Canterbury: top 3 things to do
1. Step inside Canterbury Cathedral
Canterbury Cathedral is one of the oldest and most famous cathedrals in England. So, it should be at the top of your must-see list. Best known as the place where Archbishop Thomas Becket was murdered by the knights of King Henry II in 1170, it’s been a significant pilgrimage site ever since. Its impressive gothic towers and intricate stained-glass windows give it Insta-worthy status. Head to a Sunday service to lose yourself in the uplighting voices of the choir.
2. Punt along the River Stour
If you fancy exploring Canterbury’s historical heart without too much effort, catch a ride on a classic wooden punt and glide along the River Stour in style. You’ll pass famous sights like the Old Weaver’s House and Eastbridge Hospital, while your punt chauffeur shares intriguing tales and ancient anecdotes. These tours can be booked for day or night, so if you want to up the fright factor, try one of the spooky night tours and uncover the haunted corners of the city.
3. Enjoy afternoon tea at Tiny Tim’s Tearoom
If you want to indulge your sweet tooth, there’s only one place to go: Tiny Tim’s Tearoom. This family-owned business serves up melt-in-your-mouth treats including cakes, scones and breakfast staples, all lovingly made with locally sourced produce. You’ll feel like you’ve been transported to a bygone era with its Art Deco-style frontage and 1930s soundtrack. On sunny days, set up camp in the courtyard with a hunk of homemade sponge and a hot choc.
Canterbury: getting around
Hop on the megabus to Canterbury and parking won’t be a worry – once you’ve been dropped off in the city centre, you’re free to roam to your heart’s content. You’ll head off from London’s Victoria Coach Station and arrive at Canterbury Bus Station on St George’s Lane, close to Canterbury East train station.
From here, you can start exploring straight away. It’s a really easy city to get around on foot, with most shops, restaurants and attractions around a 15-minute walk away. If you fancy exploring the Kent coast – think seaside towns like Whitstable and Herne Bay – there are plenty of buses to whisk you there and back from Canterbury.
Canterbury: best for nightlife/restaurants
Considering Canterbury’s historic credentials, it’s no surprise its social scene includes a pub dating back to the 14th century. The Parrot is the city’s oldest watering hole and boasts a beer garden that’s buzzing come summer. Other pubs deserving of honourable mention are The Cherry Tree, The Shakespeare and Lady Luck Bar – the latter serves up board games, retro tunes and craft beer with a rock ‘n’ roll vibe. The Old Buttermarket is also a popular spot for people-watching and drinking in the sunshine. For a night of dancing, venues like Club Chemistry, The Ballroom and The Cuban all guarantee fun into the early hours.
Canterbury: best for shopping
If you’re looking to flex the plastic in Canterbury, you’re in luck. You’ll find a line-up of high street stores, independent shops and markets to browse. Whitefriars Shopping Centre is a great place to start, with over 70 stores including big brand favourites. For something more unique, head to Canterbury High Street, where independent boutiques mingle with popular chains. The King’s Mile, Westgate and St. Dunstan’s are also worth checking out for one-off shops. The Buttermarket next to the cathedral is a good bet for sweets and gifts, while the Goods Shed Farmers Market is a must-visit for local produce. Lastly, don’t leave without a visit to The Crooked House, a brilliantly wonky bookshop that supports those in need.
Canterbury for free – our top 3
1. Picnic in Westgate Gardens
For a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city centre, a trip to Westgate Gardens is just the tonic. This 11-acre park is one of England’s oldest, and features a Victorian Tower House, a Physic Garden filled with medicinal plants, and plenty of pathways for a scenic stroll. There are also some picture-perfect views to be had of the River Stour. So, pack a picnic, grab a blanket and cop a squat among the tulips when they’re in bloom.
2. Walk the Old City Walls
For a different vantage point, take to Canterbury’s ancient city walls. Dating back to 43AD when the Romans built the first defences to protect themselves from enemy invasion, the Old City Walls tell their story via a series of plaques. Access the walls from Dane John Gardens, then wander along the stone structures. Halfway round you’ll come to a large mound – huff and puff to the top, and you’ll be rewarded with top-notch views of the city.
3. Discover The Beaney House of Art & Knowledge
One of the city’s best free-of-charge attractions is The Beaney House of Art & Knowledge. This unique building is an art gallery, museum and library all rolled into one. Expect Victorian taxidermy, and the work of acclaimed artists like David Hockney and Thomas Sidney Cooper on display. There are also Egyptian and Greek artefacts, birds and butterflies, and stained glass, paintings and drawings to pore over. Among the artwork that spans 500 years, you’ll spot familiar childhood heroes like Rupert the Bear and Bagpuss.
Book your Canterbury coach tickets using the journey planner at the top of this page.