Known as the ‘jewel in Thanet’s crown’, Broadstairs is a charming seaside town on the Kent coast. It is brimming with history, art, and natural beauty. Whether you’re a literature lover, a beach bum, or a foodie, there’s something for everyone in Broadstairs, from historical walks to beach-hopping. Here is my list of the best things to do in Broadstairs.
- Discover Broadstairs’ Rich History
- Hit the Beaches in Broadstairs
- Explore the World of Art
- Enjoy Culinary Delights
- Explore the Gardens and Green Spaces
- Experience Vibrant Festivals and Events
- Other Activities
- Need to Know
Discover Broadstairs’ Rich History
Broadstairs boasts a rich history, particularly in connection with Victorian literary great Charles Dickens.
Pick up a map from the Broadstairs Information Kiosk and go on a stroll through town on the self-guided Broadstairs Town Trail.
You’ll encounter fascinating landmarks, including Dickens House Museum, Bleak House (Dicken’s holiday home), and the Jubilee Clock Tower.
With every step, you’ll be transported back in time, immersing yourself in the town’s history and architecture.
After exploring the town, hop on a bike and cycle the Viking Coastal Trail around the Isle of Thanet.
You’ll pass through many other historical sites along the way, from ancient churches to Roman remains.
Charles Dickens’ Legacy
Did you know that Charles Dickens was quite the fan of Broadstairs? He and his family used to spend summers at Bleak House on the hill above Viking Bay during the 1850s and 60s.
To this day, the town pays tribute to the literary giant through the Dickens House Museum.
The museum is well worth a visit. It’s where you can find some of the author’s treasured possessions, including his writing box and letters, while reminiscing about David Copperfield, Great Expectations, or another of his famous works.
Catch a glimpse of a spectacular print collection by H K Browne (Phiz), one of Dickens’ principal illustrators.
While you can’t tour the inside of Bleak House, it still stands as a testament to the author’s connection to the town.
Don’t miss the Broadstairs Dickens Festival in June, when locals dress up in Victorian costumes to celebrate Dickens’ special relationship with Broadstairs.
Dickens House Museum: 2 Victoria Parade, Broadstairs CT10 1QS
Bleak House: Fort Road, Broadstairs, CT10 1EY
Broadstairs Town Trail / Historic Landmarks Tour
As you walk along the Broadstairs Town Trail, you’ll come across several historic gems that showcase the town’s history.
Stop by the Jubilee Clock Tower, a symbol of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, before heading to the Crampton Tower Museum, which celebrates the life and work of Victorian engineering genius Thomas Crampton.
St Peter’s Village Tour
Join one of the award-winning guided tours of St Peter’s historic village. The tours are free and run by volunteers.
During a tour, you’ll encounter costumed characters from centuries past and learn about the long and fascinating history of the village and churchyard of St Peter’s.
Viking Coastal Trail Adventure
For a more adventurous exploration of Broadstairs’ surroundings, follow the 32-mile Viking Coastal Trail through Margate, Broadstairs, and Ramsgate. You can do it on foot or by bike.
Explore the landscape that inspired Charles Dickens, including Broadstairs’ seven magnificent bays.
Enjoy stunning coastline vistas, including the panoramic view from the chalk cliffs above Louisa Bay.
The trail can be completed in sections, allowing you to tailor the experience to your preferences.
Whichever section of the trail you choose to explore, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular scenery and a plethora of local historical treasures along the way.
Don’t forget to make pit stops at the local cafes and pubs for some well-deserved refreshments.
Turner and Dickens Walks
Another option for exploring the coast is the Turner and Dickens Walk. This four-mile trail between Margate and Broadstairs follows an ancient footpath between St Peter’s and St John’s churches.
This scenic coastal walk offers a unique opportunity to discover the area’s artistic and literary past while taking in the breathtaking views of the sea. Along the way, you’ll pass through archaeologically significant areas of Thanet.
Start your walk on Broadstairs’ promenade outside Dickens House Museum. The walk can be completed in around two hours.
Hit the Beaches in Broadstairs
Looking for some beach bliss? Broadstairs has you covered with its seven beautiful sandy beaches, each with its own unique charm and characteristics.
From the picturesque Viking Bay to the family-friendly Louisa Bay, there’s a sandy retreat for everyone in Broadstairs.
If you enjoy surfing, you’ll love the waves at Joss Bay (which has its own surf school), Viking Bay, and Botany Bay. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a newbie, you can catch some exciting waves and even do some bodyboarding.
