The Turner Contemporary opening in 2011 was the long-neglected Margate’s invitation to the ball. Today, the Kent coast’s most famous Cinderella story is awash with cold-brew coffee and craft beer, with just enough salty charm to still give it an edge. Start at the Turner, then mosey over to retro theme park and roller-disco Dreamland. Once the effects of the Waltzer have worn off, head to Hantverk & Found for a lunch of the freshest seafood and natural wines. Spend the rest of the afternoon shopping: browse immaculate vintage piece in Breuer & Dawson, and stock up on seaweed-based skincare at Haeckels.

Hanging out on the sandy beach sure beats the morning commute, but there’s so much more than the seaside to Margate. Arcades, independent cafés and unusual cultural attractions line the streets; thanks to the galleries, vintage shops and hipster hangouts, this arty town has been dubbed ‘Shoreditch-on-Sea’. It’s where creative city vibes meet coastal relaxation. A trip to Margate from London takes one hour 30 minutes by train from St Pancras International or two hours by car – and it’s totally worth the trek

Day 1
First Up

Head to the Turner Contemporary for a free fix of cutting-edge art or support local creatives at Kent’s oldest art gallery Lovelys. Then discover the Grade I-listed Shell Grotto, where 4.5 million shells make up its mosaic walls. Who created it and why? No one knows – that’s part of its magic

Day 2
Stop for lunch

Relish every brunchy bite on the top deck of The Bus Café, get toasty at harbourside shack Cheesy Tiger or sample some seriously fresh seafood platters at Buoy and Oyster. Finish with superior gelato from Melt.

Day 3
Soak up the vibes

Spend a penny at the arcades before braving the wilds of the Walpole Bay Tidal Pool, the largest saltwater pool in the UK. Done your lengths? Head over to the Tom Thumb Theatre for eccentric acts and experimental live music.

Day 4
If you only do one thing

Skip over to renovated retro theme park Dreamland for all the fun of the fair. Make a beeline for the scenic railway, test your balance in the colourful indoor Roller Room and take a selfie by the Hollywood-esque Dreamland sign. You know, just to prove you were there.

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Trip Facts

  • 2 Hours