Best things to do in Rochester- A day trip from London

Rochester, Kent

Rochester is a stunning little town located in Kent, South East England. The diocese of Rochester is the second oldest in England at dates back to AD604. Rochester is a town that oozes character and charm and has kept much of its historical influences from Tudor to Victorian times. 

Rochester might be small, but there are lots of things to do in Rochester. From browsing the independent stores to enjoying nature along the Medway River and to travelling back in time through its many historical sites. Rochester was even a favourite of Kent local, Charles Dickens who immortalised Rochester in one of his enthralling short stories. 

If you are looking for some of the best things to do in Rochester then read on below and find out how to spend the perfect day in Rochester, Kent.

How to get to Rochester ?

There are 3 easy ways to get to Rochester by car, train or coach. 

From Central London, Rochester is just a 1hr 20-minute drive. There are a few car parks in the town which you can find below: 

By train you can be in Rochester in just 40 minutes from London Victoria station, starting at £15 one way. Alternatively, you can hop on a coach from London Victoria coach station to the town of Gillingham with National Express for just £6 one way. From Gillingham, you get on a train, bus or even walk to Rochester.

Where to stay in Rochester?

Although this guide is about the best things to do in Rochester in one day, you might want to stay the night, so if that’s the case I’ve listed some of the best places to stay in Rochester below: 

The best things to do in Rochester

Walk through the cobbled streets

Number one on the list of the best things to do in Rochester is walking through the high street. What I love about quaint British towns are the historical buildings, cobbled streets and the bunting lining the streets, and Rochester is a town the has all three. The high street is a short walk from top to bottom and is filled with charm and character all the way through. Think Tudor cottages and 17th-century townhouses. 

Have brunch at Cafe Nucleus

Cafe Nucleus is an award-winning restaurant and the top-rated cafe in Rochester.  Come here for a delicious brunch, beautiful interiors. Cafe Nucleus pride itself on not just offering amazing food, but a full-on culinary experience, so this is one not to miss!

Explore Rochester Cathedral

Rochester Cathedral has been a place of Christian worship since AD604 and is the second oldest Cathedral in the UK after Canterbury Cathedral,  which is located 50 minutes from Rochester. The Cathedral boasts some impressive architecture with both Norman and Gothic influences. The Cathedral became a place of Pilgrimage in the 13th century and is still a place of pilgrimage to this day. 

You are able to freely walk around and explore the Cathedral, but if you would like to know more about its history you can also book on to a guided tour for just £5 which you can book on arrival. 

This is one of the best things to do in Rochester.

Wander around the old castle

Directly across from the Cathedral, stands the stunning Rochester Castle. The Castle is an impressive example of Norman Romanesque architecture and was originally built for the purposes of guarding an important river crossing along the Medway. The Building was erected in 1080 by Gundulf, Bishop of Rochester and is one of the earliest buildings of this kind to be built in England.

Over the 1000’s of years the Castle has been sieged upon and burnt down, but today the Castle is used as a place to admire British history, as well as an open-air cinema.

You can grab a ticket to explore the castle for just £7.50 via the English Heritage website.

Admire Rochester Bridge and walk along the River Medway

Rochester Bridge in Rochester, Medway was for centuries the lowest fixed crossing of the River Medway. The current Ironcast structure has been in place since 1914. Walk across the bridge, away from the high street and over to the Strood side to get an awesome view of Rochester Castle and Rochester Cathedral.

Six poor travellers house

As you might have guessed from the name, the six poor travellers house was a Tudor charity house founded by an Elizabethan MP to provide lodging for six poor travellers. This was in use right up until the Second World War. The building is no longer used for this purpose and now operates mainly as a museum. 

Charles Dickens also describes the house and the charity in one of his short stories named “The Seven Poor Travellers.”

Guildhall Museum

Located along Rochester High Street sits the beautiful Guildhall Museum which dates back to the 17th century. Not only will you be wowed by the gorgeous traditional interiors of this building but also the incredible displays here, including a 200,000-year-old axe that visitors can touch, civic silver and regalia from Medway’s past and the world’s most complete set of 18th-century cabinet maker’s tools.

Browse the boutique and Vintage stores

The Parrott Pub is located in one of Canterbury’s oldest buildings and is also the city’s oldest pub. Pick up some unique gifts for friends, family or yourself in one of the many boutique and vintage stores along the high street. Even if you’re not in the market to pick anything up, I would definitely recommend having a browse at beautiful displays at  Field Staff Antiques.

Pick up some treats from the local deli’s 

There are lots of independent cafes along Rochester High Street, so it’s definitely worth it to pop in and grab some one-of-a-kind goodies. I would highly recommend popping into The Cheese Room for some cheesy treats. This was one of my favourite things to do in Rochester.

Go swimming at St Andrew’s Lakes

St Andrews Lakes is an old quarry that has been transformed into a beautiful lake, where they have created an artificial beach as well as the opportunity to go swimming, paddleboarding, fishing and even scuba diving. The lakes are a 15-minute drive away from the town centre, but worth a visit if the weather is nice. Booking in advance is required so be aware of this.

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

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