Dog-Friendly Guide to Whitstable

Oysters on the beach, fish and chips, quirky, independent shops… you name it, Whitstable has it. This traditional Kent fishing town is genuinely one of the most dog-friendly places in the UK. Almost all of the pubs and cafes in Whitstable welcome pets, there’s a beach to enjoy all year round and you can even take them shopping! Here’s your dog’s guide to their holiday in Whitstable.

Dog-friendly Whitstable

The must-sees

Whitstable is renowned for its oysters so seafood fans should head straight for the harbour. Turn right towards East Quay, where you can watch the catch of the day being processed, or turn left to find wooden shacks selling fresh seafood. The Forge – where you can dine on the seafront in stripy deckchairs – welcomes dogs and also does a mean donut dessert, the “donut soufflé”. For shorter queues try Keith’s café, at Whitstable Yacht Club next door, for fantastic fish’n’chips and various daily specials like delicious fish tacos.

Follow the path towards West Beach and you will pass the Old Neptune pub, or “the Neppy”, as it is known by us locals. You will also see lots of colourful beach huts and the house that actor Peter Cushing (Dracula) called home for more than 35 years. Just look out for the blue plaque.

Don’t miss a stroll down the main thoroughfare of Harbour Street, which is packed with independent shops. Many of the stores are dog-friendly and signs up in their windows to let owners know. Check out the Harbour Market too, which is home to more than 35 independent traders selling everything from handmade fudge to photographs. A new indoor market is due to be completed in 2021, perfect for those cooler days.

Another great place to visit with a dog is Whitstable Castle. If you’re expecting an actual castle, you may be disappointed as this one was built as a family residence in the 1790s – but to the untrained eye, it sure looks like one! After a £3m refurb in 2010, the castle is now a popular wedding venue. The kids’ pirate playground is a must for families, whilst dogs can relax enjoying the lovely sea view on the Tea Room’s terrace or stroll around the grounds whilst the kids play.

Whitstable is also renowned for its “secret alleyways”, many of which have unusual names. They were initially created to give residents better access to the waterfront – but were also handy for smugglers needing to make a quick getaway.

Dog-friendly Whitstable

The best walks

Once you’ve had your fill of the beaches in Whitstable, simply follow the seafront path to grassy Tankerton Slopes. The beaches here are much quieter so it’s a great place to escape the crowds if you visit during the summer. There is also a designated swimming area with lifeguards, although please note dogs are not allowed on this section of beach from May to September and must remain on a lead on the promenade. They are allowed off the lead on the grassy slopes above the beach.

You can walk from the heart of Whitstable to Tankerton in about 30 minutes and there are some great places to grab a drink or snack on the way.

Whether you are looking for shade in summer, or for beautiful walks outside of the beach season, Kent has so much to offer. For more formal days out please follow our other links. Here are some dog-friendly ideas based on our own favourite walks:

The Crab and Winkle Way is fantastic to explore with dogs. This 7.6-mile route runs from Whitstable to Canterbury and takes its name from the railway line that once ran between the two towns. It is mostly traffic-free and passes through historic Blean Woods, which is a wonderful place to visit in its own right.

Teeming with flora and fauna, The Blean covers more than 11 square miles and is one of the largest areas of ancient woodland in England. There are plenty of designated walking trails running through it – including one that is specifically for dogs, just on the right of the main road from Whitstable to Canterbury.

For nature lovers there are so many places to walk in the area. Our personal favourite, especially during the Bluebell season in April-May, is King’s Wood near Ashford. The George Inn at Molash is a great place for Sunday roasts, and the Halfway house at Challock has a large garden with play area.

Epic views can be enjoyed from the Crown and Devil’s kneading trough above Wye (near Ashford). Bring a picnic as there are no facilities here, but gorgeous walks. Wye has 3 great pubs, including the Tickled Trout with riverside garden. A new cyclists’ café is planned for summer 2021, also by the river. Snacks and public toilets are available at the Co-Op opposite the church.

Also Denge & Pennypot Wood near Chartham is lovely, off the beaten track with varied flora and fauna. The nearby Compasses Pub at Crundale is a local favourite.

If history is your thing, head towards Ramsgate to Reculver Towers, around 10 minutes away by car. You can’t miss the twin towers on the clifftop, which dominate the skyline and are really quite impressive. The church, which has acted as a navigational aid for ships since Medieval times, was built on the site of an ancient Roman fort. It is now managed by

English Heritage but is free to visit and pets are welcome.

The ruins are right next to Reculver Country Park, which is a great place for dogs to let off some steam. There is a huge car park (at the time of writing is costs £1.30 to stay for an hour) as well as a visitor centre and small café that’s managed by Kent Wildlife Trust. Dogs on leads are welcome both inside and out.

In the opposite direction, towards Faversham, you’ll find South Swale Nature Reserve, which is home to thousands of wildfowl and waders during the winter months – particularly Brent geese. The reserve is also managed by the Kent Wildlife Trust and has excellent views over to the Isle of Sheppey. Make sure you pack your wellies in winter as it can get rather muddy.