The tranquil seaside town of Whitstable is a popular weekend destination for London escapees trading in the big city bustle for peace, fresh sea air and delectable seafood. Stroll along promenades and pebbled shores, paddle in the cool waters and try a few of those sweet and briny native oysters for which this town is so well known.
Oysters have been harvested in Whitstable since Roman times, although the industry really flourished in the late 18th and 19th centuries. It went into decline in the 20th century, but has experienced a revival in recent years.
There are several places where you can try these tasty mollusks. Purchase them fresh from the Whitstable Fish Market or at the famous Wheelers Oyster Bar. Better yet, plan your visit for the July Oyster Festival when they are served at restaurants, bars and stalls throughout town.
A pleasant way to see Whitstable is on foot. Amble along the main stretch of West Beach and continue east to Tankerton Slopes where pastel-colored beach huts line the shore. If the tide is low, walk along the Street, a strip of shingle that extends into the water and offers good views of the town. Another good trek is the coastal Saxon Shore Way.
Rent a bike to explore farther afield. Cycle along the Crab and Winkle Way following the old rail course from Whitstable to Canterbury. The route first carried Victorian tourists here and passes through an area of ancient woodland.
Back in town, tour the Whitstable Museum and Gallery. Exhibits are devoted to local topics, including the oyster industry and famous former residents such as the actor Peter Cushing. He starred in several horror movies and the original Star Wars. Wander the town center where old-fashioned shops, retro ice-cream emporiums and characterful pubs add to the town’s appeal.
Whitstable is about a 2-hour drive from London. Regular train services leave from the capital and buses depart from Canterbury. Sample seaside living and mouthwatering seafood at this picturesque resort.
Sea, Friendly People and Bars
Pack a picnic and your swimsuit for a day out on this attractive shingle beach lined with rows of pastel-colored wooden huts.
Watch fishing boats sail in with their catches and savor oysters and other fruits of the sea at this busy working harbor.
Reserve your seat for a captivating drama, comedy or musical performance in this intimate theater, housed in an atmospheric converted church.
Stroll through gorgeous gardens and see how the wealthy elite used to live at this splendid late 18th-century castle.
Discover insights into the oyster trade that put Whitstable on the map and learn about the town’s celebrity residents at this small and fascinating museum.
Visit this grand castle on an island in a lake to see rooms decorated in medieval style, picnic in serene grounds and enjoy entertainment for all the family.