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Rich in heritage and quintessentially pretty, it’s easy to see why Canterbury is one of England’s most visited cities. Both its magnificent cathedral, St Augustine’s Abbey, and St Martin’s Church are UNESCO listed, and attractions dating back to the 14th century are at every turn. Within the ancient city walls, you'll find rows of independent shops and black-and-white Tudor taverns. The picturesque River Stour weaves its way through the city and a boat trip is a fun way to take in the city's sights.
Canterbury hostels are perfectly placed to explore the compact city. Stay in a Victorian villa that has comfy beds with nifty vibrating pillow alarms or sleep in a 130-year-old town house where a big English breakfast is included. If you’re looking to meet other backpackers, pick a Canterbury youth hostel with pool tables, large living rooms and bar areas. Most hostels offer free Wi-Fi, while many also have the choice of private rooms or mixed dorms.
Westgate, the historic town’s entrance, is England’s largest surviving medieval gateway. Inside Canterbury's ring of walls is the high street, where you'll find a market every Wednesday and Friday. A myriad of alleyways lead off it and some are so narrow the rooftops seem to touch. Mercery Lane is a photo hotspot, and on the King’s Mile, the city's independent quarter, are old fronted shops and quaint tearooms alongside ancient half-timbered houses. Whitefriars is the modern shopping district and St Dunstan’s, west of the outer walls, is a popular student enclave.
A visit to the city wouldn't be complete without seeing the famous Canterbury Cathedral with its impressive cloisters, chapels and intricate stained glass. You can delve deep into the city’s history at the Canterbury Heritage Museum and at the Canterbury Tales attraction, you’ll journey alongside Chaucer’s pilgrims. To see a spookier side of the city, join one of the nightly ghost tours. Kent’s coastline is near enough for a day trip: it's just a 30-minute bus ride to the harbour town of Whitstable or the classic British seafront town of Herne Bay.
If you’re flying in, you can take the train or bus from Heathrow or Gatwick airport to London’s Victoria station. From here, you can catch a budget-friendly National Express coach to Canterbury’s bus station on St George's Lane, taking around 2 hours. Frequent trains also leave from London Victoria rail station, as well as from St Pancras and Charing Cross, to both Canterbury East and Canterbury West train stations. Once you're in Canterbury, local buses will get you to the scenic towns and villages nearby.