Discovering Hidden Gems in Ramsgate

Ramsgate Hidden Gems

My big goal this year is to explore more of the UK now that I’m back living here full time. So when Southeastern asked if I wanted to head to Ramsgate, a small town in Kent, in search of “hidden gems”, I leapt at the chance!

Ramsgate itself is a bit of a hidden gem. Less well known than its neighbours Margate and Broadstairs, and overshadowed in the British seaside leagues by places like Brighton and Blackpool, it can get overlooked. But it shouldn’t. Because, like anywhere in the UK, there’s so much to discover in Ramsgate if you only go looking for it.

I spent two days in the pretty seaside town on a mission to discover Ramsgate’s best hidden gems. And what I found actually took me by surprise! Here are a few of the top things to do in Ramsgate that I came across on my trip…

Check out my video below for a bit of an overview and insight into some of my favourite hidden gems. But keep reading below for more details and some in-depth information for things to do, eat, and see in Ramsgate.

The Arches

Roll over, Brighton! Ramsgate has its very own Arches; with tiny independent shops, galleries, and bars tucked into the red-brick Victorian archways alongside the harbour. Ramsgate proudly boasts the UK’s only Royal Harbour, and the pretty, yacht-filled marina has a rich history.

things to do in ramsgate

By reclaiming the spaces in the Arches, the town has breathed new life into the harbourside and it’s a great place to explore. Don’t miss Something Fishy, the little arch gallery, or the fabulous design-led homeware store and café Archive.

Military Road, CT11 9LG

Italianate Glasshouse

If there’s one experience that really sums up my Ramsgate trip, it’s this. I was taking photos in the park when a lovely gent popped out of nowhere and told me “if you want something to photograph, you should see the Italianate Glasshouse.

things to do in Ramsgate

Just on the other side of the park, tucked into a corner where I would never have found it if Roger hadn’t shown me, is a magnificent 19th century greenhouse. It was built into the grounds of the East Cliff Lodge estate in 1832 and still stands there today looking as grand as ever. It’s also still a working greenhouse, run by volunteers, and is home to an impressive Agave plant which is so tall it actually grows out the roof of the greenhouse. There used to be two plants, but one of them has already flowered (which they only do once in a lifetime) and died. The other should flower soon, so visit before it’s too late!

No entry fee. Montefiore Ave, CT11 8BD.

ramsgate hidden gems

Cacti in the Italianate Glasshouse

Ramsgate Tunnels

The absolute highlight of my trip was visiting the Ramsgate Tunnels. Before the start of the Second World War, the local council began work to expand the 150 year old Victorian Railway Tunnel. In less than a year, they built a network of three and a half miles of tunnels to be used as a huge air raid shelter. The project was initially considered a waste of time and money, and Mayor Alderman A.B.C. Kempe* was mocked for his determination to build them.

During the Blitz, though, the tunnels proved their worth. Ramsgate was a common target due to its position on the coast, and the town was bombed heavily. Some 25,000 people took shelter under the town – and thanks to the tunnels far more lives were saved than otherwise might have been.

Kent Hidden Gems

Inside the Ramsgate Wartime Tunnels

Take a tour of the tunnels to get the full history, and get an idea of what life was like in the tunnels. In these cramped quarters some 900 people took up permanent residence during the war! It’s a fascinating tour, and one that has finally reclaimed the abandoned tunnels.

*(what a great name!)

Price: £4.50. Marina Esplanade, CT11 8LN.

York Street Gallery

Pop in to York Street Gallery in the town centre, and if you’re lucky you might catch local artist Mike Samson at work. Mike founded his not-for-profit gallery in 2012 to provide a low-cost exhibition space for Kent based artists. It’s a beautiful gallery and has a great range of exhibits to discover.

things to do in ramsgate

Mike at work in the York Street Gallery

When I visited, there was a great exhibition of local work courtesy of the East Kent Art Society. Exhibitions change weekly, though, so there’s always something fresh to discover. And you can always catch Mike’s latest works there, too, as well as a fab collection of locally made crafts, jewellery, and other gifts.

No entry fee. 22 York St, CT11 9DN

Vinyl Head Café and Record Shop

I stumbled upon Vinyl Head Café by accident while I was exploring the town and I’m really glad I did. A vinyl record shop, a quirky café, and a funky coffee shop, all rolled into one. Mismatched seventies vintage furnishings fill the light and airy space, and out the back is a lovely courtyard that’s perfect for sunny days. Plus, there’s great music (obviously) on the record player, and occasional live music events. One of the coolest coffee shops I’ve ever come across!

