11 Best Things to Do in Kent (UK)

Are you wondering what are the best things to do in Kent? Kent is a county full of villages that look like they belong on a postcard. But its towns are quickly becoming great places to get away from the city, from the cool streets of Margate to the old center of Canterbury.

Kent is considered the “Garden of England”, with its beautiful countryside and coast, world-famous attractions, and delicious food and drink. The White Cliffs of Dover, Leeds Castle, Hever Castle, Canterbury Cathedral, The Historic Dockyards Chatham, Dreamland Margate, and Port Lympne Hotel & Reserve are just some of the amazing places that are waiting to be discovered.

It’s no surprise that the food scene here is one of the most exciting in the UK since it supplies much of the country with fruit, hops, and other food. People come from all over the world to try the best modern British food in the city’s restaurants and pubs.

They are also known for their award-winning sparkling wine, so why not take a tour of one of Kent’s many vineyards to try some English wine or visit Britain’s oldest brewery, Shepherd Neame, to try some good British beer? And since they have Michelin-star restaurants, gastropubs, food festivals, and farmers’ markets, you won’t go hungry when you visit!

But there is more to it than just eating and drinking. Kent has the oldest rollercoaster in the UK, a seashell-covered grotto, beautiful beaches, and a world-class art gallery. Its winding country roads are fun to explore, and people who come here by train, on foot, or by bike will also find a lot to like. Read on to find out what the best things to do in Kent are.

Best Things to Do in Kent, UK

1. Canterbury Cathedral

When I went to Kent for the first time, I’ll never forget it. The first thing that I did was visit Canterbury Cathedral, where I went on a guided tour.

Canterbury Cathedral in Kent
Best Things to Do in Kent: Visit Canterbury Cathedral

The Canterbury Cathedral in England is both the oldest and most significant Christian site in the country. Its foundations were laid by Saint Augustine in the year 597 CE. This magnificent building is the mother cathedral of the Anglican faith, also known as the Church of England. Its construction took more than 340 years, and it is currently one of the most visited cathedrals in all of Europe.

The Canterbury Cathedral, which is now listed on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list, is best experienced as part of a guided tour. Your timed entrance, which can be reserved in advance, will grant you access to essential features such as the Great Cloister, the Chapter House, and the 12th-century choir that is decorated with statues of six old English kings. 

You will also be able to visit the location in the Northwest Transept where Archbishop Thomas Becket was assassinated at the behest of King Henry II in the year 1170.

Even though most cathedral tours only last for about an hour, you are welcome to spend significantly more time on the grounds. If you want to get some good photos of the structure without a lot of other people in them, you should make reservations for the earliest possible admission time because it can get very crowded. 

On Burgate Street, you’ll find a souvenir and gift shop that guests can visit even without paying the entrance fee to the cathedral.

Interested in the other heritage sites? Check out The List of Stunning UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the UK

2. Leeds Castle

The Leeds Castle is yet another castle that has made it onto my list. It’s such a fundamental component of Kent that I can’t leave it out of the conversation! For a variety of reasons, Leeds Castle is one of my very favorites, but at the top of the list is the fact that it has an incredible picturesque quality and makes for some stunningly beautiful photographs no matter the time of year.

Leeds Castle
Best Things to do in Kent: Visit the Leeds Castle

It can be found about 11 kilometers (about 7 miles) to the east of the county town of Maidstone. Since the 9th century, it was common knowledge that this location once housed a castle. Even though most of what you see today was constructed in more recent times across all three islands, the Gloriette, which is its oldest section, was built in the year 1280.

The magnificent Leeds Castle can be found on two islands in the middle of a lake that is nourished by the River Len. It looks like something out of a picture book with its majestic medieval structure, lovely formal gardens, a maze, and an underground grotto, all of which are set in the parkland that encompasses 500 acres. 

Because it was home to six different medieval queens over the course of its 900-year history, it is commonly referred to as the “Castle of Queens, Queen of Castles.”

