- For other places with the same name, see Margate (disambiguation).
Margate is a town in the Isle of Thanet in Kent and sister town to Ramsgate and Broadstairs. It has seen a revival since the Dreamland amusement park reopened in 2015, and the development of an art scene including the Turner Contemporary gallery.
|“||You can keep the Costa Brava, I'm telling ya mate I'd rather have a day down Margate with all me family!||”|
—Chas and Dave - Down to Margate (1982)
Margate is on the whole a rather depressing mixture of fading Georgian and Victorian seaside grandeur and squalid 'bedsit-land' although there are new developments and some pleasant residential suburbs. Margate has a severe problem with litter, which adds to the 'squalid' feel. There has been a decline in the tourism industry for which Margate was famed until the 1980s when many families opted for overseas holidays as living standards rose. Since the completion of the Turner Contemporary Art Gallery, the Old Town area has developed a thriving retro retail presence.
Travel time from all the London airports by public transport is much the same, as you have to go into central London then come out again. By car, London Gatwick (LGW IATA) is the closest, 85 miles by road.
Trains from London Victoria run every 30-60 min, taking 1 hr 50 min via Rochester, Chatham, Gillingham, Sittingbourne and Faversham, where the train may divide. You need to be in the portion running along the north coast to Whitstable, Margate and Ramsgate. The other portion heads south to Canterbury East and Dover Priory.
Trains from London St Pancras run every 20-30 min via three routes. Fast trains take 90 min via Stratford and Ebbsfleet (for Eurostar) then either along the north coast as above, or via Ashford, Canterbury West, Ramsgate and Broadstairs. A third train takes two hours via Folkestone and Dover, so you'd only use it to connect from the Channel ports.
1 Margate railway station is central near the beach.
National Express Bus NX022 takes three hours from London Victoria via Canterbury to Margate, continuing to Ramsgate. In summer 2020 this only runs once a day.
Stagecoach Bus 8 runs every 15 min from Canterbury and takes an hour to Margate. Once an hour it runs as 8X which continues to Broadstairs.
Bus 36 along the coast between Whitstable and Margate is not running in summer 2020, so by bus you'd have to travel via Canterbury; take the train instead.
The Stagecoach Loop bus orbits the tip of Kent every 10-15 min, from Margate to Cliftonville, Broadstairs, Ramsgate, Westwood and back to Margate; and vice versa.
- Margate has a traditional (slightly tacky) seafront, with a clock tower, pubs, bingo halls and amusement arcades.
- 1 Shell Grotto, Grotto Hill, Cliftonville CT9 2BU. Daily 10:00-17:00. This is a remarkable place down a dingy back street: a winding underground passageway leading into a chamber, all decorated from floor to ceiling in sea shells. It was stumbled upon during building work in 1835 and its age and builder are unknown. There's been no scientific dating, and there are several dingbat theories, but it looks like the style of 18th / 19th C grottoes or follies that adorn stately homes elsewhere. The shells of the design are local, but the background fill of flat winkles is not - this type is common in Southampton. Adult £4.50, conc £4, child £2.
- 2 Turner Contemporary Art Gallery, Rendezvous, Margate CT9 1HG. Tu-Su 10:00-18:00. Modern art gallery opened in 2011, with a small selection of paintings by JMW Turner (1775-1851), who stayed at a boarding house on this spot. But it's mainly rotating exhibitions of modern art and events. The gallery is closed for renovation Sept 2020 through Jan 2021. Free.
- 3 Margate Caves, 1 Northdown Rd, Margate CT9 1HQ, ✉ email@example.com. Apr-Oct daily 10:00-17:00, Nov-Mar F-Su 11:00-16:00. These underground passages were 18th century chalk workings. They were forgotten until 1807 then used as an ice-house; in 1863 a later owner put them on show as "Vortigern Caves" complete with bogus legends. They were closed from 2004 but re-opened in 2019. Adult £4.50, conc £4, child £2.
- Walpole Bay Hotel Museum is open to non-residents day-time, see Sleep.
