The 12 Best Places To Visit In Kent (With Map)
For many years, Kent was a part of the UK that we passed through on the way to Dover to hop over to France for a French camping holiday. We hadn’t given any consideration to the fact that there were, in fact, many highly worthwhile places to visit in Kent. That was until we found ourselves looking for UK staycation ideas due to travel restrictions.
We wanted somewhere not too far from London in case we needed to get home quickly. We wanted somewhere with a few family-friendly attractions and with nice beaches. Having grown up in Suffolk, we have done Suffolk extensively and were in Norfolk visiting the beautiful beaches just a few months earlier.
Kent fit the bill perfectly and we had a wonderful week exploring the main sights and attractions in Kent.
These are our favourites places to visit in Kent.
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1. The Castles of Kent
Kent has a large number of castles, many of which date back to the Norman times. William the Conqueror first landed in the south east of England in 1066 and set about immediately building castles in the area to strengthen his position after his defeat of the English at the Battle of Hastings.
There are some fantastic examples of Norman castles including but these are some of our favourite Kent castles.
Read more: The 10 Best Castles in Kent
Leeds Castle is hailed as the loveliest castle in the world, and we would tend to agree. It is definitely the most impressive castle in England. It’s one of the best places to visit in Kent at Christmas to meet Santa and if you happen to be there with kids over any of the school holidays, there is bound to be something going on.
We visited during the October half term and there were some spooky Halloween events on as well all the other fun things for kids. We had the best day there and would highly recommend a visit.
If you would like to find accommodation near Leeds Castle, you can’t get better than actually staying at the castle. There are plenty of accommodation options, including glamping in a knights tent during the summer months.
Weir Cottage – 1 bedroom cottage
The Oast – 2 bedroom cottage
Keeper’s House – 5 bedroom holiday home
Battel Hall – 5 bedroom holiday home
Guard’s House – 3 bedroom cottage
Knight’s Cottage – 3 bedroom cottage
Bed & Breakfast
Stable Courtyard – various rooms sleeping from 1 – 4 people
Address: Leeds Castle, Broomfield, Maidstone, Kent, ME17 1PL
Entry: Adult – £28.00, Child (4-15) – £19.50, Family – £90.00 (Under 4 – FREE)
Hever Castle, built in 1270, is the childhood home of Anne Boleyn and it is said that her ghost haunts the castle today.
It is similar to Leeds Castle in many ways, with lots of fun activities throughout the year including jousting, archery and shield painting and the gardens are just stunning.
You can also stay at Hever Castle either in the castle itself or in the grounds.
Hever Castle is a fantastic place to visit at Christmas as there is so much going on. Make sure to check out our guide to the Christmas events in Kent if you are looking for some festive inspiration!
Address: Hever Castle, Hever Road, Hever, Edenbridge, Kent, TN8 7NG.
Entry: Adult – £15.55, Child (5-17) – £9.75, Family – £42.75 (Garden only. Tickets for the castle may be purchased for an additional charge at the castle entrance).
Rochester Castle is one of the oldest castles in England dating back to the 1080s. It may not be one of the best preserved castles in Kent, but its history is fascinating and if you’re visiting the nearby Chatham Dockyard, then you should pop in to Rochester to see the castle.
Address: Rochester Castle, Castle Hill, Rochester, Kent, ME1 1SW
Entry: Adult – £7.00, Child (5-17) – £3.50, Family – £17.50
2. The Historic Dockyard Chatham
Now a maritime museum, the Historic Dockyard Chatham was established in the 16th century as a Royal Naval dockyard and served as such for hundreds of years.
It’s a really fun place to visit in Kent with kids because of the interactive and educational activities available, including the amazing Victorian Ropery which is still in use today. There are also some lovely play areas for kids including a soft play area for little ones.
No. 3 Covered Slip where many ships were built dates back to 1838 and was the largest widest timber framed structure in Europe. It has an amazing cantilever roof and today houses lots of interesting artifacts.
Note that the Dockyard is closed during the winter months.
