The 19 best things to do in Broadstairs Kent

Broadstairs is a town on the Isle of Thanet on the east coast of Kent, around 80 miles from London. Known for its Victorian seafront, it has been attracting holidaymakers for over 150 years. 

There are plenty of things to do in Broadstairs.

The town is a charming little place with streets lined with cafes and tea rooms, small independent shops and the obligatory seaside gift shops. You also have a choice of several beautiful sandy beaches to relax on, coastal trails to walk along, and fascinating museums to visit.

And if you’re a fan of the author Charles Dickens, you’ll love it here.

Add in plenty of seafood restaurants and cafes where you can grab some traditional fish and chips, and a famous historic Italian ice cream parlour, then Broadstairs is the perfect day out at the seaside.

Read on for my pick of the 19 best things to do in Broadstairs.

Things to do in Broadstairs

Relax by the sea

If you want to spend your time relaxing by the sea, Broadstairs is an ideal place to visit.

The beach and sea in Viking Bay in Broadstairs
Viking Bay beach

Viking Bay beach is the main beach: a beautiful stretch of sand that arcs around to a small jetty at the end and named after the Vikings who once landed here. It is lined with colourful beach huts and has a cliff-top promenade behind it.

Viking Bay Beach with cliffs and houses behind
Viking Bay beach

The bay is just a short walk down from the town and is the perfect spot to spend time on a sunny day during the summer months: take a picnic, sit on the sand, and paddle in the water to cool down.

There are also other beaches nearby. Louisa Bay, another sandy beach near Viking Bay, is great for children: at low tide, there are rock pools to clamber around in where you can see a variety of marine life.

Past the jetty is Stone Bay. Overlooked by white cliffs, it can be a quieter spot than Viking Bay which can get pretty busy in summer.

And then there’s Joss Bay. This is around a mile and a half away (about a 30-minute walk or a few minutes by bus). Another sizeable sandy beach backed by cliffs, you can swim and surf here. There is also a cafe and toilets.

Fossil hunt at Botany Bay beach

Nearby Botany Bay is another picturesque spot. It’s less than 3 miles from Broadstairs, so you can either walk along the coastline or catch a bus to a nearby stop.

This bay is more dramatic. It’s also sandy but overlooked by craggy white chalk cliffs with huge rock stacks along the shoreline that you can walk around and explore.

The geological structures here also make it an ideal place for fossil hunting. It’s well worth a visit if you’re in the area.

Some of the rock stacks on the beach at Botany Bay. A visit here is one of the top things to do in Broadstairs
Botany Bay

There’s a hotel here (the Botany Bay Hotel) on top of the cliffs where you can stop for a drink and marvel at the views.

Learn about Charles Dickens at The Dickens House Museum

If you’re a fan of Charles Dickens, then you’ll love Broadstairs. He regularly visited in the mid-19th century, calling it “Our English Watering Place”. As a result, the town influenced some of his most famous works.

The Dickens House Museum is a must-see while you’re here and one of the top things to do in Broadstairs. Located in the house which inspired the home of one of the characters in his novel David Copperfield, the museum offers a fascinating insight into the writer’s life and work.

The exhibits you can see on a visit here include letters and personal items belonging to Dickens, as well as furniture and art from the Victorian era.

Even if you’re not a die-hard Dickens fan, the museum is well worth a visit for its beautifully preserved historic house and its tranquil seaside setting.

The museum is open every afternoon in the summer. It opens every afternoon between Wednesday and Sunday from April to late October.

See Bleak House

Bleak House is a historic building in Broadstairs and sits on a cliff overlooking the sea.

It was built in the early 1800s and is where Dickens wrote David Copperfield while on holiday in the town. It is also thought by some to be one of the properties mentioned in the novel Bleak House; this led to the house being renamed from its original Fort House.

Unfortunately, in more recent years, Bleak House has ceased being a museum that you can visit to take a peek inside.

However, it’s worth going up to see the magnificent house and take in the beautiful views you are afforded from the cliff top.

Bleak House in Broadstairs
Bleak House in Broadstairs

Experience the annual Dickens Festival

As well as the places you can visit to learn about Dickens, you can also see the annual Broadstairs Dickens Festival, a celebration of the town’s links to the author. It takes place over three days in June.

The festival features a variety of events and activities, many of which are free to attend. It includes readings, talks, workshops, exhibitions, and performances by actors dressed in Victorian costume.

