Kent is a picturesque county in England, known for its lush countryside, woodland forests, and sheer, rugged coastline.
While there may not be many cities in Kent, there are plenty of quaint villages and small towns worth exploring.
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There are so many activities in the area, it can be a challenge to know which fun things to do in Kent, England should be added to your trip itinerary.
This guide on how to spend your time in Kent, England, will help you narrow down your options to see only the very best attractions in the region.
Located on the eastern side of England, there are plenty of points of interest in Kent to enjoy and reaching them is easy.
Kent also acts as a gateway to the rest of Europe. If you’d like to make your way to France, simply take a day trip to Dover before hopping on a 1.5-hour ferry ride across the English Channel to Calais, France.
Kent County is made up of an impressive 13 districts, but it may surprise you to learn that there is only one city located in Kent.
Canterbury may be Kent’s only city, but it’s large enough (with its population of roughly 55,000 people) to draw many people each and every year.
However, just because Canterbury is the only city, doesn’t mean there aren’t many other places to visit in Kent.
Kent boasts an impressive 26 charming towns and a city that can keep you entertained for weeks. But if you’re on a tight schedule, then you need to choose wisely to make the most of your time while visiting Kent.
While every area is worth a trip, these are the places you should go out of your way to visit in Kent.
- Canterbury – Canterbury is often referred to by locals as a market town because it runs at a slower pace than that of other cities. But when you’re on holiday, that is exactly what you need to relax and explore the area at your leisure. So head to Canterbury for some time off and see the iconic Canterbury Cathedral.
- Belvedere – This is the perfect place to stay if you want everything right at your doorstep as Belvedere is connected to London City.
- Sandwich – Sandwich is a small town that can easily be explored by foot and is often believed to be one of England’s most well-preserved medieval towns. While it is small, there are still plenty of shops and restaurants to keep you occupied.
- Maidstone – Maidstone is filled with beautiful walks and rolling hills and is one of the more affordable places to stay in Kent.
- Dover – Dover is a small coastal town and home to many of the best Kent tourism locations. It’s also home to Dover Castle. If you’re ready to soak up the sunshine, this port town could be the right place for you.
- Royal Tunbridge Wells – Royal Tunbridge Wells may be a town, but it has a big city feel – while still being close to rolling green hills and many outdoor activities.
The Best Kent Attractions – Things to Do in Kent England
Kent County has an overwhelming number of attractions just waiting to be visited. If you’re still trying to figure out what to do in Kent, these are a few items you should be adding to your travel wishlist.
Located on the western border of Kent, Hever Castle is the beautiful childhood home of Anne Boleyn. The old UK architecture is certainly something to be admired, but the gardens really steal the show. The Hever Castle is one of the best castles in the UK.
You can meander through the beautifully manicured gardens, picnic on the lawns and take in the scenery. But if you want to make a full day of it, there is plenty to do on the castle grounds.
You can tackle the challenge of making your way through the yew maze or skillfully avoid the water jets waiting to soak you in the water maze – this is especially fun with little ones, or the young at heart.
If you’re feeling up for a paddle, take a row on the lake. There are also medieval jousting tournaments in the summertime and outdoor theatre productions occasionally.
But you’ll need to plan ahead to make sure you visit at the right time if you are hoping to catch either of these.
If you’re a naval history buff or just enjoy learning about the navy, this visit is not to be missed. That being said, very few people wouldn’t enjoy exploring the historic dockyard at Chatham.
You’ll have free roam of the docks while you’re there, getting the opportunity to hop on-board three of the most influential ships in the dock – a WWII Destroyer (The HMS Cavalier), a Cold War submarine (The HMS Ocelot), and a Victorian Sloop (The HMS Gannet).
You can wander around the dock at your leisure, taking in the historic ambience and imagining the seafarers that strolled through the dock centuries before you.
You may even recognise the port from a few angles as it’s been used to shoot scenes in TV series like “Call the Midwife” as well as many others.
Dover Castle stands high on the iconic white cliffs of Dover and allows visitors to experience 2000 years of history in one place.
The castle was built under Henry II and is a medieval palace to rival the world’s best. On a clear day, you can look across the bay and see a faint outline of the French coast.
Even if the view isn’t enough to entice you, you’ll get to do a great deal of exploring here. You can enter the Great Tower, meander through the castle, and explore every room, as well as make your way onto the rooftop to see views of the English Channel.
If you like to form a good picture of how history played out, then visit the palace on the weekend.