- 4 Draper's Mill, St Peter's Footpath, Margate CT9 2SP. Jun-Sept Su 13:00-17:00. This is a "smock mill" built in 1865, the only survivor of three here. In 1920 it was fitted with a gas engine to enable work to continue on windless days. It fell into disrepair in the 20th C but has been restored. Donation.
- 5 Hornby Visitor Centre, Westwood Industrial Estate, Margate CT9 4JX. Daily 10:00-16:00. Exhibition of Hornby model railways, Airfix models and Corgi car models. Hornby Dublo OO gauge electric model railways hold the same romanticised place in British history as pre-British Rail full-sized trains, but they're firmly rooted in the 20th century and their admirers are a dying breed. So this showcase hall and outlet is effectively a museum. Adult £5.
- Beaches: the main beach is right in town: it's sandy, and accessible even at high tide. A few miles east, Botany Bay and Joss Bay are round the corner on the east-facing coast.
- Dreamland, 49-51 Marine Terrace, Margate CT9 1XJ (200 m east of railway station), ☏ . Apr-Oct weekends and school holidays 10:00-18:00. Amusement park with a dozen rides, including the Scenic Railway, a listed wooden coaster. Many rides have age / height restrictions. Day wristband £8.25.
- Tesco Express is just west of the station, Aldi is east end of the bay.
- Any amount of catchpenny stuff on the sea front, including Margate Rock.
- There's a whole slew of places to eat near the seafront and on the harbour arm, and more in town centre.
- Peter's Fish Factory, 12 The Parade, Margate CT9 1EZ, ☏ . Daily 11:00-23:00. Popular fish and chip shop - it usually has a queue. Takeaway only so eat on the beach.
- 1 Mullins Brasserie, 6 Market Place, Margate CT9 1EN, ☏ . M-Sa 12:00-15:00, 18:00-21:00. Upscale but relaxed place in a former butchers, serves European cuisine with a Barbados twist.
- 2 The Ambrette, 10 Fort Hill, Margate CT9 1HD, ☏ . W Th Su 12:00-20:00, F Sa 12:00-21:00. Enjoyable restaurant serving Anglo-Mumbai "haute cuisine".
- 3 The Riz, 49 Northdown Rd, Cliftonville CT9 2RN, ☏ . Daily 12:00-23:30. Ayubowan to this consistently impressive Sri Lanka and Kerala-style restaurant.
- Lots of pubs and clubs, but beware of aggressive drunks late at night.
- Harbour Arms Micropub, Stone Pier, Margate CT9 1JD, ☏ . Tu-Su 11:00-23:00. Tiny pub on the harbour wall, with local ales and views back to the "mainland".
- The Mechanical Elephant is a reliable JD Wetherspoon by the clocktower, open Su-Th 08:00-00:00, F Sa 08:00-01:00.
- Alpha Hostel has taken over the former YHA on the Esplanade, tel +44 1843 221616.
- 1 The Reading Rooms, 31 Hawley Square, Margate CT9 1PH, ☏ . Lovely B&B with 3 rooms, in Georgian town house thoughtfully modernised. No children under 17 or dogs. B&B double £100.
- 2 Cliftonville Townhouse B&B, 40 Gordon Rd, Cliftonville CT9 2DN, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Good welcoming B&B with three rooms a block back from the seafront. No children under 18. B&B double £110.
- 3 Walpole Bay Hotel, Fifth Ave, Cliftonville CT9 2JJ, ☏ . Remarkable Edwardian timewarp, more museum than hotel and often used as a TV location, but with modern comforts. B&B double £110.
- 4 Sands Hotel Margate, 16 Marine Drive CT9 1DH, ☏ . Smart beachfront hotel, great comfort, dining and views. No dogs. B&B double from £140.
- Whitstable for a different kind of coastal town.
- Faversham for the national fruit collection and breweries.
- Canterbury is a must-see for its historic cathedral city.
|Routes through Margate|
|Ashford ← Canterbury ←||SW NE||→ END|