A COMPLETE GUIDE TO VISITING THE BEST OF CANTERBURY
Canterbury is one of Englands most well-known cities due to its magnificent cathedral and the Canterbury tales. The city has many attractions, historical points of interest as well as a thriving culture waiting to be discovered. This guide aims to showcase the best of Canterbury with options to suit different budgets and interest.
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- Where is Canterbury Located
- The Best Time to Visit Canterbury
- The History of Canterbury
- The Best Things To Do in Canterbury
- Canterbury Cathedral
- Canterbury Roman Museum
- Westgate Gardens
- Westgate Tower Museum
- The Old Weavers House
- Canterbury River Cruise
- Beaney House of Art & Knowledge
- Eastbridge Hospital of St Thomas the Martyr, Canterbury
- The Crooked House
- Fyndon Gate Tower
- St Augustine’s Abbey
- St Martin’s Church
- Chaucer Statue & the Canterbury Tales.
- The Marlowe Theatre
- The Best Canterbury Day Trips
- The Best Photo Spots in Canterbury.
- The Best Places to Eat & Drink
- Coffee stops, Cafes, Restaurants & Other Eateries
- Afternoon Tea
- Shopping in Canterbury
- Nearby Places to Visit Whilst in Canterbury
- Sustainability in Canterbury
- 2 days (48 hours) Itinerary for Canterbury
- How to Get to Canterbury
- Where to Stay during your visit to Canterbury
- Other Frequently Asked Canterbury Questions
- Best of Canterbury Roundup
- Related Articles
- Pin & Save
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Where is Canterbury Located
The cathedral city of Canterbury is located in Southeast England, in the county of Kent. Canterbury was well known as a pilgrimage site in the Middle Ages. Ancient walls, originally built by the Romans, surrounded its medieval centre with cobbled streets and old timber-framed houses.
Canterbury Cathedral, was founded in 597 AD and is the head quarters of the Church of England. The cathedral is well known as being a UNESCO world heritage site and this alone is a magnificent reason to visit but the city has so many other attractions, beautiful gardens, historical points of interest, museums as well as a diverse coffee culture and fantastic dining options. It also is the perfect place to explore other parts of Kent and the coastline.
The Best Time to Visit Canterbury
Canterbury really is an all year round destination that is pretty busy all year around, naturally there are less visitors in the winter months. Summer is very busy with day-trippers from London and the home counties as well tourists from abroad and of course it’s also busy during the school holiday seasons. Spring is a great time to visit with the city’s parks and gardens being in full bloom. Autumn is very picturesque with the changing of the colours. October welcomes the Canterbury Festival, known as Kent’s International Arts Festival. The run up to Christmas and Christmas time is also very beautiful, if you don’t mind the cooler weather, as the city is sparkling with lights and festive decorations.
The History of Canterbury
Much of the history of Canterbury has been discussed throughout the article in reference to the points of interest and attractions which tell the city’s story.
The Best Things To Do in Canterbury
Be-lavie Tip: Please note, the popular attraction known previously by many as The Canterbury tales has now permanently closed and therefore has not been included in this guide.
Probably the most visited site in Canterbury has to be that of the 1,400 year old historical site of the world famous Canterbury cathedral. The cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage site and dates right back to the year 597 AD. This was around the time when St. Augustine, missionary arrived on the shores of Kent and became the first Archbishop of Canterbury.
Through the years, Canterbury Cathedral became a prominent pilgrimage site and attracted travellers from all over Europe to pay their respects to Saint, Thomas Becket who was murdered in the cathedral in 1170. You can stand on the spot he was murdered but also don’t miss the crypt and tombs of Henry IV and the Black Prince as well as the medieval magnificent stained glass windows.
The cathedral receives almost a million visitors a year and after a visit it’s apparent to see why. Present day, the cathedral has been under a lot of construction which does take away from the aesthetics of the medical architecture however its beauty is still mind-blowingly incredible.
- Canterbury cathedral. Cathedral House, 11 The Precincts, Canterbury CT1 2EH. Tel. 01227 762862
- Website: Canterbury Cathedral
- Admission Fees: £15.50 (Adults) Children under 17: Free.
Be-lavie Tip: Head through the cathedral grounds and walk through the cathedral’s cloisters.
Canterbury Roman Museum
It may be difficult to decipher that Canterbury’s history dates back to the Roman times when they invaded in the late first century. They took over an existing Celtic settlement and built a new town, Durovernum Cantiacorum. There were temples, public bath houses, a theatre, a town hall and the typical Roman streets in grid formation which were all encased within a town wall guard by seven gates.
Back in the 19th century, whilst digging trenches for a new drainage system, a well-preserved Roman mosaic floor was discovered. Following the World War II more discoveries were made where a Roman townhouse was unveiled as was an ancient underground heating system. The Canterbury Roman Museum has all the information on what life was like back in Roman Britain.
