cathedral city in Kent, England

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 Cathedral

Understand edit

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 edit

By car edit

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, the site of the Eurostar station for rail links to France, Belgium and the continent.

Excellent park and ride[dead link] facilities allow you to park inexpensively outside the city and take a bus into town. The parking fee is £3.50 per vehicle per day, or £1 if you arrive after 4PM, and entitles the driver and up to six car passengers to a round trip on the bus to and from the city centre.

There are three park and ride sites: 1 Wincheap (to the west of the city centre), 2 New Dover Road (to the south) and 3 Sturry Road (to the east). The buses stop at a number of intermediate stops between the park and ride car parks and the city centre. Park and ride buses run into the city centre every eight minutes between 7AM and 7:30PM Monday to Saturday. On Sundays, buses run every 15 minutes from New Dover Road and Sturry Road between 10AM and 6PM, but don't serve Wincheap at all.

By train edit

 
Old-fashioned signal box at Canterbury East.

Canterbury is served by two railway stations. Fare and timetable information are available from Southeastern, +44 8457 484950:

  • 1 Canterbury West, Station Rd W, Canterbury CT2 8AN (4-minute walk from the city centre). The journey time to Canterbury West from London St Pancras (the closest Eurostar station to the Channel Tunnel) is just under one hour on the High Speed service. There are also services from Tonbridge, Ashford and Ramsgate.    
  • 2 Canterbury East, Station Rd E, CT1 2RB (8-minute walk from the city centre). Alternatively, the service from London Victoria to Canterbury East is between 90 minutes and two hours. The advantage of this is that it's about £5 cheaper than the high-speed line, but the price difference is not great enough to justify the longer journey. There are also services from Chatham, Faversham and Dover Priory.    

By bus edit

National Express operate coaches to Canterbury from London Victoria Coach Station and also from Dover.

By plane edit

Canterbury does not have its own airport. The nearest major international airports to Canterbury are London Gatwick (LGW IATA) about 66 mi (106 km) away and London Heathrow (LHR IATA), about 96 mi (154 km) away.

Get around edit

 
Map of Canterbury (England)

On foot edit

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 edit

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 (www.downlandcycles.co.uk) 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 edit

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 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 edit

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.

See edit

 
The Quire in 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. 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

Landmarks edit

  • 1 Canterbury Cathedral, +44 1227 762862. M-Sa 9AM-5PM, Su 12:30–5PM; last entry 1 hour before closing time. 11 The Precincts. The burial place of King Henry IV and Edward the Black Prince, but most famous as the scene of the murder of Thomas Becket in 1170. The mostly Gothic-style cathedral is the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Chief Primate of the Church of England and spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion. No photography is allowed in the crypt. Tickets are valid for repeat visits within 12 months. £17.    
  • 2 Cathedral Close (a roothed passage leads from the N side of the Cathedral to the Green Court). An area surrounding the Cathedral around Green Court, including:
  • 3 Norman staircase. 12th-century roofed steps.
  • 4 St Martin's Church, North Holmes Road (10-min walk, E from the centre, via Longport), +44 1227 768072, . W-Su 11AM-3PM. It is a part of the World Heritage site (Roman Shrine). It is the oldest parish church in England still in constant use. If you look at the flint walls, you can still see the red brick that was used by the Romans. Worth seeing. Free admission, donations appreciated.    
  • 5 St Augustine's Abbey, Longport, CT1 1PF, +44 1227 767345. Nov-Mar: Sa Su 10AM-4PM; Apr-Sep: daily 10AM-6PM; Oct: daily 10AM-5PM. World Heritage remains preserved by English Heritage. adults £6.90, children £4.10, concessions £6.20.    
  • 6 Canterbury Castle. from morning until dusk. The ruins of a Norman castle built in the 11th century. As of Nov 2023, it is closed to repair dangerous masonry. Free admission.    

