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Scotney Castle, Kent

10 things to do in Royal Tunbridge Wells

Explore the Kent town for country walks, cosy pubs and spa town splendour

By Sarah Gibbons

Tunbridge Wells exists thanks to the discovery of the Chalybeate Spring in the early 1600s, but its many aristocratic visitors – including Queen Victoria – firmly put the town on the map and secured it ‘Royal’ status in 1909. Nestled in the heart of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it’s still gaining fans today, thanks to its buzzy centre, postcard-perfect Pantiles and idyllic surrounds.

Please note: Some of the facilities and businesses we mention will be closed at the moment. Government advice is to avoid public transport so don’t travel by train or bus. Please be mindful of the people who live locally. If you decide to travel, check whether car parks are open before you set off and adhere to social distancing guidelines on your walks. 

RECOMMENDED: Visit nearby Whitstable, Canterbury or Margate

A perfect day in Royal Tunbridge Wells

First up

Walk along The Pantiles, the historic heart of Tunbridge Wells. There’s no better way to soak up the grandeur of the town’s Georgian heyday than exploring the colonnaded walkways, lined with boutique shops, and cute bars and cafés.

Soak up the vibes

Have a stroll around the elegant, 78-acre Dunorlan Park, landscaped in the 1860s by Robert Marnock, a prominent Victorian gardener. If the sun is shining, row or pedalo around the boating lake, before taking in the countryside vistas from its grassy slopes with a picnic.

Mark Gray

Stop for lunch

If cake is calling, make a beeline for vintage-themed Juliet’s Café on the High Street – it has the most drool-worthy selection around, as well as plenty of vibrant salads and hearty sandwiches. Feeling fancy? You can’t miss Thackeray’s Restaurant, situated in a historic building once owned by author William Makepeace Thackeray.

Go on an adventure

Tunbridge Wells is surrounded by some of Kent’s most picturesque countryside. Head out and explore part of the Tunbridge Wells Circular Walk. The adventurer’s playground of Bewl Water and Ashdown Forest, aka Winnie-the-Pooh’s Hundred Acre Wood, are both nearby too.


Drink like a local

You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to cosy pubs where you can kick back with a pint of local ale, but if craft beer is more your bag, try Fuggles Beer Café. It offers more than 120 different European beers – as well as a gin and whisky selection that’s hard to beat.

Scotney Castle, Kent
Scotney Castle, Kent

If you only do one thing

Explore Scotney Castle, a short drive away. It’s as fairytale-esque as they come, with a turreted Elizabethan manor house and crumbling fourteenth-century moated castle, enveloped in wisteria and roses. It’s also full of secrets and stories: you can spot the ‘priest hole’ where a Catholic priest hid from persecution for seven years during the late 1500s.

The Spa Hotel, Royal Tunbridge Wells
The Spa Hotel, Royal Tunbridge Wells

And if you stay the night, wake up here

Holidaymakers may not head to Tunbridge Wells to ‘take the waters’ these days, but if it’s peace and relaxation you’re after you’ll find it at The Spa Hotel. At this eighteenth-century country mansion, located a short walk from The Pantiles, you can find bright rooms, high ceilings and plush interiors, plus 14 acres of verdant grounds and a secluded lake where you can really get away from it all. Grab a deckchair and get stuck into a book or head to the spa for a steam or sauna, before enjoying a sundowner and a pizza from the outdoor oven on the terrace. From £80 a night. 

Hanging around in Kent?

Lavender fields Kentish Lavender
Photograph: Kentish Lavender

The 13 best things to do in Kent

Things to do

Dubbed the "garden of England" and home to numerous farms, breweries and fishing towns (not to mention all that exceptional greenery across the South Downs and beyond) it's not hard to figure out why the best things to do in Kent are considered some of the most exciting across the country. 


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