- Canterbury Roman Museum. 11A Longmarket, Butchery Ln, Canterbury CT1 2JR. Tel. 01227 785575
- Website: Canterbury Roman Museum
- Admission Fees: Adults: £9.20. Children above five years: £4.85
If arriving by train into Canterbury, you’ll no doubt walk by Westgate Gardens which are only an eight minute walk away.
These gardens are known to be one of the oldest gardens in England and perfect for a stroll and adjacent to the entrance to the old town where the Great Stour River passes by. This area has remained a public space since the middle ages and the perfect place to enjoy the peace and nature alongside historic buildings and ruins that make up the Westgate Gardens.
You’ll no doubt pass by a medical archway which is thought to have been moved here from the ruins in St. Augustine’s Abbey.
- Westgate Gardens. St Peter’s St, Canterbury CT1 2BQ
- Admission: Free to enter.
Westgate Tower Museum
Adjacent to Westgate Gradens, you can’t miss the very well preserved medical gatehouse and Westgate Tower, standing tall at the entrance of the high street in Canterbury. The tower dates back to the 14th century and it is hailed as the largest serving city gate in England. However the gatehouse is actually a replacement from the original Roman wall that enclosed the city from 300 AD.
The museum inside the towers is a great base to learn all about their defensive role during wars over the past centuries. The museum is well worth a visit as the views from the battlements right at the top are over Canterbury are pretty spectacular on a clear day
- Westgate Tower. 1 Pound Lane, Canterbury CT1 2BZ. Tel. 01227 808755
- Website: Westgate Tower Museum
- Admission:Adults £4, Children (5017 years old) £2
Be-lavie Tip: Those with walking difficulties are recommended to give climbing the towers a miss as the walkways are pretty narrow and steep.
The Old Weavers House
Located on the High street, Old Weavers House is one of the Oldest buildings in Canterbury. Its a fine example of a classic frame-timbered Tudor style house positioned next to a canal. The origins of its name are from the Flemish Weavers who fled France to detach from the religious persecution in the 16th century.
Today, the Old Weaver’s House is quite a popular and busy restaurant in Canterbury, with patio seating adjacent to the river.
- The Old Weaver’s House. 1-3 St Peter’s St, Canterbury CT1 2AT. Tel. 01227 464660
- Website: The Old Weaver’s Restaurant
Be-lavie Tip: During the summer months the restaurant has a special rate for a traditional English lunch followed by a leisurely 40 minutes river cruise. Its’ more of a punting style experience with boast departing from the restaurant with lunch and a boat tour packaged at £30 per person.
Canterbury River Cruise
Another must do activity in Canterbury as well as being one of the most popular activities is the Canterbury River Cruise. Escape the ground level of Canterbury and be board a small boat where your guide will steer you along the River Stour whilst they tell you all about the history and stories of the city. Your guide will also be your chauffeur so no boat punting skills required. Just sit back and enjoy the views.
The tour last around 40 minutes and you’ll pass by the waterside, gardens, Cathedral and Greyfriars Chapel.
- Canterbury Boat Tours/ Depart: 10am -17:00 daily between 01 April-07 November. Board from Kings’ Bridge right next to the Old Weaver’s House.
- Website: Canterbury River Tours
- Prices: Adults, £11, £9.50 concessions, Children under 17, £7
Be-lavie Tip: River tours and punting is only available in the spring, summer and autumn months (o1 April – 07 November) so plan your trip accordingly to avoid disappointment. If travelling in peak season then book your trips in advance to ensure you don’t miss out on this activity.
Beaney House of Art & Knowledge
Set within a beautiful Grade II listed building, located on the High Street, this museum and art gallery has something for everyone. You can expect historic as well as ancient artefacts which can be seen over several floors. The museum incorporates exhibits from Egyptian times, Greek mythology to Anglo-Saxon artefacts to name a few. The Museum is great for a quick visit or you can spend longer, either way there is a cafe, shop and a library inside.
- Beaney House of Art & Knowledge. 18 High St, Canterbury CT1 2RA. Tel. 01227 862162
- Website: Beaney House of Art & Knowledge
- Admission: Free (Fees may be applicable for special exhibitions)
Eastbridge Hospital of St Thomas the Martyr, Canterbury
There are three distinct parts that can be explored that makes up the Eastbridge; The Eastbridge Hospital, The Franciscan Gardens and the Franciscan Chapel.
This hospital was created in 1180 by Edward Fitzobold, a merchant to accommodate the pilgrims who came to visit the tomb of Thomas Becket and the Archbishop of Canterbury who was murdered inside the cathedral in 1170.
