One of the things I love about living in Canterbury is having various seaside locations on our doorstep. Canterbury city itself is located inland, but there are multiple seaside towns within a forty five minute radius of the city. These towns include our neighbouring Herne Bay, historic Broadstairs and the home of the Eurotunnel: Folkestone. After hearing positive things about Folkestone from my photography fanatic Dad, I began planning a visit for the start of 2022. With its creative quarter, preserved harbour train station and the expansive beach, last week I headed to Folkestone for an afternoon of exploring. There is something particularly charming about visiting the seaside in the cooler months, when you can enjoy a stroll along the beach away from the hustle and bustle of the Summer crowds. Following our visit I have compiled a shortlist of places to visit in Folkestone, Kent which should hopefully provide inspiration for future visits to this coastal town on the edge of the UK.
Folkestone has a creative quarter that is located a stone’s throw away from the harbour. At the centre of the quarter is a steep pedestrianised road called ‘The Old High Street’ and it is lined with independent art, crafts and food shops. You can find prints of Folkestone harbour, beach hut ornaments and bespoke jewellery, along with some vegan treats in the coffee shops. We visited the Creative Quarter late in the afternoon when the literary-themed Steep Street Coffee House was busy, but it definitely caught my eye for a future Folkestone visit!
Vibrant bungalows are a stand-out characteristic of Folkestone harbour, thanks to artist Richard Woods’ 2017 installation of mini colourful houses around the town. Forming part of an art project highlighting the social concerns surrounding the purchase of multiple homes, two of Wood’s models can be found in Folkestone harbour, with one of them positioned on a floating platform beside the various boats. I am sure the harbour is a great place to walk around in all seasons, but armed with a warm drink, I really enjoyed watching the sun begin to set on the pebbled Fishmarket on a chilly February afternoon.
Restored harbour train station
The train station in Folkestone harbour is no longer operational, after closing officially in 2014. The Folkestone Harbour Company have restored the station back to how it would have looked in the 1900s, with station signs written in both French and English. In the past, boat trains frequently arrived in Folkestone harbour from London, carrying passengers that were heading to France. The refurbished station is a snapshot of history for visitors, as they can walk on the station platforms and imagine what it would’ve been like to travel between England and France in a bygone era. I really enjoyed walking through the station and seeing the restoration work. It’s been so cleverly done with the paving over of the train tracks, which you can now comfortably walk along.
Folkestone has a shingle beach complete with palm trees and a couple of seafront bars that can be reached from the back of the old harbour train station. This recreational ‘Beachside’ area was quiet when we visited, but I am sure the bars are thriving places to visit in the warmer seasons. Watching the sun go down on Folkestone beach reminded me of a pre-pandemic Winter visit to Nice and Monaco. We were fortunate enough to see a glorious sunset on the Promenade des Anglais at the start of February, with the beautiful French Riviera architecture behind us. The golden lighting on our afternoon in Folkestone was very similar to Nice and being out on the beach for the sunset was pretty special! The only downside was how chilly it was on the beach; I was so pleased to be wearing a thick coat, scarf and gloves.
Planning a future trip?
In a couple of hours we managed to cover the Creative Quarter and most of the seafront locations in Folkestone. There are other places to visit outside of the harbour area, but if you are pushed for time and want to focus on the seafront, this shortlist of locations should get you started. In the Summer I am sure the beach is very busy; a stark contrast to the peaceful seafront we experienced this Winter. A February visit to Folkestone certainly helped me blow the cobwebs away though, after a very busy month! Folkestone is a historic seaside gem on the Kent coast, waiting to be explored.
Have you ever been to Folkestone? Do you have any other recommendations of places to visit?
Thanks for reading my blog today.
Love Kat xxxx