There you will meet costumed characters who will recreate the court of Henry II. You will also learn about the pivotal role that the castle played in both world wars as it acted as a fortress.
While visiting the castle, be sure to explore the grounds and walk the battlements to get a real feel for the area.
Another coastal adventure awaits you at Whitstable, a quaint fishing village known for its oysters (among other seafood dishes), as well as its small-town atmosphere.
The town is buzzing with markets on the weekends, making it an exciting shopping location.
While you’re here, be sure to explore the art scene as the small town has a strong art culture and is filled to the brim with interesting sights and galleries. Meander through the quaint streets to get a real feel for what this town is all about.
And of course, being a coastal town, you can’t go without wandering the seashore for a little tranquility.
You’ll probably recognise the famed beach huts that line the beach as it has become one of the most Instagrammable things to do in Whitstable. If you’re looking for a wonderful place in Kent to spend a couple of days, this is surely it.
Leeds Castle is also referred to as the “Loveliest Castle in the World”, and that’s because it is just that, rather lovely.
While the architecture is simple, the castle provides a beautiful place to take photos all year round, its atmosphere changing with every passing season.
Apart from the castle’s obvious beauty, there are multiple things to do on the grounds. Spend some time figuring out the maze or enjoy a game of adventure golf on the castle grounds. There is also a train and boat that make it easier to get around.
If you are travelling with a small child, then playing in the themed playground is an absolute must.
If you’d like to conquer a few fears during your time in Kent and enjoy some heart-pumping fun, then be sure to tackle the Go Apes high ropes course on the property.
Book your Leeds Castle admissions ticket in advance to ensure your spot on the day you wish to visit.
The Big Cat Sanctuary is a charity organisation doing everything it can to take care of big cats from all regions of the world. They were even featured in the BBC’s Big Cat Diaries for their incredible work for big cats.
Unfortunately, you can’t simply show up at the sanctuary (unless it’s an open day) but it’s for the best as these animals are not used for show and tell purposes.
Rather, they are homed here to have a safe place to stay, away from those who wish to abuse them or put them in a zoo.
The sanctuary has special open days when you can show up and see some of the beautiful big cats housed on the property, but booking an experience comes highly recommended.
The sanctuary holds photographic workshops and night safaris that allow you to get a glimpse of their big cats in their natural habitat.
All the funds raised from these experiences go towards looking after the big majestic cats that call this sanctuary home.
Knole Park in Sevenoaks is a deer park covering an impressive 383.4 hectares of land. It’s mentioned as a Site of Special Scientific Interest because of the great number of deer that make a home for themselves here.
It’s an area looked after by The National Trust as well as Knole House, who make sure that the area remains in the pristine condition that the deer deserve.
You can visit the area at various times of the year to experience a different flavour of Knole Park in each season.
The summertime lends itself to those who wish to have a picnic under one of the many beautiful trees while enjoying the views of deer grazing in the distance.
Autumn may be a bit too crisp for a picnic, but if you wrap up warm, a stroll through the park will be rewarded with sights of deer huddled together to keep warm.
Shell Grotto is located in Margate and is an interesting sight, to say the least. The most fascinating part is that nobody actually knows the history of this site.
The only thing known is that these underground tunnels were discovered by someone digging for a well in 1835.
The tunnels are lined with shells in a mosaic format, but nobody knows quite why the space was created. It truly does get your imagination running wild though, with thoughts of a possible underground temple or cult headquarters. Or maybe it was just the work of an artist obsessed with mosaic and the ocean’s offerings.
Once you’ve explored the underground tunnels, head upstairs to take in the artistic touch of a T-Rex head that was created with the use of thousands of shells. This truly is one of the more unique places in Kent.
This impressive house was home to Winston Churchill and his family from 1922 and has been preserved almost exactly as he left it.
When you walk through the house you can explore the many rooms and see a wide collection of the man’s personal belongings.
Lining the shelves, you’ll see photographs and books, while hanging on the walls you’ll find an extensive of Churchill’s paintings worth admiring.
Apart from exploring the house itself, you can spend time enjoying the grounds which are rather expansive with lawns, woodlands and a lake.
If you have little ones with you, be sure to visit the brick playhouse built for Churchill’s daughter to play in.
Keep your eyes peeled for the cat named Jock VI. Churchills family requested that a ‘marmalade cat with white socks and a bib’ always be housed at the property – more than likely because they had a cat that looked just like that.
