How To Spend A Weekend In Margate

Post Thumbnail

We’ve rounded up what to eat, drink and do in this cool coastal city.

In recent years, Margate has been nicknamed ‘Shoreditch-on-Sea’. Make of that what you will, we think it’s well worth putting up with a few hipsters for a weekend of excellent food, abundant art, and cocktails with a view. That’s just the tip of the iceberg too…



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by A Slice Of (@a.slice.of)

As you might imagine, Margate is replete with fantastic seafood spots. You’ll be able to satiate your need for traditional fish and chips at Peter’s Fish Factory on the seafront. This small but mighty establishment serves up flaky haddock, moreish whitebait, and chips that are cooked to perfection, all for a very reasonable price, plus you can dig into them while gazing at the ocean with the sea air ruffling your hair.

If you’re feeling a little more fancy, but still want to eat al fresco, head along to Mannings. This legendary family-run seafood stall serves fresh oysters and bubbles that can be enjoyed there and then, as well as a selection of other shellfish that can be taken away.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Dory\’s (@dorys_of_margate)

Located on a nearby stretch of seafront, Dory’s offers really sensational small plates with equally stunning views. While the menu is constantly evolving, based on the day’s catch or the seasonal fruit and vegetables, you’re likely to remember their seafood creations long after you’ve left — whether it’s a classic prawn cocktail or smoked prawns with aioli, and some sort of satisfyingly stacked sandwich.

Around the corner from Dory’s, a little further from the seafood, you’ll find its sister restaurant Angela’s. This intimate spot changes its menu daily too, however it’s split into three distinct courses rather than a sharing arrangement. The centrepiece of its mains tends to be a generous slab of excellently cooked fish. There are three rooms above Angela’s that you can stay in too. Overlooking the harbour, these havens are eco-conscious in addition to being fabulously decorated. A booking here also comes with automatic reservations at Dory’s and Angela’s, as well as a selection of gastronomic treats, including freshly baked soda bread, yoghurt, compote, cured fish, and other seasonal tidbits.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Angela\’s (@angelas_of_margate)

You’ll find brunch spot Wildes in a sunny square in the Old Town, where you can tuck into everything from waffles, brioche sarnies and frittatas to poke bowls, salads and stews. You can wash it down with a coffee, juice, cocktail — or maybe even all three… This venue is also open till midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, so you could head there for a boogie!

A Margate institution, The Dalby Cafe has been open since the 1940s, and features original formica tables as well as seating made from the city’s old tram seats. Breakfast time is the busiest part of the day here, and if you’re feeling particularly peckish, you could take on the mega breakfast challenge. If you eat it all, you’ll be immortalised on the caff’s wall of fame, and if you eat it all within twenty minutes, you’ll get the whole thing for free!


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by The Dalby Cafe (@dalbycafe)


There’s a watering hole to suit most in Margate. Little Swift is a seafront suntrap, and aptly serves frozen cocktails that you can buy from a little hatch and drink outside. You can also sit inside and sip on a non-frozen tipple, and before you leave, you can buy a bottle of something delicious from the shop in the back.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Little Swift (@littleswiftct9)

Margate also boasts a few micropubs, which are pretty much exactly what they sound like! The Harbour Arms is located on the pier, and offers excellent views back over the seafront, while The Two Halves — which won the Thanet CAMRA Pub of The Year 2022 — looks out across the ocean. Fez is a quirky little dive bar decorated with fairground memorabilia and neon signs. If you prefer your pubs a little more roomy, The George and Heart is a Grade II-listed building dating from the 1800s that has been transformed into a cosy, quirky space filled with charming nooks made for gossiping with loved ones. There are actually bedrooms upstairs here, so you won’t have far to go to flop into bed at the end of the night!

If wine is more your vibe, then Sargasso boasts a prime spot on Margate’s harbour arm and an interesting selection of sips including aperitivos and skin contact wines. You can nibble on snacks like pickled whelks, anchovies and salami, or even stay for dinner and choose a scattering of small plates inspired by seasonal vegetables and fresh fish.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by SARGASSO (

Sète is worth the ten- to fifteen-minute stroll from the old town. This intimate wine bar is fronted by friendly and knowledgeable staff and offers moreish small plates. This venue also hosts a number of intriguing events, from supper clubs and tastings to talks by local creatives. The space is also currently undergoing renovations, which will make it roomier at the back!

The recently-opened Fort Road Hotel features a two-floor underground bar, in a space that was once a smuggler’s tunnel! The edgy basement is decorated with the work of local artists like Tracy Emin, so you can sip something potent and delicious while getting your culture fix. Upstairs, there’s a restaurant that serves British seasonal food with a Mediterranean twist, and if you decide to stay in one of the airy Scandi-esque rooms, then you really must try the indulgent breakfast menu in the morning.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Fort Road Hotel (@fortroadhotel)


Margate Main Sands offers all the ingredients that make up a classic British seaside experience, including a tidal pool, children’s rides, amusement arcades and ice cream kiosks.

Photo of the roller disco in Margate

One of the bay’s biggest draws though, is the vintage amusement park Dreamland, which opened in the 1870s and is home to the oldest surviving wooden rollercoaster in the UK. This attraction has since been joined by other traditional favourites such as a helter skelter, a ghost train, a carousel, dodgems and waltzers, as well as an array of art installations. The park also features a retro roller disco, where you can live out all of your 1970s dreams.

Depending on when you visit, you might be able to squeeze in a concert, as the venue regularly plays host to by a big-name DJs and band — the Rolling Stones actually played a gig here in 1963!

Another beachside beacon is the Turner Contemporary, which opened its doors in 2011. The sleek gallery was designed by David Chipperfield and built on the same land as the boarding house where JMW Turner would stay when he came to the city. Huge windows allow visitors to take in unrivalled sea views and let natural light flood the spacious building.

Margate is also full of fascinating and unconventional indoor attractions that will easily brighten a dull day. Shell Grotto is a mysterious subterranean warren that was discovered by accident in 1835. The walls of this labyrinth are covered in 4.6 million shells that have been arranged in complex patterns. The purpose of this enchanting place is still unknown, but there has been much speculation — some think it may have been an ancient temple (there is an alter-like structure within), while others have passed it off as a product of a rich person’s folly. Whatever you’re more inclined to believe, this really is a must-see spot in Margate, and it only costs £4.50 per adult or £2 for a child (aged 4-16).


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Shell Grotto (@shellgrotto)

The Margate Caves, which were originally dug as a chalk mine, opened to the public a little later than Shell Grotto in 1963. Here, visitors can learn about the caves’ complex history and wander through the cool caverns.

Margate is also home to Europe’s #1 Crab Museum. This wacky exhibit is dedicated entirely to the crab family, and it claims to ‘roll science, humour and philosophy into a unique and satisfyingly baffling day out’. Admission is free, as if you needed any more convincing!

If you want a souvenir, then there are plenty of shops to peruse, from modern concept stores like Cliffs to local brand flagships like Haeckels, which transforms surplus natural resources like seaweed into sumptuous cosmetics. You’ll also find an abundance of vintage and secondhand shops, so you can have a rummage for treasure or pick up an enthralling read for the journey home…