The Best Places to Visit in Kent
From hipster’s paradise Margate to the UNESCO Heritage sites of Canterbury and the wild sandy beaches of Broadstairs
A visit to Kent is a journey through time, each town more storied than the last. The towns of Canterbury, Margate and Rochester, to name but a few, are perfect for a long weekend getaway from London. Only a short drive or train ride from the capital and you’ll find yourself in the “Garden of England”, aptly named for its lush landscapes and wild coasts. There’s a heady mix of history, fine dining, culture and the great outdoors to enthral couples and families alike. Here at Plum Guide, we like to think we know a thing or two about what our guests look for in a vacation, because the extensive research we put in certainly makes us experts in the field of travel. Our guide to the places to visit in Kent takes you from the winding waterways of Canterbury to the seemingly untouched sandy beaches of Broadstairs, as well as a few other top spots.
Canterbury is one of the UK’s most charming and historic cities, and paying a visit is one of the best things to do in Kent with kids. Many people won’t know this but Canterbury is home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site formed of Canterbury Cathedral, founded in 597 AD, St. Augustine’s Abbey and St. Martin’s Church. The site is one of only 27 man-made landmarks in the UK to be awarded World Heritage status. The history doesn’t end there. Punting is a popular pastime in Canterbury. What’s punting, we hear you ask? A punt is a flat-bottomed boat that you push along the water using a long pole, and dates as far back as the late 1800s. If our whistle-stop tour of Canterbury has convinced you to see it for yourself (and why wouldn’t it?) we recommend a stay at Parquet Pocket just on the outskirts of town. The best feature of all, apart from the modern interior and stylish patio? This home is pet-friendly so the fluffiest members of your family can come too.
Rochester may not look like much, but it has more than its fair share of stories to tell. It’s here where Charles Dickens, author of classics such as Great Expectations, Oliver Twist and A Christmas Carol, lived in Gads Hill Place just across the river from downtown Rochester. Track down his literary locations on an expert-led tour or a self-guided trail. Travel back in time at Rochester Castle and Rochester Cathedral, the second oldest in the UK which echo with stories of their own from the ages.
Margate - otherwise known as Shoreditch-by-the-sea - is a hipster’s paradise, so at least you know the coffee will be good. Case in point the multimillion-pound restoration of Dreamland, an amusement park and arcade dating back to the early twentieth century. So kitsch it’s cool, right? Margate is also home to a gallery or two. The most eye-catching is the Turner Contemporary art gallery, right on the waterfront and free to visit. Peruse around Old Town which overflows with food shops, independent art galleries, old seafarers’ inns and tonnes of vintage clothes and antique shops.
From one seaside town to another: this time we’re heading to Ramsgate, home of the largest network of civilian wartime tunnels. Also, check out the smuggler’s coves built into the cliffs of Pegwell Bay. As if having the UK’s largest network of subways wasn’t showing off enough, Ramsgate also boasts the world’s largest Wetherspoons. Now, normally we wouldn’t recommend a pub chain, but Royal Victoria Pavillion is an exception to the rule. This beautiful old building is located right on the seafront with spectacular views of the Channel and affordable brews to boot.
The town’s motto is “Stella Maris” or “Star of the Sea” and we tend to agree. Broadstairs is all about the beaches. Check out Viking Bay, Dumpton Gap, and Stone Bay, three of the best places to visit in Kent for some good old fashioned seaside fun. Quieter than Margate and Ramsgate, Broadstairs is perfect for those who want to feel the sea air on their face and sunbathe away from the crowds. The Kent Coast Gallery and Dickens House Museum are worth visiting should the weather turn on you and you need to escape the elements.
Royal Tunbridge Wells
Travelling with little ones in tow? Then Royal Tunbridge Wells is perfect for a family-friendly weekend getaway. Tunbridge Wells is home to two climbing centres, one indoors and one outdoors, and an ice rink. Get lost in the whimsical Dunorlan Park and Scotney Castle Garden. The Garden wraps around a 14th-century castle, moat and Victorian country home, and is the very picture of the romantic English countryside.
Fancy yourself as a master tactician? Chatham is steeped in naval history and one of the best places to learn about the UK’s seafaring past. The town sprung up around the naval dockyard, and today that military and engineering past is celebrated at The Historic Dockyard Chatham with its award-winning interactive exhibits. You can explore a life sized Victorian ship and WWII destroyer the HMS Cavalier. Great for big and little kids alike. If our list of places to visit in Kent has convinced you to take getaway then browse our selection of handpicked vacation homes just a short drive or train ride away from the capital in the “Garden of England”.