A town guide to Ramsgate: What to do, see and eat

PUBLISHED: 16:47 19 August 2019

The former dilapidated pavilion (centre) had been one of the most at-risk Victorian/Edwardian buildings in the land but is now a magnificently restored Wetherspoon pub, The Royal Victoria Pavilion on Ramsgates Harbour Parade (photo: Manu Palomeque)

The former dilapidated pavilion (centre) had been one of the most at-risk Victorian/Edwardian buildings in the land but is now a magnificently restored Wetherspoon pub, The Royal Victoria Pavilion on Ramsgates Harbour Parade (photo: Manu Palomeque)

Manu Palomeque 07977074797

There’s a truly continental feel to this regal coastal town. With plenty of historic sites to explore and healthy outdoor activities to enjoy, let’s take a tour of Ramsgate

As one of the closest towns to mainland Europe, Ramsgate rapidly developed from a quiet fishing village into a busy port. During the town's heyday, in the 19th century, it was one of the most fashionable and upmarket seaside resorts in the country and still boasts fine Georgian, Regency and Victorian architecture.

It was so highly thought of, particularly by nobility, that it became home to the only Royal Harbour in the country. Granted the unique title by George IV in 1821, it was later a favourite of Queen Victoria, who stayed in what is now the town's Albion House Hotel to recover from illness.

Many visitors head straight for the harbour and adjacent marina to gaze at the yachts, and the excellent Maritime Museum is a great place to start if you're keen to learn about the area's seafaring heritage. The busiest times of year for the harbour are undoubtedly during the Ramsgate Week sailing regatta each July, and December, when the boats put on a superb display of Christmas lights.

Cliff Arcade has a truly continental feel (photo: Manu Palomeque)Cliff Arcade has a truly continental feel (photo: Manu Palomeque)

If you're keen to get on the water yourself, there are boat tours, fishing trips, seal spotting and visits to the offshore windfarm. The nearby Goodwin Sands have recently been designated a Marine Conservation Zone, expanding Britain's so-called 'Blue Belt' of protected habitats.

Although its cross-channel ferry terminal closed in 2013, the commercial Port of Ramsgate deals with huge amounts of freight each year and there have been various attempts to reopen the port to ferry passengers. Most recently, with ferry plans falling though, a feasibility study has been commissioned to consider both that option and a suggested masterplan for the regeneration of the 32-acre site.

With superb beaches and a focus on outdoor activities, it's no surprise that Ramsgate is a popular centre for surfing, cycling and sailing, and in recent years it has become a nationally important site for kitesurfing. The final round of the British Freestyle Kitesurfing Championships will take place in Ramsgate on 24-25 August.

The bustling harbour of this regal coastal town is always fascinating (photo: Manu Palomeque)The bustling harbour of this regal coastal town is always fascinating (photo: Manu Palomeque)

Both Ramsgate Main Sands and Ramsgate Western Undercliff beaches were Seaside Award winners this year, with clean, safe water for swimming.

Due to its proximity to Europe, Ramsgate has long played an important part in defending the country. It was one of the main embarkation points for soldiers during the Napoleonic Wars and was the main harbour used by the 'Little Ships' during the evacuation of Dunkirk.

Marking its 80th anniversary this year, the Ramsgate Tunnels attraction has recently been upgraded with new experiences and a new vintage-themed café to encourage more visitors to explore the wartime shelter.

Designed to house up to 60,000 people during the air raids that plagued the south east during the Second World War, the site recreates what wartime life underground would have been like.

Ramsgate still boasts fine Georgian, Regency and Victorian architecture (photo: Manu Palomeque)Ramsgate still boasts fine Georgian, Regency and Victorian architecture (photo: Manu Palomeque)

A special 1940s event was held to celebrate its milestone in June, with members of the public treated to a Dad's Army style variety show outside the tunnels and anniversary tours below ground. A 'Moaning Minnie' air raid siren was even heard across the town to mark the occasion.

One of Ramsgate's most famous former residents has recently been honoured too. A bronze finish bust of Vincent Van Gogh was unveiled in Spencer Square in June by the renowned sculptor Anthony Padgett. One of seven busts he made of the artist, they have each been gifted to towns around Europe which were important to Van Gogh during his lifetime. He lived and worked in Ramsgate in 1876, spending a happy summer teaching at a boy's school in Spencer Square itself.

