Canterbury Day Trips from London

Canterbury is a very coveted destination accessible from London. I tell you about the different excursions through its medieval streets and experiences combined with other destinations such as Dover and Greenwich.

Ana Caballero

Ana Caballero

11 min read

Canterbury Day Trips from London

Canterbury | ©Phil Fiddyment

Taking a trip to Canterbury can be a good option if you plan to stay at least 7 days in London, as they are very well connected cities. You can get there on your own by train, bus or car, which will take you between one and two hours. However, on your vacation I recommend you leave the planning to professionals and immerse yourself in the experiences of the best excursions from the capital of England.

An organized excursion allows you to access emblematic places, something that is appreciated in a city like Canterbury that is composed of mountainous areas, which cannot be easily reached on your own. You'll also find combined experiences with visits to Dover, Kent coastal towns and Greenwich. Or you can enjoy guided or audio-guided tours to customize 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 about 11 hours to enjoy Canterbury and Dover, two amazing places in England, whose proximity makes it easy to visit them in one day. If you are on vacation in the United Kingdom it can be a good way to save money, while exploring the historical and cultural richness that surrounds this European nation.

Be prepared to learn about the history of these towns, explore a rural environment and see impressive monuments. Keep in mind that Canterbury is a mostly hilly region with poor public transportation - don't worry! The best tours from London usually include internal travel in an air-conditioned coach. The big advantage is that you won't have to plan transportation 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 composed of colorful stained glass windows that will leave you speechless.
  • Dover Castle is one of the most amazing stops, as you will be able to access its interior and appreciate the Royal Court room of Henry II, an authentic Saxon church, the Roman lighthouse, the remains of a subway hospital of the Second World War and the tunnels of medieval wars.
  • The cliffs of Dover are a monument with a great history, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the famous English Channel, walk along its paths and disconnect from the hustle and bustle of the big cities.

Details of interest

  • Price: from 135 €.
  • Travel time: the tour can take approximately 11 hours, transfers between Canterbury and London take about two hours.
  • Advantages: usually includes guided tour, entrance to Canterbury Cathedral and Dover Castle.
  • Disadvantages: travelers should have an average level of fitness, as many attractions are located on hills or cliffs.

Book a tour to Canterbury and Dover

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

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

There are group getaways to Canterbury from London that differ 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 only in this beautiful location, or venturing out to visit the famous Cliffs of Dover. Keep in mind that to get there you will have to share a bus with other travelers and pass by the top of these two emblematic destinations in England.

Canterbury is a town with its own charm, its main attraction is the Canterbury Cathedral, one of the oldest Christian places in England. Its interior will leave you speechless and I recommend you to appreciate in detail the chapel of the trinity, 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 Westminster Abbey in London.

Of course, you also have to stop by Canterbury Castle, contemplate the Roman walls and visit the peculiar Buttermarket. At the cliffs I recommend you to stay a while admiring their beauty and walk along the paths that wind boldly. The best thing is that during clear days you can get to see the outline of France. Although this type of experience does not include a visit to Dover Castle by default, you have the option of adding it to enjoy a more complete tour.

Details of interest

  • Price: from 88 €.
  • Travel time: approximately two hours.
  • Advantages: may include transportation in a comfortable air-conditioned coach and the company of an expert local guide.
  • Disadvantages: does not usually include tickets for Canterbury Cathedral and Dover Castle, if you want to enter you must 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 maximize your budget I recommend joining a route along the Kent coast that starts in Canterbury, famous for its magnificent cathedral dating from the 597th century A.D. You will 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. Usually the tour does not 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 will learn about the maritime history of England, and then enjoy one of the best cruises on the Thames. On board you will see Cutty Sark, a sailing ship that was originally used for the production of Chinese and London tea. You will also pass by St. Paul's Cathedral, which I recommend you to enter if you have some extra time.

Details of interest

  • Price: from 125 ¤.
  • Travel time: the tour takes about ten hours, but you will arrive in Canterbury in less than two hours.
  • Advantages: usually includes a trip to Leeds Castle from London, considered the most beautiful palace in the world. You may also enjoy a cruise on the Thames, whose views are amazing.
  • Disadvantages: it usually does not include tips, which are not mandatory in England, but are left as a courtesy.

