Fancy a day trip out of the Big Smoke, to the shores of stunning north Kent? Just an hour and 45 minutes drive from Central London will take you to the gorgeous seaside town of Whitstable. This beautiful fishing town is known across the UK for its sailing, seafood and its famous summer Oyster Festival. Picture it now, you rent a Hiyacar, head down the M2 and before you know it, you’re eating ice cream, strolling around Whitstable’s picturesque harbour and breathing in the sea air - the perfect day trip!
Check out our picks of the top places to visit, things to do and what to see on a day trip from London to Whitstable!
Take a stroll around Whitstable Harbour
A popular spot for locals and tourists alike, head to Whitstable Harbour, at the heart of the town, for seafood, boat trips and a visit to the famous Fish Market. Built in 1832, this iconic harbour sees Whitstable’s supply of sustainable fish and shellfish brought in, daily; including the oysters sold at the famous pink Wheelers Oyster Bar. Head out on a boat trip to explore Whitstable Bay and to see the area’s striking WWII-era Red Sands Sea Forts.
Check out some great independent shops and cafés
One of the first stops on a day trip from London to Whitstable has to be to one of the town’s lovely independent cafés. On the highstreet you’re spoilt for choice of great coffee shops to stop at whilst browsing the local shops for vintage treasures, handmade jewellery and local art. Garage Coffee and The Umbrella Cafe are great options along the highstreet, Windy Corner Stores & Cafe is a great option for those walking near the seafront to the west of the town. When it comes to shopping, Whitstable has a veritable feast of great gift and homewares stores like Flory and Black and vintage stores, like Valentines Vintage.
Visit Whitstable’s galleries and museums
For a spot of culture, head to one of the town’s many art galleries, home to the beautiful works of local artists. The Harbour Gallery, just a stone’s throw from Whitstable Beach, is definitely worth a browse, as is Fishslab Gallery and the nearby Chappell Contemporary Gallery. For those looking to learn about the area’s local history, Whitstable Community Museum & Gallery has everything you need to know about local shipbuilding, shipwrecks, oyster fishing and harvesting and more!
Spend an afternoon at the beach
This stretch of coastline is home to a number of quaint pebble beaches. Head to West Beach to get away from the crowds, to Whitstable Beach to be amongst the action and near some great food options or to Tankerton Beach to marvel at ‘The Street’, a clay bank jutting out into the sea, formed by the meeting of tides. In the summertime, Whitstable Beach is a very popular spot, and a great place to sit and munch on great seafood, whilst watching the local sailing club out on the water.
On your bike… for a ride along the Crab & Winkle Way
Hire a bike and feel the wind in your hair as you cycle the gorgeous, scenic ‘Crab & Winkle Way’. This 7.6 mile bike ride makes for a great day trip afternoon activity. Running between Canterbury (check out our previous post about day tripping from London to Canterbury) and Whitstable; ride through Blean Woods and up and over a couple of small hills, giving you incredible views of Whitstable from afar!
Wander around Whitstable Castle and Gardens
Just a 5 minutes walk from Tankerton Beach, this gorgeous late 18th century castle is free to visit, is a perfect spot for afternoon tea - at the Orangery Tea Rooms, and on sunny days, is great for a stroll around the manicured grounds. Also known as Tankerton Towers, head here during your day trip for a little relaxation away from the bustling harbour area and shopping streets.
Feast on fresh seafood
Last, but definitely not least, when at this beautiful seaside town, definitely try some seafood! Take your pick from the highly-rated seafood restaurants the town boasts - with the previously mentioned Wheelers Oyster Bar being a must-visit, as well as The Whitstable Oyster Company, Birdies - for French dishes featuring the local seafood and The Lobster Shack - for great quick eats, harbour-side.