10 charming coastal towns in Kent


I don’t know about you, but I can’t resist the allure of the coast – with its crisp sea breeze, gentle lapping waves, and the promise of fresh seafood. Having lived in the ‘Garden of England’ my whole life, I’m lucky to have easy access to the very best coastal towns in Kent.

As you travel along the coast of South East England, you’ll stumble upon a myriad of picturesque seaside towns, each with their own unique appeal. 

From vibrant art scenes and historic harbours to tranquil beaches and epic cliffs, the best seaside towns in Kent offer a wonderful array of experiences. 

Whether you’re a local looking for adventures close to home or a visitor to seek out the loveliest coastal spots in Kent, I’ve got you covered with my guide. 

In this article, I’ll share my favourite coastal towns in Kent. I’ll also include my pick of the best things to do in each and how accessible they are from London, in case you’re planning a coastal day trip from the city. 

Author Bio: Jessie Moore

Jessie Moore is a luxury travel expert with years of experience travelling the world to find the best destinations, hotels and adventures.

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Map of Kent coastal towns

Use my map of Kent coastal towns to picture where each seaside spot is located:

1. Whitstable

Best for: Fresh oysters

Train from London: 1 hour 15 minutes

Where to stay: The Marine

Whitstable Oysters

Where maritime heritage meets contemporary cool, you’ll find Whitstable on the north coast of Kent. 

Whitstable is perhaps most famous for its oysters, celebrated every July with the famous Whitstable Oyster Festival. 

But the appeal of this Kent seaside town extends far beyond its shellfish – personally, I can’t stand the slimy molluscs! 

This is a town that’s oozing with charm, from the colourful beach huts that line the pebbled beaches to the bustling harbour that buzzes with activity. 

Local fishermen bring in their daily catch while artists capture the scenic beauty. It’s no surprise then that the town offers an array of independent galleries, shops and seafood restaurants to peruse.

Whitstable Beach Huts

I’d recommend stopping by the Whitstable Museum and Gallery for an insight into the town’s history and love affair with the sea. 

And of course you simply must indulge in some fresh seafood (it’ll be battered fish and chips for me!) on the beach as the waves lap at your feet.

For a dreamy sunset spot, head to Tankerton Slopes for breathtaking panoramic views and gorgeous golden hues as far as the eye can see.

Discover more of the best foodie breaks in the UK.

2. Broadstairs

Best for: Charles Dickens fans

Train from London: 1 hour 20 minutes

Where to stay: Bay Tree Broadstairs


Another of my absolute favourite coastal towns in Kent is beautiful Broadstairs. I consider it to be an underrated gem that deserves far more credit for its impossibly charming character. 

A quintessentially British seaside destination, you’ll find sandy beaches, epic coastal walks, and boutique shops and cafes.

This Kent coastal town also has a deep connection with Charles Dickens, who found inspiration here for many of his novels. 

If you’re a fan of the author, don’t miss the annual Dickens Festival. A celebration of Broadstairs’ literary heritage, the festival brings the town’s streets to life with costumes, readings and performances.

The picturesque Viking Bay can be found at the heart of Broadstairs, with its traditional beach huts and backdrop of cliffs. 

It’s an ideal spot for families, offering safe swimming and a range of fun seaside activities. 

For a taste of culture, the Crampton Tower Museum offers a unique look into the town’s engineering heritage.

While the Dickens House Museum offers a fascinating insight into the love affair between Charles Dickens and Broadstairs.

3. Margate

Best for: A retro feel

Train from London: 1 hour 25 minutes

Where to stay: No.42 by GuestHouse


Margate historically held a bit of a bad reputation, but it has experienced a renaissance and is quite the sought-after spot now. 

Now one of the best seaside towns in Kent, it’s a place where contemporary art and vintage British seaside charm collide.

Art fans will love the Turner Contemporary gallery, where you’ll find cutting-edge exhibitions and gorgeous views over Margate Sands.

The beach itself is a lovely sandy spot that’s perfect for a touch of relaxation on sunny days, or simply a leisurely stroll along the promenade.

The artistic theme is continued throughout the Old Town. There is a labyrinth of lanes to explore, all lined with vintage shops, eclectic boutiques, and cosy cafes. 

For a nostalgic thrill, you simply have to visit Dreamland. A traditional English funfair, it offers classic rides and heaps of entertainment. 

4. Deal

Best for: Postcard-perfect seaside town

Train from London: 1 hour 35 minutes

Where to stay: Waterfront Hotel


Another of the most charming coastal towns in Kent, Deal is a quaint spot that offers unspoiled charm and a strong maritime history.

I love the whimsical feel of Deal thanks to its postcard-perfect town and creative energy. 

For history buffs, a visit to Deal Castle is a must with its well-preserved interiors and sprawling battlements. 

Or if you’re more about soaking up the scenery, I’d recommend taking a leisurely stroll along Deal Pier. 

Away from the seafront, the town’s High Street offers a vibrant atmosphere. Here you’ll find a welcome mix of traditional pubs, independent boutiques and inviting cafes. 

For a bit of a hidden gem, check out the Timeball Tower Museum which showcases Deal’s unique connection to maritime navigation history.

Do check the opening times on their website though, as they are only open on limited days.

5. Folkestone

Best for: Creatives

Train from London: 55 minutes

Where to stay: Burlington Hotel


For the creatives among you, I know you’re going to love the Kent seaside town of Folkestone. 

