Leave your central London hotel or another central meeting point on the morning of December 24, Christmas Eve. Then, watch the shopping crowds slip away as you head out of the city by comfortable, air-conditioned coach and begin your day trip to Leeds Castle, Canterbury and Dover.
Pass through historical Greenwich, known for its rich maritime heritage, and catch glimpses of its famous National Maritime Museum, Royal Naval College and 18th-century Royal Observatory. Soak up the views as you enter the county of Kent, known as the ‘Garden of England’ for its hop fields, orchards and rolling farmlands.
Then, make your first stop at Leeds Castle, a stunning 12th-century castle by the Len River. Admire the picturebook castle and its encircling moat and gardens, and learn how the historian Lord Conway described this one-time residence of England’s medieval monarchs as the "loveliest castle in the world."
Head inside for a guided tour of the lavishly furnished rooms, and as you explore, learn about the castle’s tangled history. Then, enjoy free time to look around the exquisite gardens and grounds as you please.
Afterward, return to your coach and continue east to the ancient city of Canterbury. After a traditional English lunch of fish and chips at a local restaurant, head to the grounds of Canterbury Cathedral and take in this splendid, UNESCO-listed church: a center of Christian worship for nearly 1,000 years.
Founded in 597 and rebuilt in the 11th and 12th centuries, the cathedral is one of England’s oldest and most beautiful. Admire the ornate Gothic architecture on a walking tour around the exterior, and hear about the cathedral’s bloodiest hour — the day in 1170 that four knights of Henry II headed inside to murder Archbishop Thomas Becket.
From here, continue to Dover on Kent’s south coast. Gaze out over the iconic White Cliffs of Dover, beloved by the English; and drink in the views of the English Channel and clifftop Dover Castle, sometimes called the ‘Key to England’ for its strategically important location.
Finally, drive back to London, where your tour ends at the start point.
Please note: Canterbury Cathedral is closed to visitors on Christmas Eve, so you will only see the exterior.