The ancient city of Canterbury is steeped in history and medieval charm, and is an ideal destination for anyone looking for a relaxing break in a tranquil, picturesque corner of South East England. Less than an hour from London by train, there is plenty to see and do to fill a weekend or a take advantage of a longer break to explore the surrounding woodlands, wetlands and countryside.
There is a rich heritage to discover, with museums, exhibitions, fabulous country houses and idyllic gardens, as well as opportunities for shopping, dining and relaxing. The city is easy to get around with many pedestrianised area as well as off road cycling routes, including a stunning ride along the Great Stour Way For a more leisurely pace, try a punt along the river, or an atmospheric boat ride after dark complete with ghostly tales and flickering lanterns.
Undoubtedly, one of the main attractions in Canterbury is the magnificent 12th Century Cathedral that dominates the town centre; a focal point for pilgrims and visitors for over 800 years. There are regular guided tours to help visitors discover and understand the importance of this well loved English treasure.
To learn more about the town,visit the award winning interactive Canterbury Tales experience, where costumed actors introduce visitors to the sounds, sights and smells of medieval england whilst recounting some of Geoffrey Chaucer’s best loved tales. For more hands on history, the Canterbury Heritage Museum features displays detailing the history of Canterbury down the centuries, as well as a fascinating Oliver Postgate exhibition featuring childhood TV classics such as the Clangers and the original Bagpuss.
Canterbury is a shoppers delight, with opportunities to visit the big high street stores, as well as indulge in some quality browsing along the narrow cobbled streets lined with 16th and 17th Century buildings. The King’s Mile is set within the Medieval town walls, close to the Cathedral and here visitors will discover an enchanting selection of independent shops selling everything from gifts and jewellery to handmade chocolate and vintage clothing. For a more modern shopping experience with larger high street stores, Whitefriars Shopping Centre and district is the place to head for. The area is pedestrianised, with ample multi storey parking making it convenient and accessible for all.
After all that culture and shopping, there’s no better way to recover than with a slice of homemade cake or a fresh buttered scone in one of Canterbury’s many cosy cafes, quaint tea rooms or continental bistros. The ancient Buttermarket next to the Cathedral is a great place to rest, chat to the locals and enjoy a hearty meal in a smart gastro pub or a traditional inn. The range of restaurants in Canterbury is truly cosmopolitan, and a short break may not be sufficient to be able to sample all of the culinary delights on offer. Choose from Italian, Asian, Greek, African, Caribbean or Japanese to name but a few. Look out for the Annual Food and Drink festival in September which celebrates the best in local produce and international cuisine.
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