10 great things to do in Canterbury

Sinead Hanna
1st November 2023

Updated for 2024! Canterbury is shaped by history, by nature, and by its people.

From Romans to royalty, saints to knights and playwrights to pilgrims, there are so many stories to discover in our beautiful district so build your bespoke itinerary for the perfect Canterbury staycation.

Need some inspiration on what to do here? Here's a starter for 10...

Remember to check our blogs and events pages for seasonal activities to enjoy throughout the year, such as Christmas markets, beer festivals, Halloween haunts, and summer exhibitions!

  1. 1. Our most famous landmark is a must see... Step into 1,400 years of history at Canterbury's three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the magnificent Canterbury Cathedral, as well as St Martin’s Church and St Augustine’s Abbey are must see attractions for any visitor. You can event wake up to the majestic view of Canterbury Cathedral with an overnight stay at the Canterbury Cathedral Lodge. And in 2024, the cathedral will host numerous events as well as having selected free entry to its precincts.

  2. 2. Spend the day on the river. The River Stour winds through the city, so you can sail the saves or simply walk along the riverpath. Relax on a lazy punt or historic boat trip along the River Stour as your guide points out hidden gems only found from meandering the waterways of the city. Take a look at Canterbury Punting Co, Canterbury Historic River Tours and Westgate Punts.

  3. 3. Don't miss a walk through the incredible Westgate Gardens. A magnet for international tourists, this tranquil riverside park is wonderful in the winter, and bursts into colour in the spring and summer making it perfect for a picnic or picturesque escape from the bustle of the city. The gardens hosts various events throughout the year. You can also explore the city's green spaces at Dane John Gardens, Solly's Orchard or the Franciscan Gardens. 

  4. 4. Expand your mind and find hidden stories at Canterbury's museums - take a trip to The Beaney House of Art & Knowledge, a free art gallery, library and visitor information centre in the heart of the city that is a wonder for all ages and it's even home to everyone's favourite stuff toy, Bagpuss! Alternative, discover the city beneath the city at the Canterbury Roman Museum. And if you like a little tipple with your history, head straight to the imposing Westgate Towers which not only houses a fascinating museum - and escape room - but also houses a stylish cocktail bar and restaurant in the city's former jail. 

  5. 5. Did you know you're in wine country? Canterbury is surrounded by vineyards producing award-winning sparkling and still wines, and most offer tours and tasting all year round. Head into the countryside for a wine experience as Chartham Vineyard or internationally renowned Simpsons Wine Estate. Or stay in the city centre enjoy a tutored tasting of fine wines at Corkk. Prefer other tipples? Head to the city's independent brewery and distillery The Foundry to sample their range of ales, largers, gins, and whiskey.

  6. 6. Tantalize your taste buds with a self-guided foodie tour of the city. We've got cuisines to tantalize every taste bud, packed with fresh Kentish produce and washed down with delicious local ales, wines and spirits. 

  7. 7. Shop local! Canterbury is packed with independent makers, producers, designers, and artists with beautiful shops dotted around our cobbled streets, alongside great high street brands. So you can stock up for special occasions, buy amazing gifts and treat yourself to a piece of Canterbury to take home. 

  8. 8. Go wild in nature. Head out to Blean Woods National Nature Reserve; one of the largest areas of ancient woodlands in southern Britain that's home to mature oaks, woodpeckers, nightingales and even bison! To see more wild beasts, head to Wildwood Trust and immerse yourself in woodland where bears and wolves (safely) roam. Alternatively you can walk or cycle the Crab and Winkle Way, a disused railway line between Canterbury and Whitstable that takes in ancient woodland, stretching fields and many beauty spots. 

  9. 9. Love a chocolate box village? Canterbury's wider district is dotted with utterly charming villages that promise great scenery, great walks - and great country pubs. Head out to Chilham, Bridge or Fordwich (the UK's smallest town) to enjoy a slice of traditional English countryside living.

  10. 10. Head to the coast! Did you know the seaside is just 15 minutes drive from the city? Indulge in one (or more!) of Whitstable’s famous native oysters, stroll along the seafront to soak up the sunsets and through the smugglers alleyways of this beautiful harbour town. Or enjoy the classic seaside Pier and sweeping shoreline of Herne Bay, a pretty coastal town overlooked by the majestic Reculver Towers.

Stay a little longer...

Canterbury’s beautiful city, coast, and countryside are perfect for short or longer stays. Less than an hour from London by train, it's so easy to escape to our medieval city. Whether you're looking for a countryside break with the family (and your four-legged friends), want a romantic coastal break for two, or fancy a chic city break with your friends, we invite you to find your perfect place to stay.