Day Trip to Canterbury from London: Best Things to Do

Day Trip to Canterbury from London: Best Things to Do

We highly recommend escaping the hustle and bustle of London with a day trip to Canterbury!

Canterbury is a captivating city located in southeast England with a rich historical and cultural heritage. It is renowned for its majestic Canterbury Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the oldest and most famous Christian structures in England.

Steeped in medieval charm, the city’s cobbled streets wind through a maze of timber-framed buildings, leading visitors to discover hidden courtyards, cozy pubs, and independent boutiques.

Canterbury’s significance as a pilgrimage site is intertwined with the legacy of Thomas Becket, whose martyrdom at the cathedral in the 12th century made it a destination of great religious importance.

Beyond its religious history, Canterbury offers museums, such as the Canterbury Roman Museum and the Canterbury Tales attraction, where visitors can delve into the city’s past.

The River Stour gracefully meanders through the heart of Canterbury, offering scenic boat tours and picturesque views.

With its unique blend of history, architectural splendor, and cultural vibrancy, Canterbury captivates visitors with its timeless appeal.

The Best Way To Get To Canterbury

There are several ways to get to Canterbury from London. Here are some common transportation options:

Train: Trains are a popular and convenient way to travel from London to Canterbury. You can take a direct train from London St Pancras International or London Victoria Station to Canterbury West Station.

The journey takes approximately one hour. It’s advisable to check the train schedules in advance and purchase tickets online or at the station.

Canterbury West Train Station is the primary railway station serving the historic city of Canterbury in southeast England. Located a short walk from the city center, the station provides excellent connections to London, Ashford, and other destinations in Kent.

The station’s architecture reflects its Victorian origins, and it has been modernized to accommodate the needs of modern travelers. Inside, you’ll find ticketing facilities, waiting areas, shops, and cafes.

Frequent trains run to London St Pancras International, taking approximately one hour, making it a convenient gateway for day trips and commuting.

Canterbury West Train Station offers easy access to the city’s main attractions, including the famous Canterbury Cathedral and other historic sites, making it an essential transportation hub for visitors exploring this picturesque city.

Bus: National Express operates direct bus services from London Victoria Coach Station to Canterbury Bus Station. The journey duration can vary depending on traffic conditions but typically takes around 2 to 2.5 hours. Bus tickets can be purchased online or at the coach station.

Car: If you prefer driving, you can reach Canterbury from London by taking the A2 or M2 motorway. The distance between the two cities is approximately 60 miles (97 km), and the journey duration depends on traffic conditions.

It’s worth noting that parking in the Canterbury city center may be limited, so it’s advisable to check for parking options in advance.

Guided Tours: Another option is to join a Canterbury day tour from London. Many tour companies offer organized trips that include transportation, guided sightseeing, and sometimes visits to other nearby attractions such as Leeds Castle or Dover.

These tours provide a convenient and hassle-free way to explore Canterbury and its surroundings.

If you want help planning your trip to London, check out our blog post: Best London Travel Guide | Top Tips For 2023

Canterbury Tours We Recommend:

When planning your trip, consider factors such as cost, convenience, and the experience you desire. Train travel is often the fastest and most convenient option, while buses and guided tours can offer affordability and additional amenities.

When is the Best Time to Visit Canterbury? 

The best time to visit Canterbury depends on your preferences and what you want to experience.

Here are some considerations for different seasons:

Spring (March to May)

Spring can be a beautiful time to visit Canterbury. The weather starts to warm up, and the city comes alive with blooming flowers and blossoming trees.

It’s a great time to explore the gardens, enjoy outdoor activities, and visit the historic sites without the peak tourist crowds.

Summer (June to August)

Summer is a popular time to visit Canterbury, especially for tourists. The weather is generally warm, and there are longer daylight hours.

However, it can get crowded, particularly in July and August. If you don’t mind the crowds, summer offers opportunities for outdoor events, festivals, and enjoying the vibrant atmosphere of the city.

Autumn (September to November)

Autumn brings milder temperatures and beautiful fall foliage to Canterbury. It’s a quieter time compared to summer, making it ideal for those seeking a more relaxed experience.

The city’s historic sites and cultural attractions are still open, and you can enjoy pleasant walks and explore the nearby countryside.

Winter (December to February)

Winter is the off-peak season in Canterbury, which means fewer crowds and potentially lower accommodation rates. The weather is colder, and you may experience rain, but Canterbury’s historic charm can be especially appealing during this time. The city is adorned with festive decorations, and you can enjoy cozy pubs, Christmas markets, and cultural events.

It’s worth noting that the weather in Canterbury can be changeable throughout the year, so it’s a good idea to check the forecast before your visit.

Additionally, if you plan to visit specific events or attractions, make sure to check their opening hours and any seasonal closures. Overall, Canterbury offers something unique in every season, so choose the time that aligns with your interests and preferences.