Zest Cafe and Bar, RamsgateZest Cafe and Bar, Ramsgate

While exploring the town, be sure to visit the Italianate Glasshouse in King George VI Park. Now a charming tea room, the glasshouse dates back to 1832 and belonged to the now demolished East Cliff Lodge. Filled with beautiful plants, it really is a treat for garden lovers.

Shopping and eating

Browse a few of Ramsgate's independent stores like The Saltworks, Nice Things, Vinyl Head Records, Ramsgate Thrift Store and the enormous Petticoat Lane Emporium.

The Military Road arches are home to a number of quirky small businesses, including Something Fishy art gallery, Arch 20 studio and gallery, Arch 16 vintage and retro, Ship Shape café, Archive and Coco Latino.

Eat out at places like The Falstaff, Townleys at Albion House, Royal Harbour Brasserie, Il Tricolore, Bon Apetit, CCCP, Flavours by Kumar, Shakey Shakey fish bar and The Empire Room, and there are plenty of cafés, including Corby's Tea Rooms, The Daily Grind, The Hive, Zest (see below), Eats 'n' Beats and The Home Front.

Have a drink at The Churchill tavern, The Royal Victoria Pavilion, The Hovelling Boat Inn micro pub or The Conqueror alehouse. The town even has its own grassroots independent music venue, the excellent Ramsgate Music Hall.

Postcard from Ramsgate

I'm Tyler and together with Chris we run Zest café and cocktail bar in Ramsgate. We opened about 10 months ago. The concept was pretty simple: we wanted

to make it fun and casual.

I've spent most of my career working in fine dining and celebrity chef restaurants and Chris managed an exclusive nightclub. Neither of us really understood why enjoying great food and drink involved 18 types of fork and a GCSE in French. We took the technical skills we learnt elsewhere and used them to design a street food-style menu with fine dining techniques, creating a place everyone can eat no matter the dietary requirements.

Our cocktails follow the same concept. High-quality spirits, fresh juices and fresh ideas. We make our own syrups, bitters and jams so we've got a lot of freedom when it comes to designing drinks. Our lemongrass martini is a good example - it would be impossible to make with commercially available ingredients.

The business community here is so welcoming, and we actually look forward to visiting the greengrocer or florist because it's like dropping by to say hello to a friend.

Ramsgate itself is gorgeous; one of our favourite things to do on a Sunday after work is throw together an experimental cocktail, pour it in a thermos and take it with us to the beach, cliffs or park.

We've got so much natural beauty here and we try to take advantage as much as possible. I'm also a thrifting addict and the Ramsgate Thrift Store at the top of the High Street is perfect for grabbing some cool quirky pieces.

See the Facebook page here

More from Out & About

Yesterday, 16:49

The easing of lockdown saw a huge growth in paddlesports, with people eager to get some exercise and explore the countryside, safely | Words: Caroline Read - Photos: Manu Palomeque

Read more
Yesterday, 16:42

The original trees that gave this popular town its name are long gone, but it still has a heart of oak. Take a closer look at superb Sevenoaks | Words: Caroline Read - Pictures: Manu Palomeque

Read more
Friday, September 18, 2020

The Greensand Way is one of the prettiest walks in Kent offering amazing views from the ridge right across the county

Read more
Wednesday, September 16, 2020

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
Friday, September 11, 2020

If you love a bit of birding, then you’ll be in seventh heaven on this walk that meanders through the sand dunes and salt marshes and rich habitats of the Sandwich bird observatory

Read more
Tuesday, September 8, 2020

In this strangest of years, the changing of the seasons is a reassuring constant. Let’s embrace the start of autumn | Words: Emma Ward - Photos: National Trust Images

Read more
Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Heritage Open Days is back – with an emphasis this year on discovering previously overlooked green spaces | Words: Francesca Baker - Photos: courtesy of Heritage Open Days

Read more
Friday, September 4, 2020

Setting off from the beach at St Margaret’s, prepare to be amazed at the feast of delights that will unfold before you as you meander along across cliff tops

Read more
April 2018

Kent is blessed with fine and indeed famous country houses, but over the decades has lost as many of its grander houses as it retains. A new book by Martin Easdown reveals 120 examples that have simply disappeared

Read more
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

Latest from the Kent Life