Sunning itself on the coast north of Kent, Thanet has attracted visitors for centuries. Margate became Britain’s first seaside resort in 1736 and pioneered the world’s first donkey rides around 1780.
While Georgian and Victorian homes and hotels were built, Ramsgate in particular enjoyed the royal patronage of kings and queens, even charging the elegant middle classes to walk along its promenade. As the crowds left for a vacation abroad and the grandeur of yesteryear faded, Thanet turned to culture and history to reinvent itself. Despite this, of course, the beaches and sunshine remained.
1. Visit the Turner Contemporary website
Since 2011 Margate, the irregular white geometric shapes of The Turner Contemporary, have received a series of exhibitions.
Recently, the Turner Contemporary Gallery hosted an open gallery of 450 exhibits curated by local organizations. This exhibition runs until February 20, 2022. One of the permanent exhibitions is A Man Sculpture by Anthony Gormley. At low tide, visitors can go out on the beach to take selfies with it. At high tide it is submerged under the waves.
2. Vikings Road
The 32-mile bike path takes the historic coast of Thanet where the Saxons, Saints, and Vikings landed. Explore the charming inland villages, too. Pedestrians can cut the driveway into manageable parts, such as the four miles between Dickens House and Turner Contemporary. In Botany Bay, The Stack is the local spot on the white cliffs of Dover.
Although the pedestrians would be fine if they mistakenly claimed to have found 61 barrels of spirits on the beach, notorious Broadstairs Smuggler revenue officer Joss Snelling told.
3. Broadstairs and Dickens
Charles Dickens has been a frequent visitor to Broadstairs for more than two decades. Broadstairs described it as “one of the freshest and freest little places in the world”.
While on vacation in Italy in 1844, he was unmoved and longed for the wonderful sunsets at Broadstairs. Today, the Dickens Museum celebrates the Victorian writer’s association with the Broadstairs as he wrote so much at the Fort House, which was later renamed Bleak House in his honor. The city has hosted the Dickens Festivals since 1937.
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4. Fly Spitfire
At the Spitfire and Hurricane Museum, aspirants can try their hand at gaining the flying skills of flying a Spitfire. Learn the skills that served the “oligarchs” so well in those epic air battles over southern England during the Battle of Britain in 1940. Simulator controls are attached to external displays, embedded in the fuselage.
The simulator is part of an exhibition that takes a look at the Battle of Britain and World War II with some of the exhibits, such as German medals awarded for motherhood, which also show a German perspective. Find the damaged Thermos flask that saved the pilot from fatal shrapnel injuries.
5. Enjoy seafood
Thanet has always been famous for its fish and seafood. Cokes and sweets from the seaside stalls and perfect fish chips from Peter’s Fish Factory.
Now Thanet has become a destination for foodies as well. Menus feature boulabis, crab dumplings, monkfish curry, oysters, tapas dishes and squid tempura. Besides dishes, English wines from neighboring Kent and Sussex make great accompaniments.
6. 1950s Morelli Ice Cream Parlor, Broadstairs
Every morning since 1907, Morelli has been making fresh ice cream, bringing a gelato recipe from southern Italy. Originally, they were selling scoops of their bike and buggy. Mario Morelli opened the Morelli Ice Cream Shop in Broadstairs in 1932.
Currently, the salon retains its iconic 1950s flying awning, original Lloyd Loom chairs and pink leather saloon seats. Organizers say Italian coffee is as good as gelato.
7. Shell’s Grotto, Margit
Since its discovery in 1835, the Shell Grotto has been Margaret’s greatest underground mystery. Visitors descend into a cave housing more than 4.6 million shells of snails, mussels, birds, oysters and scallops.
Some consider 300 square feet of seashell offerings to be Georgian folly but it was a far cry from any significant real estate. Others argue that he could have been a Roman, although scientific analysis of his mortar has not provided any conclusive evidence.
8. The ancient city of Margate
Tracey Emin, Margit’s first artist, returned to her hometown and other artists followed suit. Art lovers wander around Old Town Margate and invite galleries.
Among these narrow streets, an array of shops selling vintage clothes thrive. It’s a place to find vintage comics, vinyl records, and antiques.
9. Thanet’s blue plaques
Thanet has had more than its fair share of historical figures. In Ramsgate you can walk the blue board trail. Surprisingly, the Neyland Rock Shelter on Margate Beach played a role in the production of one of the greatest poems of modern English literature. While convalescing from nervous exhaustion in October and November 1921, TS Eliot wrote his famous lines for waste land “On the sands of Margate / I can call / Nothing without anything.”
At its peak, Dreamland attracted thousands of vacationers from London and beyond. This was a fantasy land of candy floss, ghost trains, exhibition booths, and a roller coaster. After a multi-million pound renovation, Dreamland neon signs shine bright once again contributing to the renovation of Margate.
Disclosure: Visit us sponsored by Visit Thanet.