On a clear day you can see France from the beaches of Folkestone, which is why it was an important harbour and shipping route in the 19th and 20th centuries. Nowadays, Folkestone has a thriving art scene, beautifully refurbished old town and your pick of places to eat and drink! Here’s our 5 best things to do in Folkestone.
1. The Beaches
Folkestone Beach is huge! Therefore you’ll have no troubles finding a spot to sun yourself in those balmy months of British summertime.
The pebble beach is well looked after and often re-shingled. Bays have also been created to produce calmer waters so people can enjoy the sea safely.
A boardwalk has also been created at the end of Lower Leas Coastal Park to The Arm so you can still enjoy the beach, but get across the pebbles a little more comfortably. Especially for those of us with buggies and wheels.
Sunny Sands Beach is near the old town of Folkestone. There is a small part of the beach that looks out into the harbour, which is very picturesque. It is said that in 2014 30 pieces of gold were buried in the sand for people to find! No one knows if all 30 pieces were ever found, so might be worth taking your bucket and spade with you!
There is another stretch of sandy beach the other side of the wall next to The Folkestone Mermaid. Sunny Sands is popular because, as the name suggests, its a beautiful sandy beach and it can get very very busy when the weather is good.
2. The Harbour Arm and Folkestone Harbour Station
The Harbour Arm – one of the best things to do in Folkestone
The Arm was once the old town harbour and in recent years it has been lovingly restored. It is now a lovely promenade that offers some of the best views out to sea and back to town.
Along The Harbour Arm you will find an assortment of small independent shops and food outlets selling anything from ice creams, pizza, beer and Greek food from a big blue bus!
I have to say it certainly is the place to be and has such a great vibe. It really is a must see if you find yourself in Folkestone.
Folkestone Harbour Station
Folkestone Harbour Station connects to The Harbour Arm and is also another integral part of Folkestone’s history. Like the Arm, the Harbour Station has also been restored to its former glory.
On a Sunday, from 10-4pm, you can enjoy a bustling boutique market with stalls selling vintage fashion, crafts, cards and furniture.
Originally, the station bought Victorian holidays makers right to the mouth of the harbour. Their luggage would be taken from the inbound trains and loaded onto separate luggage trains. They would then be sent down the harbour arm to the ships waiting at the bottom. That’s a luxury we rarely see nowadays!
3. The Leas
The Leas in Folkestone is a lovely cliff top promenade that offers beautiful views out to sea and Folkestone Beach. The walk starts from the top of town and continues down towards Sandgate.
This promenade walk is also home to:
- The Leas Bandstand, which hosts concerts through out the summer season
- The Leas Lift which, in its heyday, used to transport thousands of people a day from the promenade to the seafront. It’s one of the oldest water balanced funiculars in the country and plans are underway to restore it into a living museum
- The Leas Cliff Hall offers some of the best views out over the English Channel. Cafe / tea shop available inside
- and Lower Leas Coastal Park, home to the biggest adventure play area in the South East! The park is split into three distinct areas: play area, formal area and a wild area, so there is something for everyone.
4. The Old High Street – one of the best things to do in Folkestone
The Old High Street is the centre of Folkestone’s creative quarter. Here you will find your fill of vintage and boutique shopping, crafty and unique children’s shops, independent cafes, art galleries, book shops, music shops plus loads more, which you can discover for yourself here.
The old buildings, cobbled streets, and the areas recent renaissance in retail makes this part of Folkestone a really fashionable place to be.
Its appeal is in its individuality and its warm and inviting nature. The Old High Street is a welcome draw away from the seafront, which can’t always be said for other seaside towns.
5. Walk to Sandgate
This is something we love to do. The walk from Sandgate to Folkestone or Folkestone to Sandgate is simply gorgeous.
The route follows the seafront all the way along and it is as easy as it is pretty. The walk takes you past the Leas Coastal Path, brand new beach huts and non-stop views of the sea and, on a clear day, the white cliffs of France.
The rest is up to you! If you find anything else that you think should go in the list let me know in the comments below!