Day Trip from London – Canterbury

While you are visiting London you don’t have to spend all your time in the city itself. Why not head out of the city and go see some of the real England that is impossible to get a taste of in an urban setting like London. Read on if you would like to get an idea of what it would be like to visit Canterbury.

What’s to see in Canterbury?

Canterbury is perhaps most famous for its Cathedral which is the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Primate of All England. The Archbishops of Canterbury have been the head of the Church in England (Roman Catholic from 602 to the 16th century and Anglican ever since the Reformation) from the time Canterbury was founded by Saint Augustine. The Cathedral is also the burial place of King Henry IV and Edward the Black Prince, and was the scene of the murder of Thomas Becket in 1170.

You can visit the Cathedral and marvel at its wondrous architecture. It’s easily found in the middle of the city atop a small hill.

Something else the city is famous for is the Canterbury Tales, written by Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th century. The story tells of the tales told by a group of pilgrims on a pilgrimage from Southwark to Canterbury to visit the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral.

Today you can visit the Canterbury Tales museum located in the centre of town on St Margaret’s Street, just off the main High Street. In the museum you can take a step back some 500 years to the 14th century and meet all the characters as they each tell their tale.

The rest of Canterbury has an interesting mix of architectural styles. Some were lost forever as a result of the bombings during WW2. Other landmark buildings include St Martin’s Church, the oldest parish church still in use, and there’s even evidence of the original Roman walls; St Augustine’s Abbey, formerly a Benedictine Abbey; and Canterbury Castle, ruins of a Norman castle built in the 11th Century.

There are a number of other museums and attractions to visit within the city such as:
The West Gate Tower used to guard the road coming in from London. You can climb to the top of the tower and see the Cathedral towering over the rest of the town. The inside of the tower houses a museum.

The Roman Museum which is located underground at the level of the old Roman town. Inside you will see some of the preserved remains and reconstructions of what life was like when the Romans ruled most of the known world.

The Canterbury Royal Museum and Art Gallery is found on High Street and gives you an excellent example of Victorian Architecture. The gallery includes works from T.S. Cooper, one of England’s more famous artists.

There’s also the Buffs Regimental Museum, which is a branch of the National Army Museum, and tells the story of one of England’s oldest infantry regiments The Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment).

The Sidney Cooper Gallery displays local art and is connected to the University Building.

The Canterbury Computer Gallery of Art is located on the High Street and displays a small selection of digital art.

Located just a little outside Canterbury is the Sarre Windmill which is still grinding corn. There’s also the town of Dover, and its famous white chalk cliffs, just 25 kms away along the A2.

How to get to Canterbury?

Canterbury is located in Kent, to the east of London City, some 150 kms drive from Heathrow Airport so the journey shouldn’t take much more than an hour and a half.

When driving out of the airport head for the M25. Once you’re on the M25 you will want to travel south in an anti-clockwise direction. Stay on the M25 for about 70kms until you can turn off onto the M26 which joins up with the M20. After 13 kms on the M20 you will be going around Maidstone and you will have to option of turning off at Junction 7 onto the A279 which will get you onto the M2. This road eventually becomes the A2 and will take you the rest of the way to Canterbury.

If you are driving out of London City then you will simply need to get onto the A2, which starts close to Greenwich, and this will take you all the way to Canterbury.

If this sounds like an interesting day trip then you can book your rental here on our Car Hire Heathrow Airport page and have a look at our competitive rates. For more ideas for your holiday in the UK why not have a look through our UK Car Hire Blog page.

If you have any tips about driving in and around London or Canterbury feel free to let us know. Just leave your message in the comment box below.