails in the evening, so don’t think you shouldn’t go twice.
And for a lighter bite before strolling along the beach, head to Wheelers and grab one of their delicacies. They have smoked salmon pastrami, welks, oysters and a ton of fresh fish to boot – but I can never stop there without getting a haddock macaroni and cheese ball and a seafood arancini Wed.
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