History lovers, you can't miss Canterbury! Inside the city's Roman walls you'll countless sites to admire, with many fine examples of Tudor architecture that have stood the test of time. Located an easy day trip from London, this medieval town is particularly famous for the Canterbury Cathedral which was established in AD 597. Seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the cathedral was made famous by two classic books, 'Canterbury Tales' and 'Murder in the Cathedral'. Today, the city still retains a central part in worldwide Anglicanism.
The large numbers congregating outside of the Canterbury Cathedral on any given weekend might give you the impression that this is a one-attraction town, but that's definitely not the case! Catch a glimpse of the city's original Roman wall at the West Gate Towers before delving deeper into the city's history at the Museum of Canterbury, Canterbury Roman Museum or West Gate Museum. The remains of the church of St George the Martyr is another historic location of note, with a stoic clock tower all that remains. If you’ve packed your walking shoes, take a stroll along the Stour Valley Walk all the way to Canterbury's ancient fort, Fordwich.
Canterbury is well versed at nourishing hungry and thirsty visitors, with many tasty cuisines making up the downtown dining scene. Being home to a large student population means the city isn't just tailored to those paying tourist prices either, and restaurants around town reflect this with prices to suit modest pockets. Clustered on or near High Street lies great restaurant variety and a high concentration of classic British pubs. Some of the most impressive places to eat include the Weavers for classic British comfort food and Lloyds for something more contemporary. To mingle with the local student crowd, City Fish Bar's long lines attest to its quality.
Where to Stay
Being only a 90-minute train ride from London means the majority of folk visiting Canterbury actually decide to stay in the nation's capital. If you've hired a car, another idea is to visit Canterbury as a side trip on the way to Brighton, which is also home to a larger variety of accommodation. Don't feel like you need to follow the crowd though, as Canterbury still presents a handful of small and comfortable places to stay. Located close to town, the leaders of the bunch are Thanington Hotel and Canterbury Cathedral Lodge Hotel. For something cheap and cheerful, check out the Art House Bed and Breakfast found in a converted fire station just outside the city.
For a small city, Canterbury has pleasantly surprising shopping opportunities. While fashionistas won't find it a viable shopping alternative to London, there are still plenty of nifty souvenirs to remember your trip by. Whitefairs is the city's leading shopping centre and home to popular international chains including HMV, H&M and Zara. Downtown Canterbury is where you will find popular retailers Topshop and Next, along with the Fenwicks and Nasons department stores. On the fourth Saturday of every month, St. Georges Street comes alive with local craftspeople peddling their wares at the monthly Artisan Market.
Canterbury Like a Local
Canterbury's charms have contributed to its undoubted popularity amongst both local and international tourists. At times it can be hard to spot a local, especially around the Canterbury Cathedral on summer afternoons, so an insider tip is to visit Canterbury "after hours". Sure, the grand cathedral may be closed, but on a long summer night you can still wander into the precinct through Christ Church Gateway and explore the grounds and exteriors of the major sights surrounded by local Canterburians. Visiting Canterbury at night also means you can take part in the ghost tour, which runs most evenings throughout the week.