10+1 reasons Margate is so obviously one of the best places in the UK 

From its quirky art galleries, the vintage charm of Dreamland and gorgeous sandy beaches, Margate has something for everyone 

National newspaper writers are forever getting themselves into a frenzy about Margate, frequently naming it as one of the best places to live in the country and to be honest I’ve lived in the Caribbean, Australia, Italy and Thailand and this place is something very special. Out of this world!

According rankings published recently in the Times, Margate is the third trendiest place in the UK – beating the likes of Bristol and London. 

On top of that, Margate was also named as one of the south east’s best places to live in Britain 2017 by the Sunday Times. 

Don’t get me wrong it’s got a bit of gnarly cultural pockets but heads up its a fantastic little hidden gem.


Hmm yep not quite as nippy as Brighton with an average of 1h.45min to London and a lot of trains.

House prices and rentals

In a word unbelievably cheap!

Margate Harbour.PNG

From its quirky art galleries, the vintage charm of Dreamland and gorgeous sandy beaches, Margate has something for everyone. The walk around the harbour is ever changing with great food, dricks and local traditional seafood stalls to say nothing of the galleries and yes that amazing light and big huge blue summer sky. 


Here are 11 reasons it really is one of the best places to live in the UK… 

Margate Local History



1. It’s really arty! 


Turner Contemporary And host of Galleries +retro deals 

Margate Turner Contemporary.PNG

The internationally-acclaimed Turner Contemporary art gallery leads the creative charge in Margate with cool individual galleries and studios emerging across the town. 


The Turner brilliantly showcases historical and ultra-modern work, bringing together pieces by JMW Turner, so famously inspired by Margate’s stunning seascapes, and avant-garde local artist Tracey Emin. 

Home of great art – Joseph Mallord William Turner

Turner and Margate

Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775 – 1851), one of the greatest British artists and “the father of Modern art” (John Ruskin, 1843), came to Margate often during his lifetime, to capture the sea, the skies and to see his landlady Sophia Booth.

Having come to the town as a child, Turner became a regular visitor from the 1820s onwards. He declared that “the skies over Thanet are the loveliest in all Europe” and produced a number of works of Margate. Capture a famous Turner sunset. It’s this connection with Margate and Turner’s radical approach to art that was the founding inspiration for Turner Contemporary.

From 20th February 2020, the new issue £20 will feature the artist JMW Turner. A large see-through window with a blue and gold foil on the front depicts Turner Contemporary and the Margate lighthouse, among other elements associated with the artist. 

Read more about Turner’s life and connections with places across the country in this Britain Magazine article

We’ve picked 12 top facts about his connections to Margate and the Isle of Thanet.

Turner was, at the end of his life, Britain’s most accomplished and widely known artist. Even his staunchest critics could not deny the late painter’s enormous legacy. Beyond amassing a personal fortune from six decades of art sales, Turner would leave behind some 300 oil paintings and thousands of watercolors and drawings—a staggering testament to his lifelong compulsion to create. Nearly two centuries later, Turner’s fame has only continued to grow. In a 2005 poll conducted by the BBC, British voters resoundingly selected Turner’s Fighting Temeraire (1839) as the nation’s “greatest painting.” Most recently, in 2016, the Bank of England selected Turner as the first artist to grace the £20 note.

Independent Galleries

And among the cobbled streets of Margate Old Town, you will find a growing number of independent galleries, studios and workshops showcase local and national artists work, with the opportunity to pick up a piece of work. 

Theatre Royal, Margate 

Resort Studios, Limbo and Crate are also home to a collective of creative professionals. 

The town’s Theatre Royal is the second-oldest in the country, while the Tom Thumb Theatre is one of the smallest theatres in the world. 


2. Whoopie! Dreamland!!

It’s home to the world’s oldest operating roller coaster 

Of course Dreamland as a whole is a great asset to Margate. 


The Dreamland site was a salt marsh known as the Mere that was inundated at high tide until 1809 when a causeway and seawall were built. In 1846 a railway terminus was built on the present Arlington site for the South Eastern Railway, followed in 1864 by a further terminus, for the rival London, Chatham and Dover Railway on the site of what is now Dreamland Cinema. The LCDR (under its subsidiary the Kent Coast Railway) completed this terminus in 1866, but no public service was ever offered. The junction faced Ramsgate, so a local Margate-Broadstairs-Ramsgate train service was envisaged.

How many other towns can boast that they have a theme park sitting right on their doorstep? 

