Discover a national symbol and gain insight into England’s history at the UNESCO World Heritage–listed Canterbury Cathedral. Dating back to 597, the site has held religious significance for centuries, drawing pilgrims to the location of Thomas Becket’s murder and visitors interested in its medieval towers, chapels, and stained-glass windows.
The cathedral’s distance from London makes it a prime stop on a tour of the South. Combine your visit with stops at other landmarks, such as Leeds Castle and Dover Cliffs, for a full day’s break from the capital, or take advantage of multi-attraction tours that allow you to explore London and beyond at your own pace. Opt for a guided cathedral tour for intimate insight, or be immersed as you explore the historic grounds independently.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Canterbury Cathedral’s historic significance makes it a must-see for history buffs.
- Some tours include admittance; otherwise, there is a charge to enter the cathedral and grounds outside of service hours.
- Built across several levels, some of the medieval structure—including the Trinity Chapel—is inaccessible for wheelchair users.
How to Get There
The cathedral is a short walk from both Canterbury West and Canterbury East stations, with direct links to London. The Kent site is easy to access from the channel ports, ideal for Eurostar or ferry travelers. On-site parking is available only via prior arrangement, but the city offers plenty of affordable alternatives, including a park-and-ride service. Many tours from London include round-trip transportation.
When to Get There
Canterbury Cathedral is a sight to behold at any time of year, though December’s carol services certainly add to the magic. Spring and summer bring extended daylight hours and an ideal climate for outdoor exploring. If you’re curious about worship as well as sightseeing, entry to the cathedral is free during service times, making Sunday a popular day to visit.
The Significance of Canterbury Cathedral
As the home of the Church of England, Canterbury Cathedral holds a special relationship with English history and culture. The Kingdom of Kent was the first to convert to Christianity under Rome, and Archbishop Thomas Becket’s murder in 1170 solidified the building’s religious and political importance. The cathedral has links to William the Conqueror and the Magna Carta, and was immortalized by the father of English literature, Geoffrey Chaucer, in his famous Canterbury Tales.