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Bucket list experience:

Last updated: 09 November, 2022
Expert travel writer: Annabelle Thorpe

Spectacularly located right on Margate Sands, part of the joy of Turner Contemporary is discovering a gallery of such quality in such an unexpected location. The painter JMW Turner was a regular visitor to the town in the 19th century, and the dramatic skies and coastline were the inspiration for many of his paintings.

The gallery hosts temporary exhibitions – including works by Turner himself – of sculpture, painting and visual arts.

Price: Free
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 18+
When: All year around

Getting there & doing it

Driving from London to Margate takes about two hours; there is plenty of parking close to the gallery. There are excellent train connections from London King’s Cross station, taking about 90 minutes.

Entry is free but you need to book tickets in advance to guarantee entry. For refreshments, the in-house café serves locally-sourced food and nice views of the harbour.

When to do it

It’s open all year round, Tuesday to Sunday. Closed on Monday, and on Tuesdays in winter months.

If possible, avoid the school summer holidays; Margate itself is a popular beach resort and the town (not the museum) will be over-run with families and tourists.

Our writer’s picks of the best places to stay near this experience, closest first

Canterbury Cathedral Lodge

Canterbury, Kent, United Kingdom (UK)[24.2 miles]

Built in the cathedral grounds, this sleek hotel is quiet, conveniently central and offers unrivalled views of the magnificent cathedral from your bedroom. 

Official star rating:

The Pig at Bridge Place

Canterbury, Kent, United Kingdom (UK)[24.3 miles]

A sexy, sophisticated bolthole with a fantastic restaurant, a stone’s throw from historic Canterbury. 

Official star rating:

The Abode Canterbury

Canterbury, Kent, United Kingdom (UK)[24.4 miles]

Sleekly-designed hotel in an excellent central location the heart of Canterbury, with great dining options. 

Official star rating:

House of Agnes

Canterbury, Kent, United Kingdom (UK)[24.5 miles]

Wonderful, central 15th century house converted into a stylish boutique hotel with a gorgeous garden. 

Official star rating:

Destination guides including or relevant to this experience


Kent, United Kingdom (UK)

A character-filled, historic and lively town rich in British history dating back to Roman times. The spectacular cathedral is the home of the Church of England.

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Our writer’s recommendations of other bucket list experiences our writer says you must do in this destination, closest first

Canterbury Cathedral

Canterbury , Kent , United Kingdom (UK)[24.2 miles]

One of the most beautiful cathedrals in Britain, with stained glass windows dating back to the 12th century. Home of the Church of England, and the final resting place of Thomas Becket.

Best for ages: 18+ | £14

Other worthwhile experiences near this experience if you have time or interest..

Royal St George’s Golf Club

Sandwich, Kent, United Kingdom (UK)[12.9 miles]

The Royal’s circular layout, natural landscaping and the sheer quality of its very best holes – the 4th, 6th and 15th – make this England’s greatest links course. It’s a tough track, and a good score is well-earned, but its rewards are timeless.

Best for ages: 13+ | £160

Bucolic churchyard on a sunny day

St. Martin’s Church

Canterbury , Kent, United Kingdom (UK)[23.6 miles]

The oldest church in the English-speaking world, St. Martin’s is part Roman, part Saxon and part medieval, and has been a place of worship continuously for over 1,400 years.

Best for ages: 13+ | Free

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Ruined abbey surrounded by grass

St. Augustine’s Abbey

Canterbury, Kent, United Kingdom (UK)[23.9 miles]

Originally created as a burial site for the Anglo-Saxon kings of Kent, the ruins are a tranquil spot for a quiet walk or picnic, away from the hubbub of the busy High Street.

Best for ages: 18+ | £8

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Old English pub on narrow street

Parrot Pub

Canterbury, Kent , United Kingdom (UK)[24 miles]

Pop in for a pint at Canterbury’s oldest pub; a cosy, firelit haunt that has been serving weary travellers – and construction workers on the nearby cathedral – since the 14th century.

Best for ages: 16+ | Free

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