Travel Tips - The Insider's Guide to Canterbury

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Less than an hour from London by car or train, Canterbury is a gateway to the county of Kent. Close to the shores of the Thames Estuary and the English Channel, it's surrounded by lush countryside. Historic castles and charming seaside towns are on your doorstep when you stay here.

Best time to travel


To enjoy summers that have earned Kent the nickname "Garden of England", visit Canterbury between May and August, when you can expect plenty of sunshine. The area sweltered under a record 38.5 degrees C (101 F) one August day in 2003 but you're more likely to experience pleasantly warm summer averages of around 22 C (71 F). There is sometimes heavy snow in winter, when temperatures have been known to drop well below freezing, but it can rain at any time of year. The Canterbury Festival, during the last fortnight in October, attracts up to 60,000 visitors.

Not to miss


Arriving in Canterbury, many visitors head straight for iconic Canterbury Cathedral, which towers over the historic city centre. In town, you'll find other historic churches like Greyfriars Chapel, and museums that celebrate the city's Roman and medieval heritage. Nearby, you can visit impressive castles at places like Rochester, and stroll on sandy beaches at lively seaside resorts like Herne Bay and Whitstable.


Getting around


Two train stations, Canterbury East and Canterbury West, provide services to and from London, and neighbouring towns and villages. Stagecoach East bus services operate from Canterbury Bus Station to Whitstable and Herne Bay. Central Canterbury is small enough to explore on foot. There urban bus services within the city and you'll find taxi ranks at each station. Canterbury is around 80 minutes' drive from London Gatwick Airport (LGW), which is served by flights from cities in Britain and worldwide. You can catch high-speed Eurostar trains to Paris and Brussels at Ashford International, a 20-minute train ride from Canterbury West.




Kent's mellow climate and lush soil are ideal for growing fruit like cherries, plums and apples. Hops, used in brewing, are another major crop. Kentish breweries include Shepherd Neame, which claims to be Britain's oldest. You'll find baked goods such as huffkins - a fruit-filled, bagel-shaped cake - in many cafés. Whitstable, on the Kent coast near Canterbury, is famous for its oysters and other seafood.


Customs and etiquette


Common courtesy and patience are valued in Canterbury as highly as anywhere in England. Local tradition makes a subtle distinction between a 'Kentish Man (or Maid)' and a 'Man (or Maid) of Kent'. Purists insist that those born west of the River Medway are the former, while anyone born east of the Medway is the latter. Tipping is not obligatory, but appreciated in restaurants and bars with table service.


Fast facts


  • Population: 157600

  • Spoken languages: English

  • Electrical: 220-240 volts, 50 Hz, plug type G

  • Phone calling code: +44 1227 763 298

  • Emergency number: 999