You could easily lose track of time wandering around and investigating the various parts of the site. The land, the train, and the boat all contribute to the experience (and make it easier to get around), while the maze provides an entertaining and challenging obstacle course.

The Knights’ Stronghold and the Squires’ Courtyard are just two of the many children’s play areas located on the premises. Other options include the Squires’ Courtyard. If you have an interest in birds or other forms of wildlife, the wooded areas and large lakes that surround the castle are home to a variety of bird species.

The experience of visiting Leeds Castle is rounded out by a few peculiar additions as well. The annual Leeds Castle Concert has been a highlight of the celebration ever since it began in the 1980s. This monumental event, which takes place throughout the day, comes to a head in the evening with a performance of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, which is accompanied by fireworks and cannon fire.

3. Bodiam Castle

Bodiam Castle, which dates back to the 14th century and is located in the center of a historic landscape, is one of the most picturesque and romantic ancient monuments in Britain. It features battlements, spiral staircases, and a portcullis.

Bodiam Castle in Kent UK
Best Things to Do in Kent: Visit Bodiam Castle

You can relive your childhood memories and let your imagination run wild in places like a tower that was once used as a lookout, a tower that was once windows through which arrows were loosed, and ruins that were once traversed by knights.

The exterior of the seemingly unaltered medieval structure is encircled by a substantial moat. A rare example of its kind, the impressive gatehouse is home to the original wooden portcullis that was installed on the castle. It is possible to get a sense of what life was like inside the castle from the ruins that remain in the courtyard.

In the days of the middle ages, when this castle was a ruin surrounded by a moat, it was a symbol of prestige and played host to high society. Today, it sits within the Rother valley. The court is an important surviving structure, both as a piece of architecture and as a representation of a medieval environment.

4. Hever Castle

Hever Castle can be found all the way from one end of Kent to the other, right up against the western boundary of the county. It’s possible that Hever Castle is the most picturesque location in all of Kent. This medieval fortress, which is located close to London, is one of the most photogenic castles in the area and is definitely worth a day trip.

Hever Castle in Kent UK
Best Things to Do in Kent, UK: Visit Hever Castle
Christoph Matthias Siebenborn, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Hever Castle, a stunning property surrounded by a moat, was Anne Boleyn’s childhood home, so visitors should be prepared for a wealth of Tudor history! Since then, notable individuals such as William Waldorf Astor have owned it. Exploring the different rooms and seeing how they were decorated reflects both the tastes of the previous owners and the fashions that were popular at the time.

However, the gardens at Hever Castle are the highlight of any trip to the castle. This location is home to some of the most beautiful gardens that can be found in Kent.

Have a good time trying not to get lost in the yew maze, watching jousting tournaments during the warm summer months, rowing on the breathtakingly beautiful lake, taking in a performance at the outdoor theater, or navigating the water jets in the water maze.

The sights of the lake are mesmerizing, and the gardeners here are skilled as well as committed to their work. Taking everything into consideration, Hever Castle is without a doubt one of the most stunning tourist destinations in all of Kent.

Whitstable is home to a thriving and genuine arts culture, and it seems as though around every bend in the road lies a new and interesting attraction to discover. In addition to that, strolling along the beachfront and looking at all of the beach huts is a delightful way to spend some time.

You should put Whitstable on your list of things to do in the UK.

5. White Cliffs of Dover

There are not many parts of the English coastline that are able to evoke the same feelings as the famous White Cliffs of Dover. These world-famous white chalk cliffs, which stretch for eight miles, can be explored in a number of different ways. 

White Cliffs of Dover in Kent
Best Things to Do in Kent: Visit the White Cliffs of Dover
Immanuel Giel, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

You can explore them from the air by flying in a heritage Spitfire (which will set you back a pretty penny); from the water by riding a cross-channel ferry, cruise ship, or tourist boat (which will take some time); or by hiking along a well-maintained trail network above the cliffs (which will be a breeze).

