Popular weekend destinations for the British and picturesque getaways for people from all over the world, Canterbury and Whitstable will steal your heart from the moment you get there. Each with a distinctive charm and personality, each with its share of historical tales and attractions, both poetical and dreamy and both situated in the county of Kent, UK! Visit Canterbury and Whitstable and you’ll suddenly feel the urge to write some Canterbury tales of your own or a love story set in a little English seaside town.
The cathedral city of Canterbury
Once upon a time, crowds of medieval pilgrims flocked to the city of Canterbury to step inside the majestic Canterbury Cathedral. Nowadays, Canterbury is reinventing itself into much more than just a spiritual center. The city is lively and at times quite crowded with tourists that visit Canterbury not only for a chance to admire its spectacular cathedral, but also to walk on its medieval streets, dine at one of the many chic restaurants and characteristic pubs, and shop at the bustling Whitefriars shopping center. Moreover, the city starts to appear more and more often on the list with the best party towns in the UK.
Nevertheless, none of this novelty and color affects its medieval charm that overflows on its picturesque streets. Canterbury is and always will be the town of Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and the home one of the most impressive cathedrals in the country. The Canterbury Cathedral was founded in 597 AD by St Augustine. It is the spot where Archbishop Thomas Becket was murdered in 1170 and home to the tombs of Henry IV and the Black Prince. Hop on a boat at the Kings Bridge to capture the cathedral’s splendor from the River Stour while your guide will be rowing the boat. Enjoy the ride and admire the gardens and waterside along the way.
Visit the Canterbury Tales exhibition to immerse yourself into the creative world of Geoffrey Chaucer who beautifully illustrated stories of pilgrims and the English medieval life. It might sound a bit touristy but you’ll love to become a part of Chaucer’s pilgrim stories and discover some of the costumes, sounds, and even smells from that era. Have lunch at the restaurant situated above the Goods Shed farmers’ market and delight your taste buds with a fish stew or roast venison. After lunch, visit the Roman Museum to go back where it all started, when the settlement was known as Durovernum Cantiacorum. The perfect spot for dinner is the chic Café du Soleil that invites guests to try Provencal dishes and pizzas in an 18th-century wool mill décor.
If Canterbury has won your heart and you want to stay longer, you should also visit the Dane John Gardens and Westgate Gardens and attend one or two shows at the Marlowe Theatre and the Gulbenkian Theatre. Moreover, Canterbury makes for a lovely base to visit many other charming locations in Kent, such as Bekesbourne, Dover, Herne Bay, and, of course, Whitstable.
The lovely seaside town of Whitstable
Situated only 15 minutes away from Canterbury, Whitstable is a charming authentic English seaside town. The town is now one of the UK’s most visited and ranks in the top 10 in the country. The town has kept its genuine atmosphere intact and this only enhances its beauty. Some feel at home as soon as they arrive here. There’s something magical about Whitstable. A certain feeling of familiarity takes over when you visit Whitstable even if you’ve never been here before.
The town is welcoming and lively without being insistent or touristy. It lures you on its little streets that have quirky names like Squeeze Gut Alley and are lined with lovely independent boutiques and makes you pledge your undying love due to its picturesque seaside adorned with pebble beaches and colorful beach huts.
Visit Whitstable Castle too to learn more about the town’s history and walk among its beautiful gardens and spend some time at the Whitstable harbour to relax and watch the boats come and go. Of course, there’s no speaking of Whitstable without mentioning its pretty beaches! You won’t find sandy beaches in Whitstable but you won’t miss them either. The beautiful West Beach, Hampton, and Tankerton provide the perfect setting for beach days and long strolls along the sea.
Tankerton is a suburb of the town and a great place to escape the crowds if you’re here in the months of July and August or during a holiday like the Whitstable Oyster Festival. Yes, the town is famous for its oysters. They have been harvested from Whitstable’s waters since Roman times and continue to be as delicious as they were back then, if not probably better. We bet the Romans didn’t cook the oysters as well as Wheelers, the oldest oyster bar in town, cooks them.
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