Exploring Kent

Canterbury is located in the county of Kent, an ideal place to get away from the hustle and bustle of London and enjoy a perfect day exploring other spots in Kent (not just Canterbury). Located in the southeastern part of England, Kent is known as the “Garden of England,” and is renowned for its picturesque countryside, rolling hills, orchards, and beautiful coastline. From the towns of Canterbury and Dover to charming seaside towns, fresh seafood, beautiful castles and hiking to stunning landscapes are some of the best things to experience in Kent. 

Best Thing To See and Do on a Day Trip to Canterbury

Canterbury offers a rich history, stunning architecture, and a vibrant cultural scene. Here are some of the best things to see and do in Canterbury:

Canterbury Cathedral: Visit the famous canterbury cathedral, one of the most celebrated Christian structures in England. Explore the grandeur of the cathedral, admire the intricate stained glass windows, and visit the crypt. Don’t miss the opportunity to climb the tower for panoramic views of the city.

Visit Thomas Beckets Tomb: Thomas Becket is of immense importance to Canterbury due to his brutal murder in 1170. Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury during King Henry II’s reign, asserted the Church’s independence from royal authority, leading to conflict with the king.

This tension culminated in his assassination by four knights inside Canterbury Cathedral. The shocking murder of Thomas Becket shocked the medieval world and led to his canonization as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church. His tomb in Canterbury Cathedral became a significant pilgrimage site, attracting devotees from all over Europe seeking blessings and miracles.

The murder of Thomas Becket and the subsequent veneration of his memory played a crucial role in elevating Canterbury’s status as a major religious center and shaped its historical significance.

St. Augustine’s Abbey: Explore the ruins of St. Augustine’s Abbey, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Learn about its significance as the first Christian abbey in England and wander through the beautiful grounds that still retain a sense of tranquillity.

Visitors can explore the remains of the abbey church, the cloister, and other structures.  St. Augustine’s Abbey is conveniently located near Canterbury Cathedral and St. Martins Church, making it a perfect addition to your Canterbury itinerary for those interested in history, spirituality, and England’s early Christian heritage.

St. Martin’s Church: St Martin’s Church in Canterbury is a historic and significant religious site. Believed to be the oldest church in continuous use in England, its origins date back to the late Roman period and early Anglo-Saxon times.

The church features a mix of architectural styles, including Roman, Norman, and Gothic elements. Notable features include a beautiful Romanesque tower and a medieval font. St. Martin’s holds a special place in Canterbury’s history as it is said to be the church where St. Augustine, the first Archbishop of Canterbury, worshipped upon his arrival in England in the 6th century.

This association with St. Augustine and its long-standing presence make St. Martin’s Church a captivating destination for those interested in exploring the early Christian heritage of Canterbury.

Westgate Towers:  As the largest surviving medieval city gate in England, the Westgate Towers offer a glimpse into Canterbury’s past as a fortified city. You can climb the narrow spiral staircase to reach the top, where you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of Canterbury’s historic streets, the River Stour, and the surrounding countryside.

The towers’ interior also houses an interactive museum, where you can delve deeper into the city’s history and defence through informative exhibits and displays.

The Westgate Towers provide a unique opportunity to step back in time, admire architectural marvels, and enjoy stunning vistas, making it a memorable stop during your exploration of Canterbury’s rich heritage.

Canterbury Westgate Gardens: Enjoy a peaceful stroll through the Westgate Gardens, located alongside the River Stour. These beautifully maintained gardens provide a tranquil oasis in the heart of the city and are perfect for a picnic or leisurely walk.

Courtesy of The Canterbury Roman Museum

Canterbury Roman Museum: Visiting the Canterbury Roman Museum offers an exciting journey back in time to Roman Britain. Situated in the heart of Canterbury, this fascinating museum houses an extensive collection of artifacts and exhibits that showcase the city’s Roman past.

As you explore the museum, you’ll encounter well-preserved remains of a Roman townhouse, complete with colorful mosaics and underfloor heating, providing insights into the daily life and opulence of the time. Interactive displays and informative panels offer a deeper understanding of Canterbury’s Roman history, including its role as a significant Roman settlement and its connection to important trade routes.

For history enthusiasts and families alike, the Canterbury Roman Museum provides a captivating and educational experience, immersing visitors in the vibrant history of Roman Britain and its enduring impact on the city of Canterbury.

Canterbury High Street: Canterbury High Street is a bustling thoroughfare in the city centre, offering a diverse range of shops, restaurants, and historic buildings. It’s a vibrant hub where you can shop for fashion, explore local boutiques, indulge in delicious cuisine, and admire the mix of architectural styles.