The event is also an excellent opportunity to learn more about Dickens and his work and to have a bit of fun when you visit Broadstairs.

Wander through the town’s gardens

Broadstairs is home to the cliff-top Victoria Gardens, which overlook the sandy Viking Bay.

The pretty manicured gardens run alongside Victoria Parade promenade. They feature a Victorian bandstand and a late 19th-century clock tower aptly crowned with a Viking ship.

The Jubilee clock tower commemorates the Diamond Jubilee for Queen Victoria.

The Jubilee clock tower in Broadstairs
The Jubilee clock tower

The gardens are near the town and are a pleasant place to take a short stroll. Their location means you can get some wonderful views from here out across the English Channel.

In the summer, there is live music every day at the bandstand.

See some art in the local galleries

Even though Broadstairs is relatively small, there are several art galleries here and it’s therefore a good place to visit if you’re an art lover.

The Broadstairs Gallery is on Charlotte Street, just a stone’s throw from the seafront, and displays works of art from both local artists and those from further afield. 

The Little Art Gallery is also not far from the beachfront in Eldon Place. It displays various works, including paintings, handmade jewellery, and ceramics. You can also commission original paintings here.

Nearby is the New Kent Art Gallery and Studio on Albion Street. As well as selling art, this gallery hosts art exhibitions throughout the year.

Learn about local history in the Crampton Tower museum

The Crampton Tower Museum is a small museum in Broadstairs next to the train station. It’s named after Thomas Crampton, a 19th-century engineer who was born in the town.

The museum, part of which is in an old flint tower, has a number of displays associated with railway design and development and Crampton’s work. There are also some old photos and postcards to see that give a fascinating insight into the history of Broadstairs.

And for small children, there is a miniature railway to ride.

Eat traditional British fish and chips (topped off with ice cream!)

No trip to the British seaside should pass without some fish and chips.

You can find delicious, freshly-caught fish and chips in Broadstairs at places like Aqua 43 (said to be one of the best places to get this hearty meal in Broadstairs), and Star of the Sea (TripAdvisor has a list of these and recent reviews).

Sit in, or go for a take-out and eat along the beach looking out to sea.

A box of fish and chips to be eaten on the beach
Fish and chips on the beach!

You could then top this off with an ice cream at Morelli’s, a famous ice cream parlour that has been serving fresh gelato in the town since 1932.

Explore the town on the Broadstairs Town Trail

If you want to walk off some of the food you’ve indulged in on your trip, then there are local walks that you can do.

The Broadstairs Town Trail is a self-guided walk that takes in some of this historic seaside town’s best-loved landmarks and hidden gems. There are 10 boards along the way that provide information on the town’s history.

This trail is a perfect way to see the main sights. You go through the town’s promenade, past the Dickens House Museum and the Royal Albion pub he was said to have frequented, and on to an early 20th-century cinema and town gate.

The walk also takes you down to the harbour, up to Bleak House, past the Crampton Tower Museum, and past historic chapels, houses, shops and guest houses. You can also walk part of the coastal path if you have the time.

If this interests you, you can download information on the trail here.

Walk the Viking Coastal Trail

If you fancy a bit more walking than the town trail will give you, there’s also the Viking Coastal Trail. This is a 32 mile trail that runs along the coastline in Broadstairs as well as the nearby seaside resorts of Margate and Ramsgate.

It also takes you to inland areas, although you can obviously choose how far you want to go according to the time you have available and what you want to see (e.g. this route takes you along 8 miles of coastline between the three towns).

As it is mainly traffic-free, the trail is a great cycling route, and there are plenty of stops along the way to rest and grab some refreshments.

Indulge at the Broadstairs Food Festival

The Broadstairs Food Festival bills itself as “a celebration of food and drink”. It is held twice a year – the first over the Easter weekend and then in late September/ October. It’s a great way to sample different produce and to try before you buy.

In 2022, the festival showcased local wines, spirits, and juices, cakes, cheese, pickles, craft beer, and fudge. There were also stalls with homewares, as well as vendors serving hot food such as curries, Mexican food, burgers, and crepes.

If you’re a foodie and thinking about visiting Broadstairs during these months, try to coincide your visit with the festival dates as it’s bound to be a fun day out. You can get information on the 2023 festival here.

