Things To Do In Canterbury
Welcome to Canterbury, a charming city in the heart of Kent, England, that’s steeped in history and full of exciting things to explore and discover. Whether you’re a local looking for a fun day out or a visitor keen to experience the best of what Canterbury has to offer, this guide is for you. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the great things you can do on a day out in Canterbury. From exploring the medieval streets and stunning architecture to sampling delicious food and drink, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. So, grab your walking shoes, your camera, and your sense of adventure, and let’s get started on an unforgettable day out in Canterbury!
Historical landmarks to visit in Canterbury
Canterbury is a city steeped in history, and there are plenty of historical landmarks to visit during your day out. One of the most famous landmarks is Canterbury Castle, which dates back to the 11th century. The castle was built by William the Conqueror and has been a popular tourist attraction for years. You can explore the castle ruins and learn about its fascinating history.
Another must-visit historical landmark is St. Augustine’s Abbey, which dates back to the 6th century. The abbey was abandoned in the 16th century during the English Reformation and fell into ruin. However, the ruins have been preserved and are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can take a guided tour of the abbey grounds and learn about the history of this important site.
Finally, don’t miss the chance to visit the Westgate Towers and Museum. The Westgate Towers are one of the last remaining gates into the city and date back to the 14th century. The museum inside the towers tells the story of Canterbury’s history and is a great place to learn more about the city’s past.
Exploring Canterbury’s famous cathedral
No visit to Canterbury is complete without a trip to the city’s famous cathedral. The cathedral is one of the oldest and most famous in England and has been a place of pilgrimage for centuries. Canterbury Cathedral dates back to the 11th century. The cathedral is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to the tomb of Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury who was famously murdered in the cathedral in 1170.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can climb the spiral staircase to the top of the cathedral’s bell tower, where you’ll be rewarded with breath-taking views of the city and its surroundings. Alternatively, you can take a guided tour of the cathedral, which will give you a deeper insight into its fascinating history and architecture.
Museums and art galleries to visit in Canterbury
Canterbury is home to a variety of museums and art galleries, each with its own unique collection. One must-visit museum is the Canterbury Heritage Museum, which tells the story of Canterbury’s history through interactive exhibits and displays. The museum is housed in a beautiful medieval building and is a great place to learn about the city’s past.
If you’re interested in art, be sure to visit the Sidney Cooper Gallery. The gallery is located in the heart of Canterbury and showcases contemporary art from both local and international artists. The gallery also hosts regular exhibitions and events throughout the year.
St. Augustine’s Abbey
Another must-visit historical landmark in Canterbury is St. Augustine’s Abbey. Founded in the 6th century by St. Augustine himself, the abbey was once one of the most important monasteries in England. Today, all that remains of the original structure are the ruins, but they still provide a fascinating glimpse into the life of the monks who once lived there.
As you wander through the ruins, you’ll see the remains of the abbey’s church, cloister, and chapter house, as well as the monks’ dormitory and refectory. There’s also an on-site museum where you can learn more about the abbey’s history and the daily life of its inhabitants.
Canterbury Tales Museum
If you’re a fan of Chaucer’s classic work, The Canterbury Tales, a visit to the city’s eponymous museum is a must. Inside, you’ll step back in time to 14th-century England and be transported to the world of the pilgrims who journeyed to Canterbury to visit the shrine of St. Thomas Becket.
The museum is a fun and interactive experience, with costumed actors bringing the tales to life and guiding you through the various exhibits. You’ll meet characters such as the Wife of Bath and the Miller and learn about their stories and the social context of the time. The museum is a great way to immerse yourself in medieval history and literature.
If you’re looking for a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, head to Westgate Gardens. Located on the banks of the River Stour, the gardens are a peaceful oasis that’s home to a variety of wildlife, including kingfishers, herons, and otters.
The gardens boast a wide range of flora, including trees, shrubs, and flowers, and are a popular spot for picnics, walks, and family outings. There’s also a children’s playground and a riverside café where you can enjoy a cup of tea or a bite to eat while taking in the beautiful surroundings.
