Insider’s guide to Canterbury
Made famous by Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, many people consider Canterbury to be a gateway for exploring the beautiful county of Kent. With a bustling historic centre, the Cathedral city is also close to charming seaside towns and surrounded by pretty countryside – all within an hour of London!
Here at PB, we’re particularly fond of the city – a couple of the team are locals and love where they live. Rebecca, who lives in the city centre, has pulled together this insider’s guide to make sure that you don’t miss out on any of the nooks and crannies that the city has to offer!
Upon setting foot on the cobbled streets, many visitors will flock straight to the grand old Cathedral – which is well worth a visit in its own right (pilgrims and visitors have made their way to Canterbury Cathedral since the Middle Ages – it remains one of the most visited places in the country).
However, if you’re looking for something a little different, you don’t need to go far. Greyfriars Chapel, set in the gorgeous Franciscan Gardens just off the high street, is the only building now remaining of the first English Franciscan Friary built in 1267, during the lifetime of St Francis of Assisi. On a sunny day, the gardens are worth a visit anyway – with green spaces, blossoming flowers and a rippling stream, you could be a million miles from a city centre.
There are also many museums that celebrate the city’s Roman and medieval heritage. Check out The Canterbury Tales, The Beaney House of Art, or the Canterbury Roman Museum on a rainy day.
Even though Canterbury is an historic city, there is no shortage of modern, high-street shops for browsing. Whitefriars is an open air shopping centre, with shops including Zara, Next, Topshop, Primark and M&S. In the centre is a Fenwicks department store, which is great for your designer brands and even has its own Clarins beauty bar and Carluccios restaurant!
However, what makes Canterbury so special is its range of independent shops and businesses – the majority of which can be found around The King’s Mile. Be sure to check out Siesta for fairtrade suppliers of ethnic goods, and the Catching Lives bookshop – if not just for a photo outside the wonky front door!
Don’t forget about The Goods Shed by Canterbury West train station – a wonderful local farmers market, food hall and restaurant. Great for picking up some tasty local produce and indulging in homemade food and drink.
Eating and Drinking
Canterbury is foodie heaven! With a huge range of both chain restaurants and independent eateries, you can find everything from sourdough pizza, to bubble waffles and vegan kebabs to superfood smoothies.
For a lovely afternoon tea, check out the historic Tiny Tim’s tearoom – which even comes with its own resident house ghost! Other notable restaurants and cafes include Chapter, Café des Amis and Café Mauresque. For cocktails in a unique setting, try The Pound or Bramleys. My favourite pubs include The Shakespeare and The Canterbury Tales (not to be confused with the museum!).
There is no shortage of events going on in Canterbury throughout the year. From City Sound Project, for music lovers, to Wise Words, for literary lovers, there is something for everyone.
The biggest event of the year has to be the Canterbury Festival, which is one of the most important cultural events in the South East. As an independent charity, the Festival brings a rich mixture of performing arts from around the world to surprise and delight audiences each October.
Of course, there is also a number of events going on at The Marlowe Theatre in the city centre, and The Gulbenkian at the University of Kent. Both are well worth a visit if you fancy a theatre show or the latest indie film.
We hope our insider’s guide to Canterbury inspires you to visit this magical little city. I love how much it has to offer, and how there is always another place to visit or eat or drink on my list. From history, to arts, to culture, to shopping, to eating and drinking, there is no shortage of ways to spend your time in Canterbury!