Get creative at the Broadstairs Folk Week

If the creative arts are more your thing, you could visit the town during its folk week.

This takes place every August and hosts a large variety of events, some of which are free. These include dance and music events, talks and poetry readings, children’s theatre performances, and arts and crafts activities.

These all take place throughout the town at various local venues, as well as in the gardens and at the bandstand. It’s a great vibrant atmosphere for everyone, young and old.

Play some mini golf

Lillyputt Mini Golf is a great place to head to for some fun if you’re in Broadstairs for a family holiday, especially if it’s a fine sunny day (other family activities include the local amusement arcades).

The golf course is located between Viking Bay and Louisa Bay and has a small course set in pretty gardens. There is a Tea Garden Cafe with outdoor seating where you can relax after your round.

Surf the waves

If you’re looking for a spot to surf, Broadstairs is a popular place. Several beaches in the town offer good waves for surfing, and there are also several surf schools in the area.

These include the Kent Surf School, based in Viking Bay. You can book surfing and Stand up Paddleboarding lessons and go out on boards or kayaks with instructors who will take you for a tour around the coastline.

Alternatively, you can hire equipment from the school, including surf boards and kayaks.

There is also the Joss Bay Surf School nearby.

Walk around St. Peter’s Village

St. Peter’s Village is an area within Broadstairs that’s also worth visiting. There are old historic buildings here, as well as the beautiful 12th-century St. Peter’s Church.

If you want to visit the village, you can book a tour with local volunteers who will show you around dressed in costume and provide information and presentations on the area’s history.

The route is less than a mile long and takes around two and a half hours to complete. It includes a refreshment break.

Click here for more information on the St Peter’s village tour.

Get festive at the Christmas market 

This is one of the main attractions in Broadstairs if you visit in late November/ early December.

The town has a fayre selling food and gifts, as well as a Santa’s grotto for the children to visit. It’s the perfect place to hunt for Christmas gifts and to get into the festive spirit. Click here for more information on the festive activities.

Take a day trip 

There are a number of interesting places within easy reach if you fancy a day out from Broadstairs.


Margate is very close and offers a variety of things to do on a day trip. You can also walk it as part of the Viking Coastal Trail, a walk of around 6 miles.

The town has a sandy beach and promenade stretching alongside the seafront. Attractions include Dreamland, an amusement park with vintage rides and a ghost train, waltzers, and a big wheel.

There’s also the Shell Grotto Margate Museum. Millions of seashells decorate 70 feet of an underground grotto here. It’s a fascinating sight and really something to see. A museum provides information on its discovery and how the collection is conserved. 

And on the seafront, you’ll find the Turner Contemporary Gallery. As its name suggests, this is a contemporary art gallery, named after JMW Turner who had close connections with Margate.


The historic city of Canterbury is around 19 miles away from Broadstairs, a journey time of around half an hour by train.

It has the magnificent 11th-century Canterbury Cathedral, home to the shrine of Thomas Beckett, who was murdered inside in the 12th century.

There is also the Canterbury Roman Museum, where you can learn more about the Roman influence on England. And for art lovers, there’s the Beaney House of Art and Knowledge.

The city has a lovely old town area with small pretty alleyways and medieval buildings. You can pop by to see the Crooked House (now a second-hand book shop), as well as St. Martin’s Church, the oldest functioning church in England.

You can also see the city by taking a boat trip along the River Stour. You’ll get to see some of the city’s beautiful architecture and learn more about Canterbury’s history at the same time. I recommend doing this on a day trip. 

A boat on the river in Canterbury
The river in Canterbury

How to get from London to Broadstairs by train 

It’s easy to get from central London to Broadstairs by train.

Trains run from London St Pancras International and London Victoria. The St Pancras trains are slightly quicker and take between 1 hour and 20 minutes and 1 hour and 40 minutes.

The Margate to Broadstairs train only takes five minutes and runs around three times an hour. From Canterbury, direct trains are less than half an hour in duration and run around twice an hour.

Other ideas for short breaks and day trips in the UK

As you have seen, there are lots of things to do in Broadstairs. It’s an enjoyable place for a day out (or if you want to stay for longer, there are a number of hotels and guest houses here).

If this is your first visit, I hope you enjoy it and I hope my blog post has helped you plan it.

There are also plenty of other places nearby, as well as further afield to consider visiting. Check out some of my other posts for more information:

Similar Posts