48 hours in Kent - What to do on a weekend in Kent
Believed to be named the ‘Garden of England’ by Henry VIII and the oldest county in the country Kent is home to a host of historic buildings and landmarks including many world heritage sites. Kent is easily reached from London by high speed and boasts beautiful countryside and stunning coasts and whether you are visiting with friends, with the kids in tow or are on a romantic getaway it has something for everyone. There are so many fantastic places to stay, ranging from luxury hotels to glamping!
48 hours will not be enough but here are some of my favourite things to do and see!
Friday lunchtime in Kent
Begin in Margate, a thriving town in the midst of regeneration. Stay at the stunningly designed Sands Hotel overlooking the famous Margate Sands. If it’s a warm day enjoy afternoon tea on the balcony with views of the beach. Below at Melt Gelato Parlour, you’ll find a delicious array of ice cream including vegan flavours.
For lunch head to the arty Old Town for homemade sourdough pizza at Ralphs. The menu is small but the pizzas are delicious and they make a great cocktail!
If in search of vegan food, you MUST head to Seaside Kitchen and Cake Parlour, Kent’s first fully vegan café and cake shop. You will be amazed by the huge array of savoury and sweet treats.
Friday afternoon in Kent
Looking for family fun? Kick off the afternoon with a trip to Dreamland, a vintage amusement park. Ride the oldest roller coaster in the UK, the grade II listed Scenic Railway. (check website for seasonal openings) There are also events and gigs on throughout the summer.
Time for some culture, check out the latest exhibitions at the Turner Contemporary, a free art gallery situated by the harbour and named after JMW Turner who famously painted Margate’s beautiful skies. You’ll get a great view of Another Time, an Antony Gormely sculpture from the beach in front.
The Shell Grotto is my favourite spot in Margate. Discovered in 1835 and decorated with 4.6million shells, no one knows who built this mysterious place or why. It won’t take you long to wander around and MarMar nearby is a great spot for coffee.
If you’ve got any time left have a wander around the Old Town, there are a whole host of vintage shops to explore!
Friday evening in Kent
If it’s summer stay in Margate and head to one of the many outdoor dining spots – my favourites are New Street Bistro, Barletta on the Roof or the Sundeck. After you’re done, grab a cocktail at Wildes or head to the Harbour arm for some al-fresco drinking!
If not take the train over to Broadstairs. Book in advance for an amazing meal at STARK, the only Michelin-starred restaurant in Thanet, offering a seasonal 6-course tasting menu. For something a bit more low key try Jetty situated on the harbour arm or Kebbells for delicious seafood.
After, relax in Chapel bar and bookshop for drinks. As the name suggests this low key bar is situated in a second-hand bookshop formerly St Mary’s Chapel, a grade II listed building. It has a huge range of beers and ales including many local offerings.
Saturday morning in Kent
Move your stay to the stunning Elmley Nature Reserve, a perfect escape to nature. Their newest accommodation, Kingshill Farmhouse is a stunning 18th Century house in an equally stunning location. Head over to the cathedral city of Canterbury, popular with tourists due to the stunning architecture and historical buildings. Try breakfast at Tiny Tims, a 1930s inspired tea room set in a supposedly haunted building. Be sure to check out the ghost room if you dare!
Time to take in some history. Visit Canterbury Cathedral, one of the oldest and most famous Christian buildings in the UK and the final resting place of Thomas Beckett. For more history, you could also explore the stunning ruins of St Augustine’s Abbey an English heritage site.
Saturday lunchtime in Kent
For something special eat at The Ambrette, an award-winning restaurant serving up modern Indian cuisine. As well as the al a carte menu you can also order a delicious afternoon tea with an Indian twist. My other favourites include the Skinny Kitchen, which has some great veggie options and bottomless brunch on the weekend, Chapter for great sourdough pizza and Cafe Des Amis for seriously good Mexican. Walk off your lunch by the river, following the Westgate Gardens River Walk particularly beautiful when fully in bloom. You could also take a tour along the river in a punt if you’re feeling lazy!
Saturday afternoon in Kent
No visit to Kent is complete without a trip to Whitstable to visit the pebble beaches complete with pretty coloured beach huts. Simply walk along the beach, browse the shops in the quaint high street and along the harbour or stop for a drink in the Duke. Venture towards Tankerton when the tide is out and enjoy a walk along the ‘Street’ a natural strip of shingle that runs out to sea.
Of course, Whitstable is famous for its oysters and there are many places to sample them. Sit on the pebbles and take in the view with oysters from the Forge. After, treat yourself to a cruffin from artisan bakers Grain and Hearth.
Saturday evening in Kent
Book ahead and enjoy a meal at Michelin-starred The Sportsman. The Sportsman may look like an unassuming pub from the outside but it has topped the Top 50 Gastropubs list in 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019. Order from the A la Carte menu or for something truly special indulge in the tasting menu. The Sportsman is in Seasalter perfect for a stroll while taking in the beautiful sunset.
For a relaxed drink pop into the Twelve Taps – named after the twelve lines of cold craft beer on keg. There is also an extensive gin menu. The staff are friendly and extremely knowledgeable and are happy to offer up a recommendation. Take a seat and play one of the many board games on offer.
Sunday morning in Kent
Finish your trip by taking in some more history. Kent has many castles on offer but in my opinion, the best ones are Dover Castle and Leeds Castle. Leeds Castle hailed as ‘the loveliest castle in the world has much to offer with beautiful grounds and gardens and a maze to get lost in, as well as adventure golf and a playground for the children.
You can find Dover Castle perched on Dover’s iconic white cliffs and is one of the largest in the UK. You can visit the castle as well as secret wartime tunnels and an underground hospital. Before you leave, take an exhilarating walk along the White Cliffs with unrivalled views across the English Channel.
If instead, you are looking for something a little more wild visit either Howletts Wild Animal Park or Port Lympne Safari Park and Reserve for a fantastic day out with the children. You’ll find a huge array of rare and endangered animals including tigers, lions, elephants and gorillas and at Port Lympne you can enjoy an authentic safari ride.