(Disclaimer: please do not visit Kent until things go back to normal. The post describes a visit from 2019 and belongs to the “Travelling from my sofa” series, where I write about my past travel experiences as a way of coping with our new reality).
Are there any nice beaches near London?
This is a question most Londoners have asked themselves (or the internet), at least once.
If you live in the Big Smoke, I’m sure you’re familiar with the following scenario: on a random summer morning, you wake up and make yourself some coffee. You unlock your phone and check the forecast for the upcoming weekend. To your surprise, it says the weather might be quite nice. You don’t dare to believe it (too good to be true!), but then the day comes, and it’s actually pretty sunny and warm.
Naturally, you feel like going to the beach, but you can’t plan a trip to Málaga in 15 minutes (or drive 5 hours to Cornwall).
As a seasoned Londoner, you probably know that Bournemouth, Poole and Brighton are excellent options if you want to get some “vitamin sea”. I have been there many times myself and I can’t recommend them enough. But if you live in East or South London, there is a great alternative just a train ride away: Botany Bay Beach in Margate.
I had heard about Margate before, from a couple of friends who used to live there, but honestly, they didn’t sell it to me (“it’s ok, I guess”, was one of their helpful comments), so I completely forgot about it until last summer.
On one of those particularly nice days, I decided to google Margate. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I checked the hashtag #margatebeach and #botanybeach on the “recent” section on Instagram (the best way of finding what a place really looks like, in my humble opinion). The pics showed a sandy beach, crystal clear waters and some very Instagrammable spots.
Cesar and I decided to head there with a couple of beach towels, a stack of magazines and some SPF100, not knowing exactly what to expect. Was it going to be really nice or were those pictures we saw extremely photoshopped?
Long story short: we were not disappointed. Botany Bay Beach is gorgeous! The sand is gold, the water is a beautiful blue and the white cliffs make the whole place look quite epic.
We spent a great afternoon laying on the sand, sunbathing and catching up on our reading. We even dipped our toes in the water (we visited in June, so the sea was still pretty cold; we were not brave enough to go for a swim). We also took a lovely walk along the beach.
A perfect day.
So, are there any nice beaches near London? The answer is definitely yes! You should totally give Margate and Botany Bay a chance, once things return to (the new) normal.
Margate’s Main Sands beach is also very pretty. We enjoyed some fish and chips there while looking at the sunset, before heading back home. Just remember to protect your chips from the seagulls!
How to get there
If you drive, the journey would take you around 2 hours from central London. Yet, I’d recommend taking the train instead. Parking can be a bit of a nightmare, particularly during busy periods.
Southeastern runs a direct service from both London Victoria and London St Pancras International to Margate. The tickets start around £10 when you book in advance. The trains can take from 90 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the time of travel and the departure station.
The best thing about taking the train? Margate Beach is just a few meters away from the station! To get to Botany Beach Bay you’d have to take a cab (15 minutes) or walk (around 40 minutes).
Guys, I hope you have enjoyed this last post of London in Translation (part of the “Travels from my sofa” series), and if you liked it, remember to share it with your friends and family.
See you at the beach!