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A Guide to Canterbury

Canterbury’s skyline is dominated by the stunning Cathedral, the oldest in England. But the cathedral is only part of the story; the ancient ruins of St Augustine’s Abbey and St Martin’s Church form Canterbury’s UNESCO World Heritage Site while other ancient ruins such as the Castle are reminders of the city’s history, heritage and culture.

Although Canterbury is a place steeped in tradition it is also a modern and vibrant city. Luxury hotels, fine restaurants serving food from across the globe, pulsating nightclubs and welcoming pubs combine to give a complete experience. For those who have a yearning for retail, Canterbury’s array of shop windows beckon with a kaleidoscope of colours, inviting you to sample what’s on offer. Many of the high street names are here as well as a delightful range of independent retailers. The King’s Mile has an atmosphere all of its own while the city’s St Dunstan’s, West Gate Towers and Northgate areas have a range of specialist and individual outlets.

Travelling on foot is always a good way to explore the city. Walking trails or guided walks will help you make the most of your time here and to enjoy the winding lanes and streets, all with their own unique identity. Alternatively you may wish to relax and absorb the wonder of the city with a boat trip along the River Stour. You will be able to appreciate Canterbury’s finest and historical architecture set against outstanding, scenic views. The crystal clear waters offer a home to ducks, swans, fish and other wildlife while the river banks have an array of bending willow trees and wild flowers. Whatever a visitor seeks, they will find it in Canterbury. It possesses a quality that is both timeless and inspiring. Creativity and culture combine to ensure that you return again and again.

Historic Buildings

Canterbury is home to Greyfriars Chapel, Britain’s oldest Franciscan building which spans the River Stour. See and explore the ruins of the Norman Castle and view the Westgate Towers which has stood over the road to London for six centuries. Eastbridge Hospital was founded following the murder of St Thomas Becket to provide accommodation for poor pilgrims visiting his tomb. The building includes the early 13th century painting of Christ in Glory.

Canterbury Museums

Discover the city’s history from millions of years ago to the present in the Canterbury Heritage Museum through hands-on displays and activities. The museum includes Stephenson’s original Invicta railway engine, Rupert Bear and the real Bagpuss. Step below today’s Canterbury to the Roman Museum . Built around the remains of a Roman town house, you will discover what life was like in Roman Britain. The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge provides state-of-the-art exhibition galleries, interactive spaces, explorer areas and a varied programme of events and special exhibitions. The Kent Museum of Freemasonry has one of the UK’s finest collections of Masonic artefacts that take you on an interactive journey through the history of Freemasonry in Kent and beyond.

Canterbury Cathedral

Canterbury Cathedral dates back to 597AD when St Augustine became the first Archbishop establishing his seat in Canterbury. Discover More

Medieval Adventure

Let The Canterbury Tales whisk you back to 14th century England as you join Geoffrey Chaucer and his colourful characters on their pilgrimage from London to Canterbury Cathedral. This audio guide gives you an accurate recreation of medieval life.

River Tours

Discover interesting facts and hidden gems of the City while you sit back and relax with a river boat tour. Ideal for all ages, trips along the Stour can be taken with Canterbury Historic River Tours, Canterbury Punting or Westgate Punts. (These tours do not operate in winter.)

Walking Tours

The city is also perfect to discover on foot. A 90-minute tour with one of our experienced Canterbury Guides is available most days. Tours commence from the Buttermarket. Alternatively you can take your time and see the sites with a self-guided audio tour with Canterbury Audio Tours. As the night draws in, meet the ghost hunter for a 75-minute Ghost Tour of the spooky side of Canterbury. (Friday and Saturday evenings only.)

Shopping

The bustling Whitefriars shopping centre in the heart of Canterbury has many high street names selling the latest fashions and big-brand designs. But there is also a large range of other shops and independent retailers along the old cobbled streets of the city.

Gardens

Relax and enjoy the beauty of one of the city’s gardens. Just metres from the shopping centre is Dane John Gardens providing views of the city from the top of the historic mound. Alternatively you can absorb the tranquil beauty and stroll around the delightful Westgate Gardens or the smaller Franciscan Garden in which stands Greyfriars Chapel.

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