Margate is a brilliant day trip from London. It’s quick and easy to just hop on a train and get out of the hot busy streets of London to spend a day beside the seaside.
If the beach life is how you want to spend a day, then relax on Margate’s sandy beaches and cool waters.
But if you just want to get out of the capital, then Margate should be on your UK itinerary, with plenty to see and do on a day trip to Margate.
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Day trip to Margate from London
On a hot summer’s day, what better way to spend the day, than beside the seaside.
So, for a change we decided to visit the Kent coast and off we went to Margate for the day.
Is Margate worth visiting?
Margate is such an easy day trip from London and ideal if you want to get away from the city for a bit of relaxation.
But while this might be a small town, it is packed with adventure. If you’re not here for the beach, then follow the crowds to the popular and famous Dreamland.
Take on the oldest rollercoaster ride, or amusements, but just don’t have too much fun that you miss your train back to London.
So, if you are looking for somewhere to go for the day, then we would recommend spending the day down in Margate.
How to get to Margate from London
Within around 1 and a half hours, by train from London St Pancras International, you’ll be down in Margate.
Alternatively, the Southeastern train from London Victoria will take about 1 hour 40 minutes.
You can plan your journey on Southestern Trains website. Tickets start at around £27.60 per adult.
Margate station is just a few minutes’ walk from the beach, Dreamland and the main attractions.
Driving is another option, if you’re on a road trip around the UK. From London it will take about 1 hour and 50 minutes, depending on where you’re travelling from in London and traffic.
During the summer months, on a hot day, it can get very congested heading to the coast, which could cause delays.
Car parking won’t be a problem if you drive, with a few multistorey car parks in the town centre. Some car parks offer free parking on certain days.
We travelled to Margate on a Saturday, on a warm summer’s day, the road wasn’t too congested and was a relatively smooth journey.
We found parking at Mill Lane Car Park, and it was free parking all day on Saturdays, which is great if you’re on a budget. But the car park closes at 7pm, so you either need to leave before 7pm, or you need to find parking elsewhere.
How to spend a day in Margate – Things to see and do
Seaside towns in the UK became popular during the Victorian period. Londoners would head to the coast, for some sea air and sun.
Although seaside towns have declined over the years, with beach resorts in Europe becoming more popular, but us Brits do like to be beside the seaside on a hot summer’s day.
Get your bucket and spade ready and take a day trip to Margate, as there’s plenty of things to keep you entertained.
Margate’s golden sandy beach stretches for miles, with shops and cafes located along the sea front.
A safe beach, ideal for washing away the stresses of travel with a relaxing day trip to the seaside. Families pack the bucket and spade, to keep the children entertained.
The tidal pools are perfect for taking a dip in the cold English waters. If you’re not a confident swimmer, then feel a little safer in the pools.
The beach is free, so ideal for you budget travellers, looking for a cheap day trip to the coast.
Dreamland is a famous landmark in Margate, that’s been entertaining tourists since its opening in 1880, with fairground rides and rollercoasters.
The oldest rollercoaster, that’s still in operation and is now grade II listed, was built in 1920.
It is free to enter Dreamland, with a pay per ride. Prices differ between rides.
If a bit of adrenaline, is part of your day trip to Margate, then get here early and make the most of the rides.
There is parking at Dreamland, but parking tariffs apply.
Dreamland closes on event days. Always check their website for the latest events and opening times.
You can check the official Dreamland website here.
The Shell Grotto
This mysterious subterranean passage was discovered in 1835, but not much is known about it.
The passageway is about 70 foot in length with a rectangle chamber at the end. Most of the surface walls and roof is covered in shells. To be precise about 4.6 million shells.
Unfortunately, there is no known purpose for this passage, but it is believed to have been built within the last 3000 years.
Many theories for what it was used for has been mentioned, such as prehistoric astronomical calendar, or a meeting place for sea witchcraft. Whatever it was previously used for, it’s worth spending around 30 minutes admiring the intricate details of the mosaic shells on the walls and roof.
It is about a 15 minutes’ walk from Margate seafront and open from Thursday to Sunday.
Price: £4.50 per adult, £2.00 per child and £10.00 for a family.
Check out the Shell Grotto website for more information.
The Old Kent Market
The Old Kent Market might have a short history, dating back to 1911. But has changed over the last 100 years. The old façade was once a former cinema that’s been converted into a hipster place for good food, drinks, crafts and clothing shops.
The bright interior, with a large red double decker bus can’t be missed.
Have something a little different, from authentic Italian pizza and pasta, drink in one of the smallest bars, or sit at the top of the red double decker bus with a hot drink or something alcoholic.
