Canterbury (England)

Canterbury Cathedral

Canterbury is a cathedral and university city in Kent, in the South East of England. Canterbury Cathedral is the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Primate of All England and hence the Primus inter pares of the primates of each national church in the Anglican Communion and spiritual leader and senior clergyman of the Church of England.


Canterbury is a major tourist centre in the county of Kent. Even though it was bombed relentlessly during the Second World War (The Blitz), it still contains many ancient buildings, and modern building development within the medieval town centre is strictly regulated by officials at Canterbury.

As a result of the murder of Thomas Becket in 1170, Canterbury became a major centre of pilgrimage, the backdrop of Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, written in 1387 about pilgrims passing the time by sharing stories. There is a museum in Canterbury about the Tales.

Canterbury was founded as the Romano-Celtic town of Durovernum Cantiacorum. In the early Middle Ages, the city became known by the Anglo-Saxon name of Cantwarebyrig, meaning "fortress of the men of Kent".

Get in

By car

Canterbury is easily accessible from London by following the M2 South and East until it merges with the A2, linking Canterbury with Chatham, Gillingham and Sittingbourne to the north, and the port of Dover to the south. Another regional arterial road, the A28 travels eastwards to Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate and westwards to Ashford, site of the Eurostar station for rail links to France, Belgium and the continent.

Excellent park and ride facilities allow you to park inexpensively outside the city and take a bus into town. The parking fee is £2.00 per vehicle per day and entitles the driver and up to 6 car passengers to a round trip on the bus to and from the city centre. For information including timetables, maps etc., see the National Park and Ride Directory.

There are three Park and Ride sites: Wincheap (to the West), New Dover Road (to the South) and Sturry Road (to the East), and the buses stop at a number (10+) of intermediate (every 200m ish) stops between the park and ride car parks and the city centre. Park and Ride buses currently run into the city centre regularly between 7AM and 7:30PM Monday to Saturday. On Sundays only, buses run only from New Dover Road Park and Ride between 10AM and 6PM (on a trial basis). During the day, the buses run from each site approximately every 8 min.

By train

Old-fashioned signal box at Canterbury East.

Canterbury is served by two train stations: Canterbury East and Canterbury West. They are respectively 8 min and 4 min walks from the city centre by foot. Fare and timetable information is available from Southeastern, +44 8457 484950. The journey time from Canterbury East to London is between 90 min and 2 h, while Canterbury West also offers a high speed service to St Pancras Station in London which takes under 1 h.

The non-high-speed service goes via Tonbridge. At the weekend, non-high-speed services stop running at about 9PM: if you need to get back to West Kent, you may have to make a lengthy and expensive diversion via London.

By bus

Coaches to Canterbury are available from London Victoria Coach Station and also from Dover. See this site for more details.

By plane

Canterbury does not have its own airport. The nearest major international airports to Canterbury are London Gatwick (66 mi/106 km) and London Heathrow (91 mi/146 km).

Get around

On foot

It is recommended to walk as the town centre is quite compact; it takes only 10 min to walk down the semi-pedestrianised high street.

By bicycle

Cyclists are welcome in Canterbury; the first stage of the 2007 Tour de France finished in the city. However, dedicated cycle paths are relatively few. Local bike shop Downland Cycles ( is located on the London-bound platform of Canterbury West train station. It offers bike rentals and sales. It also gives advice on how best to see the city by bike, having put together several good guides to local rides, including on road, off road, and dedicated path routes.

By bus

Canterbury is well-served by buses which terminate at the main bus station at the end of the high street. Buses serve most destinations in East Kent. Stagecoach Coaches can be picked up from the bus station to Medway, London, Whitstable, Herne Bay, Greenhill, Swalecliffe and Chestfield, Margate and Sturry (these are all small towns close to Canterbury). Buses run regularly during the day however services are less frequent in the evenings. Bus timetables can be found on the Stagecoach Buses website.

By taxi

Taxis in Canterbury are regulated by the city council. Charges are imposed uniformly by this regulation. Thus, £2.50 is the minimum charge for all taxis operating under the City Council of Canterbury.

For hiring between midnight and 7AM, an additional 50% is levied.

Taxis can be picked up at the train stations, outside the bus station, at the southern end of the high street and by the Westgate Towers in the evenings.


The choir in the Canterbury Cathedral

Canterbury has an interesting mix of architectural styles, from genuine Tudor buildings to 1960s style office buildings. However there are architectural gems around every corner, and many of them feature on the Canterbury Buildings website (check for maps and photos). There is no coherent style to the buildings as much of the city was demolished during bombing raids in World War II, but much has survived. The Canterbury Cathedral, St Augustine's Abbey, and St Martin's Church are inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The Dane John Gardens (by the city walls and around the corner from the Whitefriars development) are full of surprises, hosting events almost every weekend during the summer months. Examples include French and farmers markets with all types of cuisine.

The subways on the east end of the main street have many paintings related to the Canterbury Tales.

Norman staircase, King's School


Museums and Tourist Attractions

People who have proof that they live nearby can get into some museums/cathedrals for free (check with the venue first).


Take a historic river boat tour along the Stour, leaving from the Weavers Restaurant on the High Street. Or take a calmer boat trip, without the history, leaving from Westgate Gardens.


Canterbury has many shops and stores, many of which are found in towns and cities across the UK. Most recently, The Whitefriars development has brought many new outlets into Canterbury making it a great shopping destination. Shops in the city include GAP, Tescos, Top Man, Next and two independent department stores: Fenwicks and Nasons. There are also a plethora of smaller shops offering a unique experience.

Canterbury is a popular destination at Christmas where the festive lights and medieval streets provide a great backdrop for retail therapy. Given Canterbury's proximity to Dover and the ferries to France, expect to hear many French voices in the streets (and hordes of - sometimes unsupervised - French schoolchildren !).


Canterbury city centre is a veritable trove of low to mid range restaurants and cafés. Many different styles of cuisine are available at prices to suit most pockets.


There are a large selection of pubs inside the city walls. Canterbury offers many chain pubs (such as JD Wetherspoons) but also many smaller venues. Due to the layout of the city, it is possible to walk down its numerous small streets and find a great place for a drink. Canterbury is also very close to Faversham, a town closely associated with Shepherd Neame brewery (Britain's oldest brewers) and has many pubs which offer many locally brewed real-ales.



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