The list of things to do in Margate combines both natural and manmade attractions that have a distinctively English quirkiness. As one of England’s first grand seaside resorts, Margate continues to live up to its reputation as the go-to for summer holidays, with its sandy beaches and charming old town coastal architecture. 

    With its blend of colourful history, rich cultural traditions, and breathtaking coves and coasts, Margate offers a wide array of fun and relaxing activities for everyone. Here are the top activities to enjoy in Margate for a full experience of this idyllic harbour town.

    What are the best things to do in Margate?

    1

    Margate Old Town

    Take in the blend of historical and trendy

    • History
    • Budget

    The Old Town is an excellent place to start your adventure in Margate, Located adjacent to the harbour,  it's often buzzing with daily activities of locals and tourists alike. There's a variety of cafes, pubs, speciality food shops, art galleries, boutiques and other small shops along the streets. 

    You can also take a leisurely stroll down the streets to admire Margate’s historic architecture and its distinctively Georgian central square.

    Location: Old Town, Margate, UK

    Map

    photo by Ben Sutherland (CC BY 2.0) modified

    2

    Mad Hatter Tea Room

    Enjoy a cup of tea at a Victorian tearoom

    • Food

    Nestled in the middle of Old Town, the Mad Hatter Tea Room is the place to experience authentic Victorian-era tea in Margate. It offers a wide range of loose leaf teas and cream, which can be paired with delectable homemade cakes and scones.

    The walls are festooned with framed pictures and knick-knacks, giving this place a quaint, cosy feel. Plenty of the food is vegetarian-friendly, the service is famously great and friendly (and not mad).

    Location: 9 Lombard Street, Margate CT9 1EJ, UK

    Open: Monday–Thursday and Saturday from 9.30 am to 4 pm, Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm (closed on Fridays)

    Phone: +44 (0)1843 232626

    Map

    photo by Neil Theasby (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    3

    The Bus Café

    Satisfy your cravings on this unique bus

    • Food
    • Unusual

    The Bus Café provides a unique ambience and setting for your morning cuppa by converting a vintage double-decker bus into a diner. They offer hearty meals for breakfast, brunch, and lunch, as well as the famed Hoath-based Garage Coffee to keep you going through the day. Enjoy all this while taking in the beautiful view of Margate Beach.

    The café doesn’t just depend on its quirky setting, either. The menu may be short, but it focuses on fresh local ingredients. Expect very typical English classics like bacon sandwiches (“sarnies” on the menu), as well as international highlights like hummus and halloumi.

    Location: The Sun Deck, Royal Crescent Promenade, Margate CT9 5AJ, UK

    Open: Monday, Thursday–Friday from 10 am to 2 pm, Saturday–Sunday from 9 am to 3 pm (closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays)

    Phone: +44 (0)7936 076737

    Map

    photo by Richard Rogerson (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    4

    Old Kent Market

    Explore the old market and its many lives

    • Shoppers
    • History
    • Photo

    Located across the Main Sands, the Old Kent Market is the place to go for fresh produce in Margate. Wares available include freshly baked bread and pastries, craft ales, vinyl records, and vintage pieces.

    True to its name, the market’s history stretches back to 1911, when it was a grand cinema building. You can even still find the original box office out front. It’s since been reborn as a bingo hall, a snooker club, and now as an indoor market housing several food and craft stalls.

    Location: 8 Fort Hill, Margate CT9 1HD, UK

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 8 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)7873 348500

    Map

    photo by Amanda Slater (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    5

    Margate Main Sands

    Bask in the sun at this timeless beach

    • Photo
    • Budget

    The award-winning Margate Main Sands is a must-visit if you want to experience the famed English seaside. For centuries, it’s drawn in visitors with its golden sandy bay and shallow tidal pool. It can get a little nippy while dipping in the North Sea, but fortunately, even when the tide is up, there’s more than enough space on the beach to make sandcastles or lounge on deck chairs.

