Whitstable

it’s hard to think of a lovelier seaside spot than Whitstable. Kick off a day there at Blueprint Coffee and Books with a pot of something strong and ethically sourced (and maybe a mini orange-and-rosemary bundt cake). Next, rent a bike from Whitstable Cycle Hire and pedal your way along the five-mile seafront Oyster Bay Trail. And for lunch? Oysters, natch – watch them being shucked in front of you at The Forge. Stay on the beach for a drink as the sun sets: Whitstable is one of the few in the UK with a pub, the Old Neptune, right on the shingle.

Margate, Deal, Whitstable… The Kent coast is dotted with picture-perfect towns. Pretty Whitstable, with its brilliantly fresh seafood and annual oyster festival, has long attracted stressed Londoners in desperate need of a little fresh air, but it’s proximity to the capital is far from the only reason it’s worth a visit. With pastel-painted shopfronts and beach huts, the fishing town feels tailor-made for snap-happy day trips. There’s also a thriving arts scene, genuine community spirit and loads going on.

Day 1
First up

Scandi-cool café Blueprint on Oxford Street is part espresso bar and part bookshop, with a focus on provenance: the beans are from small batch roastery Ozone and the milk comes from

pampered Kentish cows. Get your coffee to go, in a 100 percent biodegradable cup, of course.

Day 2
Soak up the vibes

When the sun’s out it’s hard to beat rolling your trousers up and picking your way down Whitstable’s delightful pebble beach to the breakers. If you’d rather not get your feet wet,

head to The Old Neptune pub (The Neppy to its friends) – it’s right by the water’s edge.

Day 3
Stop for lunch

You might have to book months ahead, but it’s worth the faff to bag a table at The Sportsman, just down the road. It jokingly calls itself a ‘grotty run-down pub’, but it’s a place of foodie pilgrimage. Think home-churned butter, local wines and fish caught that morning. Left it too late? Beachfront shack The Forge has local beer and the freshest fish and chips – perfect.

Explore Whitstable’s arty side with a wander round its galleries. The Fishslab Gallery (it used to be a fishmonger) supports emerging makers. Visit Chappell Contemporary for limited-edition prints that you can buy on interest-free credit through the Own Art scheme.

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