Canterbury Day Trips from London

Canterbury is a highly sought-after destination accessible from London. I tell you about the different tours through its medieval streets and experiences combined with other destinations such as Dover and Greenwich.

Ana Caballero

Ana Caballero

10 min read

Canterbury Day Trips from London

Canterbury | ©Phil Fiddyment

A trip to Canterbury can be a good option if you plan to spend at least 7 days in London, as the cities are very well connected. You can get there on your own by train, bus or car, which will take between one and two hours. However, on your holiday I recommend leaving the planning to professionals and immersing yourself in the experiences of the best tours from England's capital.

An organised tour gives you access to iconic sites, which is appreciated in a city like Canterbury which is made up of hilly areas, not easily accessible on your own. You'll also find combined experiences with visits to Dover, Kent's coastal towns and Greenwich. Or you can enjoy guided or audio-guided tours to customise the itinerary to your liking.

1. Enjoy a magical visit to Canterbury Town and Dover Castle from London

Dover Castle| ©Wojtek Janka
Dover Castle| ©Wojtek Janka

If you want to escape to the cathedral city, better known as Canterbury, I bring you a complete option from London that will not leave you indifferent. You will have around 11 hours to enjoy Canterbury and Dover, two amazing places in England, whose proximity makes it easy to visit them in just one day. If you're on holiday in the UK it can be a great way to save money, while exploring the rich history and culture that surrounds this European nation.

Be prepared to learn about the history of these towns, explore a rural environment and see impressive monuments. Bear in mind that Canterbury is a largely hilly region with poor public transport - don't worry! The best tours from London usually include internal travel in an air-conditioned coach. The great advantage is that you won't have to plan transport from the capital, as it's usually included.

During this interesting trip you will probably enjoy the company of a tour guide, who will provide you with relevant information about iconic places such as:

  • Canterbury Cathedral whose imposing Gothic architecture is made up of colourful stained glass windows that will leave you speechless.
  • Dover Castle is one of the most amazing stops, as you can enter the castle and see the Royal Court Room of Henry II, an authentic Saxon church, the Romanesque lighthouse, the remains of a World War II underground hospital and the tunnels of medieval warfare.
  • The Cliffs of Dover are a landmark with a rich history, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the famous English Channel, walk along the footpaths and disconnect from the hustle and bustle of the big cities.

Interesting details

  • Price: from €135.
  • Travel Time: The tour can take approximately 11 hours, with transfers between Canterbury and London taking around two hours.
  • Advantages: Usually includes guided tour, entrance to Canterbury Cathedral and Dover Castle.
  • Disadvantages: Travellers should be of average fitness level, as many attractions are located on hills or cliffs.

Book a tour to Canterbury and Dover

2. Escape to Canterbury and pass the cliffs of Dover.

Cliffs of Dover| ©UniversityBlogSpot
Cliffs of Dover| ©UniversityBlogSpot

There are group breaks to Canterbury from London that are different in that they offer the assistance of a professional guide with a bonus of free time. This combination allows you to explore the town on your own, without being completely dependent on the group. In addition, you have the option of staying in this beautiful location alone, or venturing out to visit the famous Cliffs of Dover. Please note that to get there you will have to share a bus with other travellers and pass over the top of these two iconic English destinations.

Canterbury is a town with a charm all of its own, its main attraction being Canterbury Cathedral, one of the oldest Christian sites in England. Its interior will leave you speechless and I recommend you take a closer look at the Trinity Chapel, the Chapter House and the great cloister. During your quality time alone you can stop at St Augustine's Abbey, a less crowded alternative to London's Westminster Abbey.

Of course, you must also stop by Canterbury Castle, see the Roman walls and visit the quirky Buttermarket. At the cliffs I recommend you spend some time admiring their beauty and walk along the boldly winding paths. The best thing is that on clear days you can see the outline of France. Although this type of experience doesn't include a visit to Dover Castle by default, you have the option to add it to the tour for a more complete experience.

Details of interest

  • Price: from €88.
  • Journeytime: approximately two hours.
  • Advantages: can include transport in a comfortable air-conditioned coach and the company of a knowledgeable local guide.
  • Disadvantages: Does not usually include entry to Canterbury Cathedral and Dover Castle - if you want to get in, you'll need to book an additional budget.

