Inspiration for holidays in Kent
Kent’s coastal collection
With golden sands and stunning white cliffs, Kent’s coast can boast some of the UK’s best beaches. Whether you want full-on facilities, rock pools to discover, or a more secluded beach for a peaceful stroll, Kent certainly delivers amply.
This town by the sea is noted for its oysters that can be enjoyed at the local restaurants or bought from the fish market at the harbour. Whitstable is a traditional town with a rich maritime history and a shingle beach that even has a pub on it!
Over recent years this port town has seen lots of development and regeneration. It has a sandy beach with a harbour nearby. Rockpools form at low tide, adding to Folkestone’s attraction as a good choice for family days by the sea.
Here you’ll find five of the finest beaches in Kent, some sand, some shingle. These include sandy Dymchurch beach which stretches for over three miles, and Littlestone which is a shingle beach.
A traditional seaside town with an iconic amusement park, Dreamland, that is home to the UK’s oldest wooden roller coaster. This is the town for seaside fun and entertainment. The sandy beach has a tidal pool. Seafood stalls and cafés are just a short walk away.
Ramsgate has a harbour, marina, award-winning sandy beach, history, heritage and clifftops with stunning views. The Blue Flag main beach is a popular stretch of golden sand with restaurants offering al fresco dining and providing a continental feel.
A wander around Broadstairs along the clifftops uncovers seven sandy beaches and bays, some busy with watersports, others more secluded. The town has many Charles Dickens connections and is full of quirky lanes, tiny flint houses and fishermen’s cottages.
If you’re looking for a picture-postcard beach, a long stretch of sand backed by beach huts, then Minnis Bay is the place to be. With a grassed area and benches above the beach, you can relax here and enjoy the sunset views.
Top things to see and do
For a trip to remember: Take the Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch steam railway to Dungeness. The vast shingle landscape of Dungeness and its looming nuclear power station has a post-apocalyptic feel that needs to be experienced. The headland is a national nature reserve with lots of flora and fauna. The beach is the largest expanse of shingle beach in Europe and is dotted with rare plants and desert flowers.
For a day in the city: Head to Canterbury with its ancient walls, cobbled streets and timber-framed houses. There’s also the historic cathedral and St Augustine’s Abbey to explore, or why not take a relaxing trip punting along the river?
For a fun family day out: With over 700 rare and endangered animals Port Lympne Hotel & Reserve is a family adventure like no other. With authentic safari experiences you are transported to Africa and Asia to see animals roaming freely over 600 acres. There’s also a dinosaur park and a choice of places to eat.
For animal lovers: The Big Cat Sanctuary is home to many big cats inclusing tigers, leopards and cheetahs. It’s open on certain days throughout the year or you can book ‘animal experiences’ such as feeding the cats or a photography day.
For a taste of Kent: Featuring the world’s largest collection of Victorian oast houses, the Hop Farm was a major supplier of hops to London breweries in the 19th and 20th centuries. Now a family visitor attraction, you can still see the oast houses and learn about the history of hop growing.
For a little tipple: Chapel Down Winery, close to Tenterden, is set in 22 acres, recognised as an Area ofOutstanding Natural Beauty. Visitors can explore the grounds, herb garden and vineyards, or book a wine-tasting experience tour.
For history: Set atop the famous white cliffs, the Battle of Britain Memorial is open throughout the year and free to enter for those wishing to show their respects to the heroes of the Battle of Britain.
For a taste of the high life: Penshurst Place and Gardens is an authentic medieval stately home with 11 acres of formal gardens, along with a vast parkland offering lakes and scenic walks.
For shopping: For retail therapy with a difference visit the famous Tunbridge Wells Pantiles. This is a beautiful open-air promenade surrounded by original Georgian shop buildings. It houses many independently owned boutiques.
Wandering the white cliffs
If you head to Kent and speak to the locals they’ll happily tell you that, to see the famous white cliffs, you shouldn’t head to Dover as the World War II song by Vera Lynn would suggest, but in fact along the coast between Aycliffe and Capel-le-Ferne.
One of the best places is at Samphire Hoe, a few miles west of Dover.
This is an entirely man-made nature reserve, created from the chalk marl that was excavated for the Channel Tunnel. Twenty years have passed since the Hoe was created and the
site is now a haven for wildlife including rare early spider orchids, birds, butterflies, dragonflies and 200 types of plant.
The dramatic white cliffs setting and stunning views make Samphire Hoe a great place for a stroll and a picnic.
If you head down towards the sea from the car park and walk east along the promenade this will provide the best views of the white cliffs.
Further west, if you walk the coastal path between Folkestone and Capel-le-Ferne, you will be rewarded with stunning views and spectacular sunsets.
Kent's amazing castles
Due to the county’s proximity to France, many of the big defensive castles were built on Kent’s shores. The county abounds with these fortresses, too many to mention here, but we’ve chosen some of our favourites to get you started.
Having protected Kent’s shores for centuries, the mighty Dover Castle is the crowning glory of the White Cliffs. Visitors can venture deep underground into the secret wartime tunnels, climb the Great Tower and explore the medieval interiors.
Built in the 13th century, Hever Castle had a very famous childhood resident – Anne Boleyn. The gardens are award-winning and the historic castle is double-moated. For younger visitors there are two mazes and a boating lake.
Beautiful Leeds Castle is perfect for a family day out. You can enjoy a maze, grotto, falconry displays and punting on the moat. There are 900 years of history here and 500 acres of parkland and gardens to explore. Built on islands in a lake formed by the River Len, this is one very romantic location.
Deal Castle was built by order of King Henry VIII and is among the earliest and most elaborate of a chain of coastal forts, running all the way to Cornwall, that also includes Camber, Walmer and Pendennis castles. If you enjoy cycling, there is a cycle path that links Deal and Walmer castles along the beachfront.
Perched on a picturesque stretch of coastline, Walmer Castle was built during Henry VIII’s reign and has award-winning gardens and woodland. You can explore the castle’s interior and then enjoy and afternoon tea in the Kitchen Garden.
Guarding an important crossing of the River Medway, the imposing fortress of Rochester Castle has a twelfth century keep that is one of the best preserved in England. The castle has endured three sieges and has a complex history of destruction and rebuilding.