A great spot to refuel on a budget.
Try oysters, whelks and jellied eels, only at the seaside
While the look and the preparation that goes into a jellied eel doesn’t sound appetising, they are a traditional dish that originated in the 18th century and popular in the east end of London.
But the best place to try different seafood, is down by the seaside.
All different types of seafood are available.
The traditional fish and chips are the best by the coast but why not try something different.
Fresh seafood stalls are dotted along the seafront. We had to try some whelks and oysters.
Oysters are delicious, but whelks are a required taste. We won’t give you our opinion, as we would like to hear what you think first.
Tell us if you tried the jellied eels, whelks or any other seafood, what you think? Let us know in the comments below.
Just under 4 miles from Margate is Joss Bay.
This 200-metre beach is known as one of the best locations for surfers to hit the waves.
First time surfer or experienced, the surfer shop hires out boards and wetsuits, with surf classes available.
Not a surfer, then relax in a deck chair or lounger, which can be hired from the café.
Joss Bay is popular with families, looking for an isolated beach location away from the town.
Parking is available, pay and display charges apply.
How much will it cost to visit Margate on a day trip
The cost of a day trip to Margate, will depend on you and your budget.
If you research well, you can get an idea of how much it should cost you.
The breakdown of our costs for a trip to Margate is as follows:
Cost is based on 2 people travelling.
Travelling by train from London, then you should be looking at around £29.20 per person. This will depend on the season and if you travel during peak or off peak.
Total: £29.20 per person
Total for 2 people: £58.40
Food and drink
Not only do we love our food, but we also like to try different places to eat, so we can give you the choice of where to go for the best food in Margate.
But as budget travellers, we will choose places that are affordable and do serve good food. These are the places we ate and the cost breakdown.
Seafood – Whelks and oysters £8.60
Tea and cake – £4.00
Pizza – £24.48
Ice cream: £2.50
Total: £39.58 for 2 people
Many attractions and things to do in Margate are free, which is ideal for budget travellers like us.
Here is the breakdown of what we spent on our day trip to Margate.
The Shell Grotto – £9.00
Total: £9.00 for 2 people
A total for a couple travelling to Margate for the day should cost no more than £106.98. That works out at about £53.49 per person for a day trip to Margate.
BUT there’s so many ways you could easily cut this budget down to around £40.00-£50.00 per person for a day trip. Or even less if you are tough with your budget.
We have some simple tips on how to save money while travelling here.
Places to eat in Margate
Right along the seafront are plenty of places to eat, from small cafes, restaurants and small seafood huts offering the freshest fish around.
Here are our recommendations:
Great British Pizza
Located along the sea front, this quaint pizza restaurant is nicely decorated with flowers and lights.
The limited outside seating is ideal on a warm day, or to escape the sun or the elements of the weather, choose a seat inside.
To avoid disappointment, arrive early to get a table. Although, you can have a takeaway pizza and sit and eat it on the beach.
We ordered 2 pizzas and hummus. While the hummus wasn’t as good as we are used to, the pizzas were nicely portioned and tasted delicious.
The pizzas are reasonably priced, our bill came to £24.48, which included drinks and 2 pizzas.
This will fill you up on your day trip in Margate.
Fresh fish purchased at the coast, is always better than fresh fish that’s transported to local shops and restaurants.
So, while you’re down by the seaside, eating fresh fish is a must.
This small fresh seafood hut is located along the beach front, with a wide variety of fish on offer.
Try something different, such as oysters, whelks or jellied eels.
We would highly recommend the oysters; they have the saltiness of the ocean.
Whelks have the salty taste but very chewy. Should you try them, 100% yes. It’s unique and you should always try something once.
Maybe try the jellied eels, or anything else that’s different.
Life’s a Beach ice cream
This small hut beside the amusement arcade gets very busy in summer. With queues running down the street.
Fight the crowds for your scoop or two of different flavoured ice cream. We had a salted caramel ice cream in a cone and wafer with Life’s a beach Margate stamped on it.
Treat yourself on a hot summer’s day.
We would also recommend the following places to eat in Margate:
- The Old Kent Market
Whether you’re visiting the UK on a short holiday, or for a gap year, Margate is the ideal seaside town to visit on a day trip from London.
Margate has an amazing sandy beach, with tide pools, to take a soak in the sea water on a hot day. But also, Dreamland offers great entertainment along with the mysterious Shell Grotto, that’s worth visiting.
If you have some time, spend a few days beside the seaside and slow travel around Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate.
Options are endless.
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