Guide to Whitstable

It is not surprising that Whitstable, with its working harbour, quaint high street, famous oyster trade and sweeping beaches has become a firm favourite holiday destination. While there is plenty to see and do in Whitstable itself, the fact that it is day-trippable from London – with great rail links – and walkable from Canterbury is an added bonus. And then there’s Herne Bay and Reculver Towers and Roman Fort just a couple of miles east, making Whitstable a great base to explore more of Kent, otherwise known as “the Garden of England”.

And on top of the beaches and amusements common to many coastal towns, this part of north Kent is packed with indoor and outdoor kids activities – for any fans of wildlife, it is a must with no less than three animal parks!

Things to see in Whitstable: an orientation

One of Whitstable’s main draws is the fact it is a really pleasant and picturesque town to walk around.

Whitstable harbour

You cannot miss Whitstable harbour, where you will find working fishing boats, historic boats like Greta (see things to do), fresh fish huts, the market, wonderful restaurants, and oysters galore.

Beaches near Whitstable

Staring out to sea (or rather, the estuary) from the Harbour, West Beach is, unsurprisingly, to the west, as is Central Beach, while Tankerton Beach and Herne Bay lie to the east. A great way to take in the whole coastline is to walk the 3-mile Whitstable Coastal Trail.

Independent shops, cafes and galleries

Almost adjacent to the Harbour (again, unsurprisingly!) is Harbour Street, a wonderfully quaint higgledy piggledy lane, stuffed with independent galleries, boutiques, record stores, cafes and lots more local treasures. At its southern end, Harbour Street turns into the High Street, where you will find the theatre and the museum (more below).

This part of Whitstable functions as the town centre, with the station a couple of blocks east of the High Street. The eastern neighbourhood of Tankerton has a very different feel, with its long grassy parade dotted with historic canon pointing out to the water. Lined with grand houses, old and new, the Tankerton Slopes lead down to Tankerton Beach and its famous, colourful beach huts and “the Street”, a long sand bank stretching out to sea.

Things to do in Whitstable

If you have a little longer in the area, check out if there is anything on at the wonderful little Playhouse Theatre, set in a refurbished old church. You could take a boat trip out on the historic “Greta”. Dating back to 1892, the old Thames barge does scheduled and chartered trips up the estuary. Whether you have a rainy day or not, the Whitstable Museum & Gallery is charming. For fans of transport history, it is a must, with important rail and maritime relics.

Things to do in and around Whitstable for the kids

There are tons of things to do for children in Whitstable and the surrounds. In the town itself, there is bowling or laser tag as well as various leisure centres. We recommend the fabulous Herons in Herne Bay, which sports flumes, slides and a shallow “beach”. Speaking of Herne Bay, there is lots more for kids there, including mini golf and the magnificent Reculver Towers and Roman Fort. In nearby Canterbury, meanwhile, there is pretty much all the indoor fun you can imagine, from escape rooms to paintball. Not to mention ghost tours and plenty of fun on the waterways (you can arrange boat tours, ferries, punts, and more) if the weather is good.

For kids who love animals and wildlife, do not miss Howletts, which has the largest herd of African elephants in the UK, Wingham Wildlife Park or Wildwood. All three animal parks are superb in different ways. The nearby Stodmarsh National Nature Reserve may be a little less exotic, but its waterways can be navigated via canoes, kayaks, SUPs and more.

Cycling routes near Whitstable

Of course, full family fun can be had on two wheels. And bike hire is readily available. And the tourist board have produced maps of two easy trails, the Crab and Winkle Way and the Oyster Bay Trail

Herne Bay

Do factor in time in Herne Bay if you are planning a trip to Whitstable. The once grand seaside resort still holds Victoriana appeal, thanks to its architecture, including the Central Bandstand, and lively pier, with its craft stalls and amusements. There are three beaches, Central BeachEast Beach and Reculver Beach, as well as Reculver Country Park. And if you want history and culture, be sure to download the lovely Cultural Trail map, which highlights all the local hotspots.

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