06 February 2014

Day Trip Series: London to Canterbury (Issue #1)

There are loads of places within an easy reach of London. I have done many day trips (Bath, Cotswolds, Oxford, Cambridge, Brighton to name a few) but I haven't always written about them. I'm missing London, now I'm back in Sydney, so I though it would be nice to create a "Series" of posts recounting easy day trips from London. So, if you are a curious traveller, a London expat or simply wondering what are some good day trips from London, keep an eye out for this series. Of course some of these destinations can be done as a weekend away too if you prefer. First up is, ironically, the last day trip I did while in London; Canterbury.

Day trip: London to Canterbury

Canterbury is the one and same mentioned in Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. 

Arriving into Canterbury East station, I walked over the footbridge and was greeted by the old city walls, originally built by the Romans I just love that about the UK, ancient history is right in your face and part of the every day. Whats more, only a short walk to the left led to the Canterbury Castle ruins which were built in 1070 by William the Conqueror. Did I mention that entry was free?

Like any good coffee addict, I had made sure to look up good coffee in Canterbury. I made the Willow Cafe my  next stop for some seriously good beans that made this antipodean want to lick the insides of the empty cup when id finished. Honestly why do so many London cafes get it so horribly, traumatically wrong? But I digress.

All caffined up I began my wander around Canterbury. There was the charming and pokey Chaucer Bookshop, Canterbury Cathedral, the laneways surrounding it and the market square. I wandered as far as Canterbury College and St Augustine's Abbey before heading back to the center of town. 

The High Street was full of old buildings, restaurants, cafes and a small river running through it. The Westgate Gardens also with a river runnig alongside it were a nice place t be around sunset. Unfortunately I missed out on afternoon tea. I was planning to take tea at Tiny Tim, The Moat or Number 12 but they closed earlier than I thought. Instead I found a small pub in one of the lanes which served some very hearty pub food and worked well as a consolation prize.

After the pub, I was curious to see the cathedral lit up at night, and it was worth it. It was such a beautiful sight. There was no entry fee into the grounds (bonus!) and aside from one or two other amature photographers, the place was almost deserted. 

The only downside to the visit was that I came across a weird smell (think urine mixed with rotten egg) wafting through the streets in different places which made me gag. I could never figure out where it came from as there was no rubbish or open drains.

  • Canterbury Castle
  • Willow Cafe
  • Canterbury Cathedral by night
  • Minister Glass Studio (I bought myself a pair of earrings here after watching the craftsmen make all sorts of cute glass creatures.)
  • St Augustine's Abbey

Travel Tips for London to Canterbury:
  • Trips duration can be 56 minutes to 1 hour and 45 minutes depending on the type of ticket you purchase. As a rule of thumb, shorter trips will be slightly more expensive than longer ones.
  • Canterbury has two train stations, East and West, both are within easy walking distance of the centre of town.
  • If you want to visit the Cathedral, make sure you check it is open on the day you want to visit by checking the official website.
  • Visit the lane ways first as they close earlier than the high street shops and restaurants
  • In hindsight, I wish I'd taken a bit of time to explore the surrounding countryside.

Have you been to Canterbury? Have a tip or highlight to share? Just put it in the comments!


  1. Oooh this is a series that I will look forward to following. I have never done any road trips out of London so now that I live here, I'd be keen to start

    1. Thank you! Im looking forward to writing more trips too. If there is a place your interested in let me know. If I have been i'll make sure I write about it early.

  2. I'm loving this series! I really enjoyed Canterbury too and now that you mention it, I recall that strange smell the day we visited too. Next time I go I will definitely take a canal tour!

    1. Thank you! Im really happy to read that.
      I didnt know about the canal tour. I'll have to look into that one. Great tip!