Earlier this month, I was looking for a quick getaway from the Big Smoke. The goal was to find somewhere with plenty of sunshine, sand, and sea. After googling ‘best beach in UK’, Margate (Kent) came up amongst other popular destinations like Brighton and Cornwall. With a £20 two-hour train journey, a Viking Coastal trail, and less tourists – I was sold!
We checked in to the charming Crescent Victoria hotel at the end of town, passed all the commotion of Margate main sand. But with so much sun, we couldn’t wait to get out and explore, and headed straight out again.
What drew me to this part of the UK is the chance to cycle the coastal route that runs from Margate to Ramsgate, pass Broadstairs. We went down to Ken’s Bike Shop near Dreamland amusement park to find us a decent pair of bikes to cycle around; and at £15 a day, it is definitely a steal!
The Viking Coastal Trail is a 50-kilometer of a relatively easy cycling route that promises breath-taking coastal view with plenty of boozy stops along the way. For more information on what to do along the way, don’t forget to pick up a local guide map that’s available for free in most hotels / cafes. If cycling 50km is not your thing, I’d recommend that you only cycle along the coast from Margate to Broadstairs (that’s about 10km) and there’s plenty for you to see already.
Now, the most important thing we need to talk about is SEAFOOD. After a long day of cycling, I was ready to have as many oysters as I physically could. For seafood lovers, you’d be happy to hear that dotted along the coast are traditional seafood stalls – all family run, all fresh from the sea. The most famous stall in Margate is definitely Mannings Seafood; it’s pretty much the only name that’s suggested anywhere for the freshest seafood. Some dishes are served hot, but most are served cold…which is rather odd to a Thai person. In Thailand, all seafood stalls cook everything on a BBQ, so, naturally, I was a bit confused with how one can consume cockles and prawns cold from a plastic tub. Nonetheless, they were seriously fresh and tasty! If you’re not one for plain seafood with tabasco or lemon, I’d recommend bringing your own sauce.
Seeing that seafood stalls weren’t going to satisfy my appetite, we went on a search for a nice place for dinner and found Buoy and Oyster! This restaurant sits on the 2nd floor of a Victorian balcony that overlooks Margate main sand. We ordered some Black Water Wild Oysters (delish), Calamari (crispy), Devilled Whitebait (awesome), and the Pan-fried Halibut with Clams and Samphire (5 stars). This was a perfect way end an adventurous day, sipping on some cocktails, overlooking the bay and the sunset.
Apart from plenty of sun, sea, sand and seafood, there’s also a lot of art & cultural events to explore. I highly recommend the Turner Contemporary Gallery. This free gallery is named in honour of J. M. W. Turner – the beloved artist – who was based here in 1786-88. On the day we visited, there was a colourful exhibition called “End of Empire” by Yinka Shonibare MBE. Having seen his work previously at the Queen’s House museum in London last year, this exhibition was a continuation of the theme of colonisation, empire and its conflicts.
If you’re looking for a quick weekend away, then Thanet coast is definitely worth a visit. To be fair, if all you wanna do is lounge around by the beach, eat oysters, and not give a damn, then you could easily spend a whole week here.