Best things to do in Canterbury- A day trip from London with National Express

Cobbled streets, quaint British pubs, charming nature spots and history dating as far back as Roman times; Canterbury really is the city that has it all. And, if it couldn’t get much better, it’s just a hop, skip and jump away from England’s capital of London. 

For those not familiar with Canterbury, it is a delightful little Cathedral city (and also a UNESCO world heritage site) located in the East of Kent. It’s one of the most visited places in the UK, most famous for the iconic Canterbury Cathedral, but also loved for its eye-catching Tudor style architecture. 

Canterbury is a city that oozes character and is filled with history. You might be surprised to find out that it is in fact home to both the oldest English-speaking church in the world, as well as the old extant school in the world. Pretty cool right? 

If you are looking for a quick break away from the madness of London, and a place to truly soak up British history, then Canterbury is the perfect place to come. There are so many things to do in Canterbury on your day trip here that you will probably be leaving with sore legs, but also a very happy heart. 

Read on below to find out the best way to get to Canterbury and the best things to do in Canterbury

How to get to Canterbury?

Before we can get talking about the best things to do in Canterbury, I should probably let you know the best way to get there. 

The most convenient and affordable way to get to Canterbury from London (and my transport of choice) is by jumping on a National Express coach from London Victoria Coach Station. For those who have not heard of National Express before; they are the largest coach operating service in the UK.

What makes National Express stand out from the rest is simply how affordable and accessible their offering is. The cost of a return journey from London to Canterbury starts at just £8! How amazing is that? 

The coach journey to Canterbury from London is around 2 hours and the ride with National Express is a dream. Onboard they have super comfortable seats with lots of legroom, free Wi-Fi, USB charging ports, and most importantly a toilet. In fact, the journey was so relaxing I fell asleep from start to finish for both the outbound and return journeys. 

It’s also great to know that National Express are doing their bit for the environment.  They have invested in the cleanest most efficient coaches available. The average age of a vehicle is only three years old and meets the highest possible engine emission standard. They have also committed to making their coach fleet zero emission by 2035.

Where to stay in Canterbury?

You can definitely complete Canterbury in a day, but if you’re the type to take things a little slower then there are plenty of wonderful places to stay. You can now book package holidays (coach travel + accommodation) with National Express Holidays. They have a wide range of hotels to choose from, to suit all budgets. So head over to their website to find out more about the hotels they have on offer. 

And if you do decide to stay, there is no need to worry about luggage allowance when travelling with National Express. You can bring up to 2 cases for the luggage compartment as well as a bag to carry on board with you.

The best things to do in Canterbury

Canterbury Cathedral

Number one of the list of the best things to do in Canterbury of course has to be Canterbury Cathedral. It’s the most iconic place in Canterbury and a respected symbol of British history. During Medieval times Canterbury Cathedral was one of the most important centres of pilgrimage and even more so after the assassination of Thomas Becket

Unfortunately at the moment, the Cathedral is undergoing a huge restoration project. This means that that there is lots of scaffolding around the outside of the building. But don’t worry, it’s still extremely beautiful and the inside remains as stunning as ever. Tickets for the Catherdral are £14 for Adults and free for those under 18.

Butchery Lane

Butchery Lane, (located just off the main high street) is without a doubt the quaintest and one of the most photogenic streets in all of Canterbury. The cobbled street is lined with cute cafes and an awesome view of Canterbury Cathedral. If you are looking for that Instagram shot then this is the place to come. Be sure to get there early to avoid all the passers-by.

Canterbury Punting tour

Take a guided punting tour along the gorgeous River Stour and learn all about the history of the city and its surrounding buildings. There are a couple of tour operators in Canterbury. Some of these are Canterbury River Tours and Canterbury Punting. Please head to their websites to find out more about options, prices and timetables.

The Old Weavers House

The Old Weavers house is one of the most photographed spots in all of Canterbury. It’s a gorgeous half-timbered building, adjacent to the River Stour. The building dates back to the 14th century and takes its name from weavers who settled in the town back in the 16th and 17th centuries. The building is now home to a popular restaurant and it’s the starting point for the  Canterbury River Tours.

Westgate Gardens

Westgate Gardens is one of the most stunning spots of natural beauty in Canterbury. It is also one of the oldest parks in England (so much history in one place I know). Come here for a leisurely stroll along the river and to admire the stunning flora and fauna. You will also be able to set your sights on even more medieval ruins surrounding the gardens.

St Augustine’s Abbey and St Martin’s Church

These are two of the oldest churches in England and infact St Martin’s Church is the oldest English Speaking church in the world today. Both sites are located close to each other but are slightly outside of the main town. They are walkable from the city centre so there will definitely be time to make it here on your day trip.

The Crooked House

The Crooked House is (yep you guessed it) a crooked building dating back to the 17th century. The building is said to have been given its shape from an internal chimney slipping (which is now kept in place by a steel frame). The building has inspired the works of authors such as Charles Dickens who famously quotes the building in his book, David Copperfield. Nowadays the house is now home to a lovely little bookshop.

Have lunch at the Parrot Pub

The Parrott Pub is located in one of Canterbury’s oldest buildings and is also the city’s oldest pub. It was built on old Roman foundations from the 14th century. Inside the pub, you will see they have kept on to its traditional style with low beam ceilings and more (be sure to watch your head if you are above 6ft). We enjoyed the most fabulous roast dinner here with all the trimmings, so would highly recommend coming on a Sunday if you can.

**This post has been sponsored by National Express Coaches.

Looking for more day trip inspiration? Click here to read all about my favourite trips from London.

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