A Dog-Friendly Guide to the Kent Coast

A Dog-Friendly Guide To The Kent Coast

If you like to pack as much as possible into your travel plans, Kent is the ideal place to visit. You can follow coastal trails, roam the countryside, and explore magnificent castles all in one trip and do it with your dog by your side. Just remember to pack your dog's travel essentials.

I was born in Kent and grew up around the coast so I know it well. Although many of the small towns are rough around the edges, much of area has seen improvements. There are now lots of small, independent shops, bakeries, and cafés to enjoy that didn't exist when I was living there.

Thanet is a couple of hours drive or train journey away from London making it a great choice for a day trip or short weekend break. But if you want to stay longer there's plenty to see and do with your companion. I've compiled this dog-friendly guide to the Kent coast with all our favourite places to visit and things to do. It's a long list so you might want to bookmark it!



A Dog-Friendly Guide To The Kent Coast

Dog-Friendly Walks in Kent

Kent is at its finest when the sun is shining. One of the best ways to enjoy the garden of England is to embark on a coastal walk or countryside trail. There are plenty of longer hikes to explore as well as short and sweet ones for those with legs that tire easily. If you want to cover the most ground, head out onto the Viking Coastal Trail. It's 32 miles (51.4 km) and connects Margate, Ramsgate, and Broadstairs.


Heritage Trail, Margate.

This self-guided trail combines sight-seeing with local attractions. Explore Margate at your own pace; skip parts you're not interested in and spend longer at the ones you love. It's a great way to pack a whole lot into a single day, and your dog will love all the sights and smells.


Chalk Stacks of Botany Bay, Margate.

If you want to combine a seaside stroll and beach trip with some sight-seeing, a trip to Botany Bay is a must. You'll be able to see the beautiful chalk stacks that are famous in this area. It's a great location for fossil hunting and rock pool exploring too.


Coastal Walks, Ramsgate.

There are several coastal walks in this area to choose from. My favourite is the Nature Reserve loop known as the Contra Trail. It takes you on a 12.2 mile (19.6km) walk from the Royal Harbour to a Viking ship, and onto the Pegwell Bay Nature Reserve.


Pegwell Bay Country Park, Ramsgate.

This beautiful 615-hectare nature reserve is home to rare plants and animals. It's one of the few reserves where dogs are welcome to run and play off leash just be mindful of the restricted areas.


Dumptom Gap Loop, Broadstairs.

This walk takes you from a great beach for dog walkers, Dumpton Gap, along the coast to Ramsgate and back. It covers 4.88 mi and takes approximately 2 hours. This is another one of my favourites because it's so dog-friendly.


Dungeness, Romney Marsh.

This is quite a trek if you're visiting Thanet although I encourage you to consider if, if you have the time. At one point it was considered a desert, and although it isn't anymore, the landscape is still extraordinary. Plus they have a Dungeness train that dogs can ride on!



A Dog-Friendly Guide To The Kent Coast A Dog-Friendly Guide To The Kent Coast

Dog-Friendly Beaches in Kent

There are more than 50 beaches in South East Kent and 98% of them are dog-friendly. Listing them all would be pointless when there are already excellent official guides available online. This dog-friendly beach guide by the Thanet council has a detailed map complete with times and dates the beaches are open to dogs. These are my favourite beaches to visit with my companion:


Palm Bay, Margate.

This is the best dog-friendly beach if you're visiting the town. Stroll around the Old Town of Margate before heading to the expansive beach where there's always plenty of sand to play on even when the tide is high.


Western Undercliff Beach, Ramsgate.

This isn't a very pretty beach but the location is great. You can walk right along the West Cliff onto the beach and along to the harbour. You'll find a dog-friendly cafe and shop called Archive, that sells beautiful homewares, coffee, and cake.


Dumpton Gap, Broadstairs.

This is a popular spot and it's obvious why. Dogs have plenty of freedom to play in this secluded bay flanked by stunning white cliffs. There's ample close-by parking, a dog-friendly cafe, and if you take a short walk in either direction you'll arrive at Ramsgate or Broadstairs.


Joss Bay, Broadstairs.

This beach is stunning and a popular spot for surfing. So it's no surprise you'll need to be early if you want to grab a parking spot. A short walk away is Kingsgate Bay with its beautiful sea arch. It's harder to park here so head to Joss Bay and walk over.


West Beach, Whitstable.

This is a good option when you want to avoid a sandy dog. It has everything you'd want from a traditional seaside town including beach huts, fishing boats, and weatherboard cottages. Dogs are welcome all year round too.



A Dog-Friendly Guide To The Kent Coast

Dog-Friendly Attractions in Kent

Visiting attractions with a dog is often tricky. Museums and galleries have an unwavering 'no dog' policy. So it requires a little bit of digging to find things to do indoors with your companion. I usually stick to the beaches and gardens when visiting Kent. Although the Shell Grotto and Crab Museum are well worth the visit. There's plenty to do outdoors if you enjoy historical talks and costumed walks though!


The Shell Grotto, Margate.

This is a really special attraction, not to be missed. The grotto is an "ornate subterranean passageway" with a mysterious history. It was discovered in 1835 and built using 4.6 million seashells. Dogs are allowed in the cafe and shop but I've heard small dogs can be carried through the grotto itself.


The Crab Museum, Margate.

Europe's only museum dedicated to decapods is packed full of character. Being right in the middle of Margate's Old Town, and being such a small museum, it's worthwhile dropping by. Your dog is welcome to join you as you learn about Margate's famous giant crab.

Whitstable Castle, Whitstable.

