What to see and do when you visit Margate, Kent

PUBLISHED: 17:07 28 June 2019

Margate seafront (photo: ianwool, Getty Images)

Margate seafront (photo: ianwool, Getty Images)


From an underground, shell-covered cave to one of the world’s smallest theatres, Margate has so much to see and do. We have gathered some great things to do when you visit

- Turner Contemporary


The striking exterior of the Turner Contemporary is immediately recognisable and stands over the town's Main Sands. The building was designed by David Chipperfield Architects, the site being chosen as a nod to the eponymous artist who stayed there when visiting in the 19th century. It is the biggest gallery space outside of London and draws many eager visitors for its exciting exhibitions.

Entry is free but there are many events taking place throughout the year including talks with artists, hands-on workshops, live music and film screenings. Check online for current and upcoming exhibitions.

Other galleries and museums: Pie Factory, Margate Museums, Walpole Bay Hotel, Hornby Visitor Centre

- Shell Grotto

Grotto Hill

Made up of millions of shells arranged in intricate patterns, the mysterious Shell Grotto is an unusual place to spend an afternoon. Its unexplained origins only add to the appeal of this underground cavern. It was opened in 1838 by James Newlove who stumbled upon a hole in the ground and sent his son in to investigate. When his son Joshua emerged with a wild story about a 2,000 square foot shell mosaic, Newlove's life was never the same again. Some historians have theorised that it was built as a religious temple or built by the Knights Templar.

The grotto is open every day from 10am to 5pm until Sunday 27th October 2019 and during winter opening hours are 11am to 4pm on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

- Dreamland

49-51 Marine Terrace

One of the biggest attractions in town is Dreamland, the amusement park that first opened way back in 1880 but went into disrepair after it closed down in the early 2000s. It has since been refurbished several times with its most recent relaunch in 2017.

Discover lots of thrilling and colourful rides, roller skating and stalls selling refreshments with everything from fish and chips, pizza, burgers and ice creams to boozy cocktails and candy floss.

Big names in music make regular appearances on the Dreamland calendar alongside festivals and many other exciting events.

- The Old Kent Market

8 Fort Hill

On the site of what was once the Parade Cinema is the Old Kent Market with a variety of stalls ranging from fresh fruit and vegetables to craft ales and gifts too. Pop-up stalls are a big feature throughout the year so there's always something new to stumble upon.

Evenings often see live entertainment and music events from salsa and belly dancing to house music nights and DJ sets.

- Strokes Adventure Golf

Sea View Terrace

Strokes Adventure Golf is an 18-hole minigolf course that overlooks Westbrook Bay so you can enjoy sea views with your round of golf.

The course is open from 10am to 5pm except Tuesdays in term time. £5 per round for normal tickets, under 12s £4, seniors £4.50 and a second round is half price.

- Margate Main Sands

Marine Terrace

No visit to this seaside town is complete without a few hours spent sunning on the Main Sands with the neon lights of Dreamland and the architecture of the Turner Contemporary behind.

- Walpole Bay Tidal Pool

The Walpole Bay Tidal Pool, reportedly the oldest tidal pool in the UK, is a safe place to enjoy some salty swimming without the fear of being swept out to sea.

At four acres it is almost six swimming pool lengths wide and nearly seven foot down at the deep end. There are also no changing rooms or facilities - this truly feels like wild swimming.

Follow the Walpole Bay Swimmers page on Facebook which aims to build a community of swimmers.

- The Escapement

65 Northdown Rd

Voted one of the best escape rooms in the county and even the country, The Escapement is comprised of three challenges: The Pit, Egyptian Exodus, and Pirates of Polaris.

The "highly immersive" experience will sort friendship groups into personality types as the leader takes charge and the logically minded knuckle down to the task at hand.

Groups of between two and six can play and the experience lasts 90 minutes. There are two difficulty levels with The Pit and Pirates of Polaris at a medium and the more challenging Egyptian Exodus has a hard difficulty level.

- Tom Thumb Theatre

2 Eastern Esplanade

Squeeze into the tiny Tom Thumb Theatre for an evening of music, comedy or theatre. Originally built as a Victorian coach house, it is now one of the world's smallest theatres.

The striking exterior is reminiscent of a Western saloon and the interiors are traditional with red velvet seats and a cute bar for interval drinks.

More theatres: Theatre Royal, Margate Winter Gardens


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