You access the. Hospital via the gothic door on High Street and there is a vaulted vestibule with the undercroft down a small flight of stairs. The area here is divide into cubicles where the pilgrims would have slept.
The rectory is built over the undercroft and dates back to the 12th century. There is a small chapel which can be accessed by a staircase at the end of the Refectory where you can see a bell cage encasing a hanging bell.
The chapel has had many uses over the centuries including as a schoolroom where it is believed Christopher Marlowe, the Elizabethan playwright, was educated before going to the Kings’ School and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.
The building also has apartments for eight dwellers or elderly persons of the Almhouse chosen to reside here.
The Franciscan Gardens
When leaving the Eastbridge Hospital, turn right onto High Street and head to the back of the Eastbridge and this is the site of the Franciscan Gardens. The gardens are part of the site which is thought to have extended to around 18 acres and the Chapel dating back to 1267 is the only original serving building which was once possibly a guest house.
- East Bridge Hospital. 25 High St, Canterbury CT1 2BD. Tel. 01227 471688
- Website: Eastbridge Hospital
- Admission: Adults: £4, £8 with joint Franciscan Gardens visit. Child prices have been introduced at end of December 2022 (*unknown at time of publishing article)
Be-lavie Tip: The Franciscan gardens are open during the summer months and seen as a quiet oasis where you will see the chapel in the corner.
The Crooked House
A short walk from High Street and en route to St. Augustine’s Abbey, you’ll see The Crooked House. It dates back to the 17th century and is also known as Sir John Boy’s House.
It’s said that the house adopts its crooked apprearance from chimney alterations that went wrong causing the whole building to slip sideways. Attempts were made to fix the slippage, however it resulted in the building becoming even more crooked however is stabilised from inside by a steel frame.
Today the building is home to a bookshop which also has a crooked door.
”..a very old house bulging over the road…leaning forward, trying to see who was passing on the narrow pavement below…”Charles Dickens, 1849
- The Crooked House. 28 Palace Street, Canterbury CT1 2DZ.
- Open 10:00-17:00 Mon-Sat.
Fyndon Gate Tower
This is the original gatehouse St Augustine’s Abbey and was rebuilt between 1301-1309 by Abbot Fyndon. The state chambers which are located above the gate have welcomed, Charles and Henrietta Maria as well as Elizabeth I. There are two tall towers at either side of the gate decorated with statues and embellishments with crenellations.
In front of the gate, behind the mini-roundabout, there’s a long green space known as Lady Wotton;s Green. This garden area has statues of King Ethelbery and Queen Bertha who welcomed the mission of St. Augustine to Kent in. 597.
Once Henry VIII ordered the abbey to be dissolved, the gatehouse served as a brewery under Messrs, Bennett and Beer who made St Augustine’s Beer, naturally.
- Fyndon Gate Tower. Follow signs for St. Augustine’s Abbey from the city centre
- Admission: Free to see from outside.
St Augustine’s Abbey
If you visited Fyndon gate Tower then you only have a few more minutes to go to get to one of the oldest churches in England, St August’s Abbey.
The ruins of the abbey are located a short walk from the city centre of Canterbury and originally served as a burial site for the Anglo-Saxon kings of Kent. The Abbey was founded by St Augustine on 597 AD and was a monastery until the English reformation in the 1500s.
It’s possible to visit the abbey museum and partake in a Virtual reality tour where you can envisage what the abbey looked like in the 16th century.
- St. Augustine’s Abbey. Longport, Canterbury CT1 1PF. Tel. 0370 333 1181.
- Website: St Augustine’s Abbey
- Admission: Adults, £8.10 with our donation (£9:00 with donation) Children £4.80 (£4:40 with donation). Open Saturday and Sundays 10:00-16:00
Be-lavie Tip: The abbey is run by and lovingly looked after by the English Heritage. It’s advisable to become a member as this will save you money if travelling in a party and you can also visit as many as 400 historic places around England throughout the year. Membership is available as joint, family, individual or lifetime.
St Martin’s Church
This is the oldest church in the English-speaking world in use today. St Martin’s Church dates all the way back to the 6th century and is around a ten minute walk from the centre of Canterbury. During the Roman occupation of Britain, the church was a place of worship and erected upon the Roman ruins
- St. Martin’s Church. 1 N Holmes Road, Canterbury CT1 1QJ. Tel. 01227 768072
- Website: St Martin’s Church
Chaucer Statue & the Canterbury Tales.
The well known medieval English poet, writer and philosopher, Geoffrey Chaucer statue is a must see. He is known to be one of the best English Poets of all time and is considered the father of the English language. He is of course best known for The Canterbury Tales. 20 pilgrims are mentioned in the Canterbury Tales, which tells the story of pilgrims travelling from London to pay their respects to the shrine of St.Thomas Becket in Canterbury cathedral.