Ramsgate Hidden Gems

Take the time to explore the rest of the shops and galleries on Addington Street, too. This is a really cool little area packed full of independent boutiques, and lined with pretty pastel coloured buildings.

Prices: coffee about £2. Addington St, Ramsgate CT11 9JN

Corby’s Tea Rooms

By all accounts, Corby’s is something of a local institution. If it’s classic British seaside culture you want, you can’t miss the scrummy cream teas at this lovely, old-fashioned tea rooms on York Street. Packed with retro furnishings and pretty blue-patterned china, this is a really cute tea room with a lovely atmosphere. And the scones were delicious!

Price: cream tea £4.80. 18-20 York Street, CT11 9DN

where to eat in Ramsgate

Cream Tea at Corby’s

Nice Things

Local lady Susy was pretty spot-on when she named her shop Nice Things! The large, airy shop houses a brilliant collection of exactly that – nice things! Cushions, textiles, decorations, jewellery, art, and more – all of it locally made. Susy works with around 20 local makers and artists from around East Kent. The result is a shop that’s part art-gallery, part boutique store – the perfect place to pick up a unique or even completely bespoke gift.

19-21 Harbour Street, CT11 8HA

Ramsgate Hidden Gems

Handmade souvenirs at Nice Things

Saltworks

Another gorgeous local boutique, Saltworks is housed in the beautiful old police station. It’s a tiny shop, filled with homewear, clothing, and furnishings. Again, a lot of the stock is locally sourced. And their signature products, the handmade Saltworks soaps and scented candles, are irresistible. They smell amazing!

Charlotte Court, Ramsgate CT11 8HE

Ramsgate Hidden Gems

Saltworks Boutique

Petticoat Lane Emporium

One of the most unexpected hidden gems in Ramsgate was Petticoat Lane Emporium. I’d heard there was a vintage market there, so I popped in to take a look. I was expecting a small room full of bric a brac, but what I discovered was an enormous wonderland of used furniture, vintage clothes, and other collectables.

things to do in ramsgate

Guitars and memorabilia for sale at a Petticoat Lane Emporium stall.

Open seven days a week, the Petticoat Lane Emporium is a real treasure-trove – and a great place to pick up a totally unique souvenir. I very nearly walked away with a vintage picnic hamper until I talked myself out of it (backpackers don’t need picnic baskets)! Tucked away on a residential road in a fairly unassuming warehouse, this place was very much a hidden gem – and a vintage shopper’s paradise.

No entry fee. 47 Dumpton Park Drive, CT11 8AD

Micro Museum

Another hidden gem I’d never have found without a local recommendation (thanks to Mike at the York Street Gallery) was the Micro Museum. “Micro” is right; this is one of the smallest museums I’ve ever been to. But the Micro doesn’t refer to its size as much as its content, because this is a museum dedicated to all things computing.

things to do in ramsgate

The collection is huge, with hundreds of computers, computing memorabilia, and other fantastic geeky things! Lots of Star Wars toys and old electronics. This museum is pure nostalgia, and if you’re a video game geek like me you’ll love it. Especially because many of the computers and consoles are set up to actually be played. So you can grab a joystick and take a trip down memory lane with a game of PacMan or Space Invaders.

Price: £4. 11 Church Hill, CT11 8RA

things to do in ramsgate

Get a nostalgia fix at the Micro Museum!

Getting to Ramsgate

Not sure where Ramsgate is? It’s on the Kent coast in the Southeast of England. Getting to Ramsgate is easy – you can hop on a Southeastern train in London and be there in less than two hours. Worth noting that the train station is about a twenty minute walk from the town centre and the seaside (downhill all the way), but there are lots of cabs available and pretty frequent local buses.

If you fancy booking a day trip to Ramsgate, or anywhere else in East Sussex or Kent, check out the advance purchase offers from Southeastern this summer starting from as little as £10! Find out more here.

Ramsgate Hidden Gems

Get some sand and sea at Ramsgate’s beach.

Where to Stay in Ramsgate

I stayed at the Albion House Hotel, which looks like it might be the best hotel in town. It’s certainly one of the most historic. Built in 1791, the pale blue hotel sits on top of East Cliff with excellent views across the town and out to sea. Queen Victoria stayed here for a few months before her coronation, and from the so-called Mayor’s Parlour, Mayor A.B.C Kempe watched his town taking a battering during the blitz – while most of the population took shelter in the tunnels below. Rooms are comfy and have lovely sea views, and the restaurant is absolutely gorgeous. Check prices here.

where to stay ramsgate

Cheaper hotel options in Ramsgate include the Falstaff Hotel (from £79), the Royal Harbour Hotel (from £55), and the Comfort Inn Ramsgate (from £50). All are within walking distance to the harbour.

