things to do canterbury

Last Updated on: 24th June 2024, 08:07 am

Hello, and welcome to my ultimate guide on things to do in Canterbury, Kent! If you’re looking for a charming city filled with history, culture, and entertainment, then Canterbury is the perfect destination for you. As a seasoned traveler and writer, I’ve put together a comprehensive list of the best activities and attractions that this beautiful city has to offer. Whether you’re planning a short weekend getaway or a longer vacation, Canterbury is sure to captivate and inspire you. So, let’s get started and explore this picturesque city!

If you’re wondering what makes Canterbury such a special place, then you’re in for a treat. This city is steeped in history and boasts a wealth of cultural landmarks, unique shops, and charming river tours, making it a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. With so much to see and do, it’s no wonder that Canterbury is one of the most popular cities in the UK.

In this guide, I’ll take you through the best attractions, from exploring historical sights to uncovering unique shops, enjoying river tours, and experiencing the vibrant arts scene. Plus, I’ll share some tips on local cuisine, outdoor activities, and nightlife options, so you can make the most of your visit. So, buckle up and get ready to be inspired!

Things to Do Canterbury

1. Exploring Canterbury’s Historical Sights

Canterbury is steeped in history, and there’s no better way to explore the city’s heritage than by visiting its famous historical sights. One of the top attractions is the magnificent Canterbury Cathedral, which is considered one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in the world. This UNESCO World Heritage Site boasts stunning stained glass windows, intricate carvings, and a rich spiritual legacy that spans nearly a thousand years.

Name Description
St. Augustine’s Abbey This ancient abbey dates back to the 6th century and is full of impressive ruins of the once-powerful monastery.
Westgate Towers Museum & Viewpoint Discover the fascinating history of Canterbury’s medieval gates and towers, and take in the stunning panoramic views from the top.

If you’re interested in Roman history, don’t miss the Canterbury Roman Museum, where you can explore underground ruins of a Roman townhouse, discover fascinating artifacts, and learn about the city’s ancient history through interactive displays.

To truly immerse yourself in Canterbury’s rich heritage, consider booking a guided walking tour. Knowledgeable local guides can take you on a journey through the city’s storied past, sharing fascinating stories and insider insights along the way.

2. Uncovering Unique Shops in Canterbury

If you’re a shopaholic like me, you’ll love exploring the vast array of unique shops in Canterbury. From independent boutiques to antique stores and quirky gift shops, the city has something for everyone.

One of my favourite spots for shopping is the King’s Mile. Its cobbled streets are lined with charming independent shops selling everything from handmade jewellery and vintage clothing to artisanal chocolates and craft beers. It’s the perfect place to find a unique souvenir or gift to take back home.

If you’re looking for more mainstream brands, then the Whitefriars Shopping Centre offers a wide selection of high street shops. With over 70 stores, you’re sure to find something to suit your taste.

Unique shops in Canterbury

Tip: Be sure to check out the local markets, held regularly throughout the city, for even more shopping opportunities and a taste of local life.

3. Enjoying Charming River Tours in Canterbury

Exploring the beautiful city of Canterbury can be an enchanting experience. Among the many activities, one of the best ways to enjoy the stunning views is by taking charming river tours in Canterbury. A leisurely boat ride along the River Stour offers a unique perspective of the city and allows you to admire the natural surroundings without any interruptions. It’s also a peaceful escape from the city’s hustle and bustle.

You can choose from several options for river tours, depending on your interests and preferences. A guided tour is a good choice if you’re new to the city, as it provides a comprehensive overview of the city’s history and landmarks. A rowing boat, on the other hand, offers a personalized experience where you can go at your own pace and enjoy the sights more intimately. Either way, it will be an experience you won’t forget anytime soon.

4. Exploring Canterbury Tales Interactive Museum

If you’re a fan of The Canterbury Tales, you won’t want to miss the opportunity to visit the Canterbury Tales Interactive Museum, one of Canterbury’s most unique and interactive attractions.

Located in the heart of the city, this museum offers a glimpse into medieval life and literature. As you make your way through the museum, you’ll be transported back in time and entertained by costumed characters who bring Chaucer’s famous tales to life through immersive storytelling and captivating exhibits.

