Kent, otherwise known as the “Garden of England”, certainly doesn’t disappoint in the greenery department. For those who love the great outdoors, there are few other places in the UK that can rival Kent’s dramatic coastlines and ancient forests. But it’s not all rolling hills and sparkling lakes. Kent is also home to famous towns such as Margate, Canterbury and Royal Tunbridge Wells. Whatever kind of trip you’re looking for you can be sure that Kent will provide. Here at Plum Guide we’re taking you on a tour of things to do in Kent and recommending some unique homestays to make your trip even more special.
Hever Castle and Gardens, Edenbridge
You can’t swing a cat for castles in the UK. So trust us when we say that Hever Castle is one of the best you’ll find on these shores, and one of the best things to do in Kent too. The grounds once echoed with the sounds of Tudor aristocrats the Boleyns. If that name sounds familiar it’s because you were paying attention in history class. Boleyn was the second and possibly least fortunate of Henry VIII’s wives. The moated castle is impeccably preserved as are the grounds which include several gardens each more appealing than the last. The pièce de résistance is the Yew Maze and we’re here to share a little trick with you. Keep your arm touching the left of any maze and you’ll always find your way to the centre. But you didn’t hear it from us. Little kids can enjoy archery or shield painting and even catch a jousting show. Big kids will want to try wild swimming in Hever Lake and a round on the golf course. If you're looking for a palatial retreat of your own, do have a browse of our favourite UK countryside homes.
Hever Castle, Kent, England | Image by antonychammond is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Shepherd Neame Brewery Tours, Faversham
While the Shepherd Neame Brewery Tour may be closed due to COVID it’s worth inclusion nonetheless as they are currently taking bookings from January 2021 onwards in the hope that things get better. Britain’s oldest brewer is an institution in Faversham. In fact, when the wind is right you can literally smell the hops in the air. After going on a tour of the brewery you’ll try Kentish ales and speciality lagers fresh from the tap.
Considering a visit to Kent? Then you’ll want to check out one of our handpicked homes like Customs Place. We love this home for its fantastic views of across Standard Quay and character-meets-contemporary design.
Chapel Down Winery, Tenterden
The UK has vineyards. Yes, you heard that right. The nation that made drizzling rain its trademark is also home to some top-quality wineries. Take a guided tour of Chapel Down set on 25 acres of vineyards in the beautiful Kentish countryside. Tours include a tasting and the option to have lunch at The Swan restaurant. If good food and even better wine are your things there really isn’t a better way to spend an afternoon. For the more daring there’s the Fizz and Falconry tour. A more bizarre pairing you're not likely to find. We've included Chapel Down on our list of the best things to do in England, so trust us on this one. It's well worth your time.
Port Lympne Animal Reserve, Ashford
If 2020 Netflix sensation Tiger King was an example of how not to run an animal sanctuary then Port Lympne shows how things should be done. The reserve breeds rare and endangered species such as clouded leopards, de brazza monkeys and western lowland gorillas. Wherever possible, Port Lympne aims to return the animals born there to protected areas of their natural habitat. The reserve’s education centre also helps spread the word about conservationism and the threat faced by some of the world’s most beautiful creatures.
Canterbury Cathedral, Canterbury
Like other places of worship around the world, it would take a heart made of stone not be moved by Canterbury Cathedral. Built and rebuilt over the centuries, it’s a living piece of history and celebration of artistic endeavour with fine examples of Romanesque and Gothic architecture. The Cathedral forms part of a World Heritage site that encompasses other areas of Canterbury which is well worth spending a day exploring. This is a must on any list of things to do in Kent.
Canterbury Cathedral, England, UK
Looking for a place to stay in Canterbury? We recommend Fen Violet, a gorgeous home near Westgate Gardens with stylish interior decor and a balcony with greenery and lounge furniture overlooking a courtyard. A charming cosy from which to make your own for a few days.
Chislehurst Caves, Chislehurst
The Chislehurst Caves have seen a lot of action over the years. Carved from the ground to provide the building blocks, quite literally, of modern-day London the labyrinth of man-made tunnels subsequently served as munitions storage during WWI and the largest deep air-raid shelter outside London during WWII providing refuge for 15,000 people each night. During the 50s through 70s, they found a new lease of life as a concert venue for jazz, skiffle and folk musicians. Take a guided tour of the subterranean maze and learn more about this unusual place.
Turner Contemporary, Margate
Who’d have thought you could find a world-class gallery in a small seaside town in Kent? Well, you can, and best of all it’s completely free to visit. Although closed until January 2021 at the earliest due to COVID it’s well worth a mention for the intoxicating mix of coastal views, modern architecture and thought-provoking exhibitions. Even if Turner Contemporary is closed you should still spend at least a day exploring Margate, or Shoreditch-by-the-sea as it’s affectionately known. A once sleepy town is now one of the coolest places to live outside London with a seemingly endless array of independent eateries, pubs and attractions like the iconic Dreamland amusement park to keep you entertained.
Dreamland, Margate, Kent