The street also provides access to attractions like The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge and serves as a gateway to the magnificent Canterbury Cathedral.

The Beaney House of Art & Knowledge: Visit this cultural hub, which combines an art gallery, a museum, and a library. The Beaney offers a diverse range of exhibitions, from fine art to archaeology, and hosts regular events and workshops.

Visit the Crooked House: The Crooked House in Canterbury is a charming and historic timber-framed building located on Palace Street, just a short walk from the city’s High Street. This unique house, dating back to the 16th century, is famous for its crooked appearance, with its sloping floors, wonky beams, and quirky angles.

Today, the Crooked House is a popular tourist attraction and a favorite spot for photographs, showcasing Canterbury’s rich architectural heritage and providing a delightful glimpse into the city’s medieval past.

Canterbury Historic River Tours: Take a relaxing boat tour along the River Stour. These guided tours provide a unique perspective of the city, passing under charming medieval bridges and showcasing beautiful gardens and historic buildings.

Canterbury Heritage Museum: Learn about the local history and heritage of Canterbury at this museum. Discover exhibits that cover topics ranging from the city’s medieval past to its wartime experiences.

Go on a Charles Dickens Tour: Canterbury has a significant connection to Charles Dickens, the renowned Victorian-era English novelist. Dickens featured Canterbury in one of his most famous works, “The Pickwick Papers,” published in 1837. Today, Canterbury celebrates its connection to Charles Dickens, and you can find references to the author and his literary legacy throughout the city.

There are guided tours and events that highlight the places associated with Dickens in Canterbury, making it a fascinating destination for both literature enthusiasts and history lovers.

Don’t forget to explore the local cuisine by sampling traditional Kentish treats and visiting the city’s pubs and restaurants. Canterbury offers a delightful blend of history, culture, and natural beauty, making it a captivating destination for visitors.


Visiting Dover as part of a Canterbury day trip can be a wonderful addition to your itinerary. Dover is a coastal town located in southeast England, famous for its iconic white cliffs and its historic significance as a strategic port and fortress. Here are some highlights of visiting Dover:

Dover Castle: Start your exploration with a visit to Dover Castle, one of the largest castles in England. This medieval fortress offers breathtaking views of the English Channel and the town of Dover.

Explore the Great Tower, underground tunnels known as the Secret Wartime Tunnels, and various exhibitions that bring the castle’s history to life.

White Cliffs of Dover: No visit to Dover is complete without experiencing the famous white cliffs of Dover. Take a walk along the cliff-top paths, enjoy the panoramic views of the coastline, and breathe in the fresh sea air.

The cliffs hold significant cultural and natural importance and have been a symbol of British resilience throughout history.

Dover Museum: Learn about Dover’s rich history and heritage at the Dover Museum. Discover archaeological artifacts, exhibits on the town’s Roman past, and displays that delve into its maritime and military significance. The museum offers insights into Dover’s role as the Gateway to England.

Dover Western Heights: For history enthusiasts, Dover Western Heights provides a fascinating exploration of the town’s defensive past. These Napoleonic-era fortifications offer guided tours that take you through tunnels, barracks, and gun batteries, offering a glimpse into the town’s military history.

Dover Harbour and Marina: Take a stroll along Dover Harbour, where you can see ferries and ships coming and going from the busy port. Enjoy the maritime atmosphere, visit the marina, and relax at one of the waterfront cafes or restaurants.

Dover Town Centre: Spend some time exploring Dover’s town center, which offers a mix of historic charm and modern amenities. Browse through local shops, sample traditional English fare at cozy pubs, or enjoy a leisurely walk along the streets lined with historic buildings.

Dover Beach: If you have some extra time, head to Dover Beach to enjoy the coastal scenery and perhaps take a walk along the shoreline. On a sunny day, it’s a pleasant spot to relax and soak up the seaside atmosphere.

Dover is easily accessible from Canterbury by train or bus, making it an ideal addition to your day trip itinerary. The town’s rich history, natural beauty, and maritime heritage provide a unique and memorable experience during your visit to the region.

In conclusion, a day trip to Canterbury, Kent, is undeniably one of the best day trips you can embark on in England. This picturesque city is the perfect place for history enthusiasts, architecture admirers, and anyone seeking a quintessential English experience.

With its historic significance, stunning Canterbury Cathedral, and charming cobblestone streets, Canterbury proves to be a worth-visiting destination for a short break. Whether you explore the crooked houses, immerse yourself in medieval tales at the Canterbury Tales attraction, or enjoy a peaceful river tour, Canterbury has something to offer every traveler.

The city’s blend of cultural heritage, natural beauty, and vibrant atmosphere makes it the perfect spot to escape and indulge in a day of exploration and discovery. So, when planning your next adventure, consider Canterbury, and let this enchanting city leave an unforgettable impression on your heart.


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