6 ISSUES FOR £6 Subscribe to Kent Life today CLICK HERE

A town guide to Broadstairs

PUBLISHED: 16:15 06 August 2018 | UPDATED: 16:15 06 August 2018

The pristine sandy beach of Viking Bay (photo: Manu Palomeque)

The pristine sandy beach of Viking Bay (photo: Manu Palomeque)

Manu Palomeque 07977074797

Dig out the bucket and spade, slap on the sun lotion and head to beautiful Broadstairs this summer

If you fancy spending some time at the beach this summer, think again before you book an expensive trip abroad or trek all the way down the A303. Kent may be known as the Garden of England but its coastline is right up there with the best of them.

With the Isle of Thanet boasting numerous beaches – including six with Blue Flag Awards this year – a visit to this beautiful part of our own county

is a real treat for those who crave the big blue. And what better place to base yourself than beautiful Broadstairs?

There are seven bays surrounding the town, including the pristine sandy beach of Viking Bay, the stunning Botany Bay with its rocky backdrop and Joss Bay - Kent’s best surfing beach.

Time for a cuppa at this vintage tea parlour (photo: Manu Palomeque)Time for a cuppa at this vintage tea parlour (photo: Manu Palomeque)

The town itself takes its name from a set of steps carved into the chalk cliff which once led up to the 11th-century shrine of St Mary and began as a coastal hamlet that sprung up alongside the older inland village of St Peters. Broadstairs became a hot bed of smuggling, with the notorious local gang of Joss Snelling responsible for the Battle of Botany Bay – in which 18 men were killed in 1769. The gangs were finally stamped out in the mid-1800s and wealthy families began to move into the area, building their seaside residences. The town began to expand, attracting professionals and plenty of artists, drawn to the area’s beauty and seclusion.

One such creative in search of a peaceful holiday home was Charles Dickens. Escaping from the smog of London, Dickens was one of many Victorians seeking fresh sea air. He visited frequently throughout his life and spent many summers at Fort House.

The building is set on top of the cliffs, with breathtaking views of both the town and the sea, and is thought to have been the inspiration for Bleak House. It’s since been renamed Bleak House and is now a boutique hotel and wedding venue.

The town has plenty of attractions for the modern visitor. Dickens fans can learn about the man himself at the Dickens House Museum and the nearby Crampton Tower Museum is a fascinating museum looking at the life of a local railway designer. Just north of the town is the North Foreland Lighthouse.

Broadstairs Folk Week (10-17 August) is a huge celebration of folk music and creative arts (photo: Manu Palomeque)Broadstairs Folk Week (10-17 August) is a huge celebration of folk music and creative arts (photo: Manu Palomeque)

Built in 1691, it stands on a promontory of the nearly perpendicular cliffs. One of the last lighthouses to be automated, it continues to safeguard shipping and seafarers to this day. The cottages at its base, which once housed the lighthouse keepers, are now holiday cottages.

Blue Flag Awards 2018

England’s cleanest beaches were revealed earlier this year. Handed out by Keep Britain Tidy, the prestigious Blue Flag Awards began in 1987 when just 12 beaches across the country were deemed worthy of the accolade. This year Kent alone scored 10 winners, with Thanet being home to six of them.

The Boathouse gift shop is housed in the old lifeboat station (photo: Manu Palomeque)The Boathouse gift shop is housed in the old lifeboat station (photo: Manu Palomeque)

These winning beaches are all clean, safe and meet the highest environmental standards, as well as the tough international bathing water quality standards. Blue Flag beaches also have to run a minimum of five educational activities to make people aware of the importance of looking after the natural environment.

Broadstairs is the perfect base for exploring Minnis Bay, West Bay, St Mildreds, Botany Bay, Stone Bay and the newly awarded Margate Main Sands.

Joss Bay, which is popular with surfers, has been stripped of the rating it enjoyed last year, although it hangs on to its Seaside Award. Although Broadstairs’ main beach, pretty Viking Bay, doesn’t have the accolade, it’s still a superb place to take children and has golden sand and a safe tidal pool. There are all sorts of seasonal rides and entertainment, as well as water sports.

The Beach BoutiqueThe Beach Boutique

Shopping and eating

Think retro seaside fun rather than a shopping mecca but there are still plenty of little independent stores to browse, including La De da Boutique, The Beach Boutique, Arrowsmiths, Sweet Yesterdays and Card Shack. Out-of-town centre Westwood Cross takes care of all the big-brand shopping.

