City Guide

Things to Do in Canterbury

Ben Maples  · Nov 30th 2021
Canterbury town bridge by the river with old buildings.

The city of Canterbury is one of the most culturally and historically relevant cities in the United Kingdom and is home to three universities.

Things to do in Canterbury


One of the UK’s many UNESCO World Heritage Sites and located in the district of Kent, is the city of Canterbury. With a population of around 55,240 according to the most recent figures, it is one of the most densely populated areas in the UK.

Things to Do in Canterbury

Canterbury is home to a number of pubs, bars and clubs for you to experience when you start university. One of the most beloved pubs in the city is The Old Brewery Tavern, which despite its name is a renowned bar, restaurant and grill and a place for live music too! The Shakespeare is considered to be one of the best wine bars in Canterbury and offers all sorts of gourmet food as well as IPA on tap and craft ales.

For students look for clubs, Chemistry Nightclub is an essential part of the city’s nightlife. The club has VIP rooms as well as sets from some of the UK’s biggest DJs.

There are a number of festivals that run in the city as well, everything from the Food and Drink Festival to Heritage Open Days if you’re looking to learn more and more about Canterbury.

The cobbled roads are full of the usual high street brands, so it’s definitely worth taking your student NUS card. Canterbury also has many cinemas too such as the Odeon Cinema and the Curzon Cinema, and your NUS card will get you discounts there too.


The city has two railway stations, Canterbury West and Canterbury East (though, bizarrely, neither are in either the west or east of the city). Both of these stations are operated by London & South Eastern Railway Limited. Canterbury West runs a High Speed 1 train to London St. Pancras.

The city also has a National Express 007 coach service, which goes to and from Victoria Coach Station, the city also has a Eurolines Coaches service as well, which goes to London and Paris.

Things to do with kids in Canterbury

Universities in the City

There are three universities in the city.

The University of Kent was established in 1965 and was given its royal charter in the same year too.

The university’s students union is officially known as Kent Union and represents the entire student body. While this guide does look at the things to do in Canterbury, there are also places to visit in Canterbury courtesy of this university, though you do have to be a student to attend them. The union runs its own nightclub, The Venue and a bar called Woody’s. It also has over 200 sports clubs and societies.

The university shares CSR 97.4FM, with Canterbury Christ Church University, which serves as both university’s student radio stations. There is also a university student newspaper, called InQuire, which is published every two weeks and has a number of volunteering students offering content for the newspaper. There is also a TV station called Kent Television (KTV).

Canterbury Christ Church originally opened in 1962, as a teacher training college, however, it was granted university status in 2005 and changed to become an all-encompassing normal degree university.

The university’s student union is called Canterbury Christ Church Students’ Union and is based at the St. George’s Centre in the city. The union is also registered as a charity.

CSR is the university and the community radio station and won the Best Development in the South of England Award from the Student Publication Association in 2017.

Canterbury Christ Church has competed with the University of Kent every year for 20 years in a number of varsity sports, such as football, rugby, lacrosse, badminton, hockey, tennis and netball.

The University for the Creative Arts is a university that was formed in 2005 and focuses mainly on Art degrees and Design degrees.

Things to do with family in Canterbury

History and Culture

The city has been inhabited since prehistoric times and much of the city’s history can be traced back to this time, especially around the Bronze Age.

Archbishop Thomas Becket was murdered at Canterbury Cathedral in 1170, which increased interest in the city from the rest of the continent. As a result, people from all over would visit the city in order to visit his shrine and this became the basis of Geoffrey Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales”.

There are a number of different saints who lived in the city of Canterbury, such as:

  • Saint Augustine of Canterbury
  • Saint Mellitus
  • Saint Theodore of Tarsus
  • Saint Anselm of Canterbury
  • Saint Alphege
  • Saint Æthelberht of Kent
  • Saint Thomas Becket
  • Saint Adrian of Canterbury
  • Saint Dunstan

The Black Death was also a prevalent issue for the city after it hit the city in 1348. The city had a population of around 10,000, which subsequently dropped to 3,000 as a result of the disease. This was followed by Wat Tyler and his Peasant’s Revolt, which led to an attack on the castle and the Archbishop’s Palace and also led to Archbishop Sudbury being beheaded in London.

Jumping forward a bit to more recent history, during World War II, the German Luftwaffe dropped around 10,400 combs during 135 different raids.


Sport is very important in the city, especially with regards to cricket as the city has a first-class cricket home grounds, with Kent County Cricket Club and has hosted a huge amount of several One Day Internationals and an England match in the 1999 Cricket World Cup.

There is also a football team in the city as well called Canterbury FC, which was reformed in 2007 after closing in 2001 and they play in the Southern Counties East Football League. There is also Canterbury RFC who play in the National foundation League 2 South.

The Tour de France has visited the city twice as well, having passed through in 1994 and being used as the finish for stage 1 in 2007.

Who’s from Canterbury?

There are plenty of famous people from Canterbury including; Orlando Bloom, Jodie Kidd, Patricia Potter and Ryan Butcher.

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