If you’re visiting London and looking to escape the city for the day you can’t go wrong with a day trip to the beautiful countryside in Kent, and these are some of the best things to do in Kent when there.
Only a short train journey from London, there is truly no shortage of fun things to see and do in the garden of England.
Kent is home to some of England’s oldest castles, churches and villages, it’s history extends back to the Roman times and throughout the centuries Kent has been known as the “gateway to Britain”.
Take a step back in time and explore some of Britain’s most iconic castles, stroll along the famous White Cliffs of Dover and gaze out across the English channel or maybe you’d prefer to go on a safari in the English countryside.
Whatever interests you, these 5 awesome day trips around Kent will have something to please everyone.
The best part is that all of these attractions are easily accessible on public transportation from London in under 2 hours!
Things to do in Kent England
The beautifully preserved historic town of Canterbury offers a fascinating insight into life during medieval England.
The town is full of half-timbered buildings, cobbled streets, lovely old pubs and is home to some of England’s oldest churches!
Located only 1 hour by train from London’s St Pancras Station, a visit to Canterbury is definitely one of the most popular things to do in Kent.
With more than enough activities and sites to explore, a day trip from London to Canterbury is the perfect way to immerse yourself in English history and culture.
Canterbury Cathedral – This majestic Cathedral is one of the oldest in Britain, dating back to the year 597 AD.
Over the years it has seen many changes to its appearance but it remains one of the most well-known Cathedrals in the UK and has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Discover over 1,400 years of English history when you visit the incredible Canterbury Cathedral!
Canterbury River Cruise – Arguably Canterbury’s most popular attraction besides the Cathedral, the Canterbury River Cruise is a fun way to learn about the town’s history as you float along the pretty canals in traditional punting style.
Cruises run daily from 10 am-5 pm during the spring and summer months. It is not necessary to pre-book as you can find the river cruise staff located on the High Street bridge.
Have lunch at a historic pub – A visit to Canterbury simply isn’t complete without stopping at one of the many medieval pubs around the town.
There are so many that it can be difficult to choose just one!
To make your selection easier, here are some of the town’s oldest and best pubs for that classic old English pub dining experience: The Parrot, The Bishop’s Finger, The Shakespeare, The Old Buttermarket.
2. Hever Castle
This lovely 13th-century castle is located in the most picturesque setting of the Kent countryside.
Surrounded by a double moat and a series of beautiful gardens featuring ponds, fountains, statues, and even a man-made lake!
Hever Castle was once home to a powerful English family of the Tudor era, the Boleyns.
Famously known for being beheaded by King Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn was born and raised at Hever Castle prior to becoming the King’s second wife.
Trains to Hever Castle depart frequently from London’s Victoria Station, the journey takes around 1.5 hours. When you purchase tickets to the castle, it includes both entries to the castle and gardens.
Hever Castle – The interior of the castle is lavishly furnished with original tapestries, Tudor portraits, antiques and medieval furniture. There are even life-sized figures of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn!
Make sure to visit the “King’s Bed Chamber”, a beautifully decorated room featuring 16th-century panelling. It is said that when the King came to visit Anne Boleyn during their courtship, he would have stayed in that room.
Gardens – There are over 100 acres of elaborate gardens that surround Hever Castle. There’s an Italian garden with sculptures and fountains, an English Rose garden, a Tudor garden and more.
Hever Gardens have significantly expanded since the Tudor time period, most of them were built in the early 20th century.
King Henry VIII Pub – After exploring the castle and gardens, head over to the pub next door to refuel.
King Henry VIII pub has been there since the year 1597! It’s a beautiful Tudor style building and a great place to try some traditional English food and ales.
There are two major attractions that draw tourists from all over the world to the seaside town of Dover, the White Cliffs of Dover and the 800-year-old castle that has dominated Dover’s hilltop and protected the shores of England from invasions for centuries.
Visiting both the White Cliffs and Dover Castle can easily be done in a day as both attractions are next to one another. Dover can be reached in just over 1 hour by high-speed train from St. Pancras Station in London.
Dover Castle – The original castle dates all the way back to the 11th century when it was first built by William the Conqueror.
Over the years, it developed and expanded into the massive castle that still stands today, it’s one of the biggest in Britain. With so much to see and do, it’s easy to spend a few hours exploring the ins and outs of Dover Castle.
Some of the highlights include the Great Tower with its beautiful medieval rooms and epic views from the top, the tunnels beneath the castle that served as protection during sieges of the middle ages, and an underground hospital that was used during WWII.
White Cliffs of Dover – The spectacular White Cliffs of Dover are a true symbol of Britain and have been the “gateway to England” for centuries. When ships would come and go from Europe, the cliffs would have been their first and last sight of Britain.
Take a walk on the path along the White Cliffs for some breathtaking views across the English Channel, on a clear day you can see France in the distance.
4. Leeds Castle
Leeds Castle sits peacefully on an island in the middle of a lake in a gorgeous countryside setting, it’s often referred to as the “loveliest castle in the world”.
The sight of this castle is truly like a scene from a fairy tale.
The origins of Leeds Castle can be traced back to the 12th century when it was initially built as a simple motte and bailey castle. It wasn’t until a few hundred years had passed that the existing structure was built and it became a residence for royalty.
Nowadays, there are many fun activities and events throughout the year at Leeds Castle.
Some of the highlights that you can’t miss on your visit: a maze where you can get lost among 2000 yew trees, a museum showcasing a historic collection of dog collars, birds of prey centre featuring daily bird shows in the summer months, punting tours on the lake around the castle and of course a visit inside the castle itself.
Visiting Leeds Castle is the perfect day trip from London and can easily be reached by taking the train from Victoria Station to Bearsted Station near the town of Maidstone in Kent. From there you will find a shuttle bus that will take you directly to the castle.
5. Port Lympne Safari Park
For a unique and memorable experience, why not go on a safari in the English countryside?
Just under 2 hours south of London will take you to a beautiful 600-acre park where animals from all over the world roam freely.
When you purchase a ticket to the safari park, it not only helps to care for their own animals but also contributes to worldwide conservation projects including a breeding program for the endangered black rhino.
To get there from London, take the high-speed train from St. Pancras Station to Ashford International. From there, get on the bus number 10 that travels toward Folkstone and then get off at the animal park.
Safari – This awesome safari experience will take you through the Port Lympne park to see over 700 animals. Some of the highlights are leopards, lions, tigers, bears, gorillas, giraffes and the largest herd of black rhino in the UK!
Taking a guided safari through the park is included in your entry ticket.
Dinosaur Forest – In addition to the amazing wild animals, there is also a Dinosaur Forest filled with life-sized Dinosaur figures. Take walk through the forest to learn all about the prehistoric times and watch as the Dinosaurs come to life with a virtual reality app.
This is is a huge hit if you’re bringing children!
Guest Author Bio:
Ann is the other half of The Road Is Life where she blogs with her partner Rick about travel and living a minimalist lifestyle. Originally from Vancouver, Canada, she has spent the last 2.5 years living in a small town in Kent, England where she used that time to explore as much of Europe and the U.K. as possible.
So if you’re visiting Kent or planning some day trips from London to Kent then these 5 things to do in Kent should be on your list.
This is a great guidebook for travel in Britain.
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