Discover Kent this weekend
There’s only one high-speed train line in the UK and it'll whisk you to beautiful Kent in under an hour and a half from London. But when you’ve cantered around Canterbury, meandered through Margate and day tripped to Dover, you might think you’ve seen it all – but you haven’t!
If you’re in need of some inspiration, then take a look at these hidden gems…
For foodie friends? Try Whitstable
Ok, so London may be all about quirky foodie festivals and innovative restaurants, but when you’ve had enough of mac and cheese toasties and fusion-fried something-or-others then the incredibly fresh food in Whitstable could be for you.
This seaside town is known as a good coastal escape, but only those in the know head to best places for grub. The real gem of Whitstable is, however, its Oyster Festival in July.
The harbour market should be your first stop when you arrive. Sure, there's a bit of a whiff, but you can't get fresher fish and seafood than here. As tempting as it would be to stock up, just remember you’ve got a train ride home… so wait to buy your supper on the way home. If eating is what you’re after, then visit one of the town’s popular fish restaurants. Here’s a secret, they’re just as good as London’s!
Just think, you can eat some amazing food, without the long queues of top London restaurants… count us in! A trip to The Whitstable Oyster Company is a must and for delish oysters served with a side of awesome Insta-opportunities, Wheelers Oyster Bar’s pastel façade is the ultimate spot for kitschy seaside décor and incredibly good food.
Get there: Trains run throughout the day from Kings Cross St Pancras to Whitstable.
For a fun-filled family day? Try Ashford
The beautiful landscape in and around Ashford make it a great, if slightly underrated, choice for a family day out in Kent. Hire bikes and get out and explore this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The Pilgrim Cycle Trail offers a variety of routes across Kent, but Ashford to the Valley of the Great Stour is definitely one of the best. Families might not be able to attempt the full route, but even if you just follow part of it, you'll still get some impressive views in and around Ashford.
The Ashford Heritage Trail is also a great way to explore the area. The hour-long walk takes you past some of the town’s best Edwardian buildings.
To keep the kids entertained, the Rare Breeds Centre is a great choice. Children can get up close to a variety of farm animals, plus there are tractor rides around the park, falconry displays and a pretty garden where tortoises, rabbits, and chickens roam free.
Get there: Trains run throughout the day from Kings Cross St Pancras to Ashford International.
For the fresh sea air? Try Broadstairs
Beautiful Broadstairs is a town in the bottom east corner of Kent, boasting seven sandy beaches and a reliable surf. It's got the traditional British seaside vibe down.
Fancy yourself a bit of a history buff? Visit the Dickens House Museum and nearby Bleak House where Dickens holidayed. The whole area celebrates with a festival in June and the town of Broadstairs is filled with costumed street performers.
Broadstairs has a trendy culture of arts, crafts, and pop-ups with a renowned food festival celebrating the best of local produce. It also fosters a lively folk scene, which comes into its own during Broadstairs Folk Week. Music sessions crop up all over the town!
Get there: Trains run throughout the day from Kings Cross St Pancras to Broadstairs.
For the great outdoors? Try Gravesend
The pretty town of Gravesend is a wonderful day trip from London, with a surprising amount of things to do for couples looking to make the most of the great outdoors.
The nearby Shorne Wood Country Park (that can be reached from Gravesend by bus) offers 300 acres of picturesque forest, wetlands and meadows to explore. Its meandering trails lead to pretty gardens and peaceful fishing lakes with incredible country views.
Back in Gravesend, there are plenty of interesting things to see on a day trip. The charming riverside town’s pretty streets are great for wandering around to spot sailing barges and paddle steamers. The Gravesend Cold War Bunker is one of the town’s main highlights if you want to inject some history into your trip, along with the New Fort Tavern, an 18th-century fort (that hosts a brilliant 1940’s fancy dress festival in September.)
For a dose of culture, be sure to check out the Gurdwara, Europe’s largest Sikh place of worship. Guided tours can be arranged to explore its elaborate interiors. When evening rolls around there's a great choice of date-night dining options – the town’s large Sikh population means that it has an excellent selection of curry houses that are definitely worth checking out.
Get there: Trains run throughout the day from Kings Cross St Pancras to Gravesend.