10 Best Places to See on Your Walking Tour of Canterbury, England

Updated: December 10, 2019

Westgate Gardens is a popular spot on any walking tour of CanterburyCanterbury is the ecclesiastical center of England. Having the oldest church in the English speaking world, Canterbury has been at the center of English life for centuries. Visit Canterbury on a great day trip from London and you will be surrounded by history. Let’s go together on a walking tour of Canterbury.

Most places inside Canterbury center are old, actually very old. Taking your time to walk among old history will transport you to a different time. Put on some comfortable walking shoes and let’s go together on a Canterbury walking tour.

My favorite attractions when visiting Canterbury

  • Canterbury Cathedral is the main attraction in town.
  • Canterbury Castle ruins and St Mildred’s old church nearby
  • Medieval city walls and John Dane gardens
  • Westgate Towers and gardens.
  • Very old churches from the 6th century

Walking Tour Map of Canterbury, England
Canterbury walking tour map
Red: see, Blue: walk
See my photos from Canterbury

With our walking tour map of Canterbury in hand and some comfortable shoes we’re ready to start visiting Canterbury.

1. Canterbury Cathedral

The first stop on our Canterbury walking tour is one of the oldest historical religious sites in England. Canterbury Cathedral was founded in the year 597 A.D. and since then it has become an architectural and cultural landmark.

Canterbury Cathedral is the usual starting point on any Canterbury walking tour
Beautiful view of the Canterbury Cathedral
See my photos from Canterbury

The cathedral boasts a shrine to Archbishop Thomas Becket, the site famously visited by the characters in Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. As you walk through the nave, you will notice the intricate vaulting on the ceilings and the colorful walls of stained glass windows.

The North West part of Canterbury Cathedral showing the Chapter House on the left and Bell Harry Tower on the right
The North West part of Canterbury Cathedral showing the Chapter House on the left and Bell Harry Tower on the right
See my photos from Canterbury

The cathedral’s bell towers house twenty one bells, including Great Dunstan, the largest bell in Kent. The ringing of these bells is your soundtrack when you visit Canterbury.

Make sure you read the Canterbury Cathedral website for up to date visiting hours and ticket information.

2. Canterbury Castle Ruins

Walk down St. Margaret’s St. and Castle St. past quaint tudor-style houses and pubs – you’ll pass many of these when you visit Canterbury. Canterbury Castle, our next stop, will appear to your right as imposing stone ruins. The castle’s foundation was built in 1066, the year that William the Conqueror passed through the area. Over the centuries, the structure has served as a battle fortress, a county jail (or gaol), and as a storage center for a gas company.

Ruins of the old Canterbury Castle
Ruins of the old Canterbury Castle
See my photos from Canterbury

If you need a breath of fresh air after all this history, take a rest at the next stop on our Canterbury walking tour.

Read more: 4 Beautiful English Castles

3. Dane John Park

Enjoy the fresh air and greenery at Dane John Gardens, a historic park dating back to the 1500’s. The park is home to many family-friendly areas, including a maze and a bandstand area for concerts.

Beautiful view of Dane John Gardens seen from the old city walls
Beautiful view of Dane John Gardens seen from the old city walls
See my photos from Canterbury

You will also find a small hill topped by a white structure – this is the Dane John Mound, an ancient Roman cemetery. This was constructed between the first and fourth centuries during Roman occupation of Great Britain.

Beautiful tall trees line the main pathway through Dane John Gardens
Beautiful tall trees line the main pathway through Dane John Gardens
See my photos from Canterbury

There is a small memorial site at the top of this hill to James Simmons, a local politician who organized the purchasing and landscaping of the gardens.

Read more: 7 Beautiful British Gardens

4. Old City Walls

When you visit Canterbury, your trip will not be complete without a walk along the Old City walls. The city walls are accessible within Dane John Garden.

Panorama of the city of Canterbury and Cathedral seen from the medieval walls
Panorama of the city of Canterbury and Cathedral seen from the medieval walls
See my photos from Canterbury

When the Romans occupied Canterbury in the third century, they constructed huge stone walls to encircle the city center and protect it from enemy invasion. Many sections of these walls still stand today and provide you with a unique vantage point on the city. The walls were damaged extensively during World War II, when they served as an ammunition storage area for Allied troops. In spite of the violent history of the walls, more than half of their original structures remain. Next up on our Canterbury walking tour, we will head back towards Canterbury Castle for another famous religious site.

5. St. Mildred’s Church

While it is not known exactly when St. Mildred’s Church was originally constructed, two walls of the surviving structure are more than 1,000 years old.

 Beautiful view of St Mary Church
Beautiful view of St Mary Church
See my photos from Canterbury

It is the only existing church within the original city walls that dates back to the pre-Norman period – you can see the history in the weathered stone block walls. As you circle the building, you will observe small graveyards and gardens on the property – all part of the church’s 800-year history.
When you’ve finished taking in St. Mildred’s, continue walking up Stour St., then make a left onto Water Ln to access the next place on the Canterbury walking tour.