Book a tour to Canterbury and the Cliffs of Dover

3. See the wonders of Canterbury and Greenwich with a cruise on the River Thames.

Canterbury| ©Hyspaosines
Canterbury| ©Hyspaosines

While most tours to Canterbury focus on exploring the town and taking advantage of a stop in Dover, there are other options of interest. To maximise your budget I recommend joining a route along the Kent coast starting in Canterbury, famous for its magnificent cathedral dating back to the 597th century AD. You'll have time to walk along picturesque St Peter's Street, where you can stop for lunch. If you go on a Sunday, don't miss the sunday roast, a gastronomic tasting of meats, Yorkshire pudding and Chipolata sausages.

Also worth a look is St Augustine's Abbey where the Kings of Kent and the Archbishops of Canterbury are buried. Later, treat yourself to a stroll down Mercery Lane, a little street frozen in time. The tour doesn't usually end here, as on the way back you can continue the fun at Leeds Castle, a Tudor palace that belonged to Henry VIII.

You may pass through Greenwich where you'll learn about England's maritime history, before enjoying one of the best cruises on the Thames. On board you'll see the Cutty Sark, a sailing ship originally used for the production of Chinese and London tea. You will also pass St. Paul's Cathedral, which I recommend you enter if you have some extra time.

Details of interest

  • Price: from €125.
  • Journey time: The tour takes around ten hours, but you'll arrive in Canterbury in less than two hours.
  • Benefits: Usually includes a trip to Leeds Castle from London, considered the most beautiful palace in the world. You might also enjoy a cruise on the Thames, where the views are stunning.
  • Disadvantages: It usually does not include tips, which are not obligatory in England, but are left as a courtesy.

Book a sunset cruise on the Thames

4. Discover Becket's story at Canterbury Cathedral from London

Canterbury Cathedral| ©Gary Neave
Canterbury Cathedral| ©Gary Neave

Some tours of Canterbury from London are dedicated to unlocking the cathedral's secrets. Beyond its impressive Gothic façade, this place is full of secrets that will captivate you. It is not for nothing that it is located in one of the most visited cities in the United Kingdom and is a prominent icon of the region. You can detail its stained glass windows, pass through the chapter house with its incredible carved ceiling, visit the Great Cloister which was the refuge of monks for centuries and walk through the public gardens to a medieval herbarium.

Most notably, it is home to a host of legends about the murder perpetuated on the cathedral's altar. The martyr was Thomas Becket, also known as Thomas of Canterbury, a religious man and politician who fought for church autonomy and refused to obey King Henry II, leading to his tragic fate. Later, a shrine was built in his memory, which became the most important pilgrimage centre in England. Although it was destroyed soon after, his legacy lives on and remnants of his impressive history can still be seen.

Additionally, if you're looking for things to do in London at Christmas, you may want to consider these types of tours, which allow you to attend a Christmas service at Canterbury Cathedral. Note that these fascinating experiences are usually conducted with a professional guide or an audio guide, depending on your preferences and budget. Plus, you won't have to worry about the entrance fee, as it's usually included in the package.

Interesting details

  • Price: from 98 €.
  • Journeytime: between one and two hours.
  • Benefits: Spending a whole day at Canterbury Cathedral allows you to fully discover its charm. If you have time to spare, you can take a leisurely stroll around and marvel at the views of the English countryside.
  • Disadvantages: It's a popular destination that tends to get very crowded, especially in high season and at weekends.

5. Immerse yourself in an unforgettable trip to Canterbury and the Kent coast.

Touring Canterbury| ©. Ray in Manila
Touring Canterbury| ©. Ray in Manila

For a private experience I recommend opting for an audio-guided tour of the best of Canterbury, where you won't be at all dependent on a guide or group. In this case, you may need to arrange your own transport. Just take a train that will get you there in less than fifty minutes, and if you buy in advance you'll find cheap tickets. South Eastern Trains Service offers hourly departures, even in the early hours of the morning.

There are also tours from London that will arrange private or independent tours for you, so you can pass through medieval villages on the Kent coast such as Aylesford, Wye and Chilham with transport provided. When you arrive in Canterbury you can follow the audio guide's suggestions, but you are free to customise your itinerary. This way, you'll see the Westgate and its gardens, visit the modern Marlowe Theatre, and have time to sit on the banks of the River Stour or delight in the bohemian King's Mile.

