If you're looking for a historic, UNESCO World Heritage site that can easily fit into a half day from London, consider a day trip to Canterbury!
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Post updated May, 2020.
Considering a day trip to Canterbury from London?
Canterbury is synonymous with some of the most famous pieces of English culture, including Canterbury Tales and the murder of Thomas Becket - a mainstay of history class (I won't tell anyone if you admit that you've forgotten - you can catch up on the details below, before your trip).
Canterbury is an adorable, quintessentially English town. If you're interested in the history, or you just want to escape the hustle and bustle of London for a day, check it out! Visit the ancient Canterbury Cathedral, still the headquarters of the Church of England, drop by a classic pub, and take a stroll through centuries of history, before you hop on the train back to London!
Is Canterbury an easy day trip from London?
Yes! Canterbury is an extremely easy day trip from London. There are lots of quick trains, frankly it's just not that far of a distance, and there's enough to keep you entertained.
Personally, a half day was really plenty for us. It's a small town, and with the limited amount of time required to get there, we did think it was worth heading back to London after a few hours. So, I'm going to call it a "half-day" trip!
How to Get to Canterbury
Getting into Canterbury from the train station
What to see on a day trip to Canterbury from London
Once you pass through the gate, the 14th-century Guild Hall makes for a quick walk around. It's open - no tickets - it'll be on your right before you make it into the historic city centre.
Visiting Canterbury Cathedral
History of Canterbury Cathedral
Finding his faith later in Life, Becket became a thorn in the side of the King, who finally declared "Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?"
Whether he was just frustrated and this was rhetorical, or deadly serious and proclaiming a death sentence is a matter of serious historical debate, but the undeniable end result was the shocking murder of the later-sainted Archbishop in Canterbury Cathedral and King Henry seeking absolution from an angry Pope and citizenry.
In the current era, Canterbury Cathedral continues to be the head of the Church of England and the Anglican Communion, which includes the off-shoots of the Church, such as the Episcopal Church, which took up the mantle of the established churches in many of the American colonies after the American Revolution.
Canterbury Cathedral gift shop & cloisters
Don't forget to check out the cloisters before you wrap up your tour of the Cathedral. They're extremely easy to miss. They're to be accessed by a door that looks like an emergency exit - ask for help if you're worried about setting off the fire alarm, like I was!
Like so many great cathedral cities, such as France's Strasbourg or Chartres, Canterbury has been playing host to pilgrims for hundreds of years, giving rise to a welcoming town centre, catering to all the daily visitors. In the city centre, you'll find branches of some of your favourite chains for a bit of shopping - M&S, Waterstones, and Jack Wills, among many others.
If you have kids with you, or a devoted fan of English literature, The Canterbury Tales is an interactive walk through the famous stories.
Canterbury has a number of gorgeous garden areas, if the weather cooperates! Options include Westgate Gardens and Greyfriars Gardens. You'll also find several medieval buildings - including the Tower of Mary Magdelene and St. Augustine's Abbey.
Where to eat on a day trip to Canterbury
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