20 Best Places to Visit in Kent | Top Destinations & Attractions
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Kent is undoubtedly one of the most picturesque places in England. Located in southeastern England, it is home to the incredibly beautiful White Dover Cliffs and stunning Kent coastline.
Aptly known as the “Garden of England,” the county of Kent is filled with the most breathtaking landscapes.
Here you’ll find lush countryside with stunning gardens and vineyards on one side, and white sandy beaches on the other.
The county is also rich in history and culture, with some of the best-preserved castles, stately homes, and towering cathedrals – all of which are all some of the best places to visit in Kent.
Best Places To Go in Kent
There are plenty of exciting things to do in Kent. Below you’ll find an in-depth breakdown of the best places in Kent that you should visit. You’ll also find some of the top activities you should try out.
For a quintessential British seaside adventure, visit the coastal town of Broadstairs on the Isle of Thanet. Broadstairs has long been a popular getaway spot for many Brits during the summer.
While it’s mainly known for being a stunning little seaside town, it’s also known for its historic high street, beach huts, and 1950s-style ice-cream parlours.
And there are plenty of fun things to do in Broadstairs for an entertaining experience.
Botany Bay is a hidden gem facing the North Sea in Broadstairs. It is one of seven bays in the area and features chalk cliffs and a sea stack. It’s also famous for its rock pools and beaches.
Many people in the area enjoy swimming, kayaking, and surfing in the bay. It’s one of the perfect places to spend your days out in Kent.
Charles Dickens Museum
Charles Dickens was especially fond of Broadstairs, spending most of his holidays here. The museum is set in the cottage that was his inspiration for one of his novels, David Copperfield.
The museum houses a collection of Dickens’ items, including his writing box and other memorabilia.
For the perfect family day out in Kent, visit Viking Bay when the weather is just right. It’s a sandy bay that has a tidal pool, surf school, and kiddies rides in the summer. The sheltered bay is perfect for swimming and other water activities.
It’s also a photographer’s dream, especially at sunrise and sunset, when the sun’s rays dance along the waves. So remember to bring your travel camera along to capture some memorable moments at Viking Bay.
Located right on the edge of Kent sits Margate, another stunning coastal haven. This town is another exciting place to visit in Kent if you’re looking to experience a classic British summer holiday.
This resort town is filled with familiar favourites like seafood stalls where you can grab the iconic British fish ‘n’ chips. While Margate is very nostalgic, it’s also very modern with tons of new attractions to enjoy.
There are many enjoyable activities in Margate, from browsing in quirky shops to wandering around contemporary art galleries.
Turner Contemporary Gallery
If you consider yourself an art enthusiast, then you may enjoy a visit to the Turner Contemporary Gallery.
It is named after renowned English painter Willliam Turner and showcases everything from historical to well… contemporary art.
The museum is located along the seafront, which adds to its charm and gives visitors a glimpse of the incredible views that inspired some of Turner’s paintings.
Coastal towns like Margate are known for their amusement parks, offering a variety of fun rides and activities for all ages. Stop by Dreamland, one of the UK’s most iconic amusement parks, and enjoy the vintage rides, live music, restaurants, and pop-up stands.
Indulge in some classic fun-fair foods like toffee apples and candy floss and be sure to check out the oldest wooden roller coasters in the UK.
The Margate Caves were initially dug out to be a chalk quarry in the late 17th century. The stunning set of caves are 94.2 metres long and reach a height of 12.2 metres.
The grottoes were opened in 1863 for exploration but were then closed a few years afterward. They were reopened again in August 2019. Now, a new generation of explorers and visitors can discover these impressive rocky formations caves.
After exploring, you can pop into the onsite cafe and enjoy a hearty local meal and visit the gift shop for a souvenir.
If you’re wondering what to do in Kent and looking for a unique adventure, why not visit the Shell Grotto? Little is known about when it was built and why it exists but what is known is that it’s a pretty spectacular sight.
A set of tunnels are lined with shells in mosaic patterns with intricate details. As you walk through these decorated passages, archways lead from one section to the next. The Shell
While Ramsgate is also a traditional English seaside town, its close proximity to Western Europe makes it a very cosmopolitan city as well.