If you’re a lover of everything avant-garde, the Turner Contemporary gallery in Margate is sure to intrigue you. Set on the seafront, this cultural location is free to visit but offers much in the way of beautiful artworks as well as historical significance.
The gallery is located in the former boarding house where Turner used to stay during his visits to Margate.
So, the gallery is home to the same views that Turner would see and replicate in his paintings. A fitting place to house his best contemporary works.
The artworks on display change as different exhibitions are held at the gallery, so you’re in for a completely different experience each time you visit.
But one sculpture that always remains the same is located right at the end of the Harbour Arm. This is a sculpture of Turner’s landlady named Mrs Booth.
The Chislehurst Caves were once a chalk mine that provided chalk for building as well as for guns. While the caves were used during both world wars, they were used for different purposes.
In WWI, the caves were used to store ammunition, but they were used as a bomb shelter during WWII.
Since then, they have hosted music gigs, a church, and have even been used to grow mushrooms as the cold, damp and dark are all suited to this practice. So, the caves have really seen a wide variety of events taking place.
To get inside the caves, you’ll need to join one of the tour groups (which are led once every hour). You’ll be given an oil lamp to light your way and to set the ambience while your guide teaches you about the intriguing history of the caves.
If you’d like to experience a unique music show, there are frequent performances in the caves by the Labyrinth LARPing Club.
Canterbury Cathedral is a World Heritage Site that should be explored for many hours. The Gothic cathedral has an extensive history spanning 1400 years and acts as the headquarters for the Church of England.
While a fire ravaged the cathedral in 1174, there are two pieces that still contain the original intricate carvings – the altar and crypt.
The main drawing card for this cathedral is the beautiful architecture, but it does have much more than that to offer.
There is a long and sordid history here, which you can learn more about on a cathedral tour.
Archbishop Thomas Becket was murdered in this very cathedral, and it also hosts the grave of the famed Edward the Black Prince.
If you’re interested in learning about these fascinating and true tales, a visit to the Canterbury Cathedral is a must on your list of Kent things to do.
Are you a Charles Dickens fan? If so, you’ll love this excursion to explore Broadstairs, a place that acted as inspiration for many of the author’s most famed novels.
Dickens was a little obsessed with this seaside town, writing, “You cannot think how delightful and fresh the place is and how good the walks.”
You can explore the Dickens House Museum, which was once home to the women who inspired Miss Betsey Trotwood’s character in the book David Copperfield. It’s now home to a huge collection of Dickens memorabilia and prints.
As you explore the town, you’ll find many references to the author’s work – like the Copperfield B&B, Barnaby Rudge Pubs, and the Old Curiosity Shop, among many others.
If you want to take walking in the footsteps of Dickens to the next level, you can book a room in the hotel that Dickens often frequented – the Royal Albion Hotel.
Be sure to take time to step outside of the world of Dickens, however, to appreciate other beautiful sights. These include the Blue Flag beaches, a handful of contemporary art galleries, and an old traditional amusement arcade.
Apart from the main attractions, there are also cafes, bistros, pubs and bars that make a wonderful place to refresh and have a bite to eat.
If you want to spend your time in Kent actively exploring your environment, then these are some activities that are sure to go down a treat.
Botany Bay is somewhat of a hidden secret – even to some locals. But it’s a real treat for the eyes and a great place to spend a couple of hours exploring – especially if you have kids to entertain.
The beach has beautiful orange sands juxtaposed against white chalky cliffs, making it the perfect place to take a photo for Instagram. If you are visiting for the stunning scenery, be sure to have your camera aimed and ready to shoot in the early morning or later in the evening when the lighting is ideal.
You can spend a couple of hours here, exploring the rock pools or simply relaxing on the sands taking in the beautiful views.
tip: Prepare Ahead!
Be sure to check when the tides are changing as it is possible to get stuck out on a rocky outcrop when the tides are turning. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
The Chapel Down Winery in Tenterden is located in what has come to be known as the ‘Garden of England’. So, a trip to the winery is sure to be filled to the brim with beautiful views and scenery that can take your breath away.
Chapel Down Winery gives you the opportunity to explore their grounds, meandering your way through their vineyards to get a better idea of how the wine is made.
When all the walking has your stomach grumbling, head to the on-site restaurant for a tasting experience.
Not only will you get the chance to taste the wines made at the farm, but you can indulge in a luxury three-course meal. Each meal is paired with a wine picked out by an experienced sommelier.