In fact, despite being a small town, it has the largest urban collection of contemporary art outdoors in the UK.

Don’t miss the Folkestone Artworks where you can explore an impressive collection of public art scattered throughout the town.

The heart of Folkestone’s artsy character is in the Creative Quarter, where the cobbled streets are lined with art studios, galleries and quirky shops.

Art aside, it’s the perfect place to soak up the seaside scenery. See the views from the clifftop promenade, The Leas, or experience the bustling atmosphere at the Harbour Arm promenade.

Here, there are plenty of food stalls, live music, and pop-up events to experience, all run by small, independent businesses. 

Such is the appeal of Folkestone that it has just been named as the best place to live in South East England by The Times

So I’d visit sooner rather than later, before it gets too popular!

6. Herne Bay

Best for: Families

Train from London: 1 hour 25 minutes

Where to stay: The Sleep-Inn Hare

Herne Bay

Victorian elegance meets modern amenities at this Kent seaside town, which I’d recommend first and foremost for families.

Herne Bay’s seafront is a delightful mix of old and new, from the classic bandstand hosting regular concerts to the children’s play area. 

One of the town’s most recognisable landmarks is the picturesque pier that offers gorgeous views of the coastline and beyond. 

Colourful huts line the beaches and the seemingly endless miles of shingle shores are the perfect place for family outings and lazy days soaking up the sun. 

For those interested in history – or for when the weather isn’t so sunny – the Herne Bay Museum and Gallery is worth exploring to learn more about the town’s history.

Herne Bay offers that timeless British seaside character, although I would argue that it lacks some of the charm and appeal of other Kent coastal towns like Folkestone and Whitstable.

Discover more of the best things to do in Kent.

7. Ramsgate

Best for: Sandy beach

Train from London: 1 hour 15 minutes

Where to stay: Albion House


It may not be as trendy as Margate (yet!) but Ramsgate is a real gem of a Kent coastal town. 

Ideal for a classic day out at the seaside, you’ll find gorgeous coastal views, heaps of history and plenty of fish and chips. 

Yachts and fishing boats fill the marina at The Royal Harbour (in fact, it’s the only Royal Harbour in England), and there’s a distinctive continental feel here. 

Independent cafes and eateries spill onto the waterfront for the perfect combination of fresh seafood and picturesque views.

In the town itself you’ll discover elegant Georgian and Victoria architecture above ground; while below ground are layers of history in the underground tunnels from WWII.

Oh and I nearly forgot to mention that the beach here is sandy – a rarity amongst coastal towns in Kent!

8. Dover

Best for: Epic scenery

Train from London: 1 hour 50 minutes

Where to stay: Hubert House


Of course Dover is most famous for its iconic white cliffs, which not only offer striking views but also stand as a symbol of resilience and freedom.

The cliffs offer a number of fantastic walks, each of which is dotted with breathtaking viewpoints. 

A visit to the area would not be complete without exploring the mighty Dover Castle.

History enthusiasts will love discovering the Roman lighthouse, the medieval Great Tower and the secret wartime tunnels. 

I personally don’t really consider the actual town of Dover to be particularly charming, but there are a number of interesting museums and emerging eateries to discover. 

Ultimately, I’d suggest visiting Dover if you’re after history, heritage and hiking complete with epic views.

Book a day trip to the White Cliffs of Dover and Canterbury from London.

9. Dungeness

Best for: Otherworldly landscapes

Train from London: N/A


Dungeness is one of the strangest places I’ve visited in the UK. Having attracted many photographers, it’s certainly picturesque – but not in a charming, postcard-perfect kind of way.

The expansive shingled area is punctuated only by abandoned fishing boats and twisted driftwood, and the backdrop of the Dungeness nuclear power station only adds to the surreal scenery.

I’d describe Dungeness as otherworldly and it has an almost eerie feel – I know it doesn’t sound like I’m selling it, but I think it’s such a fascinating place!

Plus, it’s the only desert in the UK which I think is another great reason to visit. 

Aside from the otherworldly landscapes, it’s also a haven for nature lovers. The Dungeness National Nature Reserve comprises rare plants, insects and birdlife. 

10. Sandwich

Best for: A hidden medieval gem

Train from London: 1 hour 30 minutes

Where to stay: Molland Manor House B&B


For a hidden medieval gem and my final pick of the best coastal towns in Kent, I’d recommend stopping by Sandwich. 

It’s located a little inland from the coast but I consider it to be close enough to qualify as a coastal town. 

Another spot that has heaps of history, it’s a well-preserved medieval town that feels a little frozen in time. Think ancient houses, narrow streets and a winding river. 

The result is a town that’s full of charm; simply wandering past the quaint half-timbered houses and cosy cottages is one of my favourite things to do here.

There are also a number of independent cafes and shops to discover, plus keep an eye on the calendar for local markets and events. 

Another appeal of visiting Sandwich is the rolling countryside that surrounds it. I’d recommend heading to Sandwich & Pegwell Bay National Nature Reserve for a real nature hit.

Do you have any favourite coastal towns in Kent? Let me know in the comments below! 

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Jessie Moore
Jessie Moore

Jessie is a luxury travel expert with years of experience travelling the world to find the best destinations, hotels and adventures.

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Want up to 25% off hotels?

Subscribe to my newsletter and get immediate access to my guide on how to save money on flights and hotels. Our weekly emails are filled with adventure inspiration, insider travel tips and exclusive discounts.