Book a Thames Sunset Cruise

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

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

Some tours to Canterbury from London are dedicated to unlocking the cathedral's secrets. Beyond its impressive Gothic facade, this place is full of secrets that will captivate you. It is not in vain that it is located in one of the most visited cities in the United Kingdom and it is an outstanding 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 that was the refuge of monks for centuries and walk through the public gardens until you reach a medieval herbarium.

The most remarkable thing is that it houses a host of legends about the murder perpetuated on the altar of the cathedral. 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, which led to his tragic fate. Later, a shrine was built in his memory, which became the most important pilgrimage center 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 are looking for things to do in London at Christmas, you may want to consider these types of tours, as they allow you to attend a Christmas service at Canterbury Cathedral. Keep in mind 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 admission, as it's usually included in the package.

Details of interest

  • Price: from 98 €.
  • Travel time: between one and two hours.
  • Advantages: devoting a whole day to Canterbury Cathedral allows you to discover its charm in detail. If you have time to spare, you can walk leisurely around and marvel at the views of the English countryside.
  • Disadvantages: it is a popular destination that tends to be very crowded, especially in high season and on 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 are not at all dependent on a guide or group. In this case, you may need to arrange transportation on your own. You will only have to take a train that will take you in less than fifty minutes, and if you buy in advance you will 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 customize 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.

Details of interest

  • Price: Self-guided tours range from £25 to £98, you can choose an option with or without transport. If you plan it on your own, the train has an approximate cost of 20 € and the audio guide is around 4 €.
  • Travel time: between one and two hours, you choose how long you want to spend in Canterbury.
  • Advantages: it is a more independent option, but without giving up guided suggestions.
  • Disadvantages: audio-guided tours can be somewhat expensive and do not always include entrance fees to Canterbury's main attractions.

How to book a tour of 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 you sign up for the one of your choice. On the Internet you will be able to know in advance the availability and the dates on which these tours usually depart. Here is the step by step:

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

Canterbury is a very special city that will not leave you indifferent, so I recommend planning a tour in advance. While you can venture out on your own by bus or train, there is nothing better than not worrying about it and enjoying yourself. The best tours from London allow you to let loose, all you have to do is choose your favorite 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 each person, but there are certain special locations that you cannot miss, among them:

  • Canterbury Cathedral: after getting to know London neighborhood by neighborhood you cannot overlook 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 have to visit this less crowded location. It is a historic place with interesting anecdotes to unveil.
  • Roman Walls: evidence of the Roman Empire in England, its facade is worth a look, as you can 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 tour to Canterbury, be warned that this is the season with the most tourists. Instead, if you prefer to avoid the crowds you can visit during the week and from September to November, or from March to April.
  • Wear comfortable clothes suitable for the unpredictable weather, as it is a mountainous region where there is a lot of walking. Therefore, pack your most comfortable sneakers to avoid discomfort along the way and don't forget a waterproof jacket.
  • You can stay here to have enough time to visit most of the attractions, and if you are on a budget you should know that prices are more affordable than in the capital and it is easy to get around by train.

Why is it advisable to take a 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 worth the experience. Although you have the possibility of arriving on your own, the best tours from London offer you all the comforts to make your vacation more enjoyable. In some cases you can skip the crowds, as the guides know shortcuts or offer priority access.

In addition, they usually include the entrance to Canterbury Cathedral, which is an obligatory stop that will leave you speechless. This medieval city is also known for its manageable size, which allows you to tour it in a short time and combine the experience with a trip to neighboring 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 multiple advantages, including the opportunity to optimize your time and budget. In addition, you don't have to worry about planning, just enjoy the sights and activities prepared for you. In terms of value for money, it is also the most recommended alternative, since it can include transportation, tickets to certain sites and even an experience on the best cruises on the Thames.

This type of excursions are one of the best things to do in London, but if you do not want to depend on a guide you can book a self-guided experience or plan everything on your own. This is an alternative that offers more flexibility and the chance to spend the night in Canterbury village.