Read more: 11 Quaint & Beautiful Churches in England 

6. Greyfriar’s Chapel and Gardens

When you visit Canterbury, you can’t miss the last remaining structure of the first Franciscan monastery in England. The Greyfriars Chapel and Franciscan Gardens were built shortly after the Franciscans arrived in 1224.

Greyfriars Chapel in Canterbury
Greyfriars Chapel in Canterbury
Photo by: Pam Fray under CC 2.0

Though the friary was disbanded by King Henry VIII in 1538, the chapel remained. 465 years later in 2003, it was reclaimed by Franciscan brothers. It remains a place of worship to this day. The chapel is surrounded by a garden and lawn, a welcome retreat from the busy streets of Canterbury, but it is still easily accessible from the city center. The garden provides an exemplary view of the Canterbury Cathedral and a lovely meadow of wildflowers. The Great Stour running through the gardens completes this tranquil scene in the midst of the city.

7. Walk High Street

If you’re ready to experience more of what contemporary Canterbury has to offer, loop back to Stour St. across the river and continue walking North until you reach High St.

Walking down an old narrow street
Walking down an old narrow street
See my photos from Canterbury

Here, you will find a delightful blend of trendy eateries, enticing stores, and historic architecture and cobblestone streets. Stop for a pint in one of the many inviting pubs and hunt for souvenirs in the shops along this bustling road. Continue walking until you reach a tall stone “gate”, or tower, and you’ve arrived at our next stop on our Canterbury walking tour.

8. Westgate Towers

Westgate Towers in England’s largest surviving medieval gateway. These gates were once used to control the flow of visitors in and out of walled city centers, and Westgate was once accessible only via drawbridge from outside of Canterbury.

Westgate Towers seen from Westgate Gardens
Westgate Towers seen from Westgate Gardens
See my photos from Canterbury

Westgate was the most important of the city gates because of its placement on roads leading to London and the rest of Kent. Adult tickets to enter the gate museum are £4, while student and child pricing is slightly less. The narrow 5 flights of stairs within the tower lead you to impressive views of the river and the city, including the cathedral. Located in the same historic building as the Westgate Tower museum are a sophisticated restaurant and a new escape room for an exciting addition to your visit to Canterbury. Please note that escape room tickets may only be reserved online.

9. Westgate Gardens

Finally, enjoy Canterbury like a local in the sprawling Westgate Gardens, a charming riverfront park. Continuing south from the tower, Westgate Gardens follows the flowing River Stour downstream.

Beautiful old stone buildings with colorful flowers inside Westgate Gardens
The Tower House is a beautiful old stone buildings surrounded by colorful flowers during the summer.
See my photos from Canterbury

The gardens provide a relaxing and refreshing opportunity to stop and admire the lovely views lining the waterfront. Enjoy visiting with the ducks that frequent the river and the lush lawns that run adjacent to the river walk. Trees and tulips alike adorn the pathways and multiple bridges allow access to both sides of the river, where historic architecture and lively foliage combine to create a unique and peaceful place to relax and rest at the end of the Canterbury walking tour.

10. St Martin’s & St Augustine Old Churches

Since they are not located in Canterbury old town center, these very old churches do not appear on my Canterbury walking tour map. Nevertheless, they are both worth your time to visit as they represent the beginning of Christianity in England.

St Augustine’s Abbey was founded by St Augustine, the first Archbishop of Canterbury, in 598. The abbey’s stunning 14th-century Gothic gatehouse, Fyndon’s Gate is intact.

St Augustine Abbey
St Augustine Abbey
Photo by Immanuel Giel under CC 3.0

Located a bit past the old St Augustine Abbey, St Martin’s Church is the oldest church in the English-speaking world.

St Martin's Church, Canterbury, England.
St Martin’s Church, Canterbury, England.
Photo by Oosoom under CC 3.0

Established around the end of the 6th century St Martin’s Church used even older building materials dating from earlier Roman times.

Is it Worth Visiting Canterbury, England?

Depending how much time you have to spend in England, Canterbury is a very appealing day trip from London. Steeped in history all the way from the Roman times through the Middle Ages, Canterbury makes for a fascinating trip.

My Best Resources for Planning your Trip to Canterbury

Find a budget hotel in Canterbury. With over 200 properties in Canterbury, you can easily find an affordable place for your stay in the area.

If you are coming from London, book a beautiful day trip to Canterbury, Dover and Leeds Castle. These are my favorite places in this area of England.

Parking in the city center is generally expensive. I recommend parking your car in the Longport Parking Area located near St Augustine Abbey. You can easily walk to the town center. Here is the address for your GPS: Longport, Canterbury, CT1 1DU, United Kingdom

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