Fossil Hunting Fun
For those interested in palaeontology, the stretch of coast between Broadstairs and Kingsgate, especially Botany Bay, offers a prime spot for fossil hunting. The best time to hunt for fossils is during low tide.
Colourful Beach Huts
Broadstairs is a photographer’s paradise. Apart from stunning coastal views, nothing can be more Instagram-worthy than the quirky beach huts that line the shores of Viking Bay and Stone Bay.
These brightly coloured huts add a whimsical touch to the beautiful seaside, making for a perfect backdrop for your holiday memories.
You won’t want to put your camera down!
Explore the World of Art
Broadstairs offers a vibrant art scene with numerous exhibitions throughout the year.
Many local galleries, located mostly around Viking Bay, showcase a variety of art styles and pieces by both local and international artists.
If you are an art lover, you’ll enjoy gallery hopping in Broadstairs.
Immerse yourself in a world of colour, texture, and creativity by visiting The Broadstairs Gallery, The Little Art Gallery, New Kent Art Gallery, and Kent Coast Gallery and Studio.
You’ll find anything from fine art, photography, prints, and ceramics to watercolour masterpieces from both established and emerging artists.
The Broadstairs Gallery: 10 Charlotte St, Broadstairs CT10 1LR
The Little Art Gallery: 1 & 2 Eldon Place, off The Parade, Harbour St, Broadstairs CT10 1NA
New Kent Art Gallery and Studio: 49a Albion St, Broadstairs CT10 1NE
Kent Coast Gallery: Tempest House, 15 Grosvenor Rd, Broadstairs CT10 2BT
Enjoy Culinary Delights
No visit to Broadstairs would be complete without indulging in some of the town’s culinary delights.
From traditional British fish and chips to creamy Italian ice cream, you’ll be in for a treat.
Fish and Chips Feast
You can’t leave Broadstairs without trying traditional fish and chips! Head to Aqua 43 or Star of the Sea for an authentic taste of British cuisine.
Their battered and perfectly crispy fish with fluffy chips are to die for.
Just be careful not to let those pesky seagulls snatch away your scrumptious meal!
Aqua 43: 43 Albion St, Broadstairs CT10 1NE
Star of the Sea:
34 High St, Broadstairs CT10 1LH
Ice Cream Indulgence
Treat yourself to a scoop (or two) of creamy Italian ice cream at Morelli’s Gelato.
This legendary ice cream parlour has been serving authentic Italian gelato in Broadstairs since 1932, making it a timeless staple in the town.
With flavours ranging from classic vanilla to adventurous mango sorbet, you’re sure to find the perfect treat to satisfy your sweet tooth.
What sets Morelli’s Gelato apart is not only the quality of their ice creams but also a nostalgic retro-inspired décor and old-world charm.
Morelli's Gelato: 14 Victoria Parade, Broadstairs CT10 1QS
Memorable Dining Experience
Head to Whyatt and Jones, located on the seafront, for a taste of modern British cuisine with a twist.
This elegant restaurant offers locally sourced ingredients and seasonal produce. All their dishes are both visually stunning and bursting with flavour.
The Tartar Frigate, a historic pub and restaurant with a sea view, is an excellent choice for a delightful selection of traditional British dishes.
For a true taste of Broadstairs, pair your meal with a locally brewed ale.
Last but not least, The Chapel is perfect for an intimate dining experience. Located in the Grade II listed former St Mary’s Chapel, this quirky bar is also a second-hand bookshop.
The Chapel offers a traditional Kentish menu.
Whyatt and Jones: 23-27 Harbour St, Broadstairs CT10 1EU
Tartar Frigate: Harbour St, Broadstairs CT10 1EU
The Chapel: 44/46 Albion St, Broadstairs CT10 1NE
Explore the Gardens and Green Spaces
Broadstairs has a number of green spaces and gardens for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the town.
From the popular Victoria Gardens to small landscaped garden areas, you can find many peaceful and relaxing places for a picnic or a stroll.
Immerse yourself in the serene Victoria Gardens, located in the heart of the town and just a short walk from the seafront.
The swaying palm trees and lush greenery make it a perfect spot not only to unwind but also to enjoy the coastal views. The gardens feature a Victorian bandstand and a 19th-century clock tower built to commemorate Queen’s Victoria Diamond Jubilee.
