Top Things to Do in Canterbury (2023) | All You Need to Know

Bell   |   05 September 23

Craft the perfect Canterbury day trip and see all the top attraction the city has to offer — from punting along the picturesque Great Stour to the best charity shops in the area!

Canterbury is often overlooked when it comes to London daytrips, however, it can easily keep up in charm and history with its neighbours Whitstable and Broadstairs. From a history-changing murder in Canterbury Cathedral to the crooked bookshop that is said to have inspired Charles Dickens’ novel, David Copperfield, you need to add Canterbury to your list of must-visit quaint British towns.

Having visited a week ago, I have summarised all the must-see things in Canterbury as well as how to get there and why it is so well-known in Britain. 


Visit Canterbury Cathedral

Founded in early Medieval England, 597 AD to be precise, Canterbury Cathedral is now on the World Heritage List. The Cathedral is commonly referred to as ‘England in stone‘ and is actually England’s first cathedral

The cathedral is as stunning from the inside as its impressive exterior. Scroll to the end of the article to read about how Canterbury Cathedral was also the location of a history-changing murder and made the town of Canterbury famous.

Tickets cost £17.00 for adults and entry is free for children under 17. You can buy them on the day, but I would recommend buying online to save the hassle on the day. 

The Crooked House - Catching Lives Bookshop

Crooked Bookshop Canterbury - traveloffscript

… a very old house bulging over the road…leaning forward, trying to see who was passing on the narrow pavement below…

Charles Dickens, 1849

Seeing this old house for the first time feels truly surreal – like it will just tip over at any moment. It is also known as  Sir John Boys House, King’s Gallery, or Old King’s Shop and the shop inside changes frequently. It is currently a cute bookshop.

You do not need to worry about it actually coming down though, it is held up by a sturdy steel frame. The reason it looks the way it is is quite fascinating and is essentially an old tax-saving methods. The more space a house took up on the ground, the more tax you paid. So, the ground floor was built the smallest and upper floors larger. It didn’t initially slant to the side, but couldn’t support its weight after a chimney alteration.

Wander Westgate Gardens

Westgate Garden Canterbury - traveloffscript

Easily one of my favourite areas in Canterbury, Westgate Garden is the perfect location for picturesque photos. The Garden is built along the Roman City Wall and you can find many punt companies here. 

It is very close to Canterbury West Station and just a 15-minute walk through Canterbury City Center from the bus station. 

Walk along the Great Stour

Walk along Great Stour - traveloffscript

From Westgate Garden, continue along the riverside walk. You will get stunning views of the Great Stour and see many a punting boat idle by. 

It is also the perfect place for a picnic or afternoon nap (talking from experience).

Book a Canterbury Punting Tour

Before Canterbury, I had only really seen punting in Cambridge, however this quaint little town easily rivals its bigger companion. Punting companies can be found all over the city and you can also book online to secure the right time. 

There are rowing boat and punting tours, usually lasting around 45 minutes. They will cost you around £15 per adult for a shared tour and £75 upwards for a private tour. 

Some popular companies are Canterbury punting company and Westgate Punts.

Make the most of the amazing Charity Shops in Canterbury

Canterbury Center - traveloffscript

Canterbury has endless charity shops that have a great selection of clothing for actually affordable prices. We are talking around £2 for a nice top which is such a steal (especially if you are used to London charity shops).

I’d highly recommend making some extra time to have a browse. They are all very centrally located so can easily be combined with sightseeing.

Visit the Beaney House of Art & Knowledge

Visit the Beaney House of Art & Knowledge - traveloffscript
Painting in the Beaney House of Art & Knowledge - traveloffscript

We actually came across this building when walking through the city and its beautiful exterior drew us in. Inside, you can find a Museum, Art Gallery, Library and Visitor Information Centre. It’s basically your one-stop for everything.

The current exhibition A Captivating View” is on until the 17th of September and shows beautiful landscapes and cities across the world.

How far is Canterbury from London?

The fastest way to Canterbury from London is via train, which takes 51 minutes. There are also some slower and cheaper trains with more stops.

If you are looking for a more budget option, you could go via National Express or Megabus. The bus ride from London to Canterbury will take roughly 2 – 2.5 hours.

You can also drive, which would take around 2 hours depending on your starting point. 

What is Canterbury famous for?

Canterbury Cathedral plays an important part in British history. It was founded in 597A.D. and is now the headquarters of the Church of England and Anglican Communion. It has also been recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site

It is also the place of the historic assassination of Thomas Becket on 29 December 1170.  He was one of the most powerful players of his time and a close friend of King Henry II, until a dispute between the two changed everything. 

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Hi, I'm Bell

Bell from Travel Off Script

My blog is here to show you that there isn’t one correct way to travel the world. Together, we can figure out what that means for you. Learn more about me here!

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