Canterbury has been a travel destination for more than 1,000 years, originally as a holy site for religious pilgrims visiting its famed cathedral. The journey to visit the town was later immortalized in Geoffrey Chaucer's 14th-century poem, "The Canterbury Tales." Whether your pilgrimage is religious, literary, or just touristic, this historic city is only 60 miles from London and makes an easy and memorable day trip.
The best ways to reach Canterbury from London are by train or bus. The train takes about half the time, but costs at least twice as much. The bus is the most affordable option, but if you're only visiting for the day then choosing the faster train service may make more sense. You can also drive to Canterbury, but London traffic and parking in this popular town usually aren't worth bringing your own vehicle.
|Train||1 hour||from $15||Traveling on a time crunch|
|Bus||2 hours, 15 minutes||from $6||Traveling on a budget|
|Car||1 hour, 30 minutes||62 miles (100 kilometers)|
What Is the Cheapest Way to Get From London to Canterbury?
If you don't mind the extra time, taking the bus to Canterbury is the cheapest way to get there, especially when you're buying last-minute tickets and train prices have already gone up. The bus only takes about 30 to 60 minutes longer than the train and, depending on when you make reservations, can be a fraction of the price.
Buses are provided by National Express, and the direct journey takes 2 hours, 15 minutes. You can catch the bus in London from Victoria Station, with connections to the Circle, Victoria, and District lines of the Underground. In Canterbury, the bus stop is centrally located and within a short walking distance to all of the major attractions in the city.
You can buy tickets directly on the bus from the driver, but you'll get the best price and a confirmed seat if you make your purchase online before boarding the bus. One-way ticket prices range from $6 to $12.
What Is the Fastest Way to Get From London to Canterbury?
If you're only going to Canterbury for the day, an extra hour of travel time each way can really eat into your excursion. Thankfully, the train can get you there in about half the time, with the journey taking anywhere from under an hour to 90 minutes, depending on the train you choose. If you book the train early enough and are flexible with your departure time, prices are only slightly higher than the bus, starting at about $15 for a one-way ticket.
Trains leave from several of London's biggest stations—St Pancras, Charing Cross, Victoria—so you can choose whichever one is most convenient for you, although the fastest trains leave from St Pancras. Trains arrive in Canterbury at one of two stations, Canterbury West or Canterbury East, both of which are walking distance from the city center.
Trains leave all throughout the day, and you can see the schedule and purchase tickets through the National Rail page.
How Long Does It Take to Drive?
Canterbury is only an hour and a half from London by car in an easy drive that's just over 60 miles. However, driving out of London can add a significant amount of time to the journey, and parking near the city center of Canterbury is complicated, at best. If you're only planning to visit Canterbury, you're better off using the train or bus to avoid the hassles that come with bringing a car, including parking, gas prices, and tolls.
However, if Canterbury is just one stop on a road trip through the south of England—or possibly on your way to continental Europe via the nearby Channel Tunnel—then driving is a great way to visit this historic town while exploring the nearby area. You won't need the car in Canterbury once you arrive, so park outside of the city and just travel by foot until you're ready to leave. Canterbury Park&Ride, with several parking areas just outside the city, is convenient and cheap.
What Is the Best Time to Travel to Canterbury?
Weather-wise, the best time to visit Canterbury is from May to September, when the sun warms up the town and the average temperatures range from the mid-60s to mid-70s. The summer months are the busiest time and the small town may feel overrun on some days, but visiting in the shoulder months of May or September are the best time to balance good weather with minimal crowds. But even if you're visiting in the colder months, the weather in Canterbury is similar to London's, so if you need a winter escape from the big city Canterbury is still a great option.
More important than the time of year, you should check the calendar of the Canterbury Cathedral. The cathedral is the primary reason most people visit the town, and it sometimes closes for special celebrations or church services. It also has limited visiting hours on Sundays, so you may want to avoid Sunday visits.
What Is There to Do in Canterbury?
Both the Canterbury Cathedral and the ruins of St. Augustine's Abbey are included as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. 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. Apart from the historical sites, Canterbury is a quaint town with lots of charm. Especially if you're visiting when the weather is warm and sunny, it's a great excuse to get out of London and explore another part of English culture.