The museum features a 45-minute guided tour, during which you’ll explore the reconstructed scenes from The Canterbury Tales and meet some of the characters from the stories.

One of the highlights of the tour is the recreated medieval streetscape, where you can experience the sights, sounds, and smells of medieval England. You’ll visit the Tabard Inn, where Chaucer’s pilgrims gathered before setting off on their journey, and make stops at other locations from the tales, including the Miller’s house and the Wife of Bath’s house.

The museum also features a gift shop where you can purchase a variety of souvenirs, including books, apparel, and medieval-inspired trinkets.

Canterbury Tales Interactive Museum

“The Canterbury Tales Interactive Museum was without a doubt one of the most fascinating and entertaining places we visited during our trip to Canterbury. The guides were knowledgeable and engaging, and the interactive exhibits made us feel like we were part of the stories. I would highly recommend it to anyone visiting the city!”

5. Discovering Canterbury Roman Museum

Canterbury’s Roman Museum is a must-see for history enthusiasts and those interested in the city’s ancient past. The museum showcases the fascinating story of the city during the Roman era, with interactive displays and remarkable exhibits.

Visitors can explore the underground ruins of a Roman townhouse, which was discovered during excavations in the 1970s. The museum also houses a collection of Roman artifacts, including jewelry, coins, and pottery, which provide a glimpse into daily life in ancient Canterbury.

The highlight of the museum is the stunning mosaic floor, believed to be from the home of a wealthy Roman family. The intricately crafted design is a testament to the skill and creativity of Roman artisans, and an awe-inspiring sight to behold.

For those looking to delve deeper into Canterbury’s Roman past, the museum offers guided tours and educational programs for all ages. A visit to the Canterbury Roman Museum is a unique and immersive experience that will leave you with a newfound appreciation for the city’s ancient history.

“The Canterbury Roman Museum is a fascinating and informative attraction, offering a glimpse into the lives of Canterbury’s Roman inhabitants.” – TripAdvisor

Canterbury Roman Museum: Quick Facts

Address: Butchery Lane, Canterbury, Kent CT1 2JR
Opening Times: Monday-Saturday: 10am-5pm; Sunday: 12pm-5pm
Admission: Adults: £10.95; Children (5- 15): £8.25; Concessions: £9.25
Contact: 01227 785 575
  • Located in the heart of Canterbury’s historic city centre
  • The underground ruins were discovered during construction work in the 1970s
  • The mosaic floor is believed to date back to the late 3rd or early 4th century AD
  • The museum offers a free audio guide for visitors

Don’t miss the opportunity to discover Canterbury’s Roman roots with a visit to the Canterbury Roman Museum.

6. Enjoying Outdoor Activities in Canterbury

When it comes to outdoor activities in Canterbury, there are plenty of options to choose from. Whether you’re an avid hiker or simply enjoy a leisurely stroll, the city and its surroundings provide the perfect backdrop for outdoor exploration.

One must-visit spot is the Canterbury Riverside Walk, offering breathtaking views of the River Stour. Take in the charming architecture and scenic greenery as you make your way along the riverbank. Cycling enthusiasts can also rent bikes and explore the area on two wheels.

If you’re looking for a peaceful nature retreat, head to the nearby Blean Woods. This ancient woodland offers tranquil walking trails and an array of wildlife, including deer, badgers, and birds of prey. It’s the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy the tranquillity of nature.

Another great outdoor spot is the beautiful Westgate Gardens, a stunning public park located just a short walk from the city centre. Admire the colourful flower beds, ancient trees, and serene water features as you explore the gardens. It’s the ultimate spot for a picnic or a relaxing afternoon.

“I love spending time outdoors in Canterbury – there’s always something new to discover, whether it’s a hidden walking trail or a charming park. It’s the perfect place to unwind and reconnect with nature.”

– Jane, Canterbury resident

7. Sampling Local Cuisine in Canterbury

If you’re a foodie, you’ll love exploring the local cuisine in Canterbury. The city has a range of dining options that cater to all tastes. From traditional pub grub to international flavors, there’s something for everyone. The city’s charming streets are filled with quaint cafes, stylish restaurants, and traditional pubs ready to offer an authentic taste of England. Make sure to try the famous Canterbury Pudding, a delicious dessert that reflects the culinary heritage of the region.

