Shell Grotto


Margate’s unique attraction is a mysterious subterranean grotto, discovered in 1835. It’s a claustrophobic collection of rooms and passageways embedded with 4.6 million shells arranged in symbol-rich mosaics. It has inspired feverish speculation over the years; some think it a 2000-year-old pagan temple, others an elaborate 19th-century hoax. Either way, it’s a one-of-a-kind place worth seeing.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Kent attractions

1. Turner Contemporary


Turner Contemporary is a blockbuster art gallery, bolted together on the site of the seafront guesthouse where master painter JMW Turner used to stay…

2. Dreamland

0.59 MILES

Given the kiss of life using lottery and council funds, Margate’s famous amusement park has come back to life after many years of lying derelict and stop…

3. Dickens House Museum

3.06 MILES

This quaint museum is Broadstairs’ top indoor attraction and the former home of Mary Pearson Strong – Dickens’ inspiration for the character of Betsey…

4. Spitfire Memorial Museum

3.13 MILES

Around 4 miles northwest of Ramsgate’s town centre at Manston Airport, this purpose-built museum stores two WWII planes: one a Spitfire, the other a…

5. Ramsgate Maritime Museum

4.14 MILES

Interesting but erratically opening museum displaying loot from the more than 600 ships that have been wrecked on the notorious Goodwin Sands off this…

6. Richborough Roman Fort

6.98 MILES

Roman Britain began here amid the windswept ruins of Richborough’s Roman Fort, just 2 miles north of Sandwich. This is where the successful AD 43 invasion…

7. St Mary’s

7.95 MILES

This former church is now a multipurpose venue hosting some surprisingly big acts. It’s open during the day for perusal and is worth a look for its…

8. Sandwich Quay

8.02 MILES

Several attractions line the River Stour. The cute little flint-chequered Barbican tollgate was built by Henry VIII and controls traffic flow over the…