From London, driving is one of the easier options, and depending on where in the city you're starting off from, you will need to either follow the A2/M2 straight away (as we did), or go on the M25 first to reach the A2 exit. The exit for Canterbury is well sign-posted and there are several park and ride options with the buses that will drop you off within 10 minutes stroll of the Cathedral. This is the easiest way to park, as spaces in the city centre are at a premium, and even more so on weekends.
Given the city's position in the south-east, when travelling from other parts in the UK the general directions remain to follow the motorways for M25 and then change for A2/M2.
From south-east London, the drive is about an hour, but from north-west of the city can easily take 2 hours or more, depending on M25 traffic and roadworks.
My preferred mode of transport in SE England is train. There are good connections from London to Canterbury on two different routes. One route departs Victoria and goes via Chatham. The other route departs Charing Cross (stopping at London Bridge) and goes via Tonbridge. Both routes operate about a half-hourly service during weekdays, which means there are four trains an hour departing London.
If you get the train from Victoria, make sure you sit in the correct portion of the train, as it divides @ Faversham. If you use the other route, you will have to change @ Tonbridge. These trains all go into Canterbury West Station (pictured). There are also trains going to Canterbury East Station from Cannon Street, although I believe they are only at peak times.
Use the website provided for journey planning.
Canterbury has two train stations, East and West. Though I believe the East train station is the biggest of the two. I would recommend using this station over the other since there are more daily connections to London and it's closer to the sights. Trains leave from Victoria station and take approx an hour and a half. The trains on this line are operated by South East Trains. They run excellent trains compared to some other trains I've been in, in the UK. The price for a cheap day return was about 18 pounds. Quite expensive yes, but ok for UK standards.
Walking around Canterbury amidst the ancient buildings gives you a feel for what the it was like in Medival times. A way to add to the feeling is taking a carriage ride across those cobblestone streets, streets that were designed for horse and carriage. The ride takes you to most of Canterbury's sights and attractions that lie within its ancient city walls. The city center is closed to modern traffic during the day to allow safe access to attractions, shops, cafes and the small streets many of which date back to the late Saxon period
Canterbury Carriages, High Street, Canterbury
Canterburys park and ride system is a great idea because it keeps the traffic out of the city and saves you the hastle of searching for a parking space. They have 3 secure carparks dotted around Canterbury, this one is the new dover road carpark. The other ones are at Wincheap and Sturry. You simply go through the barrier and collect your token, after you have parked your car you can board the bus which will take you to the city centre bus station, the journey takes only 5 mins. On your return you have to place your token in the machine provided along with 2 pounds, that will then enable your car to leave the carpark. I think this system works well and has been a great sucsess in Caterbury
I will be writing a few tips re the tour on the Stour River, as it was so informative and there was so much to take in.
This is a lovely enjoyable way to view Canterbury... and things that you spy form the canal, you can go and visit when your tour has ended. The guide, Anton, was also very good. (pics of him will be on this travel page soon ;)
Getting to Canterbury from London is Dead Easy. Take a train! They run something like every 15 minutes or so, from Charing Cross Station, Waterloo East, Cannon St, etc and I think Victoria (I left from Charing Cross). They're very convenient, and unlike coach travel you don't end up seeing just the Motorway. Good southeastern England countryside.
Be aware that these are commuter trains, so depending on the time of day, you may be wedged in with a bunch of business types. Also, if you have lots of bags, be aware that there are not a lot of places to stow the bags. Some of the cars have little racks at one end, but they're really really small. This is not a traveller's train. Like I said, it's a commuter train, more like a subway cars with the occasional toilet than a traveller's train.
The trains arrive at either Canterbury East or Canterbury West station. Some of them require you to change trains at a station, while others will split halfway to Canterbury, so listen to the announcements about where you have to be when that split happens. Then sit back and relax.
We took the trains tons of times when I stayed in England, it's only an 1 hr. and 1/2 to London and it flies by.
Plus, if you're traveling around England...look into getting a Brit Pass, it cost up to $200 but it gets ya free travel all over.
Getting to Canterbury by train from London is easy. Trains leave about every half hour from Victoria Station and the ride is about 90 minutes to Canterbury East Station. The cheapest way to get there is to get a Cheap Day Return ticket which can be bought on trains leaving after the morning rush hour.
remember to check out Eurolines FUNFARE because you can get to certain cities in England for as low as 1 pound ( one way ) from London to Canterbury !!!
I got my return coach ticket for only GB Pound 2.99 including insurance
At the moment our bus station is a shambles!! They are building a new shopping centre in town and have wrecked the bus station in the process!
However, the services are still running as usual, National Express frequents Canterbury several times a day from London, and we have our local buses stagecoach.
There is an information office at the station where you will find timetables and you can book National Express.
Otherwise on the local buses you pay as you get on, single of return, there are buttons throughout the bus that you press as you come to your stop, if you are not sure, sit at the front of the bus and ask the driver to tell you when you are there.
We have 2 train stations, Canterbury West and Canterbury East, both are only a 5-10 minute walk from the city centre.
Canterbury East serves Dover and London Victoria, and Canterbury West serves Ashford and London Charing Cross.
You must buy your ticket before you get on the train or you could risk a fine. There are machines as you enter the train station where you can buy your ticket self service, there are also kiosks where you can purchase your tickets from a member of staff.
You may be lucky and see the Orient Express as it frequently passes through and stops at Canterbury.
Parking in the city is limited and expensive, the best way is to park just on the outskirts of the city. We have a park and ride system that operates everyday and there are a choice of about 3 car parks, you park up and then a bus will take you into the city, its really easy to use and cheap......I cant remember exactly how much.
(I park at work cos its free and close to the centre!!)
At the top end of town the next to the new White Friars Precinct, the multi story car park park has just opened!! Hurrah!!
The city centre can be explored easily by foot, the main part of the city is pedestrianised anyway, just be aware that a lot of the streets are cobbled and can be slippy when wet, and easy to trip over when your drunk!!
You can buy a streetmap at most newsagents, tourist information centre, and attractions within the city.
The only attractions that you may visit that are a fair walk are St.Martins Church and St.Augustines Abbey, they are fairly close to each other so I would reccommend visiting them together.......they are still only a 20 minute walk outside of the city centre.
Enjoy a trip on one of the small boats that leaves from the rear of The Weavers House resaurant in the centre of Canterbury. The trip takes about 1 hour and costs about £5.00 per person. There is commentary on board too.