For four years, Canterbury was my home and now that I no longer live there, I am desperate to go back. I took for granted quite how incredible the city is, so consider this my love-letter to my former home.
Canterbury has two universities, so like most student cities, the center itself has lots of trendy places to eat, and events going on, yet its small size means it’s not overwhelming or too stressful. Drenched in history, Canterbury has a lot to offer, and with gorgeous surrounding areas, it makes for the perfect weekend getaway. Here are my top 5 reasons on why you should visit.
The most convenient thing about visiting Canterbury is how accessible it is via public transport. With two train stations (Canterbury East and Canterbury West), you don’t need a car to visit and if travelling from London, it is only 1 hour on the high-speed train from St Pancras. The city itself is relatively small and highly pedestrianized, so there is plenty to explore by foot – but if you want to visit the surrounding areas, the easy to access train and bus station means that you can be at the seaside in 30 minutes!
As Canterbury is a student city, there is quite honestly hundreds of local places for you to grab a great meal. I was the President of the Kent Foodies Society at my university, and as part of the society we frequently went out and conducted restaurant reviews – I’ve eaten my way around the city a fair few times!
One day I will compile a more detailed list of my favourite foodie spots in Canterbury (I have too many!), but for now, I would recommend:
Brunch & Lunch: Kitch (healthy ‘avocado toast’ kind of place), Canteen (Deli-style), The Goods Shed (daily farmers market selling local, fresh produce), The Veggie Cafe and Pork and Co (for the meat-eaters!)
Dinner: A La Turka (Turkish/Lebanese), Tamago (Japanese), Cafe Des Amis (Mexican) and Oscar and Bentleys (Bistro style)
Sweet Tooth: Tiny Tims (tea room/cafe), The Fudge Kitchen (the most amazing fudge ever!), La Trappiste and The Chocolate Cafe
Part of what makes Canterbury so great is the natural green spaces that are dotted around the center. At one end of town is Dane John Gardens (opposite the bus station), concealed by a medieval wall and home to the most beautiful town houses. In the sunshine, it definitely has a Parisian feel!
At the opposite end (near Westgate towers), is the beautiful Westgate Gardens, a very popular hotspot and for good reason. I’d recommend visiting in the spring when the flowers are in full bloom and the ducks that live on the canal have their ducklings. Visit on a sunny day, take a picnic and enjoy the tranquility of it all.
Canterbury is a very ancient city, and wherever you go you are reminded of just how old it is. From Westgate towers, to ancient ruins, to the Roman wall that encases the city, Canterbury is steeped with medieval history.
However, probably the most impressive thing about Canterbury is the Cathedral. The oldest Cathedral in the country (dated from the 11th century), it attracts thousands of people from all over the world. Wherever you are in Canterbury, the Cathedral dominates the skyline and it is impressive both outside and in. Visiting is a must if you have the time.
Other ways to get your history fix come from both Canterbury Tales and a canal boat tour. Make sure you take the tour from next to Wildwoods restaurant and not Westgate, its far more interesting and better value for money!
With everywhere so accessible via public transport, if you have longer in Canterbury, visit one of the surrounding areas for the day in order to *really* enjoy Kent. If short on time, but want to see the sea, visit Whitstable, a little harbour town, for an afternoon. From Canterbury, it only takes 30 minutes on the bus, so can be easily squeezed in.
If you have longer, I’d recommend Broadstairs, mine and Davids favourite! About 30 minutes via train (from Canterbury West), Broadstairs needs a whole day for you to really appreciate it. A quintessentially British seaside town, complete with real sand (no pebbles here!), colourful huts and a sea that stretches for miles. Make sure you visit Star of the Sea for some incredibly tasty chip-shop-chips and Morelli’s ice-cream parlor!
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