Canterbury, the spiritual heart of the UK and “The Garden of England”, has long been a popular destination for tourists. On the south coast of the UK , nestled in Kent, Canterbury has an thriving cultural scene with something for everyone from history lovers to architectural buffs and those who simply want to experience the charm of this fascinating city. We’ve picked 7 of our favourite Canterbury attractions to inspire you:
The River Stour
A guided river tour is a popular Canterbury tourist attraction that provides the perfect vantage point from which to learn all about the hidden gems of this delightful city. The River Stour runs right through the heart of the city and tourists have been taking advantage of this unique perspective for more than 80 years. This relaxing way to explore the sights takes you under the King’s Bridge, one of the oldest working road bridges in Britain. With some absolutely breathtaking scenery and buildings along the River Stour, it is ideal to stop and relax and take in the beauty of this part of the UK. Canterbury Historic River Tours runs a number of different tours with both informative and humorous commentary along the way. But if you prefer to stay on dry land, the company also offers fully-guided 45 and 90 minute walking alternatives.
Located in the heart of the city centre Canterbury Cathedral is an architectural delight and a true piece of history. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the cathedral is the oldest in England, founded by St Augustine in 597 AD. It is also well-known for being the site of the murder of Archbishop Thomas Becket in 1170. If you look closely, you will see some parts of the cathedral that remain from the 1200s to this very day.
St Augustine’s Abbey
English Heritage site St Augustine’s Abbey is part of Canterbury’s UNESCO World Heritage site. Dating back to the 6th century the site was recognised by UNESCO because of its significance to Christian history. Research also suggest that the Abbey may also have been the birthplace of the Bayeux Tapestry, an embroidered narrative of the Norman conquest of 1066 which is now on display at the Musee de la Tapisserie de Bayeux in Normandy.
One of the oldest parks in the country, Westgate Gardens is the quintessential place for a traditional English picnic, weather permitting. The northern end of the garden marks the historic West Gate to the city and the gardens follow the path of what was once the Roman city wall. There are several must see sights within the garden including a Medieval archway from St Augustine’s Abbey and the Tower House, an early Victorian building which now houses the Mayor’s Office.
Sir John Boys House
A popular Instagram photo spot, Sir John Boys House, is also known as the Crooked House locally. While it is truly unique and curious to take sight of, it is also perfectly safe structurally and is more than just a building. This 17th century building is thought to have inspired Dickens’ David Copperfield and is home to Catching Lives Books, a charity which raises money for people living on the streets of Canterbury and Kent. So roll up, snap your IG pic, and venture inside.
The Parrot Pub was built in the 1400s on Roman foundations and is the oldest pub in Canterbury. But that isn’t its only charm. With an exceptional beer garden in the good weather, a roaring fire inside, and Medieval beams, it really adds to the vibe of the area and is a well-loved piece of history and the perfect place to stop for refreshments.
The Old Weavers House
This beautiful, half-timbered building is another must see for photographers and history buffs alike – as well as being a popular stop for foodies. Used as a centre for weaving from as far back as the 1500s the building maintained its link with the craft for hundreds of years. Now all that remains of weaving is the name. Home to The Old Weavers restaurant, it is an atmospheric and picturesque place to enjoy a bite to eat, with fantastic riverside views and a slice of chilling history to the rear where you can find a Medieval ducking stool.