It’s the only Royal Harbour in England, which means it’s packed with a ton of superyachts and highflyers during the summer.
Its stunning beaches and long piers make it a great place to go for a walk and discover all the hidden gems in and around the town.
Ramsgate Sands is one of six beaches in the town and enjoys Blue Flag Status. The beach sits adjacent to the Royal Harbour and marina and is surrounded by a series of chalk cliffs.
Ramsgate Sands is particularly popular amongst families as it is safe, and the waters are calm to enjoy swimming and other water activities.
There’s also a lovely promenade where you can take a walk or enjoy some food and ice cream for dessert.
For fun things to do in Kent, plan a visit to the Ramsgate Tunnels and tea cafe. The idea of the tunnels came about after a series of aerial bombings during WWI proved that the town’s air raid shelters were highly inadequate for protecting its people in future raids.
So, in the late 1930s, engineers worked on plans to develop an underground shelter system which proved to come in handy during WWII.
The tunnels stretch for over 3 km (2 miles) and protected Ramsgate’s inhabitants during this time.
Today visitors can explore these interesting tunnels and discover an underground world that few people know about. Tour the tunnels, listen to stories from people who lived through the war, or even have something to eat at the Tunnel Teas Cafe.
Ramsgate is known for having a rich maritime history. There’s no better place to discover this history than at the Ramsgate Maritime Museum. The museum is set in the Clock House right in the middle of the Royal Harbour.
There are four galleries with permanent exhibitions that trace back the harbour’s history, navigation methods, fishing, and shipwrecks in the area.
Situated along Kent’s northern coast, Whitstable is an affluent coastal town filled with character. Its beachfront has cute beach huts and shops painted in all kinds of pretty pastel colours.
At first glance, Whitstable looks like nothing more than an ordinary seaside resort town. But, once you delve a bit deeper you’ll find that it’s a trendy foodie destination that even boasts a Michelin Star restaurant.
This is mainly due to its oyster harvesting, which has been the town’s specialty for centuries.
Whitstable also has a quirky and creative side and is filled with art galleries, vintage stores, and independent gift shops where you’ll find all kinds of exciting goodies.
Fishing Harbour & Market
If you’re a seafood lover, then you might want to visit the Whitstable Fishing Harbour & Market. This is where you’ll find the freshest seafood that lands up in some of the best restaurants in town.
You can buy some fresh oysters from the market and enjoy them with a glass of wine while watching the sun sink below the horizon.
Old Neptune Pub
The Old Neptune Pub, or “Neppy ” as it is known by locals, is unique because it’s the only pub situated directly on the beach in Whitstable. Neppy has been around since the early 19th-century and is where everyone in the town gathers for a good time.
They have an extensive craft beer and wine list with some delicious hearty pub food on the side. They also have live entertainment so it’s the perfect place to hang out with your mates.
The Sportsman is one of three Michelin Star restaurants in Kent. It was once a rundown and grubby pub which was transformed through the vision of chef Stephen Harris. It has held Michellin Star status since 2008.
They offer a five-course tasting menu, which is made up of small local dishes using the best produce in the area. For a chance at trying this delicious food, make sure to book in advance.
The Harbour Gallery
The Harbour Gallery has been around since 1985 and is one of the coolest places you can visit in Whitstable.
The gallery has a range of eclectic art and breathes new life into the town. You’ll find everything from 3D artworks to sculptures and more from numerous artists in the area.
Folkestone might just be one of the most underrated places in Kent. While it may not be the most picturesque place like some of its neighbours, it’s definitely worth checking out.
Located on the English Channel, Folkestone was once a thriving port town in the 19th and 20th-centuries. It was a popular holiday destination for elite members of society and even royalty. However, with the opening of the Channel Tunnel in the 1990s, Folkestone’s popularity took a bit of a hit.
Today it is more of a creative town and is home to many local artists. Slowly, but surely, this town is reinventing itself and making a comeback, with many delightful activities in Folkestone.
Folkstone’s Creative Quarter is made up of several cobblestone streets with an interesting mix of pastel and bold coloured houses.
The streets are also lined with fairy lights which brighten up the area after dark and give it a special atmosphere.
The houses are home to shops, galleries, studios, and cute corner cafes. It’s a place that artists, in particular, would enjoy, but is also a very instagrammable spot.