The latter option is without a doubt the most cost-effective and convenient, and it entails paying a visit to the Gateway to the White Cliffs Visitor Center, which is situated atop the cliffs and offers breathtaking views over the Port of Dover. Before venturing out to explore the cliffs, you should first spend some time at this National Trust site. 

You will find a wealth of information that will be of use to you regarding the distinctive geology of the region, as well as its fauna and flora.

Take a trip there for a brisk walk along the cliffs, and while you’re there, keep an eye out for the Exmoor ponies that are used to keep the grass under control. While you’re there, you can also explore the abandoned tunnels from World War II that are hidden within the cliffs, don a hard hat, and learn about the scientific discoveries that were made at the Victorian lighthouse.

In addition, if you go to Dover Castle, you can visit the exact location where the first airplane to fly across the English Channel touched down. A memorial made of concrete in the shape of an airplane stands there to mark the spot.

6. Historic Dockyard of Chatham

The Historic Dockyard in Chatham is the place to go if you are interested in maritime history because it will allow you to fully immerse yourself in the subject. But I don’t think it’s just for people who are interested in the sea. There is a huge variety of things to do and see in this area.

The Historic Dockyard Chatham, which has a history dating back 400 years, has been an important component of the British navy’s defense in every conflict, including the dispute over the Falkland Islands. 

At the Dockyard, visitors can participate in a wide variety of exciting activities, such as an interactive walking cinema, hands-on exhibits of the principal trades, and a tour of HMS Namur, the ship that is submerged beneath the floor.

Your attention is drawn to three ships, each of which is quite distinct: a submarine from the Cold War (HMS Ocelot), a destroyer from World War II (HMS Cavalier), and a Victorian sloop. On each of them, you can wander around and get the feeling of being transported back in time.

Do not pass up the opportunity to see the full-scale replica of HMS Victory, the ship that served as Lord Nelson’s flagship during the Battle of Trafalgar and an emblem of British naval might.

On the other hand, there is something in store for those of you who are fans of Call the Midwife and the Dockyard. Filming for the television series, as well as other scenes, took place at this location. You will be able to view the attractions, and you can even participate in a guided adventure.

7. Whitstable

Beautiful Whitstable is a small fishing town that is also located on the coast, but visiting there is an entirely different experience than visiting Dreamland.

A trip to the seaside resort of Whitstable is a delightful day trip from London. If you enjoy eating shellfish by the water, this is the ideal destination for your next vacation. In this location, you will find some of the freshest seafood available for consumption. The oysters produced in this town have helped make it internationally renowned.

Every summer, the town of Whitstable hosts a festival that is known as the Whitstable Oyster Festival. If you enjoy seafood and are looking for a fun event to attend, this could be the one for you. Because of this, Whitstable is consistently ranked as one of the top summer destinations for day trips from London.

However, Whitstable is also a wonderful destination to visit at other times of the year. The beach is a wonderful place to bask in the sun, and the high street is lined with quaint shops, delicious restaurants, and cozy coffee shops.

Because there is a train station in Whitstable that has direct links to the capital of the United Kingdom, this is one of the best places to go to the beach close to London if you want to travel by rail.

8. Chislehurst Caves

Chislehurst Caves are an archeological site that can be found about 30 meters below the surface of Kent’s northwestern corner. Prepare to go back in time and learn about the people who lived during the Ice Age, including the Druids, Romans, and Saxons. Your history begins with the Ice Age.

The caves served as a munitions depot during World War I and World War II, and then later became an underground city that provided cover for approximately 15,000 people during air raids.

In the course of the last century, they’ve also been the setting for concerts, a church, and even some mushroom cultivation. You’ll need to sign up for a tour, which departs once every hour, and you’ll be given an oil lamp to help you find your way around in the dark. This is the only way to get a glimpse inside. 

The members of the Labyrinthe LARPing Club, who use the caves on a regular basis for their games, may also put on a show for visitors, but this depends on the day you choose to go.

It is now a popular destination for tourists and a sought-after filming location for popular television shows like “Doctor Who.”

