Canterbury, at only 60 miles from London, is an easy day trip and a good walking city.
The small city has been a destination of pilgrimage for almost 1400 years - ever since St Augustine of Canterbury was sent from Rome to convert the Anglo Saxons in 597. Later, Chaucer's pilgrims, in his long poem, The Canterbury Tales, headed there to venerate St Thomas à Becket, killed in Canterbury Cathedral on the orders of an angry king in 1170.
Today, both the Cathedral and the ruins of St. Augustine's Abbey are included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors can also explore the ruins of the Norman Castle and see Eastbridge Hospital, founded in 1180 as accommodation for visitors to St. Thomas's tomb.
Use these information resources to compare travel alternatives and plan your visit.
More about Canterbury.
How to Get to Canterbury by Train
Southeastern Trains run direct train services:
The journey takes from just under an hour to about an hour and a fifty minutes. Advance round trip fare for off peak services starts (When purchased as two, one-way tickets. The cheapest fare was found using National Rail Enquiries Cheapest Fare Finder - see below) at £21.40 (Winter 2018).
UK Travel Tips - If you are staying in east London, in the trendy Shoreditch area, near the Olympic Park or in the Docklands, you can save time by leaving from Stratford International Station. Southeastern Trains run hourly services starting at about £40 (Winter 2018).
If you can be flexible about the time of travel, you can save about half of the cost by using the Cheapest Fare Finder. In winter 2018, we were able to find several round trips for £13.50 each way at times that were not inconvenient. When filling out the cheap fare finder template, make sure to enter "All Day" when choosing the time of travel.
And do be careful to choose Stratford International Station and NOT Stratford London. Trains from Stratford London require two changes and cost a great deal more.
If you arrive at Canterbury West, visit the Goods Shed , a daily farmers' market, food hall and restaurant next to the station. it's a French-style food and flower market where you can stock up on goodies or have a bang up lunch.
How to Get to Canterbury by Bus
National Express run buses from London to Canterbury. The trip takes about 1h50min with one-way tickets from £5 to £9.40 each way (Winter 2018). Buses travel hourly between Victoria Coach Station to Canterbury Bus Station.
Bus tickets can be purchased online. There is usually a 50pence booking fee.
UK Travel Tip - Use the "Fare Finder" on the National Express home page to find special, online-only fares, called "fun fares". You'll be taken to a calendar page that shows fares by date. If you can be flexible about dates and times you may save quite a bit.
How to Get to Canterbury by Car
Canterbury is 60 miles due southeast of London. Depending upon traffic and weather, it can take between and hour and 40 minutes to two and a half hours to drive there the A2 and M2 motorways as well as local roads. Gasoline, called petrol in the UK, is sold by the liter (a little more than a quart) and the price is usually between $1.50 and $2 a quart. The center of Canterbury is congested and parking is expensive. Canterbury Park&Ride, with several parking areas just outside the city, is convenient and cheap.
In 2018, the price was £3 for all-day parking for a car and up to six passengers, plus unlimited travel through the park and ride area, throughout the day.