Canterbury tours

Best tours in Canterbury

Steeped in ancient history and home to the foundations of much of England’s history, Canterbury, located in Kent, makes for a spellbinding visit. Discover beautifully intact mosaics at the Roman museum, tour the site where Archbishops were murdered, or simply sit back and relax on a river boat cruise as your guide talks you through the historic buildings you pass by. But while there’s plenty to learn about impressive cathedrals and crumbling abbeys, there are lesser-known stories to learn all about, which a guided ghost tour can help (and spook) you with...

  1. Canterbury Cathedral tour
  2. Canterbury Historic River tour
  3. The Beaney House of Art & Knowledge tour
  4. Roman museum tour
  5. Canterbury ghost tour
  6. St Augustine's Abbey tour

In collaboration with
Rough Guides

1. Canterbury Cathedral tour

With its 1400 year history, Canterbury Cathedral is one of the most significant sites in England, and helps to tell the story of the country’s vast history. A guided tour of this ancient structure proves itself as one of the best Canterbury tours to take, as you’ll learn all about its construction, important events that took place here as well as its finer Norman architectural details.

Best for: Understanding the history of England.

Top tip: Check out the Quire (choir area); after being rebuilt following a fire, it was the first Gothic building in the country.

2. Canterbury Historic River tour

The River Stour runs through Canterbury, and indeed as you pass along the high street you’ll spot passengers enjoying a punt on the slow-trickling stream. As you sit aboard the ten-strong boat, your guide will lead the way – quite literally – as they show you around the key historic points of Canterbury. As you pass under the King’s Bridge, your guide will explain the history of this old working road bridge; past Greyfriars’ Island, 16th-century Old Weavers’ House and Blackfriars’ Monastery.

Best for: River tours.

Top tip: Aim for a morning or late afternoon tour to beat the crowds.

3. The Beaney House of Art & Knowledge tour

The Beaney House of Art & Knowledge is a museum, art gallery and public library, housed in an enchanting Grade II-listed building. There are various rooms to browse, from two-headed sharks on display in The Study, to information about worldly travellers and their collections in the Explorers and Collectors room, as well as insights into natural wildlife in the Colour and Camouflage room. Booking onto a 45 minute guided tour will see you take in the highlights of the place, including insight into the history of The Beaney building, and interesting, entertaining and informative stories about the items on display of this wide-ranging collection.

Best for: Families.

Top tip: Don’t miss the Garden Room, which is filled with rural paintings by renowned Canterbury artists Thomas Sidney Cooper.

4. Roman museum tour

Canterbury’s Roman Museum is fun for all ages, with a plethora of artefacts and ruins to find out more about. Although you enter the museum on modern-day street level, you venture downstairs to Roman-street level; here, you’ll see mosaics and under-floor heating systems left in situ, and a mosaic corridor. Guided tours are led by expert guides whose tales of Roman Canterbury will leave you feeling as if you’ve travelled back in time; the dress-up box also helps...

Best for: Seeing ancient Roman Canterbrry.

Top tip: Check out the Iron-Age helmet on display, which was discovered with the remains of a cremated woman contained inside.

5. Canterbury ghost tour

With such a vast, ancient history, taking ghost tour of Canterbury a ghost tour of Canterbury is one of the best things to do there. Your historian guide blends humour and history during the 90minute tour, which sees you take in historic sights and ghoulsome stories to go with them. Departing in the evenings, it’s safe to say that you’ll see a whole other side to this ghost-ridden city…

Best for: Those who aren’t afraid of the dark.

Top tip: The tours always run on Fridays and Saturdays, but if you want to book a weekday, just call ahead of time.

6. St Augustine's Abbey tour

Located just outside the city walls, St Augustine’s Abbey is a site of prominent importance; dating back to 597, it was once the burial site for the Anglo-Saxon kings of Kent. Either book onto a guided tour, which lasts around 30–45 minutes, or take a free self-guided audio tour, and find out the fascinating history of the Abbey ruins; check out the stone carvings, artefacts and even a skeleton on display. A recent addition to the English Heritage site is an exciting VR experience, where you can ‘see’ what the Abbey would have looked like during its prime in the 1500s. If you’re looking at cheap holidays to Canterbury,make the most of the free self-guided audio tour; a few other attractions offer free entry, too.

Best for: Audio and guided tour options, with modern additions. 

Top tip: Book a joint ticket with Canterbury Cathedral.

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