Canterbury and Whitstable. Day tour from London

Canterbury Cathedral
Canterbury Cathedral

Canterbury is a historic English cathedral city and UNESCO World Heritage Site, situated in the county of Kent, on the River Stour’s shore.

It is a popular tourist destination, one of the most-visited cities in the United Kingdom. There is also a substantial student population, brought about by the presence of a few universities, being the University of Kent the most popular one.

Its proximity to London plus some popular attractions such as The Cathedral, St Augustine’s Abbey, St Martin’s Church and The Canterbury Tales makes Canterbury a great escape from the capital.

How to get there?

There are two train stations in Canterbury: Canterbury East and Canterbury West. Depending on your location in London, and the hotel you book in Canterbury (if you do so), you take can take the train to one or the other.

Trains to Canterbury East depart from London Victoria, take 1.33 minutes (and up to 2 hrs depending on schedule) and cost £27.90 for a single ticket off-peak. Trains to Canterbury West depart from London St Pancras International, take  1 hour and cost £33.80 for a single ticket off-peak. The company running these trains is SouthEastern and tickets can be purchased online here.

Where to stay?

We stayed at The Falstaff Hotel and it was a great choice. It is a charming building that dates back from 1403, retaining many original features, including oak beams and an open log fire (we also noticed that some rooms have low ceilings, so better to check if you are very tall). It is just meters from Canterbury’s medieval West Gate, 2 minutes walk from the city centre, and 3 minutes from Canterbury West Rail Station.

It also offers a full English and continental breakfast, and the bar downstairs offers a range of classic and signature cocktails along with a selection of local beers, wines and spirits.

Other recommended options are Canterbury Cathedral Lodge, Canterbury Lodge, Harriet House B&B, The Victoria Hotel and Clare Ellen Guest House.

What to do?

Canterbury Cathedral
Canterbury Cathedral
Canterbury
Westgate Gardens
Canterbury Canal
Canterbury Canal

The Canterbury Cathedral is the Mother Church of the Anglican Communion and seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury. It was founded in 597 AD by Augustine, it forms a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the Saxon St. Martin’s Church (the oldest church in the country) and the ruins of St Augustine’s Abbey (the second and third most popular attractions). [Wikipedia]

With one million visitors per year, this cathedral is one of the most visited places in the country. Services are held at the cathedral three or more times a day. It is open to the public from 09:00 to 17:30 on Weekdays and Saturday, and from 09:00 to 16.30 on Sundays. The costs are £12.5 per adult, £10.5 for students and £8.5 per children. Visit their official website for more information.

Other popular attractions are:

  • Westgate Towers Museum & Viewpoint: a historic gateway and tower built in 1380, offering city views and an escape-room game.
  • The Canterbury Tales: An interactive tour through Chaucer’s tales, meeting costumed characters and pilgrims along the way.
  • Westgate Gardens: Gardens beside the River Stour, with a 200-year-old plane tree and a Victorian Tower House.
  • Canterbury Castle: a Norman castle, one of the three original Royal castles of Kent (the other two being Rochester Castle and Dover Castle)
  • Art in Canterbury/Conquest House Gallery: enjoy art exhibitions and classes in a historic medieval building with an ornate, half-timbered facade.
  • Whitstable and Herne Bay: beautiful seaside towns (see below)

Whitstable

Whitstable
Whitstable
Fruit de mer platter
Fruit de mer platter at The Lobster Shack

Whitstable is a small (32,000 inhabitants) seaside town on the north coast of Kent, 5 miles north of Canterbury and 2 miles west of Herne Bay. It was famous for its ‘Native Oysters’ which were collected from beds beyond the low water mark from Roman times until the mid-20th century. This is celebrated at the annual Whitstable Oyster Festival, which takes place during the summer.

How to get to Whitstable from Canterbury?

Regular buses depart from Canterbury and take between 30 and 40 minutes to Whitstable Harbour. Bus number 4 and another called Triangle are two of them, and both depart just opposite The Falstaff Hotel, which is another good reason to stay there.

If you feel adventurous, what used to be a railway route is now a bike path that connects both cities. It is 7.5 miles (12 km) long and takes between 45 and 75 minutes. You can easily find the starting point with the postcode CT1 2AH.

What to do in Whitstable?

  • The Harbour is its main attraction. It is a great place to walk, buy gifts and food. Plenty of people enjoy having fish and chips by the sea.
  • Tankerton Beach is the most popular beach. It is characterised by pretty wooden huts and an established sailing club. Facilities such as public toilets and lifeguards are available. Another popular beach is Whitstable West Beach, which also has a pub.
  • A gentle walk along the town centre is also a must-do. You can explore independent shops and galleries, with a strong bohemian atmosphere. You can also visit the Whitstable Museum and Gallery, the Horsbridge Arts Centre and Playhouse Theatre.
  • And of course, being a seaside town, you can always enjoy your favourite water sport such as paddleboarding, kayaking, kitesurfing, boat trips and more.

Where to eat in Whitstable?

Our favourite place was The Lobster Shack, an 18th-century oyster grading house that has been transformed into a restaurant serving fresh lobster, oysters and other seafood specials. They also serve great local beers from Whitstable Brewery, which is not the same as Whitstable Bay, which are sold in London and are not as good.

Another recommended places are Crab and Winkle, The Marine Hotel and The Duke of Cumberland pub. For tea or coffee, Orangery Team Rooms and Elliot’s at No 1 Harbour Street are the favourites.

Where to stay in Whitstable?

Some recommended accommodation options are 4 Knot’s Yard, Beach WalkFishermans Loft and Hillview.

 

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