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I’d been hearing mixed things about the seaside town of Margate in Kent for a few years, I’d heard that it’s been dubbed ‘Shoreditch by the Sea’ (and I do love Shoreditch!), and even Kent’s Copenhagen (I also love Copenhagen!), but I’d also heard that it’s still fairly run down. I’m pretty stubborn and I like to make my own mind up about places!
So when I saw a return train ticket to Margate from London on The Train Line for just £20.00 I figured I didn’t have much to lose and I should do a Margate day trip from London so here’s what I got up to with one day in Margate, things to do in Margate and what I thought of Margate after visiting.
Margate Day Trip from London
London to Margate Train
A high-speed South Eastern Train leaves St Pancras International station in London and within 1 hour 30 minutes, it arrives at the tip of Kent in Margate.
Margate train station is basic but has all it needs, plus free toilets which is always a bonus. I left Margate train station and saw the sea straight away which made me pretty happy! What didn’t make me as happy was the unfortunate-looking council high-rise block and huge amounts of graffiti on the walls nearby (I say graffiti over street art).
Things to do in Margate
Dreamland – Margate’s amusement park and a popular thing to do in Margate can be seen at the side of the train track as you pull into Margate station, so it’s very easy to get to from the station which is good! Dreamland is often the only reason people come to Margate. I haven’t been but I have heard good things about it since it was revamped only a few years ago!
It’s also very easy to walk from Margate train station to the beach. What I noticed first were the humongous seagulls, the typical seaside fairground rides on the beach that I hadn’t seen for years and the smell of hot doughnuts coming from the stalls.
Turner Contemporary Gallery
By the time I had reached the end of the beach I was pretty close to the Turner Contemporary Gallery. I’m not a huge fan of Galleries however I saw that it was free to enter, so I went in.
The Turner Contemporary Gallery is only quite small and having opened in 2011, it’s still fairly new which shows from its interior and exterior as it’s pretty different to the rest of the architecture in Margate.
When I visited there was an exhibition called Animals & Us which was really interesting. This is pretty much all I saw in the museum as the other galleries were closed for private events but it seems that they hold a specific exhibition at all times and if Animals & Us is anything to go by it’s definitely worth heading into the Turner Contemporary Gallery in Margate to check out the exhibition they have on as I really enjoyed it.
I wanted a healthy lunch and I had seen Beet Bar recommended on Google, I also happened to pass a sign pointing me in the direction of Beet Bar so I followed the sign into a car park and there was a beautifully decorated cafe in front of me. Beet Bar is a plant-based cafe, mainly selling drinks and smoothies but they also had food on offer.
I got the Raw Thali Bowl which was an array of delights. I really loved it here, it’s so pretty and calm, full of plants, crystals and good music.
I’d heard that Margate has a lot of cool shops, especially vintage shops in its old town and I was pretty sure that I’d seen photos of quirky shopfronts online, all of which made me think that this is where it gets its reputation as a ‘Shoreditch by the Sea’ so I decided to head into the streets to see what I could find.
Admittedly I did come across quite a few vintage shops really easily, they are not hidden at all, if this is your thing you would find them quite appealing I think!
I also noticed some nice bars and pubs, but then I took a turn up the main high street which is where all of the chain shops and food outlets are and it just looked like any other English Town (it really reminded me of Dover Town actually), with a Poundland, a Subway, a McDonald’s, plus more closed down and abandoned shops. It was a bit of a shame and put a sour taste of Margate in my mouth.
I headed back to the beach as it was perfect beach weather now. There were lots of school groups out which I found weird and most were sitting on the beach. Margate’s beach is pretty nice and did surprise me, mainly thanks to it being all sand. So many non-British people moan about the beaches here because they’re rock or shingle but Margate’s beach is golden and so soft!
Quirky things in Margate
On the other side of the beach close to the train station I came across The Bus Cafe and a row of pop-up cafes and bars which were really cool and unique for Margate.
I noticed how much the water was glistening in the sun and the man-made swimming pool that has been created within the sea, and to fully make myself feel better I bought 6 hot doughnuts for £3.50 because no trip the seaside is complete without doughnuts, am I right??
The Shell Grotto is another unique thing to do in Margate which I didn’t do and I have heard is cool.
Overall thoughts on Margate
It still reminded me of why I’m not a huge fan of England, Margate is, unfortunately, is quite run down and feel’s a bit forgotten too. I feel like if you lived there it would be hard to break out of a rut, you’d get stuck there due to limited possibilities and this also showed when I was walking around.
Overall, I’m glad I went on a day trip from London to Margate as otherwise, I’d always be wondering what it was like, however, I’m not keen to go back and I wouldn’t recommend going on a solo trip to Margate. Hike the White Cliffs of Dover in Kent solo but don’t visit Margate on your own!
Additionally, if you are not British, you’re visiting London for a few days and want to get out of London on a day trip to the beach, I would recommend Margate because just a few hours here will give you a real insight into the British Seaside- run down, trendy or not. Just be sure to get some Fish and Chips at Peter’s Fish Factory as well as some hot doughnuts on the beach.. and be careful of the huge seagulls!
Let me know what you think! Have you been to Margate, do you agree with me? Have I convinced you to go or put you off going?
For trains to Margate, have a look at The Train Line as I find this the easiest place to compare times and prices.
- For more Day trip from London ideas have a look at these posts:
- 10 Things To Do in Brighton on a Day Trip from London in Rain & Shine!
- Visiting the Seven Sisters Cliffs on a Day Trip from London!
- Visiting the White Cliffs of Dover on a Day Trip from London!
- 10 Things Not To Miss When Visiting Oxford on a Day Trip From London!
- A Day Trip to Stonehenge & Bath from London!