The Leas Lift is one of the oldest water-balanced lifts in the UK. This funicular railway was built in 1885 and transported passengers from the seafront to the promenade for over a century.
It transported thousands of people a day during its peak periods in the 1940s and 50s. While it is closed and being worked on to be reopened, it’s still worth paying a visit to see this extraordinary attraction.
Dover is without a doubt the most famous destination in Kent. This town has always been the gateway between the UK and mainland Europe from neighbouring countries like Belgium and France.
The town faces France and is only 90-minutes away from the French port of Calais. This makes it one of the best places to visit on a day trip from western Europe.
The White Cliffs of Dover
The crown jewel of Dover is the magnificent White Cliffs of Dover. The cliffs are a marvellous sight and are the first thing you see when making your way over from France in the Strait of Dover.
The White Cliffs are an impressive 110 metre white chalk cliffs, accented with black streaks. The cliffs stretch for about 13 kilometres (8 miles) on both sides of Dover and are part of the North Downs chalk hills.
The impressive 110 metre white chalk cliffs accented with black streaks are part of the North Downs chalk hills. They stretch for about 13 kilometres (8 miles) on both sides of Dover.
It’s one of the best places in Kent, and no visit would be complete without stopping by. You can see them on the Scenic Cultural Coastal Drive and the White Cliffs of Dover Walk.
Dover Castle was built in the 12th-century by King Henry II to protect England from foreign invasions. The Castle is nestled above the renowned White Cliffs and provides unrivalled views across the Strait of Dover.
On a crystal clear day you can even see the faint outline of the French coast. Dover Castle is an excellent place to visit if you’re a history boffin. Over the weekend you’ll find many characters dressed in costumes who re-enact some of the events that happened at the castle.
Dover Museum & Bronze Age Gallery
The Dover Museum & Bronze Age Gallery is the district’s largest museum and has a ton of fascinating objects. Each of the objects showcases different periods in Dover’s history. The museum also has a number of interactive displays.
At the museum, you’ll also get to discover the Dover Bronze Age Boat which is believed to be the oldest seagoing boat in the region and was an important archaeological discovery.
The Roman Lighthouse is the oldest surviving building, built in the second century AD. It is the only remaining Roman building in England but is also one of only three lighthouses still standing that was built by the Roman Empire.
The lighthouse is situated on top of Castle Hill and helped guide the Classis Britannica, a fleet of Roman ships that patrolled the North Sea. Remarkably it is still standing at 15 metres (49 feet) tall.
From the top of the lighthouse, you’ll have the best panoramic views of the English Channel.
Originally built by the Romans, Canterbury is a cathedral city that served as a pilgrimage site during the Middle Ages. It is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Kent and is one of the custodians of British history.
The city is so important that it even has three UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It’s also filled with galleries, theatres, museums, and even a castle.
The Canterbury Cathedral is one of the oldest and most well-known churches in England. It also serves as the home of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the headquarters of the Church of England.
It has been around for over 1400 years and has been inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Both the exterior and interior of the cathedral are equally impressive, featuring ornate details and Romanesque and Gothic architecture.
The cathedral is a whopping 160 metres tall and features five towers and 14 bells. Once you step into the cathedral you get a sense of just how tall it is, with the ceilings seemingly extending into the heavens.
Coupled with amazing architectural details and features you get a real sense of grandeur once you walk in.
The Canterbury Castle is one of three Royal Castles that was built in Kent. The castle was built in the late 11th century. It was built on a portion of the main road by the Romans that led from Dover to London.
It is one of the oldest surviving stone castles in England and is a fantastic place to learn about Kent’s early history and development.
There’s a lot to love about the coastal town of Deal. Located about 12 km (8 miles) from Dover and Ramsgate, it’s one of the most picturesque places along the Kent Coast.
The town is situated right in the middle of the North Sea and the English Channel. Along Deal’s seafront, you’ll find rows of whitewashed houses, chippies, and cool cottages with vibrant flower boxes.
Walmer Castle & Gardens
Originally built in 1540 by Henry VIII as a defence fort, The Walmer Castle is an imposing structure. It served as a fortress for many years and was later turned into a stately home with magnificent gardens.
