Day Trip To Canterbury and Whitstable: The Best of Kent in 1 Day

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In this article, I wanted to share with you our itinerary for a day trip to Canterbury and Whitstable. This trip doesn’t require a car if you are starting it in London (we took a train to get to Canterbury and a bus to Whitstable from there). Canterbury and Whitstable are definitely some of the best places to visit in Kent – while Canterbury is full of history, Whitstable is a relaxed fishing town, where you can try some of the best oysters in England.

Before we start, here’s what you can expect to find in this article:

How to get to Canterbury from London

If you don’t own a car, there are two ways to get from London to Canterbury – by bus or by train. We chose the latter one and booked our tickets in advance with Trainline (that saved us about £10 each because apparently, advance singles were way cheaper than anytime day return). When I day in advance, I mean 1 day in advance, however, maybe if you book a month in advance, the price would be even lower. In total, we paid around £28 for both of us with the Two Together Railcard (usually anytime return without a railcard is £28 each). If you live in the UK and you haven’t heard of different railcards, you should definitely check them out, as they help to save you a lot of money, even on the trains to the airport.

We had a direct train from London Charing Cross, and it took us about 1h 45 minutes to get there. There are faster trains, but faster trains usually mean more expensive tickets, and in our case, we were willing to sacrifice 30 minutes each way to save £30.

If you choose to go to Canterbury by bus, check the fares on National Express, as they vary from day to day, but I must say, that on the day we travelled, the coach tickets to Canterbury were more expensive than the train.

Alternatively, you can take a day tour to Canterbury and the White Cliffs of Dover starting from £40 per person (check the availability and dates here). 

Day trip idea from London: explore medieval Canterbury in Kent

Day trip to Canterbury & Whitstable: best things to do

My favourite way of spending a day in a different town /city is to wander around the city centre looking out for hidden gems and lesser-known spots. That, of course, after researching the top historical/famous locations and places in the city. If the city/town is small (and Canterbury is), you shouldn’t be worried about creating an itinerary for the day, because chances are, you will be able to see everything.

So what is there to see in Canterbury in one day? Here are the best things to do during your day trip to Canterbury and Whitstable:

Canterbury Cathedral

If you’re planning to visit Canterbury, most probably you must have heard something about the famous Canterbury Cathedral. It’s one of the oldest Cathedrals in England (completed around 1077) and it’s a Unesco World Heritage Site. In May 2018, the main facade was under reconstruction, so I don’t have a good photo of the Cathedral. If you’re planning to go in, the entry costs around £12.5 (as of Dec 2018) and you can check the opening times on the official website (but it usually stays open until 5-5: 30 pm except for Sundays, when it closes earlier).

Day trip idea from London: explore medieval Canterbury in Kent

Have a picturesque canal boat ride

Take one of the historic river tours of Canterbury to learn more about the history of Canterbury. You can usually book these tours directly in Canterbury or you can check more information on their official website. 

Day trip idea from London: explore medieval Canterbury in Kent

Check the remains of the St. Augustine Abbey

If you’re a history buff or just interested in unusual places, you can head to the St. Augustine Abbey and see the historical ruins as well as the more modern and well-preserved parts. St. Augustine Abbey is also a Unesco World Heritage Site. 

Take a photo in front of the Medieval Gate of Canterbury

The Westgate of Canterbury is absolutely gorgeous and it’s a great spot for a photo (beware of the cars though, especially on a busy day).

Listen to the street musicians in the town centre

On a nice day (usually during the weekends), there are lots of talented musicians performing on the streets of Canterbury. 

(Spring-Summer only) Buy some local berries on a street market in the Town centre

The cherries and strawberries we bought in Canterbury were some of the best ones we tried in ages. The local produce of Kent is wonderful. It makes sense to buy more to bring it back home.

Day trip idea from London: explore medieval Canterbury in Kent

Have a cream tea and a cake at one of the lovely Medieval cafes

Relax from sightseeing and grab a bite in one of the charming cafes of Canterbury. Even Caffe Nero is located in a gorgeous medieval building, in case you’d like to stick to famous places. 

Day trip idea from London: explore medieval Canterbury in Kent

Go on the “Canterbury Tales” tour or head to a Beaney House of Art

Book one of the “Canterbury Tales” tours to learn a bit more about the Chaucer’s famous Canterbury Tales or head to the Beaney House of Art – a museum combined with a beautiful library and an art museum. 

Walk around the Westgate Gardens

If you’re tired of sightseeing and countless museums in Canterbury, just head to the Westgate Gardens to sit down, have a bite and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.   

Day trip idea from London: explore medieval Canterbury in Kent

Great places to visit near Canterbury

If you’re going to Canterbury, you can also visit the charming towns nearby that are part of so-called Triangle in Kent: Canterbury, Whitstable, Herne Bay. You can visit all of then using the Stagecoach bus that departs every 20 minutes. For the latest schedule, check the website of Stagecoach.

We didn’t have a chance to visit Herne Bay, but we did go to Whitstable. The reason why we couldn’t go to Herne Bay is that we decided to WALK all the way to Whitstable and it wasn’t a good idea. Why? Well, we had to walk most of the way on a narrow busy road continually looking out for trucks and buses that could accidentally hit us. As you can imagine, there was little pleasure in that. However, Whitstable has definitely compensated all that with good hot weather.

Visiting Whitstable

Whitstable is a lovely town that is famous for its fresh oysters and beaches. There’s not much to do in Whitstable, so it’s fine to visit it for 2-3 hours (maybe longer, if the weather permits – you might be able to swim). However, there are plenty of cute cafes, nice restaurants and oyster stalls, so for sure you won’t leave Whitstable hungry.

Are you wondering, where to stay in Canterbury if you suddenly decide to stay overnight or make your day trip to Canterbury a weekend trip? I’ve got you covered. Here are some really good-rated affordable properties in Canterbury:

Thomas Ingoldsby Wetherspoon, the Hugo Hotel Concept, TOR Spa Retreat.

Whitstable Day trip idea from London: explore medieval Canterbury in Kent

Some other blog posts about travelling the UK you might like:

The best hike in England: Seven Sisters

Weekend in York

Free things to do in Bristol

The road trip to Cotswolds

The road trip around the Isle of Skye (Scotland)

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