The two-meter high sculpture of Chaucer was created by Kent sculptor Sam Holland, and the plinth by Lynne O’Dowd. It’s made from bronze and said to be worth £200,000.
- Chaucer Statue. Corner of Best Lane and High Street. Canterbury CT1 2AY
The Marlowe Theatre
An overnight stay in Canterbury, if you have the time is definitely worthy of a visit to the Marlowe theatre located right off the High Street. It makes up one of Canterburys 29 theatres and cinemas. Showings comprise Shakespeare, musicals and stand-up with a studio for contemporary performances.
- The Marlow Theatre. The Friars, Canterbury CT1 2AS. Tel. 01227 787787
- Website: The Marlowe Theatre
The Best Canterbury Day Trips
Day trips from London to Canterbury would be a great option if you fancy something a bit more structured and organised but also incorporates a visit to some other points of interest in Kent such as The white cliffs of Dover and Leeds Castle,
Look at booking these walking tours for discovering Canterbury.
If you love all things spooky then head to the Canterbury Ghost Tours, they are highly recommended and start at 8 pm each evening, with your guide dressed in a black top hat and cape for maximum effect.
- Website & Bookings: Canterbury Ghost Tours Night Tours MUST be booked in advance
- Prices: Adults (18+): £12.50. Children (17 under): £10 Concessions: £11.50
The Best Photo Spots in Canterbury.
If you’re looking for some instagram-worthy photography spots then this medical city has so many. It’s historic buildings, quaint shops and picturesque gardens are grid-perfection but also frame-worthy in real form not just digitally to admire for years to come.
All the below don’t require a special visit and are on the sight seeing route for most visitors to the city.
Much of the exterior of the cathedral has been undergoing works and has scaffolding around it but play around with angles and you may be able to grab a photo from another perspective.
Head to the cathedral cloister (at the back of the cathedral in the grounds) which dates back to the 15th Century and the gothic architecture here is absolutely stunning. Aim for a dark moody shot in the midday light.
Possible every postcard you have seen of Canterbury has a view of the top of the cathedral from a narrow shop lined lane in the city centre.
Take the photo from the beginning of the alleyway and best to head here early morning before the city becomes incredibly crowded.
The Crooked House
The quirkiness of the Crooked House, makes this the perfect instagram-worthy shot. If you want to be in the shot, be careful of the road in front of it, stand in position and be patient then grab your snap fast. This area can get very crowded.
Old Weaver’s House
Without a doubt one of the most photographed buildings in the city, the best shot in our opinion is of the river adjacent to it, especially if you can get one of the punting boast in too.
Walk to the medieval archway and take a shot here but then walk to the middle of several of the bridges over the canal and grab one of the prettiest shots of Canterbury up the river which will also include the Westgate towers, gardens and bridge in the same frame.
The Best Places to Eat & Drink
Canterbury has a great variety of places to eat and drink, including independent pubs, cafes, restaurants. All recommended dining spots are vegetarian friendly.
This is a popular brewPub and restaurant in Canterbury where you can discover the craft process behind. handmade grain to glass beers and spirits by booking a tour. You can even learn the history of the Victorian Foundry building on the tour.
Or simply pop in for some drinks and food.
- The Foundry Brewpub & Restaurant, 77 STour Street. Canterbury. CT1 1NR. Tel. 01227 455899
- Website: The Foundry BrewPub
- Price Range: ££
Canterbury has so many historic pubs to choose from that specialise in a whole host of beverages, ales in particular, and serve delicious food throughout the day as well as brunch offerings.
The Parrot – This is Canterbury’s oldest pub and was established in 1370 and is also the oldest buildings in the city, built in the 14th century upon Roman foundations. The interiors reflect the pubs age with old features such as wooden beams and flooring. This is a great lunch spot where sandwiches are delicious and hearty comforting meals are served. There is a a pretty beer garden with the option to sit inside or outside. The parrot does get very busy but service is fast and friendly.
- The Parrot. 1-9 Church Lane, St Radigunds St, Canterbury CT1 2AG. Tel. 01227 454170
- Website: The Parrot
- Price Range: ££
Another popular Canterbury spot, The Dolphin is a two minute walk away from the Westgate Towers and great for either lunch or dinner. There’s a huge beer garden, a wonderful variety of ales and other drinks as well as the most wonderful menu. They also do great Sunday roasts.
- The Dolphin. St Radigunds St, Canterbury CT1 2AA. Tel. 01227 455963
- Website: The Dolphin
- Price Range: ££
The Old Buttermarket
Ideally located close to Canterbury Cathedral and the gate entrance into the cathedral complex, the Old Buttermarket is the perfect spot to refuel in between sights. There’s a lively atmosphere and great to sit out when the weather is good. Great for people watching. The food concentrates on traditional British food accompanied by a variety of wines, ales and beers on tap.