It served as the residence of Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports and still has reception rooms used by Queen Elizabeth.
The Castle and its gardens are now open to the public, so you can spend a lovely afternoon strolling around the tranquil spaces. You can also enjoy an audio tour to learn more about the history of the castle.
Deal Castle is an artillery fort that was part of King Henry VIII’s defence programme to protect England from invasions. It is one of the greatest Tudor artillery castles in the UK and has about 66 firing stations.
The castle has a number of exhibitions that tell the story of King Henry’s great plans to protect his country.
Situated near the city of Canterbury, Herne Bay is another destination that should be on your Kent itinerary. It has over 3 km (2 miles) of coastline, with beach huts, seafront gardens, and a pier with a bandstand.
You’ll find a variety of cool and quirky restaurants, shops, and art galleries here that provide a great opportunity for a fun coastal walk.
Located about 48 km (30 miles) from London, Rochester is a cool town situated at the end of the River Medway. This town is famous for being the inspiration for many Charles Dickens novels.
The Rochester Castle is one of the finest examples of Norman and Romanesque architecture in England. It is just over 35 metres tall and is made completely out of stone.
It was strategically placed on the London Road to protect it and faces the River Medway.
Over the years the castle sustained major damage and was rebuilt several times. It remained an operational fortress until the 16th century.
You can walk around the grounds of this magnificent castle and be blown away by its grandeur.
The Rochester Cathedral has existed since the early 7th-century, but the current building dates back to the 12th-century. It combines two architectural styles.
The front end features the Norman architectural style, while the back has some early-English Gothic features.
The idyllic market town of Tonbridge is situated on the River Medway. It is located about 19 km (12 miles) from Maidstone and 46 km (29 miles) away from London.
Tonbridge is filled with stunning landscapes and has pretty manor houses and an immaculate castle. If you’d like to be transported back in time, Tonbridge is certainly worth visiting for some old-world charm.
Balfour Winery is a family-owned wine estate that covers over 160 hectares (400 acres) of land. You’ll find vineyards, flower meadows, apple orchards, and woodlands all on the same property.
Balfour is well-known for producing Balfour Brut Rose, and exclusive sparkling wine using traditional Champagne methods. You can opt for a wine tasting experience or a self-guided tour where you’ll learn more about the winery and its history.
Royal Tunbridge Wells
Since the early 17th century, the town of Royal Tunbridge Wells has been a famous spa-town, upon the discovery of chalybeate springs.
The area is known for its astounding natural beauty and has even attracted royals like Queen Victoria.
Spa Valley Railway
Take a nostalgic trip back in time with a steam train ride through the Wealden countryside.
You’ll depart from Tunbridge Wells and make your way to High Rocks, Groombridge and Eridge. You’ll get to hop off and explore the various destinations along the route.
Scotney Castle is a grand country house that was rebuilt to replace the old castle that was on the property. The house still features elements of the old castle and also features unique architecture.
The house is open to the public. So, you can explore the house and its immaculate gardens or sit down and enjoy a tasty meal in their tea room.
Located just 1 hour away from London, Sevenoaks is often the first introduction to Kent for many visitors travelling from the big city. It is renowned for its breath-taking stately homes, rolling hills, and quaint villages.
Riverhill Himalayan Gardens
If you’re looking for scenic day trips in Kent, stop at the Riverhill Himalayan Gardens in Sevenoaks. Riverhill is known for its amazing historic gardens and its expansive views of the Weald of Kent.
The gardens cover over 4 hectares (12 acres) of land and are filled with manicured trees, woodland paths, walled gardens, and contemporary sculptures.
It’s the perfect place to enjoy a picnic on their lawns, or lunch at their garden cafe.
Sandwich is another mediaeval town that served as an important port. The area is filled with spectacular landscapes and historic forts and castles. It also has some of the most scenic golf courses in Kent.
Richborough Castle is a Roman fort and amphitheatre built around 43 AD. Because of its strategic location in a natural harbour area, it served as one of the most important gateways for the Roman Empire. It is one of the oldest surviving Roman forts in England.
Royal St.George Golf Course
Sandwich is home to a number of insanely beautiful golf courses, but the Royall St. Georges Golf Course tops the list.
