CANTERBURY CITY GUIDE
With a history spanning two thousand years, there are plenty of things to do in Canterbury - one of the most culture rich places to visit in the United Kingdom. Ringed by Roman fortifications, the city boasts a royal Norman castle and features a stunning UNESCO World Heritage cathedral at its heart.
Whether you choose to wander around the car-free city centre, admire the exposed beams of the Tudor houses or spoil yourself with a relaxing punt along the gently flowing River Stour, a visit to one of the most historic cities in England is only a ferry ride away.
Canterbury's Heritage sites
Canterbury Cathedral is one of the oldest and most famous churches in England. Along with the ruins of St Augustine's Abbey and the parish of St Martin’s church, the three structures make up the city's UNESCO World Heritage site.
The cathedral itself is a striking blend of Romanesque and Gothic styles, and has been a religious pilgrimage site since 1170 AD. Keep a lookout for the highly decorated Christ Church Gate that acts as the primary entrance.
Westgate Park is the city's historic showpiece garden and one of England's oldest parks. The green space contains a Norman archway, war memorials and thousands of flowers; making it a peaceful place to relax.
The park also offers one of the most picturesque views in the city with its summertime punt boats drifting by and a glimpse of the 600-year-old West Gate Tower in the distance.
Cultural tours in Canterbury
As well as fascinating museums and landmarks, Canterbury also offers plenty of tours that allow insight into its rich history.
Canterbury Cathedral was once a popular pilgrimage site after the murder of Archbishop Thomas Becket, which lead to the popularity of the medieval story The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer. In this collection of short stories, 24 pilgrims each tell a tale as they travel from London to visit the shrine at Canterbury Cathedral. You can follow the pilgrims journey at the popular Canterbury Tales tourist attraction, where you will be transported back to medieval England.
One of the most outstanding things to do in this area is to join a river tour. A guided punting tour on the Stour offers a unique vantage point to learn about the history of Canterbury, while escaping the hustle and bustle of the city.
If you want to sail along the Stour but don't want a guided tour, you can embark on your own adventure by hiring a canoe and paddling along the peaceful water.
For something a little spooky, the Canterbury Ghost Tour is led by a local historian and recounts the darker, more gruesome tales of the city.
Canterbury: food & fun activities
Canterbury is renowned for being a hotspot for foodies, serving up a fresh, vibrant array of cuisine.
One of the most popular eateries with visitors and locals alike is Café de Soleil. Delivering Mediterranean inspired fare, this restaurant creates dishes from locally sourced produce cooked in their famous wood burning oven.
To taste genuine British flavours, Deeson's Restaurant is a top choice. Here you can enjoy traditional and modern British dishes like slow cooked pork belly and roasted lamb shoulder with all the trimmings.
Theatre has been a part of Canterbury life since the Roman times. To celebrate this great tradition, a visit to the Marlowe Theatre is perfect for fans of live performance. Named for the great British playwright Christopher Marlowe, the theatre recently underwent a complete refurbishment, opening again in 2011 just off the High Street. The Marlowe Theatre is now the city's one-stop-shop for live productions, where you can enjoy Shakespearean plays, skilful ballet shows and world-class musicians.
Another favourite for both children and parents alike is the Beaney House of Art and Knowledge. This warren like heritage building contains state-of-the-art exhibition galleries, an educational museum and an extended library.
For those looking to get out of the city, the Howletts Wild Animal Park is top choice for animal lovers. The park is set in a 90-acre conservation area, where there are endangered species and over 400 animals to see including gorillas, lions and tigers.
Canterbury shopping spots
For those that need a dose of retail therapy, there are plenty of shopping spots throughout Canterbury.
Head to the historic King’s Mile, to find all rows of independent retailers selling everything from handcrafted jewellery to local beers.
For big name high street stores, head straight towards the Whitefriars shopping centre, where you are presented with a choice of over 100 shops and restaurants.
Start your own adventure in historical Canterbury by getting a P&O ferry to Great Britain today. Our Calais to Dover crossing will get you there in a flash. For those travelling from The Netherlands and Ireland, you can hop on one of our ferries from Rotterdam to Hull or Dublin to Liverpool.