Exploring Kent and beyond

One of the reasons many students choose to study at the University of Kent in Canterbury is because of its location.  Its proximity to London makes it a good choice for those that want to visit and spend time in Britain’s capital city.  Canterbury is also set within the beautiful countryside of Kent and is close to Kent’s beautiful coastline.  Living in Canterbury you get the best of both worlds, urban city life and the rural countryside.  So here are a few of the top places to go and explore outside of Canterbury.

An map showing the county of Kent with train lines depicted


One of the reasons many international students choose to study in Canterbury is because it is so close to London.  From shopping on Oxford Street to seeing Buckingham Palace, there’s so much to see and do.  You could spend the evening at a concert or the whole day sightseeing.  There are various ways to get into London from Canterbury.

  1. Train – From Canterbury West station you can take the high speed train to London St Pancras, this is the fastest option taking only 56 minutes to get into London, but is also the most expensive with a return ticket costing £32.90
  • Or you can get the train from Canterbury West to Charing Cross station, or London Victoria station, costing £24.50 for a return ticket. However each trip will take an hour and 42 mins to Charing Cross and over two hours to Victoria
  • HOWEVER if you book in advance you can get tickets for much cheaper – around £10-12
  • You could get the train from Canterbury East to London Victoria, for a similar price and journey time.
  1. Bus – The National Express coaches run between Canterbury and London Victoria bus station. This will cost between £7-8, you will have to book in advance and it takes around two hours.  The coaches are not as comfortable as the train, but a lot cheaper.


If you truly want to explore what the Kent countryside can offer, there’s no better place to go than Whitstable.  Whitstable is a quintessential British seaside town, you can visit the shops, cafes and restaurants.  Unfortunately the beach is made up of pebbles rather than sand.  However while you are there you can try some local Whitstable oysters, or the traditional British fish and chips.  Again there a various ways of getting to Whitstable.

  1. Walking – if you are feeling up to it the walk from Canterbury is 12km (7.5 miles) and will take around 2.5 hours each way. The route is easy to follow with lots of sign posts and will take you through some beautiful Kentish countryside.
  2. Cycling – The route to Whitstable is also a cycle route. You can easily rent a bike from the on campus bike hire The Cycle Hub which is free for all Gold and Silver members of the gym or you can pay when you hire.  At a leisurely pace cycling to Whitstable will take around 1 hour 15 minutes.  It is also an easy route to cycle without many hills to climb.
  3. Bus – Public transport will also take you to Whitstable. The Triangle busses run from Canterbury every 15 minutes.  All you need to do is go to the bus station in Canterbury city centre and get the bus from Bay B1 (you can ask the driver if you’re not sure).  This will cost just a couple of pounds, or is free with the Uni Rider bus pass.


Margate and Ramsgate were popular holiday towns in the 70s and 80s for Londoners.  The remnants of this time still exist, for example Dreamland amusement park, but largely the towns have become a bit rundown.  However, these two towns have sandy beaches which are nice to relax on if there is a sunny day, and the towns are still worth exploring.  The two main ways to travel there are train and bus.

  1. Train – There are direct trains from Canterbury West station to both Margate and Ramsgate. This will cost around £6 for a return ticket and will take around 15-20 mins.
  2. Bus – Bus number 8 and 8X travel from Canterbury bus station every 30 mins to Margate, costing around £5.70, or is free with the Uni Rider bus pass. Buses to Ramsgate are more complicated, so I would suggest getting the train.


Another popular destination for many students to visit is Dover.  The white cliffs of Dover are an iconic part of the English countryside.  The National Trust looks after the cliffs and they are free to visit and walk along.  There is a visitor’s centre and a lighthouse/tea room to visit and buy refreshments.  The cliffs are so close to France your phone will think you are there and change to a French network.  Dover is also home to Dover Castle, a medieval castle that has had a significant impact on English military history.  It is now owned by English Heritage, and open for tourists to visit.

How to get there?

  1. Train – There are regular trains from Canterbury West station to Dover Priory station, with return tickets from £9.
  2. Bus – Buses from the Canterbury bus station are also regular throughout the day from Bay D4, the tickets will be a few pounds or free with the Uni Rider bus pass.

Getting even further out of Canterbury

Once you’ve explored Kent there’s so much more to see in Britain and Europe.  Again Canterbury is in a great location to travel further.  Many international students at Kent take the opportunity while studying to travel, not only around Britain but also the rest of Europe.


Trains from London will take you all over Great Britain, so once you get into London you have a wealth of choice.  The national rail website is the best website to give all of the options for train travel.  http://ojp.nationalrail.co.uk/service/planjourney/search


Living in the south east of England also gives you the opportunity to travel to Europe by train.  You can get the Eurostar trains from Ashford International or St Pancras International.  From there you can go to many of the major cities in Europe.  This is simple and convenient you could even just have a weekend away in Europe.  https://www.eurostar.com/


From Canterbury West you can get a train to Gatwick Airport.  This is one of the major airports in Britain.  From here you can have a choice of budget airlines to get cheap flights to any destination in the world.

By Alice Nicholas, Kent Graduate