Five fantastic things to do in Folkestone, Kent's overlooked seaside gem
2 August 2019, 10:30 | Updated: 2 August 2019, 10:34
If you think Margate or Whitstable are the final word in Kent seaside towns, you will be pleasantly surprised by Folkestone.
There's something so quintessentially British about a seaside town - especially, as we discovered, when it's bucketing down with rain.
Of the two days we spent two days in Folkestone, Kent, one was the hottest day of the year - and the other felt like the wettest.
With a population of 47,000, Folkestone isn't huge, but like many neighbouring Kentish towns is thriving thanks to staycation culture, and a new interest in locally sourced food and beers.
We loved the faded glamour of the Victorian architecture, its independent boutiques and makers' markets, and of course checking out the local pubs.
Here are five things to do if you find yourself in Folkestone...
Spot glimpses of a forgotten era
The Leas Lift, a Victorian-era funicular, is a Grade II Listed structure right on the seafront.
Sadly it's currently out of action and much to the dismay of locals is in a state of disrepair, but it still stands proudly looking out across the Channel come rain or shine.
There are also gorgeous Victorian villas overlooking the coast, and the bustling high street features some charming original frontage.
Eat incredible seafood in the harbour
Folkestone has plenty for foodies and something to suit all budgets.
We ate at Rocksalt, a beautiful seafood restaurant overlooking the harbour and the Channel.
The reasonably priced menu features locally caught delicacies like welks, mussels and oysters, and the grilled prawns were to die for.
The atmosphere in the trendy open plan restaurant was friendly and relaxed, with a mixture of couples, groups and families.
With a huge wine list - and scrummy desserts - we will definitely revisit one day.
If you're not in the mood for a sit down meal or fine dining simply isn't your thing, Folkestone has loads of options for a chip supper or fresh al fresco snack.
Bob's Seafood is a local institution, and has been selling freshly caught seafood including crab, cockles and mussels down by the harbour for the last forty years.
Drink champagne in a lighthouse
Folkestone's Harbour Arm is a trendy part of town with pop-up bars, restaurants and a lighthouse serving Champagne.
The Lighthouse Champagne Bar sells a mixture of French champers and English brut (give it a try, it's surprisingly good!) with bottles starting at just £30.
We enjoyed an evening glass of fizz as we took in the stunning views of the Kentish coast as the sun went down. Pure bliss.
Another bar worth checking out is Bathtub & Gun, who sell a huge array of beers and some very adventurous cocktails - from a space the size of a garden shed.
Be cheered by colourful beach huts
If you wander from Folkestone along the coast towards Sandgate you'll stumble upon an enclave of brightly coloured beach huts.
Owned by the local council and rented out on a yearly basis, we caught glimpses of how people had arranged them inside - some looked cosy with ornaments and sofas, others bare apart from surfing gear.
The coastal walk also features several pieces of public art, including one beach hut made from the parts of a crazy golf course which has since been closed down.
Wake up by the sea
We stayed at a renovated Victorian beach hut called 'Pebbles' (£303 for 3 nights/£390 for 7 nights) during our short time on the Kent coast.
Inside was a comfy double bed, TV, kitchenette and shower room, with a private dining area, BBQ and glamorous day bed outside on the private terrace.
Managed by Mulberry Cottages, who have thirty properties in Folkestone and the surrounding areas including Sandgate, and Hythe, it was a sensory delight to fall asleep listening to the crashing of the waves and a real treat to open our eyes and see the blue waters lapping at the golden shore.
With direct access to the beach, we enjoyed a dip in the (cold!) sea, and managed to squeeze in a spot of sunbathing, too.
Pebbles' owner also has another holiday let on the property, Seagulls, which is the top two floors of her beautifully restored Victorian villa with stunning sea views and luxurious furnishings.