The summer is upon us. Well, one can never be sure, given how erratic the weather is in the UK, but temperatures seem to be increasing. People are done with most of their assignments and will soon be over with their final exams as well. So, I thought I would compile a list of 5 places that one can go to make use of the long bank holiday weekend and upcoming summer break. These are all seaside towns where you don’t need to stay the night and can easily cover within a day.
Margate is a quaint little town on the Northern coast of the Kent County. It takes roughly 1 hour and 30 minutes by train from London St Pancras International station. Since the Middle Ages, the town has been a prominent marine harbour. Due to easy access along the Thames and later with the arrival of railways, it became a famous holiday destination in the 18th century. Today it is one of those towns, where people go to escape the overwhelming nature of a city like London. Apart from the beach, one of the most popular things to do here is to go and visit Dreamland, a retro-themed amusement park. When in Margate, one must go place is the shell grotto that is covered in almost 4.6 million shells. If you are into art, you should also drop by the Turner Contemporary, which is an art gallery not far from the coastline.
The seven sisters are a series of chalk sea cliffs located in the county of East Sussex. Get there via train from London Victoria to Eastbourne (which takes roughly 1 hour and 30 minutes) then get a bus from the station to the seaside. It is a great place for people whose idea of relaxation is to exercise (and not sleep in on a Sunday like me). People take their bicycles out for a ride and hike to the top of the cliffs. The hike is worth it because of the amazing views you get once you reach the top. There are also several arcade shops throughout. When walking on the pier, make sure to take a moment and appreciate the glasswork and read about the history of the place.
Dover has been one of the most important towns in England historically. This was the entry point for anyone wanting to invade, conquer, or send military troops and spies. It is in the county of Kent and, depending on the station you take a train from, it can take you between 1 to 2 hours to get there. Like Seven Sisters, it too is famous for its white cliffs. If you get excited about castles, history, warfare and the like, Dover castle is a must-visit. Along with that, the wartime tunnels built during the Napoleonic wars were used as an evacuation point to bring people over from Dunkirk during WW II. Another thing to see is the South Foreland lighthouse. There is also the Dover Museum which has three levels of artefacts and displays that tell the story of the town’s rich history, from its Roman origins to the present day.
Whitstable / Canterbury
For this one, my recommendation would be to first go to Canterbury and take a bus from there to Whitstable to relax by the sea as the sun starts to set. Canterbury is approximately a 1-hour journey from London St Pancras. Even if you get to do just one thing in the beautiful historic town of Canterbury, pick a tour of the Canterbury Cathedral. It is majestic and surreal, to say the least. You could also take homemade sandwiches (or buy them at the local stores) and enjoy a mini picnic at the Westgate gardens along the Stour River. Check out the Old Weaver’s House for a quick bite or drink, a Tudor style house now converted into a restaurant and pub. You can follow your lunch with a nice river tour that starts from the Old Weaver’s House itself.
Brighton has been described as the UK’s “hippest city”, “the happiest place to live in the UK”, and the “unofficial gay capital of the UK”. By train, it is around an hour away from London and you can catch a train from either of the three stations – London Blackfriars, London Victoria and London Bridge. The city offers many bike tours wherein you cycle throughout the city with a guide and get to tick off all the important tourist spots from your list. One of the stops that you will make is the Royal Pavilion which was built in stages with its first phase being rolled out in 1787. The Brighton Pier is a fun place to be since they have stalls for ice cream, doughnuts and other delights but they also have a range of arcade options for people who want to have fun but not step out in the sun too much.
Enjoy a well-deserved break by the sea!
Surabhi Sanghi is a SOAS Digital Ambassador, pursuing a master’s degree in South Asian Studies and Intensive Language (which also means she gets to be in London for one whole extra year). She has a background in history and is interested in the religions of South Asia. She is a dog person and her only wish is to be able to pet all the dogs in London.