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Our Favourite Places to Visit in Kent

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Monday, 27 May 2024

Our Favourite Places to Visit in Kent

Just an hour away from London, Kent is the perfect place for a short break or sneaky weekend away. However, there’s so much to do in the “Garden of England” that we think you’ll want a longer stay…

Whether you’re looking for a family seaside jaunt or you are on the heritage trail, Kent’s scenic coast and countryside have lots to offer. Here’s the Handpicked Cottages guide to a holiday in Kent.

Canterbury and the Cathedral

The Cathedral city of Canterbury dates back to Roman days, but is best-known as a medieval centre of pilgrimage, as immortalised by Chaucer in the 14th century. The centre of this UNESCO World Heritage Site is encircled by the old city walls and dominated by the magnificent cathedral. Wander its cobbled streets, lined with half-timbered buildings housing fascinating independent shops and eateries.

Make time during your Kent holiday to visit Canterbury Cathedral. Walk through the cool cloisters then admire the stained glass in the Nave and St Thomas’ Shrine. If you can, try to attend an Evensong service at the Cathedral. Everyone is welcome to come along and listen to the Cathedral Choir, whose angelic voices bring the ancient building to life.

Coastal Kent

From the White Cliffs of Dover to the Big Wheel in Margate, Kent is famous for its coastline. Whitstable, known and loved for its oysters since Roman times, has an old harbour and town to explore as well as its beach, or head for the Royal Harbour at Ramsgate for al fresco dining and perhaps a boat trip.

Pretty Deal is lined with old fisherman’s cottages and is a lovely place for a bite to eat. Broadstairs has everything you’d want from a seaside resort: sandy beaches, mini golf and plenty of places to get fish and chips or an ice cream. Charles Dickens wrote David Copperfield in Broadstairs, and there are references to the famous author all over the town.

Then there’s Hythe, Folkestone, Dover, Dungeness, Herne Bay, Westgate-on-Sea… You’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to coastal towns to discover in Kent.

Kent’s Lovely Villages

The lush Kentish countryside is dotted with lovely old villages, many dating back to Saxon times. You can easily spend days driving, cycling or hiking around the county, stopping off at these almost-impossibly pretty places.

Try Aylesford with its medieval bridge over the River Medway, or Chilham with its half-timbered houses and impressive castle. Wye makes a good base for exploring the Kent Downs. Try to time your visit to coincide with the farmers’ market, so you can stock up on local produce before your walk. Elham is another good walking spot, with the added treat of being home to one of the area’s excellent vineyards. 

As you explore, look out for the county’s many old churches, medieval farms and traditional inns, as well as Kent’s famous oast houses with their distinctive outline.

Heritage Attractions in Kent

If you love nothing better than spending a day exploring a castle or stately home, you’d better book a longer stay in Kent… The Garden of England is home to some magnificent historic buildings, including Hever, Leeds and Dover Castles. 

Many visitors make for Chartwell (near Westerham), the family home of Sir Winston Churchill, which is now managed by the National Trust. Explore the house, gardens and Churchill’s own art studio and look out for the fascinating tours and talks. You can also visit Charles Darwin’s home at Down House or admire the walled gardens at Penshurst.

For a historic day out with a difference, take a tour of Chislehurst Caves. And of course, it wouldn’t be a historic tour of Kent without visiting the fascinating Historic Dockyard at Chatham

Family Days out in Kent

There’s nowhere like Margate for a proper family seaside holiday. After fun on the beach, head for Dreamland Margate, a wonderfully old-school amusement park with traditional fairground rides. The Shell Grotto is another Margate must-visit for families, and there’s a great choice of places to pick up classic seaside eats.

For budding Attenboroughs, there are several wildlife parks in Kent. Try Port Lympne Safari Park or Howlett’s Wildlife Park, and learn more about British species at Wildwood Kent. If the kids are looking for an action-packed adventure, it has to be Diggerland.

Walking in Kent

Kent has an astonishing 4,200 miles of coastal and countryside paths, following medieval pilgrims’ routes and taking in landmarks like the famous White Cliffs. The countryside in Kent is incredibly varied and you appreciate this more on foot. Stroll through lush farmland followed by ancient woods, across sweeping stretches of sands and marshlands rich in wildlife, pausing at some of those lovely villages we spoke of earlier.

There’s a choice of well-managed long-distance trails in Kent and wherever you stay, you’re bound to be close to a lovely stretch of at least one of them. The 108-mile Greensand Way takes you through the Kent Downs AONB, or go for the bracing and beautiful North Downs Way, a 153-mile ridge-top walk. If you prefer a coastal hike, the Saxon Shore Way runs from Gravesend to Hastings, with magnificent marine scenery to enjoy.

Find Your Perfect Kent Holiday Cottage 

Does a holiday in Kent sound good to you? Here at Handpicked Cottages, we have a selection of luxurious accommodation across the county, from Canterbury to Thanet’s coastal resorts. Take a look at our holiday cottages in Kent and find your perfect place.

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