Address: Historic Dockyard Chatham, Main Gate Road, Chatham, Kent, ME4 4TZ
3. Kent and East Sussex Railway
The train line that served Tenterden from the turn of the 20th century was closed in 1961 and now serves as a heritage railway with working steam trains and a museum.
If you are looking for a dining experience with a difference, you could book a seat on the Wealdon Pullman between April and October. Your meal is served in the perfectly preserved Pullman cars by Pullman attendants in authentic attire.
Visiting Kent at Christmas? The Kent and East Sussex Railway put on special Santa Trains at Christmas which is a really fun alternative to a traditional Santa’s Grotto.
Address: Kent & East Sussex Railway, Tenterden Town Station, Station Road, Tenterden, Kent, TN30 6HE
4. Chapel Down winery
English wine is growing in popularity and there are now around 450 vineyards in the UK, many of which produce award winning wines. With Kent being nicknamed the Garden of England, it should be of no surprise to learn that it is home to some excellent wineries.
Chapel Down vineyard in Kent is one of the most famous English wineries. Chapel Down winery is located in Tenterden, not far from the Kent and East Sussex Railway.
Chapel Down produces award winning wines and is most noted for their English sparkling wine. Chapel Down Bacchus is one of our favourite white wines and the Chapel Down sparkling wine makes an excellent alternative to champagne.
The winery is one of the loveliest places ot visit in Kent for wine lovers. There are walking trails in the vineyard where you can see the various grape varieties being grown or you can take a guided tour which lasts about 1 hour 45 minutes.
You will also be able to take part in some Chapel Down wine tasting and if you want to make a day trip out of your visit, there is a restaurant on site.
Address: Chapel Down Vineyard, Chapel Down, Small Hythe Road, Tenterden, Kent, TN30 7NG
5. Bedgebury National Pinetum and Forest
Bedgebury Pinetum is a lovely place to go for a family walk with a number of walking trails and remains open during lockdown when most other places are closed. If you have little ones who are fans of the Gruffalo, they also have a Gruffalo Trail.
There are also cycling trails and if you don’t have your own bikes, there is a bike hire shop.
It is one of the most fantastic places to visit in Kent at Christmas because the forest is lit up with a magical illuminated light trail.
All day parking at peak times costs £13.00 per car, £10.00 at off peak times and if you just come for an early morning walk between 8am – 11am, it costs £3.00.
Address: Bedgebury Pinetum, Lady Oak Lane, Goudhurst, Kent, TN17 2SJ
6. Canterbury Cathedral
Canterbury is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the most visited cities in the country. It is also the setting for the famous novel by Charles Dickens – The Canterbury Tales. Canterbury is perfect if you are looking for a day trip from London by train. There is lots to see and do in Canterbury, including:
- Canterbury Cathedral
- The Beaney House of Art & Knowledge
- The Marlow Theatre
- Christ Church Gate
- St Augustine’s Abbey
- Dane John Mound (for fantastic views over Canterbury)
Canterbury Cathedral is of particular interest being one of the oldest Christian structures in England and home to the shrine of Thomas Becket.
During times when the cathedral is closed, you might like to view their virtual tour. When the cathedral is open, guided tours are available and a highlight of your visit must be the fantastic cloisters and stained glass windows.
Address: Canterbury Cathedral, Canterbury House, 11 The Precincts, Canterbury, Kent, CT1 2EH
7. The Kent Coast
Kent has some lovely beaches including sandy beaches, white chalk cliffs and traditional English seaside towns. They are all very accessible from London in case you were looking for beaches near London for a day trip.
Broadstairs is the most gorgeous little Victorian seaside town on the Kent coast close to the more well-known Botany Bay. The small, protected bay means that the water is lovely and calm which is great for families.
The beach has lots of colourful beach huts and many of the beachfront houses have maintained their original character which make the town even more quaint.
There are lots of fantastic restaurants including the outstanding seafood restaurant, Wyatt & Jones. If you like fish and chips, you must try out their takeway Flotsam & Jetsam but beware of the greedy seagulls who will swoop down to steal your lunch at any opportunity.
And a visit to a British seaside town would not be complete without an ice cream. Head to Morelli’s Gelato on the seafront which has been an institution since 1907. It’s really one of the best places to visit in Kent when it’s hot!