This 18-hole course and club are situated amongst rolling hills with dreamy views of the nearby sea.
Located in north Kent, Chatham is known for its rich naval history which dates back over 400 years. It’s also famous for being the home of author Charles Dickens.
Chatham may seem like a sleepy town but is definitely worth paying a visit and exploring all its hidden gems.
Chatham Historic Dockyard
Chatham is another area in Kent that has a long naval history. You can roam the Chatham Historic Dockyard and explore some of the most influential ships in Chatham’s maritime history. These include the HMS Cavalier, HMS Ocelot, and HMS Gannet.
Aylesford is one of the most idyllic villages in Kent, located on the River Medway, just outside Maidstone. It dates back to as early as the Neolithic times and is well known for its impressive 14th-century arch bridge.
Aylesford’s old town has around 60 houses. Take a self-guided tour and discover the historic buildings and quirky shops selling all sorts of things that might tickle your fancy.
Tenterden is another quintessential rural English town that’s perfect for a country getaway. It’s filled with old pubs, a cute high street, and a mediaeval church.
You can even take a train ride on the old Kent & East Sussex Steam Railway and be transported back in time.
Chapel Down Winery
Founded in 2001, the Chapel Down Winery is England’s leading winemaker. They produce a number of top-class sparkling and still wines.
Contrary to its name, the winery also produces beers, ciders and spirits. You can enjoy guided tours of the property and wine tastings.
Kent & East Sussex Railway
Travel the picturesque line between Tenterden and Bodiam for 16 kilometres (10 miles) on this Victorian-era locomotive train.
The train features fully restored carriages to give you a glimpse of what transportation was like in a bygone era.
Ashford is situated just a few kilometres away from Folkestone. The area is known for its scenic villages and beautiful vineyards.
Ashford Designer Outlet
Located just 30-minutes outside of Dover’s port, Ashford Designer Outlet is the premier destination in Kent to get your fashion fix. They offer 60% off the retail price on brands like Coach and Ralph Lauren.
After scoring a fashion bargain, treat yourself to something tasty at one of the eateries in the outlet.
Biddenden Vineyards is said to be Kent’s original vineyard. Since 1969 it has been owned and managed by the Barnes family, who have turned it into a world-class estate.
They produce a range of wines, including rosé, red, white, and sparkling wines. Enjoy guided tours of their vineyards and cellars and wine tastings.
Known as the events capital of Kent, Maidstone is the largest town in the county and only 90-minutes away from London. This town offers an eclectic mix of old and new, with unique stops, a rich history, and heritage.
Leeds Castle was built in 857 AD completely out of stone. It is often referred to as the “Loveliest Castle in the World.”
While it is rather simple, it is one of the best-preserved castles in southeast England. It was once home to royals like Henry VII.
Today it is open to the public for guided tours and features a ton of activities for all ages.
Maidstone’s High Street is any shopaholic’s dream. The picturesque street is filled with all kinds of fun shops waiting to be explored. It also has a number of bakeries and cafes serving up some mouthwatering treats.
For more inspiration read my guide on is Kent in London?
To escape the hustle and bustle of busy city life, head over to the quiet fishing town of Dungeness. The town is often overlooked since there’s not a lot to do, but it’s well worth exploring.
You can enjoy some fresh air and some tasty fish ‘n’ chips from a nearby chippy.
Located in the heart of the Eden Valley, Edenbridge is an old parish town that dates back to Roman times. Here you’ll find coaches, inns, and pubs that have been around for centuries. It’s another stunning little town in the English countryside.
Along the western border of Kent sits the magnificent Hever Castle and Gardens. It was once the childhood home of Queen Anne Boleyn. Here you can discover more about her life through available audio guides.
You can also enjoy the incredible scenery of the well-maintained gardens, wander around the maze or hire a boat and glide across the lake.
You can also explore the lovely Japanese Tea Folly House and the military museum. There is something for all members of the family at Hever Castle.
Final Thoughts on Best Places to Visit, Kent
Kent is a wonderful county with loads of exciting places to see and a wealth of things to do. From pretty seaside towns to expansive country hills and towering cliffs, Kent has something for everyone.
Hopefully, this post will inspire you to visit Kent and you’ll start planning a trip to one of the most beautiful places in the UK soon.