I had the most amazing experience sampling local cuisine in Canterbury. The city’s food scene is diverse, and there’s so much to choose from. I definitely recommend trying the Canterbury Pudding, a truly unique dessert that’s hard to find anywhere else.

Best Dining Spots in Canterbury

Restaurant Name Specialty Dish Location
The Old Buttermarket Bangers and Mash Canterbury High Street
Chapel Down Gin Works Gin and Tonic Tasting Experience St. Dunstans Street
Tudor Tea Room Afternoon Tea St. Martins Church

Looking for a great place to eat? Check out some of the best dining spots in Canterbury. The Old Buttermarket is a traditional pub that serves classic British fare such as Bangers and Mash. If you’re a gin lover, you won’t want to miss Chapel Down Gin Works, which offers a gin and tonic tasting experience. For a true taste of England, head to Tudor Tea Room and enjoy a delightful Afternoon Tea in a historic setting.

  • Don’t miss The Goods Shed, an indoor food market featuring locally sourced produce and artisanal food.
  • For a fine dining experience, book a table at the Michelin-starred restaurant, The Sportsman.
  • Visit the Canterbury Brewers and Distillers for a brewery tour and sample their award-winning beers and spirits.

Trust me, the local cuisine in Canterbury will leave you satisfied and wanting more. Book your trip today and get ready for a delectable culinary adventure!

8. Experiencing Canterbury’s Vibrant Arts Scene

If you’re an art enthusiast or simply a lover of culture, Canterbury’s vibrant arts scene is a must-see. With a plethora of art galleries, theatres, and music venues, there’s a variety of cultural experiences waiting for you to enjoy.

Head to the Marlowe Theatre to catch a show and be entertained by some of the best performers in the country. The theatre hosts an impressive array of events throughout the year, including comedy, drama, and musicals.

For contemporary art, check out the Sidney Cooper Gallery. This innovative space showcases a wide range of works from talented artists from across the UK and beyond, making it a go-to spot for art enthusiasts.

If you want to listen to live music, pay a visit to the Orange Street Music Club. This laid-back venue captures the essence of Canterbury’s bohemian culture and is the perfect place to unwind and enjoy some local talent.

vibrant arts scene in Canterbury

With so much to see and do in Canterbury’s arts scene, you’re guaranteed to be captivated by the city’s creative energy.

9. Discovering Canterbury’s Surrounding Attractions

Although Canterbury offers an abundance of things to do and see, there are also plenty of surrounding attractions worth exploring. Here are some top picks:

Canterbury Historic River Tours

Experience the beauty of Canterbury from a different perspective with a scenic river tour. Sit back and relax as you glide along the River Stour, while a knowledgeable guide narrates the city’s fascinating history and landmarks. This is an ideal activity for all ages and provides an enjoyable and informative way to spend a day.


If you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of Canterbury, take a trip to the charming seaside town of Whitstable. Famous for its fresh seafood and charming beach huts, this quaint town is perfect for a day trip. Walk along the stunning beach and harbor, and explore the unique independent shops and galleries offering handmade products, locally-sourced food, and gifts.

Leeds Castle

Situated just outside the city, Leeds Castle is a must-visit attraction and often referred to as “the loveliest castle in the world”. The castle and its gardens are steeped in history, dating back to the 9th century. Visitors can explore its magnificent rooms, learn about its fascinating past, and enjoy its stunning gardens that are home to a maze and a grotto.

10. Exploring Canterbury’s Nightlife

After a day of exploring Canterbury’s top attractions and activities, it’s time to experience its vibrant nightlife. Whether you’re in the mood to unwind with a pint in a traditional pub or dance the night away at a club, Canterbury has something to cater to your taste.