Canterbury Roman Museum
For a glimpse into Canterbury’s Roman past, head to the city’s Roman Museum. The museum is built around the remains of a Roman townhouse, which was discovered during excavations in the 1970s. Inside, you’ll find a wealth of artifacts and exhibits that bring the city’s Roman history to life.
Highlights of the museum include a recreated Roman market street, complete with shops and stalls, and a hypocaust – an underfloor heating system that was used in Roman homes. You’ll also see a range of everyday objects, such as jewellery, pottery, and coins, which give insight into the lives of Canterbury’s Roman inhabitants.
The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge
If you’re a fan of art and culture, a visit to the Beaney House of Art and Knowledge is a must. This unique museum and art gallery is housed in a beautiful Victorian building that was originally built as a library. Today, it’s home to a wide range of exhibits and collections, covering everything from ancient Egypt to contemporary art.
Highlights of the Beaney include a collection of paintings by local artist Thomas Sidney Cooper, a display of rare books and manuscripts, and an exhibition on the history of Canterbury. There’s also a café and a shop where you can pick up souvenirs of your visit.
Canterbury Heritage Museum
For a comprehensive overview of Canterbury’s history and culture, head to the city’s Heritage Museum. Housed in a 16th-century building, the museum is home to a vast collection of artifacts and exhibits that cover everything from prehistoric times to the present day.
Highlights of the museum include a reconstructed Victorian street, complete with shops and workshops, and a display of medieval Armor and weaponry. You’ll also see exhibits on local industries such as brewing and agriculture and learn about the lives of the city’s inhabitants through the ages.
The Best Outdoor Activities in Canterbury
The best time to visit Canterbury for outdoor activities
The best time to visit Canterbury for outdoor activities is during the summer months of June to August. The weather is usually warm and sunny, and the countryside is in full bloom. However, if you prefer cooler temperatures, spring and autumn can also be great times to visit. Just make sure to pack appropriate clothing for the weather.
Hiking in the Kent Downs
The Kent Downs is an area of outstanding natural beauty that is perfect for hiking enthusiasts. The area boasts over 4,000 km of public rights of way, making it easy to find a hiking trail that suits your level of experience. The White Cliffs of Dover is one of the most popular hiking trails in the area, offering stunning views of the English Channel and the surrounding countryside. For a more challenging hike, try the North Downs Way National Trail, which covers 153 miles through the Kent Downs.
Cycling through the Canterbury countryside
Cycling is a great way to explore the countryside around Canterbury. The city has a number of cycle routes that offer a mix of on-road and off-road cycling. The Crab and Winkle Way is a popular 7-mile cycle route that takes you from Canterbury to Whitstable. The route passes through beautiful woodland and countryside, making it a great way to enjoy the outdoors. For a longer ride, try the Kentish Lady River Cruise and Cycle Route, which takes you on a 28-mile journey through the Kent countryside.
Kayaking on the River Stour
The River Stour is a beautiful waterway that runs through the heart of Canterbury. Kayaking on the river is a great way to explore the city from a different perspective. There are several kayaking tours available that take you through the city and into the countryside beyond. You can also rent kayaks and explore the river at your own pace. The river is calm and easy to navigate, making it suitable for all levels of experience.
Surfing at Joss Bay
Joss Bay is located just a short drive from Canterbury and is one of the best surfing spots in the area. The bay offers consistent waves, making it a popular destination for surfers of all levels. If you’re new to surfing, there are several surf schools in the area that offer lessons and equipment rental. Joss Bay also has a café and beach shop, making it a great spot to spend a day at the beach.
Golfing at Canterbury Golf Club
Canterbury Golf Club is located just outside the city and offers a challenging 18-hole course set amongst stunning countryside. The course is suitable for golfers of all levels, from beginners to seasoned players. The club also offers a driving range and practice area, as well as a clubhouse with a restaurant and bar.
