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 day trip to Margate from London.
So here’s what I got up to with one day in Margate, things to do in Margate on a day trip and what I thought of Margate after visiting for the day.
Margate Day Trip from London
How to get to Margate from London on a Day Trip
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.
I always search and book trains on The Train Line for the best prices and times! Search for trains to Margate here on The Train Line!
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! Although what didn’t make me as happy was the unfortunate-looking council high-rise block and huge amounts of graffiti on the walls nearby so be prepared for this.
Things to do in Margate on a Day Trip
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 very easy to walk from Margate train station to the beach which is why this is one of the best day trips from London by train 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.
Even if the weather is not good on you day trip to Margate, you can still enjoy this huge, sandy beach. And the weather may improve throughout the day as it did with me!
Vintage Shopping in Margate
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.
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.
Beet Bar Cafe
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.
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.
My Overall thoughts on a Margate Day Trip
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!
Wednesday 14th of August 2019
OMG...it's like you read my mind! I also live in London and took a day trip to Margate on the train with my bike recently (and am compiling a blog post about that trip). I was hugely disappointed...the town just seemed kinda run down. Not at all what I had pictured from the London media chatting up Margate. I cycled onto Broadstairs and found that to be a much prettier town with lovely Victorian buildings. It's so strange because they are so close together.
Friday 26th of April 2019
Thank you so much for this post. I was thinking about combining a day trip to Canterbury with a quick peek at Margate, but now I am confident to give it a pass. :) I really appreciate travel blogs which are not glossing over things that weren't so great (and also mention free toilets!) and it's especially good to see the perspective of a single traveller. I usually travel solo myself and the widely distributed "and then we had coffee and chatted for an hour while enjoying the views" recommendations are not much use to me. ;) I know this is an old entry though, hope you enjoy your current travels in locations a little bit farther away. :)
Friday 26th of April 2019
Thank you for your comment Tamara and glad you found my honesty helpful.
I totally know what you mean about passing time in a coffee shop when on your own, it’s not the same is it. I’m also a big fan of knowing where public toilets are and ideally free ones so glad you appreciate that.
Enjoy your day trip to Canterbury :)
Wednesday 8th of August 2018
Ooh I like the look of Margate, and it not to far from London either. Thank you for your photos. xx
Wednesday 8th of August 2018
It’s so easy to get to from London! :D You’re welcome!
Kara // Heels In My Backpack
Tuesday 7th of August 2018
Ahh sorry it didn't live up to the hype! It's definitely a bit half and half - half cool, half run down. But thank you for the link, lovely! xx
Tuesday 7th of August 2018
I’m sure it would have been better if I had gone with people! If I ever go again I’ll make sure I do!? And you’re welcome!