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Visiting Canterbury and Leeds Castle

Travelling from London to Canterbury, Leeds Castle and Dover Castle

Canterbury town UK by train from London
Canterbury is less than an hour by train from London

Canterbury Cathedral is the major attraction in Canterbury for visitors from London, but there is much, much more for the independent traveller that will easily fill up a day here.

Canterbury itself is less than an hour from London St Pancras by frequent train so it's easily accessible independently by all visitors to London.

There are also guided day tours if you want to also see nearby Leeds Castle and the famous White Cliffs of Dover.

Given that Canterbury Cathedral is the main attraction for visitors to Canterbury we would suggest avoiding visiting on a Sunday. The cathedral is closed to the public much of the day on Sundays.

It's always worth checking with the Canterbury Cathedral website beforehand. There are often events that will result in restricted access on these days too. We have a dedicated page on Canterbury Cathedral and what to expect. Canterbury Cathedral is at the heart of the medieval city centre of Canterbury.

Canterbury is a regional shopping centre too with the shopping area merging into the historic sights and buildings. There is no shortage of restaurants for all budgets in the bustling centre.

Leeds Castle

Leeds Castle
Extensive grounds at Leeds Castle

Often described as the “loveliest castle in the world”, Leeds Castle is not far from Canterbury.

You can do a coach tour from London combining Canterbury and Leeds Castle. The castle set on two islands and has been home to royalty, lords, and ladies for over 1000 years.

Besides the historic Leeds Castle itself there are extensive grounds with many walks in the grounds, a large aviary, falconry displays, a maze, vineyard, golf course and much else. An ideal place to bring a picnic.

Unlike many castles like Windsor, with its emphasis on a 'serious' tour of history and royalty, Leeds Castle is more informal and more set up for a longer visit with much emphasis on keeping the kids happy.

 

Dover Castle

Dover Castle
Dover Castle

Just to the south east of Canterbury is Dover with frequent train and bus connections. Dover Castle sits strategically upon the famous White Cliffs of Dover, overlooking the port and town far below.

Today you can tour the Secret Wartime Tunnels. Dover Castle, the Roman Lighthouse and much more. There is much to see, an average visit taking a whole morning or afternoon. Dover Castle is open daily.

The famous White Cliffs of Dover go east and west from the town of the Dover. There is a visitor centre quite close to Dover Castle.

 

Canterbury & Dover by rail

South Eastern Trains run regular train services from London Victoria, St Pancras and Charing Cross to both Canterbury East station and Canterbury West station. The fastest trains from St Pancras do the journey in under an hour.

Upon arrival at either Canterbury station the cathedral and all the sights are a short walk into the city.

A big bonus for going by rail is the availability of 2 for 1 admission promotions. Normally these do not cover Canterbury Cathedral but often do the Roman Museum, Canterbury Tales and St Augustine's Abbey in Canterbury.

From Dover Priory, there are frequent trains to both Canterbury and London.

Trainline

TRAIN TICKETS

Woman in a train

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Canterbury & Dover by National Express bus

National Express run a service between Dover, Canterbury and London Victoria at broadly hourly frequencies. Journey time is typically around two hours to/from Canterbury. Fares can be very cheap if you get a promotional funfare deal from the National Express website.

National Express Coaches are comfortable long distance coaches with onboard washroom and toilets. National Express coaches are much slower, but much cheaper than the train services.

National Express

NATIONAL EXPRESS BUS TICKETS

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Leeds Castle, Dover, Greenwich and Canterbury tours from London

Canterbury Cathedral
Inside Canterbury Cathedral

While travelling independently by public transport gives you flexibility of seeing things at your own pace, it is time consuming. Dover Castle is about a mile from the train and bus stations at Dover and Leeds Castle is quite isolated.

Premium Tours (Tour1) offer a day tour from London letting you access all three: Canterbury, Dover and Leeds Castle in one day.

The others have different areas of focus including Dover Castle and a scenic drive through Kent villages.

The tours use comfortable door to door touring coaches with professional guides to transport you from attraction to attraction.

 

There are currently three tours available.

  • All three visit Canterbury Cathedral (but the Small Group Tour has it as an optional extra)
  • Tour 1 only visits Leeds Castle, as a private visit before the public arrive, in addition with a shorter visit to Dover
  • Tour 2 focuses a longer day split between Canterbury Cathedral and Dover Castle
  • Tour 3 is a small group tour which offers a walking tour of Canterbury together with a scenic drive through Kentish Villages and options to visit Dover Castle and Canterbury Cathedral.

Leeds Castle, Dover and Canterbury day tours from London - more details

 


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