48 hours in Kent - How to spend a long weekend in Deal
I’ll admit that I knew very little about Deal until quite recently. Often overshadowed by its popular neighbouring towns of Whitstable, Margate, Broadstairs and Dover, Deal has managed to stay a little under the radar as a tourist destination – and, to be honest, it is all the better for it.
Less than an hour and a half from central London and bursting with history, pretty streets and chic eateries, Deal makes for the perfect weekend escape. Whether visiting as a family, with friends or even as a romantic mini-break, there is something for everyone in this relaxed and picturesque seaside town.
Featuring everything from fish and chips on the beach to sophisticated cocktails; historical sites to river cruises, here is my suggested itinerary for how to spend a long weekend in Deal, Kent.
Where to Stay
Set in the heart of the town, the charming Seabreeze Cottage is the ideal base for a weekend in Deal. Walking distance from the historic pier, seafront restaurants and boutique high street shops, this two-bedroom self-catered accommodation is coastal chic at its best, and full of luxury comforts such as soft blankets, a king-size bed and an outdoor courtyard bath. Visitors can spend time enjoying drinks on the outdoor terrace in the Summer, and cosy up in front of the wood burner in Winter.
Only recently opened in early 2023, it’s clear that owners Sarah and Paul have a keen eye for detail and have added so many lovely little touches which will make any stay extra-special. They also provide a comprehensive brochure of ‘Local Loves’ to offer inspiration for your stay which is so useful and really helps get the most out of your time on Kent’s coast.
If travelling by car, Seabreeze Cottage benefits from free on-road parking right outside the house, or if arriving into the train station, it is just a short 10 minute walk.
Check in to the house by early afternoon to get unpacked and make yourselves at home. No doubt you’ll want to take a moment to take in the beautiful decor, shabby chic painted floorboards and little extras on offer such as toys for the little ones and local sparkling wine for the older ones!
Once settled, make your way straight into town to start exploring and getting your bearings. If you’re yet to have lunch, the only way to start your weekend in Deal has to be having fish and chips on the beach. You’ll be spoilt for choice as to where to go, but I’m reliably assured that Sea View and Middle Street Fish Bar won’t disappoint.
Once refuelled and perhaps had a paddle in the sea if it’s warm enough, I highly recommend doing a locally-created ‘Quiz Trail’ to familiarise yourself with the local area. This can be bought online (allow time for delivery before your trip) and is a great, interactive way of exploring the pretty town and discovering more about its fascinating history. We have done a few now with our toddler and they always unearth some wonderful hidden gems and quirky stories.
Speaking of history, Deal is absolutely oozing with it and has been at the heart of many pivotal events throughout the UK’s past. Dating back to Mediaeval times, Deal is famed for its shipbuilding heritage and setting as a naval base, as much as its murkier smuggling background. A visit to Deal Museum, tucked away on St George’s Road, is certainly worth it to find out more and discover some of the incredible artefacts that have been preserved. The museum is open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays between 1pm-4pm and entry is free.
Likewise, no trip to Deal is complete without a stroll down historic Middle Street. As the name suggests, this picturesque street runs right through the heart of the town and is made up of a number of notable buildings. Photographers will also love the rows of pretty pastel houses – I certainly enjoyed snapping away!
There are a plethora of options for ways to spend your first evening in Deal, but high on the list has to be The Rose. Located in the heart of the town, this boutique hotel, restaurant and bar is full of stylish touches and highly regarded with locals and visitors alike.
Dating back over 200 years with an eclectic history, The Rose offers a sophisticated, fine dining twist on some classic favourites, served in a relaxed and laid back setting. Unique touches I particularly like are the mismatched, patterned crockery and the slightly quirky flavour combinations such as ‘seaweed caramel’.
If you’re looking for something a bit more mid-priced, 81 Beach Street is another great choice. Offering a mouth-watering array of steaks, pasta, fish and burgers, there’ll be something for everyone on this high quality menu.
If you’re still raring to go after your evening meal, stop off at The Lighthouse en route back to Seabreeze Cottage for a nightcap and to enjoy some live music. This lively, independent arts and music venue is open until midnight Wednesday-Sunday with a variety of acts performing.
Start your Saturday with a leisurely stroll around the charming Walmer Castle & Gardens. Located just a short drive or 20 minute beachside walk from Seabreeze Cottage, this award-winning coastal English Heritage fortress was built on the order of King Henry VIII to protect England’s southern shores.
Boasting a bountiful kitchen garden, shady woodland glens and remarkable historical gems within the castle walls, Walmer Castle has lots to explore. Children will love the natural play trail through the woods, whilst history buffs can marvel at the Duke of Wellington’s bedroom and even see an original pair of Wellington boots. I also particularly love the Queen Mother’s Garden, which is a serene and peaceful space featuring a beautiful reflective pool.