Botany Bay is right next door to Broadstairs so it is defintely worth a visit if you are staying in Broadstairs. It is one of the seven bays in Broadstairs. There isn’t a great deal here apart from a long 200m stretch of sand and its striking white cliffs.
When the tide is out, Botany Bayis a great place for fossil hunting and exploring rock pools. You can also walk around the chalk stacks at low tide and around to neighbouring Kingsgate Bay.
Parking is very limited here. There is a small, free car park so we would advise getting here early. There is a food kiosk on the beach during the summer months but if you are looking for something more substantial, you can head up to Botany Bay Hotel.
Margate has undergone a bit of a regeneration in recent years with art galleries, bakeries and clothing shops. Make sure to pop in to The Old Kent Market for the freshest hot cross buns from Gina’s Old Kent Bakery.
Just by the Turner Contemporary art gallery on Margate’s seafront you will spot one of Antony Gormley’s Another Time sculptures. It is one of one hundred such sculptures around the world. If you want to see the sculpture, check out the tide times. It will be visible 3 hours before low tide. You can check the tide times here.
If you’re looking for some good, old fashioned thrill seeking, you can also find Dreamland in Margate, a traditional British seaside funfair with vintage rides and attractions. It is one of the best places to visit on the Kent coast for a bit of an adventure with the kids.
Whitstable is traditional fishing town that has been transformed into a thriving beach holiday destination. It is also a great place for foodies with lots of fabulous seafood restaurants as well as seafood shacks. Whitstable oysters are a local speciality.
If you’re looking at staying in Whitstable, you should really give the converted fishermen’s huts a go. They are located right on the beachfront and are super cosy and a part of Whitstable history.
Although not in Kent, you should definitely pop into Camber Sands in neighbouring East Sussex. It is one of the best beaches in the UK. And of course, Camber Sands is just next door to Rye, which is one of the most beautiful small towns in England.
8. Visit the best small towns in Kent
If you’re into visiting quaint English towns, Kent has plenty of them. Here are some of the most beautiful small towns in Kent.
9. Elmley National Nature Reserve
Did you know that there was an island in the River Thames? The Isle of Sheppey is home to Elmley Nature Reserve, a fabulous 3,300 acre national nature reserve. You can take guided or self-guided walking tours to discover the unique and varied wildlife that visit the reserve.
Day visit tickets start at £6.00.
If you want to be completely immersed in nature, why not stay at one of their many holiday cottages which are perfectly secluded and offer a spectacular wildlife viewing experience. It’s a fantastic option if you’re looking for glamping near London.
10. Wingham Wildlife Park
Wingham Wildlife Park is one of the best places to visit in Kent if you are a dinosaur fan. They have a fabulous collection of animals, but it is their dinosaur park that we go for. It’s one of the best dinosaur parks in the UK with 22 ferocious dinosaurs to delight any dinosaur fan.
Port Lympne Dinosaur Forest is also in Kent.
Address: Wingham Wildlife Park, Rusham Road, Wingham, Canterbury, Kent, CT3 1JL
11. Shepherd Neame Brewery Tour
For those of you who like beer, you should visit Shepherd Neame Brewery, the oldest brewery in Britain. The brewery is located in Faversham, a lovely medieval market town.
You can take a tour starting at the Visitor Centre and learn some of their brewing secrets. The tour lasts 80 minutes and costs £18.00.
Address: Shepherd Neame Visitor Centre, 10 Court Street, Faversham, Kent ME13 7AX
12. Ashenbank Wood
If you’re visiting Kent in the spring, you should pop in to Ashenbank Wood for a walk. It is one of the loveliest bluebell woods in the UK and one of the best places to visit in Kent for a spring walk.
It is run by the Woodland Trust and is a Site of Specific Scientific Interest in the Kent Downs. It is free to visit and just off Halfpence Lane there is a small car park with parking for up to 10 cars.
Address: Halfpence Lane, Gravesend, Kent, DA12 3HB
Map of Places to visit in Kent
This map of Kent shows all of the places we have mentioned above so you can get an idea of where each of these things to do in Kent are in relation to each other.