Fittingly beautiful for a county described as the ‘Garden of England’, the medieval city of Canterbury in Kent is packed with history and culture.

Its cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a place of great religious significance – the diocese is led by the head of the Church of England, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The city also has three universities, a castle and access to countryside and coast – and London, an hour away by train.

Where to stay in Canterbury

Canterbury C&CC Site is a pretty campsite. It’s a bus ride from town (the stop is just outside the site), and is packed with facilities, including a children’s play area. Pets are welcome.

Another option is the small, quiet, adults-only Sunnyside Farm Caravan Park. It has quality facilities and is only a 20-minute walk from the village of Chilham. There’s also easy access to Canterbury on the A28.

Where to park

Canterbury’s roads get very busy and it can be difficult to find parking. Consider using the New Dover Road Park and Ride off the A2050, near the A2. Costs £4 per day.

What to do in Canterbury on Day 1

9am – Breakfast feast

Get your bearings with a walk along the High Street, across to the north side of the River Stour, for a gourmet breakfast of Croque Monsieur or Eggs Royale at the Kitch Café.

10am – Garden of England

Then it’s just a short walk to the Franciscan Gardens, where you can enjoy a spot of peaceful contemplation in 1.5 acres of beautiful planting, set in what were the derelict remains of a Franciscan friary that dates to the 13th century. Tickets for adults cost £6, while entrance is free for children.

River winding through gardens
Enjoy peaceful contemplation in the beautiful Franciscan Gardens

And if you’re in the mood for more greenery, simply continue through Greyfriars Garden to the Eastbridge Hospital (entry £4) and Greyfriars Chapel.

1pm – Relish the idea

Time for a change of pace! Head south of the river to stop for lunch at Notorious B.R.G, which has a splendid choice of meat and plant-based burgers.

3pm – Pilgrim’s progress

No visit to Canterbury would be complete without seeing its mighty cathedral. Seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury and dating back 1400 years, this important centre for pilgrimage (just see Chaucer!) was also the scene of the martyrdom of Henry II’s “turbulent priest”, Thomas Becket, in 1170.

Medieval cloister
Canterbury Cathedral’s spectacular architecture includes the fine medieval cloister

Today, the historic Black Prince’s tomb, superb medieval Miracle Windows and glorious Romanesque arches are among many highlights to be enjoyed. Tickets cost £15.50.

7pm – Pound the beat

The award-winning Pound Bar & Kitchen is located in Canterbury’s former jail and police station. One for the revellers among you, this lively restaurant and night spot stays open until 2am. British classics are on the menu, and other entertainment includes a cinema, an escape room and the Westgate Towers Museum.

What to do on Day 2

10am – Munch brunch

Enjoy a superb full English or some US-style waffles at The Refectory Kitchen, a Canterbury institution. The all-day brunch is served from 8am to 4pm.

11am – Take a punt

Canterbury’s River Stour has plenty of interest and beautiful views to be enjoyed by those who venture onto the water. A variety of tours are available, including historical and nature punts. Shared trips from £10.

River winding through gardens
Enjoy peaceful contemplation in the beautiful Franciscan Gardens

1pm – Buon appetito!

Stretch your waistline, not your nose, at Pinocchio’s, where the classics include Pizza Gourmet, with Italian sausage, spinach, mushroom and mozzarella, topped off with truffle oil.

2pm – Cycle to Whitstable

Looking for a chance to get out of the city and explore the area? Time to take a bike ride along the Crab and Winkle Way.

This charming 7.6-mile cycle trail linking Canterbury and Whitstable takes its name from the railway line that ran between the towns in the 19th century.

You can hire bikes at Kent Cycle Hire, which will arrange for bike collection and drop-off at its Canterbury, Whitstable or Herne Bay cycle hubs.

2pm – Roman holiday

If a cycle ride doesn’t appeal, stay in town and go back in time at Canterbury Roman Museum, where you’ll find the remains of a fine Town House and one of the few pavement mosaics still in situ – from burial swords to jewellery, the museum is packed with interest.

Museum mosaics
Canterbury Roman Museum boasts important mosaics

7pm – Exit stage left

Christopher Marlowe was born in Canterbury in 1564. He went on to become one of the most important playwrights of the Elizabethan age, famed for works such as Tamburlaine and Dr Faustus. Today, you can visit The Marlowe Theatre for more contemporary entertainment, including hit musicals and orchestral concerts.

Head to our Best of British: Weekends Away section for more great touring ideas.

Lead image: Getty

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