Museums and tourist attractions edit

  • 7 West Gate Towers (West Gate Museum). 11AM-4PM. a small but fascinating collection of material about the tower and the history of Canterbury. The view from the open roof top is also excellent, allowing you to see up the high street all the way to the Cathedral. Adults £4.
  • 8 Canterbury Roman Museum, Butchery Lane, +44 1227 785575. M-Sa 10AM-5PM (last admission 4PM), from June-end October, also open Su 1:30-5PM (last admission 4PM). A remarkable museum of Roman period Canterbury. admission adults £2.80, concessions £1.75, family £7.20 (2 adults and up to 3 children), groups of 10+ 10% discount, teachers free.    
  • 9 The Beaney House of Art & Knowledge (Canterbury Royal Museum and Art Gallery), +44 1227 452747. M-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su 11AM-4PM (closed Good Friday and Christmas week). With Buffs Regimental Museum, High Street. A splendid Victorian building housing decorative arts and picture collections, including a gallery for T.S. Cooper, England's finest cattle painter. The art gallery is the major space in the Canterbury area for the visual arts, with a wide-ranging annual program and exhibitions of both contemporary and historical work. The Buffs Museum - a branch of the National Army Museum in Chelsea, London - tells the story of one of England's oldest infantry regiments and its worldwide service. There is an extensive collection of medals with Victoria Crosses and other gallantry awards. Admission free.    
  • 10 Sidney Cooper Gallery, 22-23 St Peter's St, CT1 2BQ, +44 1227 453267. A Christ Church-linked university building, on the high street. Free entry. Combined music and art events often happen. Local art and merit gallery.

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

Do edit

 
Kent County Cricket Club
  • 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.
  • 1 Canterbury Historic River Tours, Kings Bridge (in the centre of Canterburys main street, by The Old Weavers Restaurant), +44 7790534744. 10AM-5PM. Guided river tour providing a light hearted commentary discovering some of Canterbury’s finest architecture set against outstanding views of natural scenery. £5-11.
  • Watch cricket at 2 St Lawrence Ground, Old Dover Rd CT1 3NZ (A mile southeast of centre). Kent CCC play in the First Division of the County Championship.    
  • Crab & Winkle Way is a 7.6-mile walking and cycle route between Canterbury and Whitstable along the track bed of the C&W Railway.
  • 3 Join a Bison Safari (Wildwood Kent), Wealden Forest Park, Canterbury Rd, Herne Common, CT6 7LQ, . 10AM-4PM. A collection of British animals in natural enclosures. A small herd of 5 European Bison were imported, in July 2022, for the wilder Blean Wilding Project to act as ecosystem engineers.  

Buy edit

Canterbury has many shops and stores, many of which are found in towns and cities across the UK.

  • 1 Whitefriars Shopping Centre, 14 Gravel Walk, CT1 2TF (+44 1227 826760). M-Sa 9:30AM–5:30PM, Su 10AM-5PM. Has brought many new outlets into Canterbury making it a great shopping destination.    

Shops in the city include Gap, Tesco, Top Man, Next and an independent department store:

There is also a plethora of smaller shops offering a unique experience. Particularly in the city's Cathedral Quarter:

  • 3 House of Secrets, 15 Mercery Ln, CT1 2JJ (opposite the Canterbury Cathedral arch). 10am-6pm. Sells fantasy merchandise. It is mostly Harry Potter related hence the name and decor, but there is also Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings merch too. There is no website but they frequently post to Instagram.
  • 4 Greenstove Solutions, 58-60 Wincheap, CT1 3RS, +44 1227 903 913, . (closed Th Su). Wood burning Agas and Stoves

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!)

Eat edit

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. Also, Deliveroo and Just Eat are available if you are staying a few miles outside of Canterbury:

  • 1 Old Weavers Restaurant, 1-3 St Peter's St, CT1 2AT, +44 1227 464660. A small restaurant located in an area that is sometimes referred to as "Little Italy". The Old Weavers is delightfully situated by one of the spurs of the River Stour and has patio area seating. The menu concentrates on minor variants of traditional English and Italian food. Main courses start from £4.95.
  • 2 Goods Shed, Station Rd W, CT2 8AN, +44 1227 459153. Housed in an airy converted engine shed, the adjoining farmers' market reassuring the visitor that the traditional cuisine will be of the best quality. Typical meals are the roast organic chicken with sorrel, chard and potatoes, or the vegetable platter, with mushrooms, black lentils, chard, hard-boiled egg, swede, tomato relish and salad leaves. Home-made desserts available also. Mains £8-16.
  • 3 Thomas Becket, 21 Best Ln, CT1 2JB, +44 1227 464384. A small traditional pub in the city centre, offering excellent traditional British food.
  • 4 Burgate Cafe, 43 Burgate, CT1 2HW, +44 1227 764946. Artisanal cafe in the Cathedral Quarter with vegan and gluten-free options.
  • 5 Cafe Des Amis, 95 St Dunstan's Street, CT2 8AD (over the roundabout from the Westgate towers), +44 1227 464390. A brilliant Mexican restaurant (with a French manager). A variety of fantastic Tex-Mex meals and very good frozen cocktails. Meals are not too cheap (starting at £8.95 for one course (or ~£5.95 for breakfast/lunch), but are very much worth it. Most locals will agree this is one of the best restaurants in Canterbury. £9+.
  • 6 The Ancient Raj, 26 North Lane, CT2 7EE, +44 1227 470092. A very nice curry house, with excellent, friendly staff housed in a converted tudor building. They have a live musician on Saturday nights. Note that the curries are very tasty, but not too hot (unless you ask for them hot!). A very nice curry and rice generally costs ~£10 (£9 take away/£9.50 delivered).
  • 7 Bangkok House, 13-15 Church St St. Pauls, CT1 1NH, +44 1227 471171. Good Thai fare, tasty, but fairly expensive! £11 for curry & rice.
  • 8 Posillipo, 15-16 Borough, CT1 2DR, +44 1227 761 471. Italian Restaurant

Drink edit

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.

  • 1 Alberry's, 38 St Margaret's St, CT1 2TY, +44 1227 452 378. M-Th noon-midnight, F Sa noon-3AM (closed Sunday). One of Canterbury's oldest and most established bars, located opposite The Loft. Food is served during the day.
  • 2 Bramley's, 15 Orange St, CT1 2JA, +44 1227 379 933. Next to the Orange Street music club, this bar is very popular but enforces an entrance policy to keep numbers down so it is reliably a quiet place to have a drink and a chat.
  • 3 The Cherry Tree, 10 White Horse Lane, CT1 2RU, +44 1227 451 266. A wild, packed pub, full of a mix of locals, students and weirdos. Always busy and spilling out onto the streets. Everyone is welcome. They have a selection of real ales, continental beers and local cider. Try a pint of the Biddenden's cider (or two if you dare/want to fall over!) The place is a dive, but the regulars and staff are friendly, and the drinks are all well kept.  
  • 4 The Cuban, 43 High St, Canterbury CT1 2RY, +44 1227 464 464. A South American-themed bar and restaurant conviniently located on the high street. Food is reasonably priced and a wide variety of drinks are available from the bar, including a good range of cocktails and bottled beers. Operates as a nightclub in the evening.
  • 5 The Dolphin, 17 St. Radigunds Street, CT1 2AA, +44 1227 455963. A quiet pub, with a few real ales and a selection of fruit wines. Friendly staff and great pub food. Has a selection of games to play, and also a pub garden, which has draconian rules!
  • 6 Lady Luck, 18 St Peter's St, CT1 2BQ. M-Th 11AM-1AM, F Sa 11AM-2AM, Su 11AM-11PM. Rock pub, expensive, around £3 a pint of standard beer, but makes up for it with its atmosphere. Popular with students and locals alike, doesn't have a lot to cater for the more mainstream crowd though, busier at weekends. Has a wide range of lagers, and a few real ales and three ciders of differing strengths. Pool table and beer garden, the former reserved for the pool team on Wednesday evenings, and the latter usually closed early in Winter, so everyone has to smoke out front, after a certain time only plastic glasses allowed, and after midnight no drinks whatsoever.
  • 7 Ye Olde Beverlie, St Stephen's Green, CT2 7JU, +44 1227 463 974. noon-11PM.  
  • 8 The Old Butter Market, 39 Burgate, Canterbury CT1 2HW, +44 1227 462 170. A classic example of one of the many "traditional" pubs that Canterbury is famous for. Some good ales on tap along with the obligatory range of lagers. Prone to get very crowded.
  • 9 The Parrot (Previously Simple Simons), 1-9 Church Ln, St Radigunds St, CT1 2AG, +44 1227 454 170. Often has live jazz music and a cozy bohemian atmosphere. One of the oldest pubs in the country.
  • 10 The Three Tuns (The Queens Head), Watling St, CT1 2UD, +44 1227 458 014. A Green King pub.  
  • 11 Westgate Inn, 1-3 North Ln, CT2 7EB, +44 1227 464 329. Large but not too noisy, well-suited for a casual drink and chat rather than partying. A Wetherspoon pub.  
  • 12 White Hart Inn, Worthgate Place, Dane John Mews, CT1 2QX, +44 1227 765 091.
  • 13 The Canterbury Tales, 12 The Friars, CT1 2AS, +44 1227 768 594. Small pub opposite Canterbury's theatre (The Marlowe). The Canterbury Tales is tucked away down many of the city's streets and regularly has live music. Often full of theatre-goers.
  • 14 The Shakespeare (Caseys), 5 Butchery Ln, CT1 2JR (down one of the small side-streets off the high street), +44 1227 463 252. A small Shepherd Neame pub with a wine bar.  