Check out the Wiki link as the place has has an amazing history.








3. And has hosted some massive names in music 


Gorillaz perform at Demon Days Festival at Dreamland Margate on 10 June 2017. (Image: Mark Allan) 

The Beatles, Jake Bugg, Foals, The Gorillaz, Twin Atlantic Slaves, Marina and the Diamonds and Chas and Dave (kidding) are all names to have taken to the stage in Margate, to name but a few. 


Winter Gardens, Margate

For more than 100-years Margate’s Winter Gardens have drawn big-name acts, from the Beatles to the Kaiser Chiefs. 

Monday 8 July 1963 Fab 4 Played Live

The Beatles performed at Margate’s Winter Gardens on six consecutive nights, playing to two different ‘houses’ each time.

They performed nine songs: ‘Roll Over Beethoven’‘Thank You Girl’‘Chains’‘Please Please Me’‘A Taste Of Honey’‘I Saw Her Standing There’‘Baby It’s You’‘From Me To You’ and ‘Twist And Shout’.

Beatles play Margate 1.PNG


In the July of that year, the group booked a six-night stint at Margate’s Winter Gardens – maximising their popularity by staging two shows a day.

During their stint there they stayed at the cliff-top Beresford Hotel in nearby Birchington where fans gathered and the band would greet them from the windows.

The group are also known to have frequented the New Inn pub on The Square – now known, perhaps a little predictably, as the Strawberry Fields tearooms.

Manston Spitfire Museum 

Manson Spitfire museum.PNG

Close to the continental coast, Manston has been integral to the defence of the country over the past century.

Manston’s air history dates back to the First World War. At the outset of the war, nearby St Mildred’s Bay in Westgate-on-Sea was used as a landing strip for aircraft.

From September 1939 and the outbreak of the Second World War, Manston was firmly on the front line. In that month No. 3 Squadron, under the command of No. 11 Group Fighter Command, flew Hawker Hurricanes from the airfield.

You can now book to be one of the first to try Kent’s only Spitfire simulator at the Manston Spitfire Museum 



4 fascinating hidden gems in Thanet that are truly one of a kind 

Shell Grotto in Margate 

One of these mysterious secrets comes in the form of Margate’s Shell Grotto. 

Beneath the earth, in a quiet residential street in the town, lies an underground chamber that captures the hearts and imaginations of legions of visitors every year. 

The Shell Grotto consists of a winding subterranean passageway, about 8 feet (2.4 m) high and 70 feet (21 m) in length, terminating in a rectangular room, referred to as the Altar Chamber and measuring approximately 15 by 20 ft (5 by 6 m).

The excavations are entirely underground. Steps at the upper end lead into a passage about 3 feet 6 inches (1.07 m) wide, roughly hewn out of the chalk, which winds down in serpentine fashion until it reaches an arch, the walls and roof of which here onward are covered in with shell mosaic.

The Shell Grotto in Margate was discovered in 1835 

Shell Grotto Margate Kent.PNG


But, in the ultimate mystery, nobody knows when this subterranean work of art was created, or why. 

The Grotto even rivals the awe produced by the nearby Ramsgate Tunnels or the secret caves beneath Primark at Westwood Cross. 


Margate Caves rediscovered

Margate Caves.jpg

 If the Grotto wasn’t enough just up the street are the Margate Caves!!

Exactly how the Caves are discovered is open to conjecture. Land owner Forster’s great granddaughter, speaking a century later, suggested that the gardener “whilst digging, [came] upon a hole which, on investigation, proved to lead down into the Caves…”. Another story includes Forster’s pet rabbits… rabbits that kept vanishing. Keen to solve the mystery, he discovers a small rabbit-sized hole at the foot of a pear tree. When he investigates further the hole reveals a large cave. The story is reported in newspapers around the UK in 1863, the same year a certain Lewis Carroll is writing about another rabbit in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

However they came to light – gardeners or rabbits – Forster takes the opportunity to adapt them to suit his aspirational lifestyle. With the addition of a new stairway, the Caves serve as an ice well and wine cellar and can be used to Forster’s advantage to impress friends and influential local residents.

Perhaps while his father is busy entertaining, a young Charles Frances Forster marks CFF 1808 on the walls in the Caves, leaving his mark here forever.



5. Its Award beach is world class 

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Sun-worshippers enjoy a day on the beach in Margate 

Margate Main Sands is a timeless beach with a tidal pool on the main beach and further down in Walpole Bay Cliftonville, children’s rides and amusement arcades and caters for families who want traditional seaside fun and entertainment. 

