Get us in your inbox

Canterbury and Canterbury cathedral

A perfect day in Canterbury

Discover pootling punts, proper pubs, a colossal cathedral and more great things to do in Canterbury

Joe Minihane
Written by
Katie Gregory
&
Joe Minihane
Advertising

Canterbury is a daytripper's dream. Just an hour by train from London and within easy reach of the coast, arriving here it's easy to see why pilgrims have been heading to this Kentish gem for over 1,000 years. Its spectacular cathedral is where Archbishop Thomas Becket was martyred, killed by Henry II’s knights. And it's to Saint Thomas’s shrine where the characters in Geoffrey Chaucer's ‘The Canterbury Tales’ were heading. These days, an altogether less pious pilgrimage involves languid river punts, exploring superb antiques shops and sipping pints in half-timbered pubs – but any trip here should always start with that epic cathedral.

RECOMMENDED: Visit nearby Whitstable, Margate and Sandwich

A perfect day in Canterbury

First up
karen_roe/Flickr

First up

Canterbury is made for walking, so be sure to put on your most sensible shoes. If your train comes into Canterbury East station, follow the Roman city walls on the way into the centre of town. Once there, get yourself lost into the tangle of medieval streets, before stopping off at interactive tour The Canterbury Tales to hear Chaucer’s stories brought to life.

Stop for lunch
Mark Dutton

Stop for lunch

Half restaurant, half farmers’ market and part food hall, The Goods Shed is a foodie’s heaven just a stone's throw from Canterbury West station. Make it your mission to get here as soon as you can after arrival. Later, take afternoon tea with saucer-sized scones at Tiny Tim’s Tearoom.

Advertising
Drink like a local

Drink like a local

If it’s sunny, take a pit stop at The Old Buttermarket – it's both the name of the pub and the busy square it stands on. Right by the Christchurch gate of the cathedral, it’s the best spot in Canterbury for people-watching. For a mor cosy experience, stoop under the beams of the fourteenth-century Parrot pub. It claims it’s Canterbury’s oldest boozer.

Soak up the vibes

Soak up the vibes

The River Stour loops its way lazily around one side of the city and is home to a fleet of gently bobbing wooden punts. Pre-book a trip with Canterbury Historic River Tours from the city centre. If planning ahead isn't your thing, join the queue in Westgate Gardens and set sail with Westgate Punts.

Advertising
Splash the cash
Photograph: Travellight / shutterstock

Splash the cash

The King’s Mile, Westgate and St Dunstan’s are some of the best places to head for one-off shops. Pick up a first edition from The Chaucer Bookshop and stop off at Madame Oiseau for fancy French chocolates. Canterbury Auction Galleries is fun if there’s a sale on.

If you only do one thing
Photograph: Valery-Egorov/Shutterstock.com

If you only do one thing

Visit Canterbury Cathedral – the city’s pièce de résistance is an essential stop-off and is impossible to miss. Its huge towers photo-bomb every street scene, but you can only really grasp the magnitude of the place once you get inside. Time your visit for evensong or a Sunday service – when the choir is in full swing – for the full effect.

Advertising

With a superb pub and restaurant downstairs, The Corner House is the ideal place to spend the evening unwinding after a day exploring Canterbury. A medieval inn reputedly frequented by Kent native Charles Dickens, it's been fully restored to its former glory and has four plush rooms to choose from. It's just a short walk from the cathedral and Canterbury East station, making it the perfect spot to drop anchor and chill out before heading back to the capital.

Hanging around in Kent?

Recommended
    You may also like
      Advertising