1. If it wasn’t for the people milling around in jeans and the roads running into the city, you could be forgiven for suspecting that some sort of cosmic force had sent you back in time 400 years. With its internationally renowned cathedral and its charming, toytown-like buildings gently leaning into the streets, Canterbury seems to bristle with ancient secrets.
2. Canterbury is a delicious cluster of cafés, restaurants and tantalisingly excellent food. It has a café called the chocolate café. Need I say more? And for all of our fellow spicy kings and queens, there are not one but two Mexican restaurants and a burrito bar, fit with a stage upstairs for when you fancy a cocktail and a jam night. Italian cuisine? Turkish? Americana? Japanese? It’s all here.
3. It’s summer and there are flowers smiling and nodding at you wherever you go. Last year Canterbury’s entry achieved Gold at the regional South East in Bloom level. There’s a Jeff Goldblum joke in here somewhere.
4. This place has history, and plenty of it. A lot has gone on between these city walls. A UNESCO world heritage site, the cathedral is famous for being the place where Thomas Becket was murdered by Henry II in 1170, and is the burial place of Henry IV and The Black Prince.
5. It’s a place where you can grab your friends and loved ones and take a trip along the beautiful river Stour. Depending on which tour option you decide to take, you can be regaled with stories as you meander through the nooks and crannies of the hidden waterways — learning about the old witches dunking seat, or the old trade routes that snake under the city. Or, if you prefer it to be a more peaceful experience, you can ride on past the city walls to green meadows natural pastures. And if boats aren’t your thing, in summer there are daily guided walks, and even a ghost tour.
6. Culture, culture, culture. The Marlowe theatre stages some of the very best productions around; from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to Romeo and Juliet. Canterbury Festival brings an ecstatic burst of new music, performance, visual arts and speakers to the city from the 15th October to the 5th of November. If you have little ones, bOing! Festival is all geared up for a weekend (27th & 28th of August) showcasing brilliant artists and exhibitions from all over the UK and across Europe. Not to mention the various galleries, museums, cinemas and festivals on offer.
7. Paradoxically for city rich with heritage and history, Canterbury has all sorts of independent shops to peruse; from clothes to jewellery to antiques and art collectibles – the High street is packed with curiosities, comic book stores, retro boutiques, record shops, chocolatiers and leather specialists. Have your own pair of shoes made at The Elves and the Shoemaker, or visit the Chaucer bookshop, specialising in antique, first edition books.
8. England’s oldest parish church is St Martins church in Canterbury, which is still in constant use today. St Martins was originally the private chapel of Queen Bertha of Kent in the sixth century. What a name. There is also an underground Roman Museum which is built around the remains of an old Roman town house.
9. There’s plenty to do at night; with over 300 pubs and clubs, there’s a lot of choice for the most discerning ale drinker or for the midnight club fiend. The Bottle Shop at the Good’s Shed offers the largest number of British bottled beers in the South East of England.
10. It’s easy to get to. With direct, 57 minute services from Kings Cross St. Pancras, it’s never been easier to visit Canterbury. Why not follow your curiosity and make the pilgrimage yourself?
Curious? Choose Canterbury.