This is an excellent experience for those looking for a boozy day out. But remember to choose a designated driver so your day doesn’t get out of hand.
Dreamland is not your average funfair situated in Margate. It’s a retro-themed park with activities that children and adults alike can enjoy. This is one of the many things to do in Kent that cannot be missed.
There are roller coaster rides to get your stomach turning, fair food to bring back old memories, and roller discos to get your mind reminiscing.
There are also live gigs and events for those looking for a party. If you want to attend live music at Dreamland, it’s best to prepare well in advance as it can be hard to find tickets at the last minute.
Dreamland is undoubtedly a quirky funfair that’s a little different from the rest. With its retro vibe, it not only is a great place to snap some unique photos but gets you craving years gone by.
Alpaca Annie is an incredibly unique place to visit in Kent and is one not to be missed by animal lovers. It’s an alpaca farm that uses the wool from their animals to make socks and bird nesting, so products are offered, but that’s not their only drawing card.
You’ll not only get the chance to meet the alpacas and hand-feed them, but you’ll also get to trek through the Kent countryside with your own alpaca by your side.
They are very sweet-natured creatures that love affection, so getting along with them is easy.
The farm owner, Annie, got her very first Alpaca in 2009 and fell in love with the precious creatures. The herd has now grown in numbers and gives you a wonderful opportunity to spend uninterrupted time with these cute animals.
One of the most iconic scenes on any visit to Kent are the White Cliffs of Dover which create a dramatic edge to the Kent coastline.
Taking a stroll along cliffs while enjoying views of the English Channel is a must while you’re in the area.
See if you can spot some of the Exmoor ponies that graze in the area, keeping the grass to a neat length. If you love a good history lesson, visit the Victorian lighthouse, and explore the old WWII tunnels, these secret wartime tunnels are contained in the cliff.
If you walk the White Cliffs of Dover to Dover Castle, you’ll come across a concrete memorial in the shape of a plane.
It’s there to mark the landing spot of the very first plane to cross the English Channel. With so much history in one small area, it’s certainly worth adding to your list of what to do in Kent.
If you’d prefer to see the area with your very own tour guide, then it’s suggested that you book a White Cliffs of Dover tour during your time in Kent. This also means you won’t have to worry about organising your own transport.
If you’re looking for a day out and about, but still want to feel relaxed, the Spa Valley Railway allows you to do just that.
While the train winds its way through Tunbridge Wells, High Rocks, Eridge, and Groombridge, you can simply lap up the beautiful countryside views.
There are a handful of dining experiences plotted out for you along the way, so you won’t be going hungry during this day trip. You’ll also be served a delicious afternoon tea while enjoying stunning views.
The Spa Valley Railway feels like a portal back to centuries gone past with its old-timey atmosphere and antique-looking train.
If you’re looking for a pampered experience, this should be high on your list of journeys to indulge yourself within Kent, UK.
If you’re looking for a mesmerising natural wonder, High Rocks is the place to go. These high rocks, which have been forming over millions of years, are set with the backdrop of tranquil woodlands.
These used to form a part of a stone age camp and are now connected with eleven bridges that make for a scenic walking trail.
If you suffer from the fear of heights, this walk may not be for you, although it is something worth conquering your fears for.
This national monument is steeped in interesting history, which you will learn more about when you’re visiting the High Rocks Complex. After daring to tackle the bridge walk, be sure to visit the on-site pub for a cold beer to calm the nerves.
This activity is especially fun for kids – or those who are still children at heart. Buckmore Park is a kart racing track, the very same that F1 racing champions, Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button made a start to their racing careers.
The karting venue is nestled in the Kent woodlands, providing beautiful countryside views. But the views are not where the fun ends. Hire a kart with your travel buddies and race around the ring to get a taste of the excitement.
If karts aren’t for you, then have a go at riding quad bikes or Powerturn buggies for a different kind of thrilling experience. If you’re ready to hit the pedal to the metal and smell the tyre rubber burning, then Buckmore Park is the place to do it.
Kent has an overwhelming number of activities on offer. From experiences in nature to historical sites and thrill-seeking activities, there’s something that will tickle everyone’s fancy. Kent also has some great day trips to be had too. So, if you’re spending your UK city break in Kent, you’re in for a treat.
With no shortage of scenes and experiences to take your breath away, Kent has a list of itinerary-worthy items you must tick off your bucket list.
Ready for the trip of a lifetime through one of the most beautiful areas in England? Let me know how it goes!