If you’re looking for a cozy and friendly atmosphere, head to The Old City Bar, one of the oldest and most historic pubs in town. For a wide selection of craft beers and ciders, The Foundry Brew Pub is an excellent choice. If cocktails are what you crave, visit The Pound or The Cuban, both acclaimed for their delicious cocktails and lively atmosphere.

nightlife in Canterbury

If you’re in the mood for something different, Canterbury has a thriving music scene with live music events occurring throughout the week. The Ballroom and The Lady Luck are great venues to catch local and upcoming acts. For those looking to dance, The Cuban and Club Chemistry are popular choices.

Don’t let the day end too soon – experience the nightlife in Canterbury and create unforgettable memories.


Having lived in Canterbury for several years, I can confidently say that this city has something special to offer every visitor. From the impressive historical sights and unique shops to the relaxing boat tours and vibrant arts scene, there’s never a dull moment in Canterbury. Even as a local, I find myself discovering new hidden gems all the time.

If you’re planning a trip to the UK, make sure to add Canterbury to your itinerary. With its picturesque setting and friendly community, it’s the perfect destination for a weekend getaway or a longer stay. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed!


What are some popular things to do in Canterbury?

There are plenty of popular activities in Canterbury, including exploring historical sights, browsing unique shops, taking charming river tours, visiting interactive museums, enjoying outdoor activities, sampling local cuisine, experiencing the vibrant arts scene, and exploring surrounding attractions.

What historical sights can I explore in Canterbury?

Canterbury is home to the iconic Canterbury Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as the ancient ruins of St. Augustine’s Abbey. These historical landmarks offer a glimpse into the city’s rich past.

Where can I find unique shops in Canterbury?

The cobbled streets of the King’s Mile are a treasure trove of independent boutiques, antique stores, and quirky gift shops. You can also explore the vibrant Whitefriars Shopping Centre, which offers a range of high street brands.

How can I enjoy charming river tours in Canterbury?

You can take a leisurely boat ride along the picturesque River Stour to enjoy the city’s scenic views. Whether you opt for a guided tour or choose to hire a rowing boat, exploring Canterbury from the water is a unique and peaceful experience.

What can I experience at the Canterbury Tales Interactive Museum?

The Canterbury Tales Interactive Museum allows visitors to step back in time and experience medieval life. You can enjoy immersive storytelling, captivating exhibits, and costumed characters who bring Chaucer’s famous tales to life.

What can I discover at the Canterbury Roman Museum?

The Canterbury Roman Museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the city’s Roman past. Visitors can explore the underground ruins of a Roman townhouse, discover ancient artifacts, and learn about Canterbury’s rich history through interactive displays.

What outdoor activities can I enjoy in Canterbury?

Canterbury offers a range of outdoor activities, such as scenic walks or cycle rides along the Canterbury Riverside Walk, a visit to the beautiful Westgate Gardens, or an exploration of the peaceful Blean Woods for a nature getaway.

Where can I sample local cuisine in Canterbury?

In Canterbury, you can indulge in a variety of local cuisine, from traditional pub grub to international flavors. There are numerous dining options that cater to different tastes. Don’t forget to try the famous Canterbury Pudding for an authentic taste of the region.

What is Canterbury’s vibrant arts scene like?

Canterbury boasts a vibrant arts scene, with numerous art galleries, theaters, and music venues to explore. You can catch a performance at the Marlowe Theatre, admire contemporary art at the Sidney Cooper Gallery, or enjoy live music at the Orange Street Music Club.

What are some surrounding attractions near Canterbury?

Extend your visit to Canterbury by exploring its surrounding attractions. You can take a captivating tour on the Canterbury Historic River Tours, visit the charming seaside town of Whitstable, or explore the majestic Leeds Castle, known as the “loveliest castle in the world.”

What is Canterbury’s nightlife like?

Canterbury offers a vibrant nightlife scene with a variety of pubs, bars, and clubs to suit different preferences. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing evening in a traditional pub or want to dance the night away, Canterbury has something for everyone.

Why should I visit Canterbury, Kent?

Canterbury is a city steeped in history and offers a wide range of attractions and activities for all interests. From its historical sights and charming shops to picturesque river tours, delicious local cuisine, vibrant arts scene, and surrounding attractions, Canterbury has something to offer everyone. Plan your visit today and discover the magic of this beautiful city.