Approximately 60 miles (96 km) from the centre of London, in the quintessentially English county of Kent, lies the City of Canterbury. At the heart of one of England’s most well known pieces of literature, Chaucer’s famous works ‘The Canterbury Tales’, Canterbury is definitely a destination worth heading for, although if making the pilgrimage there seems a bit much on foot, it’s also as easy to access by road and rail.
Canterbury’s place in history
Canterbury is a walled city, one of a number dotted round the UK including Bath, Chester and York. Its ancient walls have been witness to many centuries of history and, as a result, St Martin’s Church, St Augustine’s Abbey and Christ Church Cathedral are currently listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The Church of St Martin also purports to be the oldest church in England. Walking through the city, much of its past is evident in the architecture and crookedness of many of the buildings. To add to this fact, the local list of buildings in Canterbury that have historical and architectural value currently stands at around 790. Much of the city’s history is free to view and can be absorbed just by wandering around the streets. If you want to visit the main attraction, visitors can pay around 10.50 GBP (approximately 15 USD, for adults) to enter Canterbury Christchurch Cathedral.
Alternatively, a walk around the ruins of the Canterbury Norman Castle won’t cost a penny. With the entrance on Gas Street, you can walk around the ruins at leisure. With information points dotted around, you can take in as much or as little information as you wish. (All signs are in English only)
A great art scene
Canterbury has a great art scene and if seeing exhibits by local artists interests you, then there are plenty of galleries to choose from. The Sidney Cooper Gallery showcases students’ work alongside local and international artists. The Beaney House of Art & Knowledge also contains quite an eclectic mix of artefacts and artworks including the Cabinet of Curiosities, and explorers & collectors antiquities. Stand at the top of the beautifully carved wooden staircase and let your thoughts wander as you marvel at the stained glass window in front of you.
And it’s not just the galleries that contain famous art either. Chambers Café – Espresso Bar contains a painting that, as the blurb next to it describes, is one of the most photographed paintings in Canterbury and can be found in a book that notes famous signs in Britain. If that isn’t enough, then the view of the Christ Church Cathedral from the upstairs rear window is a little piece of art in itself. If you manage to find it, within the building is a secret door, which it is said leads to the cathedral and was used by monks as an escape route during difficult times.
Every year, Canterbury also plays host to its annual international arts festival. For two weeks, Canterbury hosts a range of events of everything arty. See the link below for further information.
Going back to nature
If you want to get back to nature and get away from the hustle and bustle of the city streets, there are a few gardens where you can walk. Alongside the River Stour, Westgate gardens are an idyllic spot, the entrance to which sits alongside the city’s 600-year-old gatehouse. Watch the ducks waddle on the ice in the winter or stop for a picnic in the summer. The Great Stour Way can also be accessed by pedestrians, cyclists and wheelchairs and runs from Canterbury to Chartham, alongside the River Stour.
Take your time to savour the city’s beauty
Whether you want to visit a museum, historical building or nature trail, Canterbury has so much to offer and can perhaps be done in a day. However, maybe it’s better to take your time and soak up the beauty of this historic Kentish city.
Get Trip101 in your inbox
You can buy and claim online, even after you've left home. Travel insurance from WorldNomads.com is available to people from 140 countries. It’s designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities.
*5% off when you book with our promo code: TRIP101
*For our Canadian and US travellers, unfortunately due to financial services laws, we cannot provide a discount. This promotional code cannot be used with any other discount offer, including World Nomads Members’ discount for travel insurance policy holders.