- The Old Buttermarket. Kent, 39 Burgate, Canterbury CT1 2HW. Tel. 01227 462170
- Website: The Old Buttermarket
- Price Range: £
The Three Tuns
The Three Tuns lies on a historical site where Canterbury’s Roman theatre which was first built about 80 AD, that’s around the same time as the Colosseum in Roma. It was rebuilt in 210 AD as one of the largest theatres in Britain. The walls had been robbed out by the 11-12th centuries but much still survives below ground today.
Today this historical site houses a pub which has a great family atmosphere and serves beautifully cooked pub grub such as sharing plates of nachos, garlic mushrooms, chip butties to cats curries, Mac niches and cheese and potato pies. Burgers are also an option as well as all classics like egg and chips.
The Three Tuns. Watling Street, Canterbury CT1 2UD. Tel. 01227 458014
Website: The three Tuns
Price Range: £
Coffee stops, Cafes, Restaurants & Other Eateries
Garage Coffee Roasters
If you love your coffee this is the place to head for some freshly roasted, that’s great quality and available in different varieties. You can even buy some to take away with you to remind you of your time in Canterbury. There’re three stores currently, one in Canterbury with the others in Margate and Whitstable. They also sell sweet treats too.
- Garage Coffee Roasters. 17 Sun Street, Canterbury, Kent. CT1 2HX. Tel. 01227 941358 (Roastery)
- Website: Garage Roasters
- Price Range: £
The Refectory Kitchen
Enjoy a great cup of coffee and a delicious brunch. Choose from pancakes, French toast, grilled English breakfast, pesto eggs and much more. This small cafe fills up fast so arrive early as you can’t make reservations. This is fresh well made food.
- The Refectory Kitchen. 16 St. Dunstan’s Street, Canterbury CT2 8AF. Te. 01227 638766
- Website: The Refectory Kitchen
- Price Range: ££
Cafe Des Amis
This is very much a quirky, colourful diner with modern artworks, serving Mexican fare alongside Mediterranean dishes. Choose from a variety of plates such as spinach, leek and mozzarella tacos, roast vegetable Tostadas, End with churros and the vegan banana split as well as a great range wines, beers, cocktails and cocktails. Super vegetarians and vegan friendly too.
- Cafe Des Amis. 95 St. Dunstans St, Canterbury CT2 8AA. Tel. 01227 464390
- Website: Cafe Des Amis
- Price Range: ££
The Goods Shed
This is a farmers market, food hall and restaurant located in an early victorian locomotive shed. It’s on a raised platform overlooking the the daily market, includes a restaurant, a butcher, green grocers and even a bakery. The new menu at the restaurant changes twice a day and the ingredients are sourced from no more than two feet away direct from the farmers.
All ingredients are seasonal and seating is available outside or inside. Think dishes like new potatoes, salsa verde and green beans or grilled apricots, grilled toast curd and mint. There is a great variety of dishes for vegetarians as well as vegans.
- The Goods Shed. Station Road West, Canterbury CT2 8AN. Tel. 01227 459153
- Website: The Goods Shed
- Price range: ££-££
The Cook’s Tale
If you’re looking for a fine dining affair then the Cook’s Tale is an innovative Anglo-Indian dishes served in a light, modern space with chunky tables & stripped floors. They specialise in multiple course tasting menus, a la carte offerings as well as wine tastings, cookery classes and so much more. Ingredients are seasonal and locally sourced and the chefs are keen to follow sustainable practices, so a thumbs up from Be-Lavie.
- The Cook’s Tale: 14-15 Beer Cart Lane, Canterbury CT1 2NY. Tel. 01227 200777
- Website: The Cook’s Tale
- Price Range: £££
If you’re spending the day in Whitstable or don’t mind the 20 minute drive out of Canterbury, The Samphire is an independent bistro in the heart of Whitstable town which feel quirky, and has an interesting menu with locally sourced, seasonal ingredients. Its a creative and imaginative menu. There’s also a great choice for vegetarians and vegan diets too. Vegetarian selections (December 2022 menu) include, butternut squash, spinach and pine nut pithier, cauliflower puree and pickled wild mushrooms, followed by the clementine cake with rum and raisin ice-cream.
- The Samphire. 4 High Street, Whitstable CT5 1BQ. Tel. 01227 770075.
- Website: The Samphire
- Price Range: £££
Tiny Tims Tea Rooms
This is a fantastic spot in the city centre for breakfasts, light lunches and afternoon tea. No need to reserve if you don’t fancy it but expect to wait. Seating is available over two floors and there’s great choice of afternoon tea items presented on a pretty stand if you fancy it, delicious cakes, scones and other treats, sandwiches, savoury pastries served with salad or opt for a delicious bowl of homemade soup and bread. Oh and of course a lot of tea.