Other Green Spaces
If you have more time in Broadstairs and want to take a break from the beach, consider visiting Pierremont Park or Balmoral Gardens.
Victoria Gardens: Victoria Parade, Broadstairs CT10 1QS
Pierremont Park: High St, Broadstairs
Balmoral Gardens: 32 Albion St, Broadstairs CT10 1LU, UK
Experience Vibrant Festivals and Events
Broadstairs knows how to celebrate. From the annual Broadstairs Dickens Festival to the Broadstairs Folk Week, there is something going on in this bustling town all year round.
Broadstairs Dickens Festival
Step back in time and immerse yourself in the world of Charles Dickens at the annual Broadstairs Dickens Festival.
It is usually held in June and celebrates the life and works of the famous writer. During the festival, many events are held throughout the town, including Dickensian plays, parades, concerts, fairs, and even bonnet competitions.
Whether you’re a die-hard Dickens fan or simply curious about the town’s literary history, the Broadstairs Dickens Festival offers a one-of-a-kind experience.
Broadstairs Food Festival
For food lovers, the Broadstairs Food Festival is a must-visit event. The festival showcases the best local food, drink, and produce.
Prepare to sample mouthwatering dishes, explore new flavours, and indulge yourself in the culinary delights of Kent and the neighbouring counties.
Broadstairs Folk Week
Enjoy a week-long celebration of folk music, dance, and crafts.
The Broadstairs folk festival is known for its lively atmosphere, with street performers, jam sessions, parades, workshops, and pub gigs taking place around the town.
On top of its history, art, beaches, and food, Broadstairs has much more to offer.
If you want to have some light-hearted fun, why not try your hand at mini-golf or watch a film in a cosy cinema? There’s never a dull moment in Broadstairs!
Put your skills to the test at Lillyput Minigolf, a championship-designed, heritage course on Victoria Parade. With a 13-hole course and a charming setting, this mini-golf experience is a fun way to spend an afternoon in Broadstairs. After your game, enjoy a bite or a cup of tea in a lovely nearby café or tea garden.
Lillyput Minigolf: Victoria Parade, Broadstairs CT10 1QL
If the weather is not up to scratch, you can still have a great time at the charming and independent Palace Cinema, which screens the latest arthouse films.
Palace Cinema: Harbour St, Broadstairs CT10 1ET
Need to Know
Broadstairs boasts a rich history and is steeped in literary heritage.
Imagine strolling along the same picturesque streets that inspired Dickens’ timeless novels.
The town’s sandy shores cater to all tastes, and the warm and welcoming atmosphere of Broadstairs is an experience in itself.
Broadstairs has its own railway station, located just a few minutes’ walk from the town centre.
Trains from London St Pancras International station to Broadstairs run regularly, and the journey takes approximately an hour and a half. Trains also run from other major cities and towns across the UK, including Canterbury, Dover, and Ashford.
Several local and regional bus services operate in and around Broadstairs. National Express buses run from London Victoria Coach Station to Broadstairs. The journey takes approximately two hours and forty minutes.
Where to stay
The Royal Albion Hotel is a charming hotel situated near the heart of the town and the scenic seafront promenade. With a rich history of hosting esteemed guests like Charles Dickens, the hotel offers an exceptional accommodation experience. It features elegantly designed contemporary rooms with a sea view and a hearty full English breakfast.
The Bay Tree Hotel is conveniently located opposite Stone Bay beach and features colourfully painted and comfortable bedrooms, a lovely garden, and a terrace. Its on-site restaurant serves the best of British cuisine and a full English breakfast.
Best time to go
If you prefer warmer weather, the summer months of June, July, and August are ideal, with temperatures averaging around 20–23 °C. During this time of year, however, the town is overrun with tourists.
If you prefer a more serene and quiet experience, the shoulder months of May and September are a great alternative. During these months, the weather is often pleasant, with temperatures ranging from 16 to 19 °C.
The winter months of December to February are the coldest and most peaceful in town, with temperatures averaging 6 °C.
Smuggling was a way of life for many people along the Kent coast throughout the 18th and 19th centuries.
Smugglers openly carried weapons, disregarded the authorities, and bullied locals. Joss Snelling (1741–1837), a notorious smuggler and head of the Callis Court Gang, was born in Lanthorn Road in Broadstairs.
If you have been to Broadstairs before, I would love to hear about your experiences! Please feel free to share them in the comments section below.