Dubbed the Pearl of Kent, the harbour town of Whitstable, on the north-east coast of this charming county, is popular with visitors attracted by its seafood restaurants, boutique shops and art galleries.
It’s perhaps best known for native oysters, harvested since Roman times and celebrated at the Whitstable Oyster Festival.
Only a few miles north of Canterbury, the town was on an important trading route, and today makes a fantastic stop while touring this part of the Garden of England.
For visitors, the great beach, seaside shops and restaurants, all within an hour of London, make it highly appealing – and if you’re thinking of visiting the capital, take a look at our best caravan parks in London guide.
Photographers will love the eclectic mix – it’s a natural for Instagrammers – and foodies will revel in the superb choice of eateries. For seafood lovers – well, it’s simply heavenly.
Where to stay in Whistable
Homing Park is a couple of miles from the town centre, it’s a 15-minute walk to the beach from this site, which has an outdoor heated pool.
Alternatively, there’s Primrose Cottage Caravan Park – this is a quiet seaside caravan park with views of the sea and is only a short stroll from town.
What to do in Whitstable on Day 1
9am – Cycle the Crab and Winkle Way
Kick off your stay with a bike ride along the Crab and Winkle Way. This excellent 7.6-mile route between Canterbury and Whitstable is wonderfully scenic and passes through lush woodland and nature reserves.
It takes its name from the old railway line that used to run between the two places in the 19th century.
You can hire bikes at Kent Cycle Hire, who can arrange convenient collection and drop-off at one of three cycle hubs in Canterbury, Whitstable and Herne Bay. Alternatively, if you’re taking a bike with you and need a rack, our best caravan bike rack guide is worth checking out.
1pm – Lunch at The Lobster Shack
You’re sure to have worked up an appetite by now, so try The Lobster Shack beach bar on the East Quay in Whitstable Harbour, which has superb sea views over the Thames Estuary and serves excellent hot and cold food. Lobster and oysters are, naturally, the specialities.
2.30pm – Whitstable Castle and Gardens
A 15-minute stroll from the Shack will bring you to this beautiful building, which dates all the way back to the 1790s, when it was a rather imposing private residence.
In 2010, the venue underwent a major £3m refurbishment and is now available for private hire. However, visitors can still enjoy the beautiful gardens and take afternoon tea in the Orangery Tea Rooms (a cream tea costs £6.95). There’s also a large play area for the children to explore.
7pm – Music and a pint at the Neppy
Time to take a leisurely wander back to the beach at Marine Terrace to find a Whitstable institution. The Old Neptune pub, or ‘Neppy’ as it is known locally, is in prime position, located on the beach itself.
This is a proper boozer, with excellent local ales, live music every Saturday and Sunday and traditional pub grub. Partake of a couple of sundowners and soak up the great atmosphere.
What to do on Dat 2
10am – Take to the water
Enjoy an excursion to see the Maunsell Forts or a seal safari to Horse Sands. The 7.8m Rib is capable of 40 knots in comfort with up to seven passengers. Boat trips last for around an hour and cost £30-£40.
1pm – Oysters at Wheelers
We are in Whitstable, so we make no apology for suggesting another seafood restaurant – in this case, Wheelers Oyster Bar on the High Street, which was founded in 1856.
The blush-pink frontage is pure picture postcard and the food is delicious, with pan-fried crab cake, curried monkfish and lobster lasagne all available on the excellent menu.
3pm – Take in some art
After the exertions of yesterday’s bike ride and this morning’s boat trip, why not take it easy with a mooch around some of the art galleries in the vicinity of the harbour and town?
The seaside is a real magnet for the artistic community and they are well represented here, with The Horsebridge arts centre, Chappell Contemporary, the Fishslab Gallery and Whitstable Art Cage well worth a visit. And don’t miss the Whitstable Community Museum & Gallery.
7pm – Burger and pizza at the New Inn
Finish your visit at another popular pub, an antidote to all that high culture you have been enjoying. The New Inn is a backstreet boozer, tucked away not far from Harbour Street, which you’ll find is full of both character and characters!
Enjoy a great menu of pizzas and burgers, along with live music and pub games, such as darts and pool.
Where to eat in Whitstable
A few more top eating options in Whitstable…
- The Sportsman: Book way ahead for a table at this Michelin-starred gastropub.
- The Forge Oyster Shack (07895 930 504): Head to the sea wall for oysters, fish and chips and other delicacies served with no frills and plenty of atmosphere.
- Samphire: A smart bistro offering a range of modern dishes and an excellent brunch.
Lead image: Getty
Head to our Best of British: Weekends Away section for more great touring ideas.
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