Sinead Hanna
6th February 2024

If you are planning a trip to Canterbury, a visit to the majestic world-famous Canterbury Cathedral in the heart of the city should be on your list. It’s where history happens and memories are made.

England’s first cathedral, founded in 597, has been welcoming pilgrims from all walks of life for more than 1,400 years and is part of the city’s UNESCO World Heritage Site. From the architectural wonders to stories that echo through the ages, the Cathedral offers an enriching, magical experience for all who venture within.

Here are our tips for things to see and do at Canterbury Cathedral, along with practical information on how to get there without your car!

Explore the Precincts

Begin your journey outside in the Cathedral Precincts to appreciate the sheer scale and beauty of the building, and the main entrance via the ornate Christ Church Gate.

Walk around the stunning grounds, take a moment to sit and drink in the views, explore the monastic ruins, visit the café, and pose with Joey, the 20-foot War Horse built by Canterbury College to commemorate the centenary of the end of the First World War.

For a limited time in early 2024, the Cathedral is trialling FREE access to large parts of the grounds for visitors, so you can explore the Precincts from 9am to 9pm (29 Jan to 10 Mar 2024) absolutely free. Sightseers only need to buy a ticket to go into the Cathedral itself during visitor hours. Please check the Cathedral website for up-to-date entrance information at the time of your visit.

Historic Hot Spots

The Cathedral is perhaps most famous for being the site where Saint Thomas Becket was murdered in 1170. But did you know it is also the final resting place of Henry IV and The Black Prince, that it was instrumental in the creation of the Magna Carta, and its library holds a rare copy of Shakespeare’s Second Folio?

The Cathedral is packed with stories from across the centuries, so immerse yourself in its history on your visit – for the full experience, hire a multimedia guide or book a tour with one of the expert guides to get the whole picture and walk away with thrilling nuggets of wisdom.

Stunning Stained Glass Windows

Every window tells a story here – there are 1,200 square metres of stained glass through the cathedral, and some are amongst the oldest in the world.

Marvel at the vibrant hues and intricate designs that illuminate the interior, from The Great South Window,  The St Anselm Window, and the magnificent medieval Miracle Windows created to surround St Thomas’ Shrine. There are even dedicated tours to the windows’ stories!

The Crypt & Cloisters

No visit would be complete without a walk around the incredible cloisters. This medieval covered walkway gives strong Harry Potter vibes, with its exquisite fan-vaulted ceiling and intricate detailing, including medieval heraldry and carved figures. It is a wonderful spot to pause and enjoy the quiet serenity of your surroundings.

Descend into the silent sanctuary of The Crypt. One of the largest of its kind in England, it houses some of the oldest parts of the Cathedral and also hosts different exhibitions of the Cathedral’s artifacts and treasures throughout the year.

While exploring, be sure to stop at the Cathedral’s re-imagined medicinal herb garden. Planted amid the ruins of the former monastic dormitory, it is a recreation of the garden that would have supplied the Cathedral’s monks with plants for medicines, dyeing, ink-making and brewing!

Attend Evensong & Events

First and foremost, the Cathedral is a place of Christian community, worship and witness. The best way to really immerse yourself in the power and purpose of the Cathedral is to attend Choral Evensong, a daily service featuring the angelic voices of the Cathedral Choir. Everyone is welcome, and there is never a charge to attend a service.

Check the Cathedral's schedule for timings and make sure to include this soul-stirring tradition in your visit.

There are also numerous special events, exhibitions and tours held in the Cathedral throughout the year, for all ages to enjoy, so be sure to check the Cathedral website to see what’s on.

Practical Information:

Leave the car at home on your visit if you can, and make the journey to Canterbury by train with rail service by Southeastern. Canterbury West railway station is served by high-speed service to and from London St Pancras International, reaching Canterbury in just under an hour, and the station is a 15min walk from the Cathedral entrance.

Standard visitor admission to the Cathedral and grounds is £17 for an adult, and Kids Go Free when accompanied by a paying adult (max. 2 children per paying adult; does not apply to group bookings or school visits. Children must be accompanied at all times).  

Remember that Canterbury Cathedral is one of three sites that comprise the UNESCO World Heritage Site in the city. If you have time, pay a visit to the ruins of St Augustine’s Abbey and St Martin’s Church – the oldest church in England!