When it comes to eating out there’s everything from traditional fish and chips to fine dining. Some to try include Stark, Wyatt & Jones, Aqua 43, Reef, The Yarrow, Taylors, Samworth & Mee, Restaurant 54 and The Greek. For lighter snacks, visit Kafeine Coffee Shop or Bessie’s Tea Parlour.

There are some great little places for a drink too, with the fabulous Houdini’s Magic Bar winning the newcomer of the year category in our Kent Life Food and Drink Awards 2017. And if micropubs are your thing, don’t miss the 39 Steps Brewhouse, The Four Candles, The Chapel, Mind The Gap and Yard of Ale.

Events

Broadstairs Folk Week (10-17 August). It’s a huge celebration of folk music and creative arts, which attracts fans from all over the country and involves more than 500 events at various venues across the town. This year the highlights are set to include workshops, children’s events and concerts from the likes of Kiki Dee and Carmelo Luggeri, Forest of Fools and Tankus The Henge. There’s a festival campsite in the grounds of Upton School and tickets can be bought for either separate events or the whole festival. Visit www.broadstairsfolkweek.org.uk

Broadstairs Autumn Food Festival (28-30 September). Held in Victoria Gardens and on the seafront promenade, the festival will include more than 100 stalls of regional produce, along with cooking demonstrations, a vintage tea parlour and entertainment.

Other annual events include the Spring Food Festival, held in April, and the world-famous Dickens Festival, held each June.

Postcard from Broadstairs

My name is Sally Proudfoot and I am the owner of The Beach Boutique, which opened in November last year. I stock chic, bohemian, stunning beachwear and casual daywear. I cater for all shapes, sizes and ages – everyone is beautiful and I like to make everyone feel confident. My amazing kaftans are my favourite, full of poms-poms, fringing and tassels. Customers say the clothing in the shop is very ‘Ibiza’ with all the bright colours.

Previously I owned a successful tanning and beauty salon in Essex and at weekends I spent my time at my apartment in Broadstairs – where I decided I would semi-retire full time. However after a few months my mind was ticking and I had noticed a gap in the market. So with my business head now firmly back on I set to work creating this funky boutique with grey washed paint floors, chandeliers and sparkly glitter mirrored furniture.

I find Broadstairs a very calming place to be and I am lucky to be able to work in such a wonderful environment. The locals are so friendly and there is a real sense of community. I love Joss Bay, which I have been visiting from a very young age.

My favourite restaurant is Wyatt & Jones, the food is British and cooked to perfection, and Rook’s the butcher is a must for pies and pasties. My dad would be very disappointed if we didn’t stop there before our trip to the beach. Serene Hair and Beauty salon perform the best treatments and the perfect bouncy blow dry. And of course no trip to Broadstairs is complete without an ice cream from Morelli’s Gelato.

More from Out & About

Wherever you go in Kent you'll find people just like us pounding the streets, parks and waterways. So why are we all running?

Read more
May 2019

Kent has a wealth of beautiful gardens to visit and throughout the open garden season you'll find an array of stunning choices. Here's a selection of our favourites

Read more
April 2019
Thursday, May 9, 2019

Kent has many villages that exude historical charm and a traditional village atmosphere beloved by locals and visitors. Here we pick 10 of the prettiest to explore

Read more
Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Whether it's a castle, stately country manor house or seafront hotel, Kent has the perfect venue

Read more
May 2019

Close neighbours, one ancient, one modern - meet the very different West Kent neighbours

Read more
May 2019

With its quirky shops, Norman castle, ancient cathedral and riverside setting, even Charles Dickens would agree it doesn't get much better than historic Rochester

Read more
Monday, April 29, 2019

Kent is not only home to many stunning beaches but also has some of the safest and cleanest in the country, many with prestigious Blue Flag status

Read more

From a gentle stroll to admire the flowers to expert-led walks, there's something for every May garden fan to enjoy

Read more
May 2019

Margate has one of the closest sandy beaches to London, it's been packing in the day-trippers for centuries and now boasts added cultural regeneration

Read more
May 2019
Thursday, April 25, 2019

We have selected 12 of the grandest historic stately homes with stunning gardens in Kent to visit

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory
Kent Life Food & Drink awards. Open for entries.

Subscribe or buy a mag today


subscription ad


Follow us on Twitter


Like us on Facebook


Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search

Most Read

Latest from the Kent Life