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For other places with the same name, see Margate (disambiguation).

Margate is a seaside resort on the north Kent coast, with a population in 2021 of 64,491. It's suffered the usual decline of English seaside towns but its beach is still thronged on warm summer weekends, and there are several places of interest for cold wet days.


Margate beach

Margate was a seaport on the medieval Isle of Thanet, which is nowadays separated from the mainland only by farm ditches. "The Battle of Margate" in 1387 typifies its story: the English fleet spotted an enemy fleet near here but chased them all the way to Holland before there was any fighting. These ships turned out to be laden with wine, so the great "Battle-of-nowhere-near-Margate" was more like a booze-cruise.

The fashion for sea bathing began around 1750 and Margate was an early resort, as it was accessible and had a sandy beach. "Bathing machines" - wheeled beach huts - lumbered into the water "whereby the most refined female is enabled to enjoy the advantages of the sea with the strictest delicacy." The railway arrived in 1846 and brought a mass market, and this was the mainstay of the town economy for the next century. Then hardy explorers discovered the Med, the holiday-makers deserted and Margate slumped.

While Brighton and Blackpool found ways to re-invent themselves as destinations, Margate has been slow to do so. It has a downbeat mix of fading Georgian and Victorian villas and tatty bedsits. Perversely, this has given it a role as a TV and film location for grey low-rent settings, such as Edge of Heaven in 2014. Turnaround requires an iconic flagship development and this (they hope) began with the opening of the Turner Contemporary Art Gallery in 2011. Margate is still a work in progress.

Thanet Visitor Centre, The Droit House, Stone Pier CT9 1JD, +44 1843 577577, . W–Su 10:00–17:00. This is at the foot of Harbour Arm by the Turner Gallery and has a left-luggage service. It covers the rest of Thanet, notably Broadstairs and Ramsgate.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

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.

By train[edit]

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 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. It has a staffed ticket office and machines, and Plusbus is available. There's a cafe, toilets and waiting room. There is level access to Platform 1 (towards Ramsgate) and step-free access via lifts to the other platforms.

Westgate-on-Sea station a mile west might be more convenient for that end of town.

By bus[edit]

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.

Get around[edit]

Bus: 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.

Bike hire: Margate Bikes & Hire are at 87a Canterbury Rd by the railway station. They're open M-Sa 9AM-5:30PM.

Taxi firms are Swift (+44 7909 607904), Central Cars (+44 1843 601601), Margate Taxis (+44 7786 389286) and Thanet Cars (+44 1843 3333). United Cars get rotten reviews.


The Clock Tower
  • Margate seafront faces the main beach, a trad promenade with a clock tower, pubs, bingo halls, and amusement arcades.
  • Harbour Arm casts an embrace around the harbour north of the beach, with eating places, and nowadays the Turner at its foot.
  • 1 Turner Contemporary Art Gallery, Rendezvous, Margate CT9 1HG. Tu-Su 10AM-6PM. 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. Free. Turner Contemporary (Q1391289) on Wikidata Turner Contemporary on Wikipedia
  • 2 Margate Caves, 1 Northdown Rd, Margate CT9 1HQ, . Apr-Oct daily 10AM-5PM, Nov-Mar F-Su 11AM-4PM. 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.
  • 3 Shell Grotto, Grotto Hill, Cliftonville CT9 2BU. Daily 10AM-5PM. 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 century 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. Shell Grotto (Q7493665) on Wikidata Shell Grotto, Margate on Wikipedia
  • 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 1-5PM. 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 century but has been restored. Donation. Draper's Mill (Q5305838) on Wikidata Draper's Mill, Margate on Wikipedia
  • 5 Hornby Visitor Centre, Westwood Industrial Estate, Margate CT9 4JX. Daily 10AM-4PM. 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.


Turner Contemporary Gallery
  • Margate Beach is a large crescent of sand right in town centre, by Dreamland and the railway station. It's accessible even at high tide, and the tidal pool is a sheltered area for kiddy-bathing. Half a mile west is a smaller beach, Westbrook Bay. Beaches east of the harbour through Cliftonville are narrow, and covered at high tide. Naylor Rock Shelter by the west end of Margate Beach is a grand Edwardian structure. Here in 1921 TS Eliot found himself composing The Waste Land, often hailed as depicting the despair of a post-Great War generation, but more to do with huddling in a beach shelter while being married to Vivienne Haigh-Wood.
  • 1 Dreamland, 49-51 Marine Terrace, Margate CT9 1XJ (200 m east of railway station), +44 1843 295887. 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. Dreamland Margate (Q3039291) on Wikidata Dreamland Margate on Wikipedia
  • Tom Thumb Theatre is squeezed into an old coach house with offbeat decor. It's at 2A Eastern Esplanade.
  • Cinema: Dreamland Cinema is only occasionally open. Carlton Cinema is two miles west by Westgate railway station. Vue Cinema is three miles south at Westwood.
  • Theatre Royal remains closed in 2023.
  • Golf: Westgate & Birchington GC is 4877 yards, par 64, visitor round £27.
  • Football: Margate FC play soccer away down in the minor leagues. Their home ground Hartsdown Park (capacity 2100) is south side of the railway station.