9. Big Cat Sanctuary

The Big Cat Sanctuary is a wonderful asset that Kent possesses, and the city ought to be very proud of this fact. This charitable organization is making incredible strides toward preserving natural resources all over the world. The Big Cat Diaries on the BBC may have introduced you to the concept.

You won’t be able to wander into the Sanctuary on any other day besides Open Days. However, I cannot stress enough how important it is for you to schedule an experience at this location so that you can have something that will leave you speechless. They not only provide excellent photography workshops but also unforgettable overnight safari adventures.

10. Margate

Over the course of the last ten years, Margate has emerged as a driving force behind Kent’s seaside renaissance. This sometimes run-down but always delightful coastal town is home to old-school arcades, excellent indie cafés, and offbeat cultural attractions that are designed to attract tourists down for day trips or more extended stays. Once patronizingly decried as down-at-heel, this town was once described as being “down at the heel.”

People who wanted to get away from the pressures of the city have long made Margate their vacation spot of choice. Its sophisticated Victorian glamour made it a popular destination for tourists long before the city’s recent resurgence, and TS Eliot was a fan of the place. JMW Turner also painted some of his famous seascapes here. It is the ideal location for a day trip, regardless of the season, as it can be reached by train in just 90 minutes from St. Pancras. 

My number one recommendation for things to do in Margate is to make your way to the newly renovated amusement park Dreamland. The amusement park known as Margate Dreamland first opened its gates in the year 1870.

There has been a rapid migration of London’s overflow population to Margate, which has resulted in an increase in the number of extraordinary events being held there. Dreamland is one of the best places to find such fantastic events. 

This venue is located on the water’s edge and provides vintage amusement park rides, a roller disco, a designated play area for children under the age of eight, and a selection of eats and drinks. In addition, there are regular events held here, which can range from large gigs and club nights to flea markets, circus shows, and a lot of other things.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to ride the ‘Scenic Railway, which is a wooden rollercoaster and also the oldest in the UK.

11. Canterbury Roman Museum

The Canterbury Roman Museum is the only Roman museum in Kent and offers a fascinating and kid-friendly look into life in Roman Britain. The museum is located in Canterbury. Guests have the opportunity to learn about the history of Canterbury, take a stroll through the market, and search for hidden treasures as they travel back in time and through the streets of Roman Canterbury.

The history of the Canterbury Roman Museum began on a day in the year 1868 that at first glance appeared to be rather ordinary. Workers who were excavating trenches for a new drainage system reached a depth of eight feet below the street level when they made an unexpected discovery: a Roman floor mosaic that had been remarkably well preserved.

Moving forward in time to the immediate aftermath of the Second World War, excavations began beneath the cellars of shops that were levelled by bombing, and yet another astonishing find was made.

Archaeologists unearthed a radiant floor heating system, wall paintings, and a mosaic corridor that was absolutely breathtaking. The floor mosaic had been replaced by the ruins of an expansive, and no doubt very expensive, Roman townhouse, which meant that the site was no longer just an isolated floor mosaic.

Over the course of time, a museum was established in order to house the ruins and ensure the preservation of what is now recognized as one of the only remaining in situ Roman pavement mosaics in the United Kingdom and a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

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11 Best Things to Do in Kent (UK)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Everything Zany Dual Citizen Travel Blog

Everything Zany

Travel Blog

Everything Zany Travel Blog exploring the UK and beyond. Sharing travel guides, tips, history, and culture. Our travel media brand is founded by travel and hotel industry expert – Ryazan Tristram, a Dual Citizen (British – Filipina) based in Birmingham, UK. Everything Zany is a reputable and award-winning travel blog. Our work and contributions have been featured in Huffington Post, CNBC, Discovery Channel, GMA, Readers Digest, and Lonely Planet. Our missions are to build a great travel community and resource of travel tips, visas, and travel guides for travelers. Join us as we travel around the UK and beyond with a mission to share the best of the world.

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