Interesting details

  • Price: Self-guided tours range from £25 to £98, and you can choose an option with or without transport. If you plan on your own, the train costs around €20 and the audio guide costs around €4.
  • Journeytime: Between one and two hours, you choose how long you want to spend in Canterbury.
  • Advantages: It's a more independent option, but you still get guided suggestions.
  • Disadvantages: Audio-guided tours can be expensive and don't always include entry to Canterbury's main attractions.

How to book a tour to Canterbury from London

Book Online| ©Glenn Carstens-Peters
Book Online| ©Glenn Carstens-Peters

Tours to Canterbury from London sell out very quickly, so I recommend signing up for the tour of your choice. On the Internet you can check availability in advance and the dates on which these excursions usually depart. Here is a step-by-step guide:

  • First step: select the date and number of travellers.
  • Second step: provide your personal details and select the language (in case of guided experiences or audio guides).
  • Third step: add your contact details such as email and telephone number, and you will receive confirmation of your booking.
  • Fourth step: make your payment and enjoy the experience.

Canterbury is a very special city that will not leave you indifferent, so I recommend you to plan a tour in advance. While you can venture out on your own by bus or train, there's nothing better than to just relax and enjoy yourself. The best tours from London allow you to let loose - all you have to do is choose your favourite option and secure your place on the date you want.

What are the must-see places in Canterbury?

St Augustine's Abbey| ©Malcolm Manners
St Augustine's Abbey| ©Malcolm Manners

The places to visit depend on the individual, but there are certain special locations that you should not miss, among them:

  • Canterbury Cathedral: after getting to know London neighbourhood by neighbourhood you can't miss this Gothic beauty, located in the heart of Canterbury with unique stained glass windows and spaces.
  • St. Augustine's Abbey: after visiting Westminster Abbey in London, you must visit this less crowded location. It is a historic place with interesting anecdotes to uncover.
  • Roman Walls: evidence of the Roman Empire in England, its façade is worth a look, as you will be able to get unrepeatable pictures.

Tips for an excursion to Canterbury from London

Comfortable shoes| ©Alexandra Tran
Comfortable shoes| ©Alexandra Tran
  • If you plan to visit London in the summer and want to take a trip to Canterbury, be warned that this is the busiest time of year for tourists. However, if you prefer to avoid the crowds you can visit during the week and from September to November, or March to April.
  • Wear comfortable clothing suitable for the unpredictable weather, as it's a mountainous region with a lot of walking. So pack your most comfortable trainers to avoid discomfort along the way, and don't forget a waterproof jacket.
  • You can stay here so you'll have enough time to see most of the attractions, and if you're on a budget, prices are more affordable than in the capital and it's easy to get around by train.

Why take a day trip to Canterbury?

Outside the Cathedral| ©Craig Stanford
Outside the Cathedral| ©Craig Stanford

Canterbury is one of the oldest cities in England, with a unique historical heritage, so it is well worth the experience. While you can get there on your own, the best tours from London offer all the facilities to make your holiday more enjoyable. In some cases, you'll be able to skip the crowds, as the guides know shortcuts or offer priority access.

In addition, they often include admission to Canterbury Cathedral, which is a must-see that will leave you speechless. This medieval city is also known for its manageable size, allowing you to tour it in a short time and combine the experience with a trip to neighbouring areas such as Dover, the Kent coast and Greenwich.

What are the advantages of taking a guided tour vs. visiting Canterbury on my own?

Canterbury walking tour| ©University of Kent
Canterbury walking tour| ©University of Kent

A guided tour to Canterbury from London offers many advantages, including the opportunity to optimise your time and budget. Plus, you don't have to worry about planning, just enjoy the sights and activities prepared for you. For value for money, it is also the most recommended alternative, as it can include transport, entrance to certain sites and even an experience on the best Thames cruises.

These types of tours are one of the best things to do in London, but if you don't want to depend on a guide you can book a self-guided experience or plan everything on your own. It's an alternative that offers more flexibility and the chance to spend the night in Canterbury village.