Tom Thumb Theatre
  • 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.
  • Sargasso, Harbour Arm, +44 1843 229270. Tu 5:30PM-9PM, W-Sa noon-9PM, Su noon-3PM. Wine bar with great food, small portions.
  • Buoy and Oyster, 44 High St, Margate CT9 1DS (north end of beach), +44 1843 446631. Daily noon-9PM. Good seafood place near beach.
  • 1 The Ambrette, 10 Fort Hill, Margate CT9 1HD, +44 1843 231504. W Th Su noon-8PM, F Sa noon-9PM. Enjoyable restaurant serving Anglo-Mumbai "haute cuisine".
  • 2 Mullins Brasserie, 6 Market Place, Margate CT9 1EN, +44 1843 295603. M-Sa noon-3PM, 6-9PM. Upscale but relaxed place in a former butchers, serves European cuisine with a Barbados twist.
  • Peter's Fish Factory, 12 The Parade, Margate CT9 1EZ (next to Mullins), +44 1843 292485. Daily 11AM-8PM. Popular fish and chip shop - it usually has a queue. Takeaway only so eat on the beach.
  • Forts, 8 Cliff Terrace, Margate CT9 1RU. M-F 8AM-4PM, Sa Su 9AM-4PM. Good coffee and breakfast spot by Winter Gardens.
  • 3 The Riz, 49 Northdown Rd, Cliftonville CT9 2RN, +44 1843 293698. Daily noon-11:30PM. Ayubowan to this consistently impressive Sri Lanka and Kerala-style restaurant.
  • 4 George & Heart, 44 King St CT9 1QE, +44 1843 225427. Food M-Th noon-3PM, 5PM-9PM, F Sa noon-9:30PM. Charming pub in an 18th century house with good trad food, has rooms. B&B double £120.


Margate as JMW saw it in 1840
Lots of pubs and clubs, but beware of aggressive drunks late at night.
  • 1 Harbour Arms Micropub, Stone Pier, Margate CT9 1JD, +44 7776 183273. noon–23:00. Tiny pub on the harbour wall, with local ales and views back to the "mainland".
  • 2 The Mechanical Elephant, 28-30 Marine Terrace, CT9 1XJ, +44 1843 234100. Su–Th 8AM-midnight, F Sa 8AM-1AM. The Mechanical Elephant is a reliable JD Wetherspoon by the Clock Tower.


  • 1 Alpha Hostel, 3-4 Royal Esplanade, Westbrook, Margate CT9 5DL, +44 1843 221616, . Check-in: 17:00–22:00 (guests arriving after 22:00 will not be able to check into the hostel until the following morning), check-out: M–F10:00, Sa Su 11:00.
  • 2 Cliftonville Townhouse B&B, 40 Gordon Rd, Cliftonville CT9 2DN, +44 1843 228164, . Good welcoming B&B with three rooms a block back from the seafront. No children under 18. B&B double £110.
  • 3 The Reading Rooms, 31 Hawley Square, Margate CT9 1PH, +44 1843 225166. Lovely B&B with 3 rooms, in Georgian town house thoughtfully modernised. No children under 17 or dogs. B&B double £100.
  • 4 George & Heart, 44 King St, Margate CT9 1QE, +44 1843 225447. Fine old coaching inn with good food. B&B double £90.
  • 5 Sands Hotel Margate, 16 Marine Drive CT9 1DH, +44 1843 228228. Smart beachfront hotel, great comfort, dining and views. No dogs. B&B double from £140.
  • 6 Selina Margate, 21-27 Eastern Esplanade, Margate CT9 2HL. Jazzy place, thin walls and some rooms don't meet expectations. B&B double £90.
  • 7 Walpole Bay Hotel, Fifth Ave, Cliftonville CT9 2JJ, +44 1843 221703. Remarkable Edwardian timewarp, more museum than hotel and often used as a TV location, but with modern comforts. B&B double £110.
  • Fort Road Hotel, 18 Fort Rd, Margate CT9 1HF (opposite Turner Contemporary), +44 1843 661313. Stylish renovation of what had been a derelict pub, great comfort and service. B&B double £140.


Only ditches now between Thanet and mainland

As of Jan 2021, Margate mostly has a 4G signal from all UK carriers, though Vodafone has dead spots. 5G has not reached this area.

Go next[edit]

Routes through Margate
AshfordCanterbury  SW  NE  END

This city travel guide to Margate is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.