Pop to the first floor and have a peruse in the room where Tiny Tim’s ghost was first awakened. Its right next door to the loos. But mind, don’t touch anything!
- Tiny Tims Tea Rooms. 34 St Margaret’s St, Canterbury CT1 2TG. Tel. 01227 450793
- Website: Tiny Tim’s Tearooms
- Price Range: ££
The Falstaff Hotel
A two minute walk from the Westgate Towers is the historic Hotel, Falstaff who do a fantastic afternoon tea with champagne and even cocktails. If you’re celebrating a special occasion or want to treat yourself. Be sure to book in to avoid disappointment as weekends can be a busy time at the hotel with guests.
- The Falstaff. The Falstaff. 8-12 St Dunstans Street, Canterbury, CT2 8AF. Tel. T:01227 462138
- Website: The Falstaff Hotel
- Price Range: ££
Shopping in Canterbury
Shopping in the centre of Canterbury means access to the usual High street stores as well as arcades and boutiques full of independent shops from clothing, beauty, gifts, cards as well as eateries. Spend some time looking through one of the bookshops such as The Crooked House or The Chaucer Bookshop. If you love your antiques, why not go and peruse in Saracans Lantern.
Nearby Places to Visit Whilst in Canterbury
If you’re in Canterbury for multiple days, why not explore the Garden of England, a.k.a. Kent and look at the other things to do and areas to visit.
The closest vineyard to Canterbury is the well established and award wining wine producing, Chartham Vineyard. Booking into one of the organised tours which also including tasting some of the wines on offer or visit the shop. It’s a great few hours exploring and getting to know the grape varieties produced here.
- Chartham Vineyard, Burnt House Farm, Station Rd, Chartham CT4 7HU. Tel. 01233 813709.
- Website: Chartham Vineyards
- Distance from Canterbury: 15 minutes drive
Be-lavie Tip: Get a taxi if you’re planning on doing the wine tasting, which also comes with nibbles.
Whitstable is located on the North Coast of Kent and makes for a great day trip or few hours. It’s great to walk along the coast, head to the harbour front or sit in one of the independent cafes and discover the quaint little shops that line the small town centre. Take a walk up to Whitstable Castle and Tankerton Beach, which is great for picnics. The shingle beach also has a number of older, vintage style beach huts to spot.
Don’t miss the famous pink facade of Whitstable Oyster Company and try their specialities if you’re a seafood fan.
- Distance from Canterbury: 20 minutes
About four miles from Canterbury, lies Herne Bay. It’s a popular seaside resort town on the Kent coast, just east of Whitstable. It has been called Kent’s Classic Seaside Town, with traditional resort attractions including an amusement pier, family amusements, and a long sandy beach.
Herne Bay has a wonderful selection of Beach Huts if you fancy that iconic photograph of the colourful huts all lined up agains the blue to the sea.
- Distance from Canterbury: 27 minutes
Sandwich is one of the oldest preserved Medieval towns in England with the bay being home to nature reserves and two world-class golf courses, Royal St George’s and Prince’s. The town is also home to many educational and cultural events. Sandwich also gave its name to the food by way of John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, and the word sandwich is now found in several languages.
- Distance from Canterbury: 36 minutes by car
A timeless family-friendly resort packed with beautiful bays and things to see and do. Broadstairs’ spectacular coastline includes seven sandy beaches and bucket loads of seaside charm. Central Viking Bay boasts children’s rides and beach huts; rural Botany Bay has photogenic chalk stacks; whilst Joss Bay offers a surf school.
You’ll find fishermen’s cottages, clifftop walks and independent shops lining unspoilt streets. The town was Charles Dickens’ favourite holiday spot and his legacy includes Dickens House Museum. Broadstairs also has some great places to eat including fancy spots, cafes and 1950s ice-cream parlours.
- Distance from Canterbury: 40 minutes
Dover is well known for its chalk white cliffs, and the principle cross-channel port for Britain. This coastal town is definitely worth a visit en route to Leeds Castle which holds 2000 years of history within its walls including Roman invasions, medieval life, wartime events and lots more. The scenery of the cliffs and coastal areas is absolutely spectacular specially when walking the coastal paths.
- Distance from Canterbury: 30 minutes
Sustainability in Canterbury
Canterbury part of Kent council takes sustainability seriously and advocates train travel as well as public transport where possible. Hotels in Canterbury have water saving policies including linens not being changed daily and reduced food waste by only cooking meals including breakfasts to order.
Plastic waste reduction is at the forefront of the city’s sustainability policy with reusable water bottles and hot drinks cups being pushed instead of single use items.
The city also has a large number of public waste bins located at regular intervals throughout the city streets and parks.