    Old Town, and its vast selection of restaurants and pubs, is only a short walk away. A little further on the west, you can find Dreamland and its amusement arcades. The Old Clock Tower commemorating Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee is also nearby.

    Location: Marine Terrace, Margate CT9 1XJ, UK

    Map

    photo by Antony Stanley (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    6

    Dreamland

    Embark on a historic, thrilling ride

    • Families
    • History
    • Adventure

    Officially named in 1920, Dreamland houses the Scenic Railway, the oldest working wooden rollercoaster in the UK. With its vintage rides, classic sideshows, popup entertainment, live music, eateries, and a rotating calendar of events, Dreamland offers a full day of festival fun suitable for all ages.

    Dreamland is located just across the sandy beaches of Margate, giving you a view that will take your breath away – if the exhilarating rides haven’t already done that.

    Location: 49-51 Marine Terrace, Margate CT9 1XJ, UK

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 6 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1843 295887

    Map
    7

    The Shell Grotto

    Discover the beautiful, subterranean mystery

    • History
    • Photo

    Shell Grotto is a bewitching, shell-covered chamber that's located underground in a quiet residential street in Margate. Discovered in 1835, the walls of this grotto are covered by a mosaic comprised of roughly 4.6 million shells.

    Nobody knows when, how, or why this grotto was built, but that doesn’t keep people from admiring these painstakingly inlaid images of gods, goddesses, and intricate patterns of the tree of life.

    Location: Grotto Hill, Margate CT9 2BU, UK

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 5 pm (hours may vary by season)

    Phone: +44 (0)1843 220008

    Map

    photo by Barney Moss (CC BY 2.0) modified

    8

    Margate Tudor House

    Travel back in time to the 16th century

    • History
    • Photo

    The Margate Tudor House dates back to 1525, making it one of the oldest building in Old Margate. While the structure has the distinctive timber-frame look of the Tudor era, it's described as a ‘transitional house’ since it demonstrates how medieval open-hall housing evolved into early-modern 2-storey buildings.

    Take the time to admire the beautiful patterns of dolphins, fleur-de-lys, and Tudor roses adorning the Jacobean plaster ceiling. Afterwards, rest on the benches in the garden outside and bask in the historical ambience.

    Location: 60 King St, Margate CT9 1QE, UK

    Open: Wednesday and Friday–Sunday from 11.30 am to 2.30 pm (closed on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays)

    Phone: +44 (0)1843 231213

    Map

    photo by Poliphilo (CC0 1.0) modified

    9

    Theatres in Margate

    Watch a performance at the town’s historic theatres

    • Nightlife

    Margate has 3 noteworthy theatres to choose from when you’re looking for some after-dinner entertainment. Since 1787, the Theatre Royal’s illustrious history includes hosting the first drama school in the country where some famous period actors honed their craft. It also holds the title of the 2nd-oldest theatre in the UK.

    The Tom Thumb Theatre was originally a Victorian coach house that found new life in 1984 as one of the smallest theatres in the world. Similarly, The Winter Gardens was built in 1911 in the neo-Grecian style, originally serving as a concert and dance hall. It was a receiving station for troops during WWII before it was refurbished as a leading events venue in Kent.

    photo by David Anstiss (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    10

    Margate Caves

    Explore old murals in the former chalk mine

    • History
    • Photo

    Originally a chalk quarry in the 17th and 18th centuries, the Margate Caves have become one of the prime destinations to visit in Margate for its vibrant cave paintings. Be sure to check out the small exhibition at the ground level to gain more insight into the Caves’ story and the impact of geology and ecology on the town’s history.

    After your trip into the Caves, hop over to the community café for a quick bite to eat, and to their shop for souvenirs to commemorate your visit.

    Location: 1 Northdown Road, Margate CT9 1QH, UK

    Open: March–November: daily from 10 am to 5 pm. November–March: Friday–Sunday from 11 am to 4 pm (closed from Mondays to Thursdays)

    Phone: +44 (0)1843 838035

    Map
    Geri Mileva | Contributing Writer

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