A panaromic view of Canterbury Cathedral at sunset

Things to do in  Canterbury

A town with a tale to tell

Historical eras overlap in Canterbury, where Chaucher’s tales echo in the air and where the past is always close at hand. Ringed by ancient Roman city walls, Canterbury is best known as the home of the UNESCO-listed Canterbury Cathedral, which dates to the sixth century and is the seat of the archbishop of Canterbury. But for all its history, Canterbury isn’t stuck in the past—its lively shopping streets, eclectic restaurants, cozy pubs, and sizable student population ensure an ongoing dynamism.

Top 3 attractions in Canterbury

Sissinghurst Castle

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Originally built to serve as a moated manor house, the 13th-century Sissinghurst Castle has hosted royals such as the late Queen Elizabeth I and Queen Mary Tudor over the years. Today, the imposing castle is best known for the spectacular Sissinghurst Gardens, the inspired creation of 20th-century owner and poet Vita Sackville-West.More

Whitstable

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With its busy fishing port filled with colorful sailing boats, long pebble beach, and rows of painted wooden beach huts, Whitstable is a prime example of a traditional English seaside resort. Known for its locally harvested oysters, Whitstable is a popular day-trip destination from London and nearby Canterbury, as well as an easy stop-off point on White Cliffs of Dover trips.More

Canterbury Cathedral

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Discover a national symbol and gain insight into England’s history at the UNESCO World Heritage–listed Canterbury Cathedral. Dating back to 597, the site has held religious significance for centuries, drawing pilgrims to the location of Thomas Becket’s murder and visitors interested in its medieval towers, chapels, and stained-glass windows.More

All about Canterbury

When to visit

Autumn is an excellent time to visit Canterbury. It's when the Canterbury Festival, Kent’s international arts festival, draws visitors from far and wide, and when the town's historic pubs fill with life. Visit this area of Kent, known as the garden of England, in the summer high season to enjoy good weather and stroll inside its city walls, relax among Westgate Gardens' blooms, and make a side trip to coastal hubs like nearby Whitstable and Herne Bay.

Getting around

Canterbury is served by two train stations, Canterbury West and Canterbury East, both of which link the city to London and other nearby hubs (from London, it is roughly a 1-hour direct train journey). A number of bus routes also operate in the city. That said, Canterbury's narrow alleys and historic shopping streets are best explored on foot or by bike.

Traveler tips

Most travelers associate punting—traveling in gondola-like, flat-bottomed boats—with Oxford and Cambridge, but you can also go punting along Canterbury’s winding River Stour. Several local punting companies operate in good weather, and the experience provides a relaxed way to get a new perspective on the city.

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People Also Ask

How can I spend a day in Canterbury?

No trip to Canterbury is complete without visiting its UNESCO-listed cathedral—embark on a morning tour to soak up the history. After a hearty pub lunch, go for a walking tour of the city’s cobbled lanes, save time for window shopping, and finish with a stroll along the River Stour.

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Is Canterbury UK worth visiting?

Yes, Canterbury is absolutely worth visiting—the historic city is widely regarded as one of the loveliest in England, its UNESCO-listed cathedral is a blockbuster attraction, and its Roman city walls are still standing. Beyond the historic sights, the city’s restaurants, shops, and pubs offer their own pleasant diversions.

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What is famous about Canterbury?

Canterbury’s best-known attraction is the UNESCO-listed Canterbury Cathedral. It's one of the country's oldest Christian places of worship and is the seat of the archbishop of Canterbury, a leader of the Church of England. Canterbury was immortalized in Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales” and is known for its ancient Roman walls.

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Can you see Canterbury Cathedral for free?

No, for most adult visitors, Canterbury Cathedral is not free to visit, and booking your tickets in advance is recommended. However, there are some exceptions: Children under 17 (when accompanied by an adult) and local university students can visit for free, and Canterbury residents enjoy discounted access to the cathedral.

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Can you walk the city walls in Canterbury?

Yes, you can walk Canterbury’s city walls. While the walls were heavily damaged in World War II, many sections are still standing and well-maintained, and they offer lovely views overlooking the city. Some of the best sections of the walls can be accessed via Dane John Gardens.

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Is 1 day enough for Canterbury?

Yes, one day is enough to see Canterbury’s major sights, including the Canterbury Cathedral, the ruins of Canterbury Castle, and the ancient Canterbury city walls. However, it’s worth spending a weekend to soak in the city’s lively pace and offerings and to plan side trips to the Kent coast.

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