Two days (48 hours) Itinerary for Canterbury
Here’s a 48 hour itinerary for visiting Canterbury which can be customised to suit individual interests.
- Arrive into Canterbury in the morning/early afternoon.
- Check into your hotel (The Falstaff is a great option) and take a quick orientation tour of the city. There are plenty of maps available in most of the city centre hotels or alternatively add your places of interest to a customised Google Map of your own, accessible on your smart phone.
- Grab a light lunch at Tiny Tims or a coffee at Garage Roasters.
- You can head to the Westgate Gardens for a leisurely stroll or have time to relax if you’ve had a long journey.
- Go for an early (ish) dinner at Cafe de Amis.
- The Canterbury Ghost Tour starts at 8 pm and lasts for about 90 mins. Your guide will be a local author, John Hippisley who takes you through local history as well as jokes and walks you along the dark streets in the city centre searching for the chilling spooky things in the city. Costs are around £10 adults, £9 children or £9.50 for concessions.
- The Parrot Pub is a great spot for drinks before heading back to your hotel.
- Get a head start and visit Canterbury cathedral as early as possible to avoid the crowds, especially the day-trippers who will be arriving in the city mid-morning.
- Make your way to Kings Bridge and take a boat trip along the River Stour taking in the history and commentary of your guide. Soak in the atmosphere and surroundings for the next 40 minutes.
- A great place for lunch is The Refectory Kitchen, which is a family run cafe serving locally sourced, fresh food
- Spend the rest of the afternoon at Canterbury’s Roman Museum.
- Why not wander around some of the independent shops and antique stores?
- Have dinner at one of the city’s many pubs of restaurants, The Falstaff restaurant does some great wood-fired pizzas or you could drive or take a taxi to Whitstable and dine at The Samphire for a special meal.
- End your evening with the incredible cocktails at the Falstaff Hotel’s swanky bar.
- Post breakfast and a little lie in, head to the Westgate Tower and climb the tower as well as mooching around the museum. Marvel at those views from 60 feet above.
- Take a walk around Canterbury and make sure you’ve wandered along Butchery Lane and all the little alleyways that make the city so unique.
- Pop into the Beaney House of Art & Knowledge for a quick scout.
- Remember to take all your photos in the centre as early as possible to avoid crowds. Things can get very busy in the town centre.
- If you’re feeling peckish, head to the Goods Shed Farmer’s market and pick up some snacks or have a lovely lunch at their restaurant which focusses on local ingredients.
- Enjoy a leisurely stroll through Canterbury and head home with some incredible memories.
How to Get to Canterbury
You can travel sustainably to Canterbury with high speed trains, bus and coach stations Within easy reach of the centre of Canterbury .
- By Air – Although Canterbury does not have an airport, there are three airports within easy reach from the city; London Gatwick Airport (70 mins and 66 miles/106km), London City Airport (92 mins and 60.9 miles/97 Km) and London Heathrow Airport (90 mins and 91miles/146Km). They can all be reached by car, taxi, train or coach.
- By Train – If travelling from London, take the Southeastern trains to Canterbury from St Pancras International. The journey takes around 51 minutes. There is also the Canterbury east station which is a five minutes walk from the city centre.
- If traveling from the Midlands, train to Canterbury on average will take 2hrs 40 mins with changes at London St Pancras International and or Ashford International onto Canterbury West.
- By Coach – A number of coach services operate to Canterbury including National Express which has a pretty extensive service through the UK. Check routes to Canterbury with National Express.
- By car – From London, the easiest way to get to Canterbury is via the M2 and A2, which takes around 90 minutes in relative normal traffic situations. From the north and and Midlands the best route is via the M1, M25, A2 and A2050 into Canterbury.
- Parking in Canterbury – To park in the centre of Canterbury, follow Canterbury car parks. Prices vary between £1.20 – £2.50 per hour during 07:30-21:00 and generally there is an overnight charge of £2:00, with a maximum fee of around £10-£20 per day.
- If you don’t have a car but like the flexibility of having one, why not hire one for a couple of days
Where to Stay during your visit to Canterbury
Canterbury has a various range of accommodation to suit every style and budget from historic luxury hotels to mid-range family lodgings and good value for money hostels.
Here are some great options to stay in Canterbury
The Falstaff is housed in a former coaching inn, dating back to 1403 and still has many original features such as beamed ceilings, traditionally decorated rooms. It’s located next to the Westgate Tower and is a two minute walk to the high street and a 10 minute walk to Canterbury Cathedral.
The Falstaff has a number of individually decorated rooms as well as suites providing guests with a great choice of rooms. For an overnight stay, the cosy room is perfect but if you’re in Canterbury for a special occasion then opt for one of the cosy rooms complete with roll-top bath.