And even if the tide is in there is still plenty of beach to make sand castles and plenty of restaurants, bars and seafood stalls are just a short walk away in the Old Town. 



The beach has also achieved the Seaside Award, which rewards beaches in England that achieve the highest standards of beach management. 

The award recognises beaches that have met strict criteria, including safety and cleanliness, including clean sands free of litter and dog fouling, good access with good facilities and water that complies with EC bathing water standards. 


6. And there’s a thriving Cafe culture/foodie scene 

The Buoy and Oyster is the harbor front’s first port of call for sea food lovers. 

From pizza to chicken, Thai, great Indian cuisine, fine dining and cheap eats, Margate’s foodie scene has a lot to offer both locals and tourists alike. 

One of our favourites is The Old Kent Arcade stuffed full of great fresh nibbles including Gluten Free snack bar and stunning big healthy salads or Pizza. 

Picking just two very different – but equally amazing – restaurants in the town highlight the diversity of the food offering in Margate. 

The delicious locally sourced, corn-fed chicken at Roost in Cliftonville is roasted to order with sides of barbeque sauce, crispy chips and rocket is very laid back and casual affair. 

But Margate can also offer diners something a little smarter, in the form of the award-winning Buoy and Oyster. 


For fun loving musicalists try Cliffs in Cliftonville’s Northdown Road. Great spacious cafe with lots of records to browse through – laid back friendly staff.

Thai delights just 200m from NGS Signsmiths! Fab food.

The Bangkok Thai

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7. Great nightlife 

Ziggy’s is Margate’s cool new rooftop bar. 

There aren’t many other places in Kent that can boast such a vibrant nightlife scene. 

Where else will you find a Jamaican themed rooftop bar? Or an array of seafront boozers? 

In an age when the small town pub is a dying breed, Margate nightlife is on the up.

9 stunning coastal walks where you can grab delicious fish and chips on the way 

When out in the town be sure to try Ziggy’s, Sundowners, Kabuki, Gallery and Cinque Ports – just perhaps not all in one night! 


8. The micropubs bring tourists in from all over the country 

Harbour Arms Margate 

Margate offers a thriving – and growing – micropub scene, each with its own individual style and atmosphere. 

These small businesses have gone back to the basics of the pub experience: a friendly, family-run, local watering hole, where you can try specialist ales and ciders. 

Thanet has one of the highest concentration of micropubs, with Margate being partly responsible for this boom. 

The Harbour Arms, Fez, The Two Halves, Ales of the Unexpected, The Tap Room are all cracking places to try. 

Robert Layson, 67, lives in Hertfordshire but comes to Thanet once a month for a few days. 

What draws him back are Margate’s micropubs, its ‘real ale little establishments’. 

Things you need to do with the kids in Kent before they grow up.

“That’s what I come to Margate for, among other attractions,” he said. 


“It’s a phenomena that started in this part of the world and now it’s spread to the rest of the country, to some extent.” 


9. A very funky vibe – AKA Shoreditch-on-Sea!!

Margate’s Old Town is as a truly hip destination 

Margate’s Old Town enjoys in a funky and retro lovers quirky vibe. 

Here chic eateries, galleries, vintage shops and chilled-out cafes rub shoulders with traditional seaside delights: candyfloss stands; fish and chip shops; seafood stalls. 

And nearby the reinvigorated Harbour Arm is home to stylish spots to eat and drink. 

‘There wasn’t much for my family to do at Dreamland and even staff say don’t come until summer when the new rides are here’ 

Just five minutes from the Old Town you will find emporiums of everything antique, old fashioned and unusual at RG Scott’s Furniture Market and Junk Deluxe 

Margate Now.PNG


10. Lots of festivals 

Crowds of people were dancing in the streets during Margate Pride’s first parade in 2016 

Margate plays host to many festivals during the year. 


This year Undercover Festival, By The Sea, Margate Soul Festival, Skagate, Margate Pride, Margate Rock and Blues will all bring live music and a good time to the town. 


+11. The people 

Adrienne Simons, 59, loves the people of Margate 

Speaking to Kent Live earlier this year local Adrienne Simons, 59, said while there are plenty of things she likes about Margate, it’s the people which make it special. 

The people are indeed warm and hearty. It’s a place where there are those that have little and some that are ‘Down From Lundun’ all united by a love of the place. 

Margate has heart and the engagement is the first thing you’ll notice and miss about the place. 

A place more special than just special.