Where to Eat in Ramsgate

There are loads of excellent places to eat and drink in Ramsgate, especially if you want some good old fashioned British seaside fare. If you want the true seaside experience, you have to try fish n chips, so head to Peter’s Fish Factory (96 Harbour Parade) for a cheap take-away lunch. You can eat in – but it’s much nicer to sit by the harbour in the sunshine!

where to eat in Ramsgate

Dinner at Townleys restaurant

For dessert, pop into Sorbetto (76 Harbour Parade). This ice cream parlour is over 70 years old and all the ice cream is made on site in a small, artisanal factory following a traditional Italian gelato recipe. Plus there’s Corby’s (mentioned above) for cream tea, cake, or an afternoon tea experience.

The best meal I had was at Townley’s restaurant in Albion House Hotel. Elegant, airy Georgian rooms with a cosy atmosphere and excellent sea-views. Plus, amazing food with a strong focus on local ingredients and lovely fresh fish. Desserts are beautiful and come in huge portions, too, which is always a winner!

where to eat in Ramsgate

Dessert at Townleys restaurant in Ramsgate

Disclaimer – on this trip I worked with Southeastern. As always, absolutely all words and opinions are completely my own.

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About Emily Luxton

An award-winning writer and travel blogger on a mission to explore the world through deeper, more intelligent travel. Seeking out adventure, cultural exchanges, food experiences and more as she attempts to get to know the world. Lover of the great outdoors, sunsets, good food, and the odd bit of luxury!

22 Comments

  1. Great video. I’ve lived in Ramsgate for over 20 years and am very fond of our town. It has improved hugely over the years (still lots to be done!) but it is a great town and the harbour is beautiful, thriving and a real gem. Thank you for taking the time to visit and for sharing your experience.

    • Thanks so much for watching/reading Gavin. I’m thrilled to hear you liked the post! Seems like people from Ramsgate are very proud of their town, which is so lovely to see 🙂

  2. Thank you for promoting our wonderful town

  3. I need that Toilet Lid Guitar in my life

  4. Great post Emily, really enjoyed the video as well. Love these British seaside towns, we recently went to Great Yarmouth which was good fun. 🙂

  5. Really helpful blog. We have been to Ramsgate a few times before and discovered some of these gems but will add a few more now!

  6. Great post!! I live in Herne Bay and love the local area I live. Towns like Ramsgate are really
    Coming alive in recent years and you’ve definitely picked up the best hidden gems. 🙂

    • Thanks so much Emma!! I agree – there are loads of small towns in the UK that are really coming into their own. I think the focus on small and local can go a long way. And people are starting to explore more of their own country too, staycations are more fashionable at the moment, which means people are (hopefully) taking note of towns like Ramsgate that might have gone a bit overlooked before. So exciting to see small seaside towns doing well (I’m from Weymouth myself) – especially when all the locals seem so proud of their home town! 🙂

  7. I absolutely love the Micro Museum…Just a quick tip on maybe my favourite hidden gem that may have been too hidden for you 🙂 … Island Vintage, THE place for secondhand vinyl in East Kent…sshhh don’t tell anyone.

  8. Tricia Hartley

    You’re spot on about Ramsgate, Emily: I’ve lived here 5 years now and really love it! And your blog shows you discovered one of the best things about it – how helpful and friendly everyone is here! (I came down from the North of England and thought people in the SE might be standoffish – but not a bit of it in Ramsgate!) I’d definitely recommend Ramsgate as a place to live, work and visit – it’s great! (And the fastest trains from London get here in an hour and ten minutes – can’t be bad…)

    • Ah thank you so much Tricia 🙂 I’m so glad that locals are liking the video as it must mean I did a good job. Really wanted to showcase the very best of Ramsgate and you’re right, the people are one of the best bits!

  9. nicolette mckenzie

    Excellent round-up of attractions in Ramsgate. Informative, personal, and makes me want to visit ( except that I now live here….another DFL ‘Down From London’)

  10. nicolette mckenzie

    PS Could I put in a word for the Royal Harbour Brasserie. To sit outside on a late sunny afternoon, with France on the left and Ramsgate harbour and cliffs on the right is a very special experience.

  11. Thanks for the great video! Now I’m looking forward to my trip to Ramsgate next weekend even more. It will be awesome!

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