Late bars edit

  • 15 Club Chemistry, 15 Station Rd E, CT1 2RB, +44 1227 462 520. Canterbury's biggest nightclub, spanning three floors each with their own theme of music. Regular student night on Mondays. Saturdays are more of a locals' affair, higher prices reflect this.
  • 16 The Loft Bar, 5-6 St Margaret's St, CT1 2TP, +44 1227 456 515. Tu W 6PM-1AM, Th 6PM-2:30AM, F 5PM-3AM, Sa 4PM-3AM (closed Su M). Serves good (but expensive) cocktails in a trendy environment. Attracts a young professional crowd.
  • 17 The Privy, Burgate, Canterbury CT1 2HG (Underground from), +44 1227 455 341. W Th 6PM-2AM, F Sa 4PM-3AM (closed Su M Tu). Yes you guessed it.

North of the city walls edit

South outside the city walls edit

  • 26 King's Head, 204 Wincheap, Canterbury CT1 3RY. A 15th-century free house that is Canterbury's oldest coaching inn.  
  • 27 Maidens Head, 28 Wincheap, CT1 3QZ. noon-11:30PM.  
  • 28 The New Inn, 19 Havelock St, CT1 1NP, +44 1227 464 584. A small pub, in a converted terraced house, so there is a 'living room feel'. During term time, due to proximity of the Christ Church music department, it is frequented by many music students (and their lecturers).
  • 29 The Old Gate Inn (Sign of the Gate.), 162-164 New Dover Rd, CT1 3EL, +44 1227 829 951. 9AM-11PM.
  • 30 Old City Bar, 2 Oaten Hill Pl, CT1 3HJ, +44 1227 766 882. Su-Th noon-11PM, F Sa noon-1AM.
  • 31 The Phoenix, 67 Old Dover Rd, CT1 3DB, +44 1227 464 220. noon-midnight.
  • 32 Two Sawyers, 58 Ivy Ln, CT1 1TU, +44 1227 766 293, . Su-W noon-10PM, Th F Sa noon-11PM.

Tea edit

  • 33 Tiny Tim's Tearoom, 34 St Margaret's St, Canterbury CT1 2TG (center of town), +44 1227 450793. Canterbury's finest and most traditional tea room serving authentic cream teas, afternoon teas, cakes, scones and lunches.

Sleep edit

Connect edit

Canterbury has 4G from all UK carriers. As of April 2022, only EE has 5G. Some parts of the city centre have poor mobile signal on all networks due to planning regulations preventing phone masts in the ancient areas.

Go next edit

  • Whitstable is a pleasant seaside town. You can walk or cycle along the "Crab & Winkle" trackbed.
  • Sandwich is a well-preserved old port on the Channel coast.


Routes through Canterbury
London ← merges with    NW   SE  Dover
Ashford ← Wincheap ←  SW   NE  → Sturry → Margate



This city travel guide to Canterbury is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.