Situated in the middle of Kent, the garden of England, Canterbury is one of the country’s oldest cities. Canterbury is known mostly for its impressive cathedral, but there is a lot more to the city than most people know.
To me, Canterbury is like a second home. It’s where I went to university, where I found my independence, and where I fell in love. Sometime in the future I’d like to move back there, but for now all I can do is tell you about it.
Because of its history the city is a major tourist attraction (there are always parties of coach tours and school trips wandering around) so there is plenty to see and do in Canterbury all year round. Much as I’d love to list it all here that would take a very long time, so instead I’ve chosen five of the best things to do in Canterbury. If you’re ever in the area, you won’t want to miss these!
Of course, it would be impossible to write a guide to Canterbury without including the cathedral. The original cathedral was built by St Augustine, the first Archbishop of Canterbury, in around 597 AD. However, the current cathedral dates from 1070, just after the Norman Conquest.
Even if you’re not a religious person, the cathedral is great to visit because of its stunning architecture and wealth of history. If you go inside, you can see the spot where Archbishop Thomas Becket was famously murdered in 1170, now marked by a dramatic modern sculpture. The crypt, cloisters and cathedral grounds also help to make Canterbury Cathedral the perfect place to visit.
— Canterbury Cathedral (@No1Cathedral) June 17, 2015
Canterbury Roman Museum
The Romans arrived in Canterbury late in the first century, rebuilding the previous Celtic settlement. They named the new town Durovernum Cantiacorum and laid out the streets in a grid pattern, building shops, temples, public baths and a basilica around the Forum, the centre point of the town.
Canterbury Roman Museum is built around the remains of a Roman townhouse, complete with mosaics and under-floor heating. It also houses a large collection of Roman objects. It’s definitely great value for money because admission is only £6 for students!
Take a trip along the River Stour with the Canterbury Historic River Tours for a relaxed and informative afternoon. The tours are one of Canterbury’s main tourist attractions, dating from 1932. They give a unique view of the city and some of Canterbury’s most important historical architecture, all detailed by the guides.
Everyone knows students like to shop, right? So it’s just as well that Canterbury is great for shopping as it is home to two universities (Canterbury Christ Church and Kent) as well as Canterbury College. The city has a wide range of both independent shops and chain stores. Whitefriars houses the usual high-street names, but you can find the smaller shops and businesses in the nearby King’s Mile, Westgate, and St Dunstan’s.
There are also plenty of independent restaurants and cafés throughout the city. Personally I prefer these to the usual suspects that dominate every town in the country, because they offer much more of a unique touch and individual choice. Some of my favourites are Saint Smokey’s, Pork & Co, The Burger Brothers, and Café Chambers. Or if it’s just a drink you’re after, I recommend Burgate Coffee House or Lost Sheep Coffee. Basically, you’re sure to find something to suit your taste in Canterbury.
Canterbury has a year-round programme of festivals and events, perfect for both visitors and locals. This coming weekend the Canterbury Folk Festival will be taking place in Dane John Gardens (and it’s free admission!)
Coming up over the summer there’s also the Kent Beer Festival from 23-25 July, the Wise Words Festival from 3-5 September (perfect for the arts and literature fans), and the Canterbury Food and Drink Festival from 25-27 September.
Have you been to Canterbury? What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!