South East England – Canterbury

top 10 places

Top 100 places to visit in south east england


1. Canterbury Cathedral

Canterbury Cathedral is one of the oldest and most famous Christian structures in England. Enter through the ornate 16th century Christ Church Gate for one of the finest views of the cathedral with its soaring towers. Once inside, look for the tomb of Henry IV, and the gilded effigy of the Black Prince. The crypt is one of the best in the country, with low Romanesque arches and well-preserved carvings on the columns. Vivid medieval stained glass in Trinity Chapel depicts the life of Thomas a Becket.

2. Canterbury Historic River Tour

Flowing through the heart of historic Canterbury, the River Stour is the perfect way to escape the hustle and bustle of one of the country’s busiest city centres, allowing you to discover parts of the city that are only accessible by river tour. Each boat is chauffeured by a guide who presents historical facts in a light-hearted and entertaining manner. The tour provides a unique vantage point to see insights into Canterbury’s historic past which can capture the imagination of people of all ages.

3. The Canterbury Tales

A visit to The Canterbury Tales, one of Kent’s most popular attractions, with its stunning reconstruction of 14th century England, is just like stepping into the Middle Ages. Inside the historic building of St. Margaret’s Church you can step back over 500 years to join Geoffrey Chaucer (England’s finest medieval poet) and his colourful characters as they journey from London towards the shrine of St. Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral and enjoy their raucous adventure stories.

4. The Roman Museum

The Roman Museum is underground at the level of the Roman town. It’s an exciting mix of excavated real objects, authentic reconstructions and preserved remains of a Roman town house with its famous mosaics. Reconstructions include a Roman market place, with a shoe maker, fabric seller and fruit and vegetable stall. There is also part of a house with its kitchen set out in authentic detail. In the acclaimed “touch the past” area visitors can handle real Roman artifacts.

5. Canterbury Guided Walks

The heart of Canterbury can only be explored on foot – so why not join an experienced Green Badge guide for a leisurely 90 minute walk and discover its hidden treasures? You will learn the fascinating history of a cathedral city which boasts a World Heritage Site, and hear about the many famous people who have lived and worked here – Christopher Marlowe, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Somerset Maugham, Mary Tourtel (of Rupert Bear fame), Joseph Conrad, to name but a few.

6. St Augustine’s Abbey

This great abbey, marking the rebirth of Christianity in southern England, was founded in AD 597 by St Augustine. Originally created as a burial place for the Anglo-Saxon kings of Kent, it is part of the Canterbury World Heritage Site, along with the cathedral and St Martin’s Church. The impressive abbey is situated outside the city walls and is sometimes missed by visitors. At the abbey, you can also enjoy the museum and free audio tour.

7. The Museum of Canterbury and Rupert Bear Museum

The bizarrely named, Museum of Canterbury and Rupert Bear Museum, has a range of exhibits from pre-Roman times to the present. See the Joseph Conrad Gallery, pre-historic and Anglo-Saxon displays, the war time Blitz Experience and a Bagpuss and Clangars display! Hands-on activities designed to appeal to families – look at gold thread under the microscope, open the Elizabethan treasure chest to help you decide on Marlowe’s death or do some ‘friend or foe’ wartime plane-spotting.

8. Canterbury Royal Museum & Art Gallery with Buffs Regimental Museum

Canterbury art gallery is the major space in the area for the visual arts. The annual programme is wide ranging, with exhibitions of both contemporary and historical work. Here too is the Buffs Museum – a branch of the National Army Museum, which 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.

9. West Gate and West Gate Museum

The West Gate has guarded the road to London for over six centuries. Hundreds of thousands of medieval pilgrims passed have through this gateway into the Canterbury. On display at the West Gate Museum are guns and armaments from the Civil War to World War Two, used by the defenders of Canterbury. Visit the prison cells and try on replica armour! Take a look through the murder holes, where boiling oil and stones would have been dropped onto attackers below.

10. The Canterbury Festival (annual)

The Canterbury Festival attracts an audience of nearly 80,000 people of all ages to free and ticketed events, drawn from across Kent, London and the South East. With over two hundred events in two weeks there is something to suit everyone from classical music to contemporary dance, and from comedy to world music with theatre, walks, talks and visual arts.

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