Walmer Castle is open every day between 10am-5pm, and entry is free for English Heritage members, or £14 for non-members.
There is a cafe on site at Walmer Castle, but as you’ll have no doubt worked up a good appetite by this point, I highly recommend heading back into Deal town centre for lunch at The Lane.
Founded in 2014, The Lane is bursting with character and excels in its serving of sumptuous cakes, brunches, afternoon teas and lunches. It is beautifully decorated, with floral displays all around, creatively-designed blackboards and a modern, friendly vibe. They also do themed children’s afternoon teas which I love!
During our most recent visit, we had a delicious lunch (after drooling over the massive cakes on the counter!) from their new menu. My fish tacos were wonderfully light and flavoursome, whilst my husband’s burger was one of the best he’d had in a long time. Book ahead to avoid disappointment.
Once comfortably full, head on over to Deal’s neighbour town of Sandwich for the next part of the weekend.
Did you know that there is a colony of seals living off the Kent coast? No, me neither – until I was kindly introduced to the fabulous Lauren and Paul who run River Runner cruises along the River Stour to spot a glimpse of the seals.
Just a 15 minute drive from Deal itself, River Runner departs from Sandwich Quay for trips along the historic River Stour to see the resident seals. Trips are approximately 1 hour 45, with a 15 minute stop to admire the gorgeous creatures lounging on the riverbank. I was blown away with how many there were!
Hosted by Lauren and Paul themselves, the boat trip incorporates a lot of information about the local area and its history, taking in some of the stunning countryside en route whilst gliding through the calm waters. Binoculars are also provided to see the seals up close, as well as blankets for evening or colder trips, and a real focus is on conserving the seals’ natural habitat.
Sailing times vary from week to week, so do check the website and book in advance, but I highly recommend this unique experience for any weekend in Deal.
After your wildlife adventure, stop off at Pegwell Country Park for a gentle walk and take in the windswept, coastal views. Part of the Pegwell Bay nature reserve, the flat, even paths of the country park are ideal for spotting wildlife and admiring the local flora and fauna. There’s also a lovely play area for children to enjoy.
Once again, you’ll be spoilt for choice for where to spend your Saturday night in Deal or the surrounding area.
If you’re looking for a special or celebratory meal during your weekend in Deal, it’s worth travelling a little outside of the main town to the exquisite, chic Updown Farmhouse. Having only recently opened in 2022, this family-run, former 17th century farmhouse is a gem of a restaurant that has already made a strong name for itself.
Tucked away in the Kent countryside, Updown Farmhouse serves a locally-sourced and beautifully presented menu of seasonal dishes which can be enjoyed either in their mesmerising conservatory restaurant or on the terrace. This is a true foodie destination, oozing with sophisticated character which provides a relaxing sense of rural escapism. As an extra bonus, you don’t even need to worry about driving when it comes to visiting Updown Farmhouse, as you can arrange to be picked up directly from Seabreeze Cottage. Contact Sarah at Seabreeze for more details.
Alternatively, if you’d prefer to avoid taking the car out for the night, you’ll be onto a winner with Victuals & Co in St George’s Passage. Priding itself on creating fresh, locally-sourced dishes, their small yet well-executed menu will be a real treat.
What better way to start a lazy Sunday morning on the coast than with a slap-up brunch overlooking the sea? Head to Deal Pier Kitchen, located at the end of the pier where you’ll be able to treat yourself to a full English, pancakes or even lobster and crayfish benedict.
Once set for the morning, make your way over to Deal Castle, a striking coastal artillery fort built in the 1500s. Like Walmer Castle, it is run by English Heritage so a small fee for entry, but well worth it if visiting with family. There’s plenty of interactive activities for youngsters, plus the opportunity to roam the underground tunnels, discover more of the area’s military background and take in the stunning sea views from the castle walls.
If time allows after your visit to Deal Castle, stop by the Timeball Tower – a rare Victorian maritime signal positioned on the seafront. The timeball is set to drop every day at 1pm and there’s a small museum which is open Wednesday-Sunday during the Summer months.
Your final stop to round off your weekend in Deal has to be The Zetland Arms – a picture-perfect pub which fronts straight onto the shingle beach of Kingsdown. If you’re feeling energetic, work off some of that breakfast with a 50 minute walk along the coast to get to the pub. Alternatively, you can drive there in 5-10 minutes.
Dating back to 1863, soak up the sunshine and views with a drink on one of their outdoor benches – or even sample one of their popular Sunday roasts – before starting to prepare to depart this lovely part of the Kent coast.