Insider's guide to Margate: what to do and where to stay

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In recent years, Margate has been transformed from a forgotten seaside town to a thriving creative hotspot.

Located 1 hour and 30 minutes from London, the coastal destination in Kent has become a popular staycation destination, as young artists and designers have regenerated the area bringing with them an array of vibrant independent cafes, shops and galleries.

Whether you’re hankering after a relaxing weekend on the beach, an adrenalin-fuelled day out at amusement park Dreamland or want to immerse yourself in the towns art and culture, Margate has every option covered.

We took a tour of Margate with resident and lifestyle blogger Kirsty, who showed us her favourite spots around the town.

More ideas on what to do, where to stay and where to eat below.

What to do in Margate

Dreamland

Enjoy a day out at Dreamland. (Dreamland Margate)

Even if you’re not an adrenalin junkie, you’ll enjoy one of Margate’s biggest attractions: Dreamland.

The amusement park is filled with rides for all the family, from thrill-seeking rollercoasters to a child-friendly rainbow waterslide.

It won’t break the bank: you can buy an unlimited rides pass for only £8.25 per person.

There’s even a retro Roller Room if you fancy an impromptu rollerskating disco (£4.50 per person).

Shell Grotto

Take in the sights of The Shell Grotto. (Thanet District Council)

If you’re looking to explore Margate’s history take a trip a little outside of the town. Hidden on a hilly residential street you’ll find the mystery that is the Shell Grotto

The passageway, which is 70ft underground, was discovered in 1835 and is made up of 4.6 million shells, totalling about 2,000 square feet of ornate mosaic.

Turner Contemporary

Immerse yourself in the art at Turner Contemporary. (Peter Cook)

Want to immerse yourself in art? Head to the Turner Contemporary, which opened in 2011.

The gallery is filled with exhibitions to explore, whether you have 30 minutes or all day. It includes everything from recognisable Anthony Gormley cast-iron figures, to local artist Tracey Emin’s installations and spaces filled with unique work from young artists around the world.

It also has stunning views overlooking the sea and is completely free to visit.

The Old Town

Margate's Old Town. (Thanet District Council)

If you fancy a spot of shopping, head to Margate’s Old Town, which is full of independent shops filled to the brim with everything from vintage clothes and antique furniture to local artists creations.  

When you start to feel a bit peckish, there are also loads of cafe’s and restaurants for those who don’t want fish and chips on the beach.

Main Sands Beach

Enjoy a day at Margate beach. (Thanet District Council)

Last but not least, step onto the soft sand and listen to the gentle waves at Main Sands.

Although its obvious appeal is in the summer when you can sunbathe and eat ice cream, even in the colder months you can’t beat perching on a deck chair and enjoying some fish and chips and a craft beer.

Where to stay in Margate

1. The Instagrammable Airbnb (from £60 per night) | Book here

The colourful Airbnb is situated within walking distance of all the biggest attractions. (Airbnb)

This colourful (and budget-friendly) Airbnb is an Instagrammer’s dream.

The one bedroom apartment comes with a private entrance, twin showers and living room filled with contemporary touches such as neon signs and vintage games should you want a relaxing night in.

Located near Dreamland, the Old Town and train station, it’s also in the perfect spot for a staycation.

2. The Reading Rooms (from £180 per night) | Book here

The chic interiors at The Reading Room (The Reading Room)

If you’re searching for a romantic weekend away, look no further than The Reading Rooms. The beautifully restored Georgian townhouse is sure to be a boutique stay to remember.

From the chic interiors to cast iron roll top bathtubs, each of the three spacious guest-rooms occupy the a floor so there’s no shortage of space.

It’s also less than five minutes walk to the beach, the historic Old Town and Turner Contemporary.

3. The Sands Hotel (from £140 per night) | Book here

The Sands Hotel (Booking.com)

If it’s a seafront view you’re after, The Sands Hotel is the one for you. With it’s boutique-style interior and stunning views of the Thanet coast, it’s got everything you need for a mini beach break.

It also has a waterfront terrace and The Bay Restaurant where you can enjoy a romantic dinner, cocktails and an ice cream from its very own ice cream parlour. The hotel is just a stones throw away from the busting Old Town and minutes walk from the Turner Contemporary.

4. The Contemporary Airbnb (from £75 per night) | Book here

The contemporary Victorian penthouse has panoramic sea views. (Airbnb)

Another affordable Airbnb option is this minimally designed Victorian penthouse with panoramic sea views.

Located between Old Town and Cliftonville, the apartment is perfect for those wanting to have a saunter around the independent shops and cafes.

5. Clifton Townhouse (from £85 per night) | Book here

Cliftonville Townhouse provides city views. (Booking.com)

The contemporary Cliftonville Townhouse provides stunning city views, which you can enjoy from the private balcony.

Each room boasts modern decor with a flat-screen TV and free toiletries. You can also enjoy a continental or a à la carte breakfast before heading to the beach that is just over half a mile away.

How to get to Margate

The easiest way to get to Margate is by train that gets you from the city to the seaside in no time.

There are frequent high speed trains from London Victoria, St Pancras International or Charing Cross - all of which take only 1 hour and 30 minutes.