Dogs allowed on the grounds but not inside the castle making this an ideal free activity on a sunny day. Buy a ticket and take turns to visit the castle or simply enjoy the gardens with your companion.


A Dog-Friendly Guide To The Kent Coast A Dog-Friendly Guide To The Kent Coast A Dog-Friendly Guide To The Kent Coast

Dog-Friendly Cafes and Ice Cream Parlours in Kent

After a long stroll on the beach or a dip in the sea, there's nothing better than finding a cafe for lunch and having ice cream for desert. The Kent coast has some of the best seaside eateries from traditional chips to more modern menus. Aside from the odd snack, I usually stick to self-catering when visiting Kent. If you want to enjoy dining out with your companion, here are a few places that would be at the top of my list to visit.


Forts, Margate.

Sit with your companion to have coffee or brunch in this popular café. It's a short walk up the hill from the Turner Contemporary so best to visit before or after a stroll around Margate's Old Town.


Cliffs, Margate.

This is a super popular café with locals and tourists a like. On a sunny day you can sit outside and enjoy the friendly and relaxed atmostphere of Margate's Old Town. On the menu are simple yet delicious vegan-friendly options covering everything from breakfast to dinner.


The Greedy Cow, Margate.

This café is a little out of the way in the main part of the town. The atmostphere had a little bit of an edge to it but the coffee is great and dogs are welcome. If you enjoy record shopping, this one is worth the walk.


Archive, Ramsgate.

This is a personal favourite of mine. It's under the arches along the harbour, housing a lovely café and homewares shop. It's a nice spot to stop and have a coffee or light lunch before heading back along the beach.


Shaky Shaky, Ramsgate.

This chippy has the most extensive vegan-friendly menu I've ever seen. The portions are huge so I'd consider sharing especially as it's more expensive than a traditional chip shop. It is delicious though, and a great choice for your chippy tea night. If you want a smaller portion, head to Peter's Fish Factory along the seafront.


Italianate Glasshouse and Occasional Tea Garden, Ramsgate.

This glasshouse is small yet beautiful. There isn't much space inside and it isn't always open as a tea room. If you're lucky you'll get a seat and be able to enjoy a drink in the sun. Small dogs are welcome inside or outside on the grounds. It's worth dropping by for the beautiful glasshouse alone.


Funicular Coffeehouse, Broadstairs.

Right on Broadstair's beachfront you'll discover this dog-friendly coffeehouse. It's a great choice if you want to spend a day on the sand within walking distance of vegan-friendly options including coffee, cocktails, and cakes.


Flotsam and Jetsam, Broadstairs.

A cute, modern chippie that opened during the pandemic. If you want to enjoy some chips on the beach (and take an Instagram-worthy photo), this is the place to visit - although look out for thieves! Seagulls are operating in the area


Morelli’s, Broadstairs.

This is a must-visit every single time we visit Kent. They're dog-friendly, the ice cream is amazing (they have vegan options!) and the interior is phenomenal. It's right by the main promenade if you want to sit outside and people watch.


Farm and Harper, Whitstable.

This cafe will welcome both you and your companion with a tasty menu to enjoy after a long beach walk. They also offer a free creative space for locals who want to share their art. It might be worth booking if you're keen to dine here as Whitstable does tend to get quick busy.



A Dog-Friendly Guide To The Kent Coast A Dog-Friendly Guide To The Kent Coast

Dog-Friendly Shops in Kent

Many shops in the UK welcome dogs in. It's usually the large chains that don't. Kent is no different. Margate is the best place to visit if you're looking for non-tacky gifts or souvenirs. Although there are a few other independent shops dotted around the coast. The charity shops in Kent are excellent. The ones in Ramsgate and Broadstairs are particularly good.


Artisans and Adventurers, Margate.

This small independent shop stocks products handmade traditional crafts from small-scale artisans. It's a wonderful place to browse sustainable gifts that have been ethically produced. The founders also own Hiro + Wolf.


Ramsay and Williams, Margate.

If you're looking for antiques and vintage homewares with a side of ice cream, this is the place to visit. They have everything from furniture to home decor. It's a beautiful shop although quite tightly packed so while your dog is welcome, be careful of knocking things over!


WerkHaus, Margate.

A shop packed with modern, utilitarian womenswear and curated vintage clothing. They care about natural fibres, size inclusivity, and pockets! If you want to make any new capsule wardrobe purchases during your visit to Thanet, visit WerkHaus.


Potters, Ramsgate.

This shop stocks a range of ceramics, textiles, gifts and houseplants including work by local ceramicists and artists. It's a lovely place to shop for gifts either for yourself or someone else. Dogs are very welcome to browse with you.


Frank, Whitstable.

I'm not certain this shop is dog-friendly but it's so lovely I'm including it in this guide until I know for certain either way. Frank stocks everything from artwork to homewares, handmade by independent makers.



A Dog-Friendly Guide To The Kent Coast

Dog-Friendly Accommodation in Kent

Accommodation in seaside towns tend to be rather traditional. If you're booking a hotel, the exterior is likely to be a little weather-beaten and the interior not as modern as you might prefer. I'm originally from Kent and stay at my family home when I visit. If I were booking a stay instead, I'd go with AirBnB.

There are some lovely homes to rent, like this apartment with private beach access or this home in central Broadstairs. There are also great options for friends staying together that need a 3 bedroom house or this fun Writer's Retreat for group visits. The Whitstable Fisherman Huts are ideal if you're looking for traditional seaside accommodation without the signs of ageing.



Photographs by Sophie Davies and Jack Spicer Adams



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