Horse riding in the Canterbury countryside
Horse riding is a great way to explore the countryside around Canterbury. There are several equestrian centres in the area that offer horse riding lessons and guided rides through the countryside. The rides take you through beautiful woodland and countryside, offering stunning views of the local area. Horse riding is suitable for all levels of experience, from beginners to experienced riders.
Hot air balloon rides over Canterbury
For a truly unique experience, take a hot air balloon ride over Canterbury. The rides offer stunning views of the city and the surrounding countryside. The rides usually take place in the early morning or late afternoon, when the weather is calm, and the light is at its best. The rides last around an hour and include a glass of champagne to celebrate your experience.
Camping in the Kent countryside
Camping is a great way to immerse yourself in the beauty of the Kent countryside. There are several campsites in the area that offer a range of facilities, from basic tent pitches to luxury glamping options. Camping is a great way to disconnect from the stresses of modern life and reconnect with nature. Many campsites also offer outdoor activities, such as hiking, cycling, and fishing.
Shopping and dining in Canterbury
Canterbury is home to a variety of shops, restaurants, and cafes, making it the perfect place for a day of shopping and dining. One popular shopping destination is the Whitefriars Shopping Centre, which has a mix of high street and independent stores.
When it comes to dining, there are plenty of options to choose from. For a traditional English pub experience, head to The Old Buttermarket. The pub dates back to the 16th century and serves classic pub fare and local ales. If you’re looking for something a bit more upscale, try The Goods Shed. The restaurant sources its ingredients from local suppliers and has a menu that changes with the seasons.
Hidden gems and local favourites
While there are plenty of popular tourist attractions in Canterbury, there are also a few hidden gems and local favourites worth exploring. One hidden gem is Greyfriars Chapel and Franciscan Gardens. The chapel dates back to the 13th century and is now a museum showcasing the history of the Franciscan friars. The gardens surrounding the chapel are also a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Another local favourite is The Marlowe Theatre. The theatre hosts a variety of shows throughout the year, from plays and musicals to comedy shows and concerts. It’s a great place to catch a show and experience Canterbury’s vibrant arts scene.
Seasonal events and festivals in Canterbury
Throughout the year, Canterbury hosts a variety of seasonal events and festivals that are worth checking out. One popular event is the Canterbury Food and Drink Festival, which takes place in September. The festival celebrates local food and drink producers and features cooking demonstrations, tastings, and live music.
During the winter months, Canterbury hosts a Christmas market in the city centre. The market features stalls selling handmade gifts and decorations, as well as food and drink vendors serving up festive treats.
Exploring the Food and Drink Scene
No visit to Canterbury would be complete without indulging in some of the region’s finest cuisine. The city is home to a wide range of restaurants, cafes, and bars, serving everything from traditional pub grub to gourmet cuisine.
If you’re looking for a taste of the city’s history, head to one of the many traditional pubs, such as the Old Buttermarket or the Bishop’s Finger, where you can sample local ales and hearty British dishes. For something more upscale, try the Goods Shed, a converted railway shed that’s now home to a restaurant and farmers’ market, where you can sample fresh, locally sourced produce.
Accommodation options in Canterbury
If you’re planning on spending more than a day in Canterbury, there are plenty of accommodation options to choose from. One popular option is The Canterbury Hotel, a boutique hotel located in the heart of the city. The hotel has rooms with views of the cathedral and offers a complimentary breakfast each morning.
For a more budget-friendly option, try YHA Canterbury. The hostel is located in a Victorian mansion and has both private and shared rooms available. It’s a great option for backpackers or anyone traveling on a tight budget.
Conclusion and final thoughts
Canterbury is a city full of history, culture, and charm. From exploring the medieval streets and stunning architecture to sampling delicious food and drink, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Whether you’re a local looking for a fun day out or a visitor keen to experience the best of what Canterbury has to offer, this guide has hopefully given you some inspiration for your next visit. So, grab your walking shoes, your camera, and your sense of adventure, and get ready for an unforgettable day out in Canterbury!