When it comes to breakfast, (served in the restaurant) opt for the self-serve continental delights or order a made to cooked breakfast from the extensive breakfast menu. Vegetarian and vegan options are available.
The restaurant also serves evening meals as well as lunches and the pizzas are a great winner.
The cocktail bar offers a range of Classic and Signature cocktails along with a selection of local beers, wines and spirits.
As well as the stylish cocktail bar, guests can enjoy brunch as well as a beautiful afternoon tea in the drawing room.
Car parking is available at the rear on a first come first served basis and the hotel offers free WIFI throughout.
- The Falstaff. 8-12 St Dunstans Street, Canterbury, CT2 8AF. Tel. T:01227 462138
- Website: The Falstaff Hotel
- Price Range: £££
Abode canterbury is a mere 350 yards from Canterbury Cathedral as is located within the city’s historic walls and even has an award-winning restaurant and cocktail bar, The County.
The rooms are elegant and have an en-suite bathroom comprising of a monsoon shower. As well as all the usually modern room amenities and luxury toiletries and free WIFI in rooms.
The County restaurants focus is to serve an innovative menu of fresh, local produce and the cocktail bar serves a great menu of cocktails as well as champagne in a contemporary setting.
There is a varied room choice available including suites featuring Chesterfield sofas and smaller rooms perfect for an overnight visit too. The hotel is just metres from the quaint shops and cafes of Canterbury with the Canterbury Trails attraction being a two minute walk away.
Parking is available and is charged at £12 per 24 hours.
- The Abode Canterbury. 30-33 High St, Canterbury CT1 2RX. Tel. 01227 766266
- Website: ABode Canterbury
- Price Range: ££
Cathedral gate dates back to 1438 and is located in the heart of Canterbury. It was once slept in by pilgrims, this hotel predates the adjoining gateway to Canterbury Cathedral and features original features such as wooden beams and sloping floors.
Each room has an en-suite bathroom or shared facilities with some of the rooms even having a view of the cathedral.
Rooms are decorated in a traditional style as dark wood four poster beds and a continental breakfast is served each morning. A cooked breakfast can also be available with a small change. There is free WIFI throughout the property.
The hotel is a 15 minute walk from Canterbury West and East railway stations and steps from the bustling Buttermarket as well as well teh high street with all the cute independent shops.
Parking is available but a fee as the hotel is so central.
- Cathedral Gate. 36 Burgate, Canterbury CT1 2HA. Tel. 01227 464381
- Website: Cathedral Gate Hotel
- Price Rage: ££
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Other Frequently Asked Canterbury Questions
Is one day enough to visit Canterbury?
There is plenty to do in Canterbury which you can easily squeeze into one day. The direct train from London only takes two hours and many of the attractions can be visited in a day if you’re keeping to the city centre spots.
What is famous about Canterbury?
Canterbury is famed for its stunning cathedral and atmospheric medieval streets. Christchurch University has a multinational student population which adds a youthful element, aiding to sustain a good selection of attractive pubs and a healthy café scene. Canterbury is also famous for Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, which charts the journey of a pilgrim’s journey from London to Canterbury. Its an English classic and studies by many students at school in English literature classes.
Which day is Canterbury Market?
Wednesday and Friday are both trading days with a maximin of 20 stalls in Canterbury town.
Does Canterbury has a beach?
Canterbury is 20 minutes inland from its closest beach which is located in Whitstable.
Is it worth going inside Canterbury Cathedral?
The simple answer is yes. It is one of the oldest cathedrals in the UK and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You don’t have to be focussed on religion to admire and absorb the beauty of the cathedral, its grounds as well as the cloisters. Its a must.
Is Canterbury Safe to Visit?
Canterbury is generally a very safe place to visit but consider the usual precautions, must always be taken. Keep an eye on valuables, don’t leave them on display or unattended. Try not to walk alone too late after dark, into the small hours of the morning. The usual safety precautions you would take on visiting any city and be sensible.
Best of Canterbury Roundup
Canterbury is one of the most historical medical cities in England which has a plethora of things to do. It makes a great day trip from London and a wonderful staycation option from other parts of the UK and a worthwhile option of you’re travelling from outside of the UK too. It’s definitely a city to add to any UK trip itinerary.
Canterbury is a not to be missed destination for history enthusiasts and well as those who want to have the option of staying close to the coast but commutable in under half an hour. Canterbury is perfect to use as a base when exploring the Garden of England, Kent but also in close proximity to three of the countries most wonderful vineyard locations.
There are so many reasons to visit Canterbury, so why not add it to your UK travel bucket list?
Travel Planning Resources To Help Plan Your Trip
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- Flights: Search & Book the best flight options through SKYSCANNER
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- Car Hire: Secure the best vehicle to suit your needs with EUROPCAR
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