Things to do in Kent 2024: A Guide to the Coastal County
As one of England's oldest counties, Kent is well known for its fascinating history, breathtaking coastline, rich culture and beautiful countryside. In fact, the county is often referred to as ‘the Garden of England’ due to its spectacular greenery and coast.
If you’re camping in Kent, check out all the exciting things you can do, from visiting the famous White Cliffs of Dover to seeing Canterbury Cathedral and more.
Kent Travel Information | Where to Stay | Kent’s Coast and Beaches | Towns to Visit in Kent | Kent’s Castles and Museums | Outdoor Activities in Kent | Things to do for Kids in Kent | Food and Drinks in Kent
Quick fire facts about Kent
Size: 3,736 square kilometres
Tourism numbers: Approximately 65 million a year
Kent travel information
Getting to Kent
Kent is located in the southeast of England, and it is incredibly easy to get to from London.
Driving: If you’re carrying a lot of camping gear or heavy luggage and you’re driving into Kent, then here are some estimated drive times to get to the county.
- London to Kent: 1 hour and 17 minutes (38 miles)
- Birmingham to Kent: 2 hours and 56 minutes (160.9 miles)
- Bristol to Kent: 2 hours and 50 minutes (162.2 miles)
- Cardiff to Kent: 3 hours and 30 minutes (195.7 miles)
- Manchester to Kent: 4 hours and 17 minutes (243.2 miles)
Train: A train journey into Kent can be a much easier and faster way to get to the county. You can find direct train services from multiple cities, or you can arrive in London and use the Southeastern service to reach Kent.
London Bridge, Charing Cross, London Waterloo East, Victoria and St Pancras International all connect directly to Kent. If you hop onto London St Pancras International, which operates the High Speed One service, you can reach Kent in less than 40 minutes.
Coach: A budget-friendly way to get to Kent is by coach. There are several National Express bus stations in Kent, including,
- Canterbury Bus Station
- Dover (Town Centre)
- Folkestone Bus Station
- Gillingham Bus Station
- Maidstone National Express coach stop
Travelling in and around Kent
The best way to explore Kent’s countryside is on foot or bike. You could also drive around the county, but it’s recommended to use public transport links instead. Both trains and buses run frequently in Kent.
We have over 30 campsites in Kent that make for the perfect stay. Two popular Club Sites include;
Both campsites are perfect for all units, and they have public transport links nearby. Our Canterbury Club Site has a bus stop at the campsite entrance, and the nearest train station is Canterbury East, which is just 1.75 miles away.
Our Folkestone Club Site has a bus stop that’s less than a mile from the campsite entrance, and its nearest train station is Folkestone, which is four miles away.
It's no secret that Kent boasts one of the most extravagant coastlines in the UK, which is precisely why many campers flock to Kent yearly. The coastline spans 350 miles, offering plenty of activities to enjoy.
On the Kent coastline, you’ll find a diverse selection of beaches, from golden sandy ones to shingle beaches. Some have also been awarded a blue flag status - the internationally recognised stamp of approval when it comes to cleanliness and superb water quality.
Check out these beaches for a family fun day out or to escape the summer crowds and relax on quieter sands.
- Stone Bay (Blue Flag Beach, well known for rockpooling)
- Folkestone Beach (family-friendly beach that’s good for rockpooling)
- Tankerton Beach (shingle beach, great for bathing and it has beautiful views)
- St Margaret’s Bay (shingle beach good for watersport activities such as surfing, canoeing and wild swimming)
- Minnis Bay (sandy, Blue Flag Beach perfect for families and bathing)
- Sunny Sands (a sandy beach with rolling dunes
- Margate Main Sands (family-friendly Blue Flag Beach with an amusement park and arcades)
- Botany Bay (Blue Flag Beach with views of the White Cliffs, and it’s good for rockpooling)
Located less than 20 minutes from our Folkestone Club Site, the White Cliffs of Dover offer a spectacular view of the English Channel and towards the French coast. The best way to see the high chalk cliffs is to walk along the coastal path towards South Foreland Lighthouse. The cliffs are of historical importance as they were used for defending England during both World Wars.
Other key features you’ll find while visiting the White Cliffs of Dover are a play area with hollowed tree trunks, climbing frames and picnic benches. You’ll also find a visitor's centre where you can purchase original gifts and local produce and clothing. If you’re feeling peckish, visit the small cafe nearby serving hot and cold drinks, tasty sandwiches, cakes and more. If you have time, don't forget to check out the second-hand bookshop found near the White Cliffs.
Kent is made up of many cities and towns with different personalities. Each one offers a unique experience and atmosphere that’ll make you fall in love with the county over and over again.
Some popular cities and towns to visit in Kent include
The city famous for its cathedral has a population of 156,600 and covers 23.54 km² of Kent. Although the city has something to offer all year round, visiting Canterbury is especially fun during Christmas. The medieval yet modern city is lit up with festive lights, and you can visit the famous Canterbury Christmas Markets.
Known as the ‘Lock and Key of England’, the coastal town of Dover is a major port for ferries coming to and from France. The town carries a lot of history (especially when it comes to its impressive fortifications spanning centuries), and it’s well known for the magnificent White Cliffs of Dover as well as Dover Castle.
Located in the heart of Kent is Maidstone – the largest town in the Garden of England. Well known for the Wyatt Rebellion and Battle of Maidstone in the English Civil War (1648), Maidstone is flooded with fascinating history. You can learn all about the town and its major brewing and papermaking industries at the Maidstone Museum & Bentlif Art Gallery. This museum not only showcases Maidstone's past but also features internationally imported artefacts and fine art.
Maidstone is also home to the beautiful Leeds Castle and the stunning 440-acre Mote Park.
Margate was once a small fishing village, but now it’s the perfect sandy escape for those living in the capital or nearby. The historic seaside town is well known for its sandy beaches, which are perfect for relaxing during the British summer. They’re also great for watersport activities, and visitors can enjoy the waves throughout the year. Margate is also home to Dreamland Margate, a popular entertainment and amusement park.
Folkestone is a port town on the English Channel, which is great for cliff-top walks and strolls along the harbour. You can visit one of the many beaches in Folkestone and enjoy wild swimming, sunbathing, rockpooling or a relaxing picnic. The best thing about the town is our Folkestone Club Site sits right outside and takes only a few minutes to reach.
Kent is flooded with rich history and culture. The town of Dover was one of the most important sites in Roman Britain, and even whilst visiting today, you can see the Roman Painted House, the remains of a Roman lighthouse and the famous Dover Castle.
Another popular and historic city is Canterbury. Here, you’ll find Canterbury Cathedral, which has been attracting pilgrims from around the world for centuries. This incredible structure is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was first built in 597 AD. Today, pilgrims from across the world visit the cathedral to honour the bravery of St Alphege and to receive the miracle water of St Thomas. The cathedral is also open to the public for prayers and to learn more about the history of the building.
Visit castles in Kent
Transport back in time and learn about the country's history by visiting one of Kent's many castles. Popular ones include:
This magnificent castle sits proudly on top of the White Cliffs and has guarded the gateway to Great Britain for nine centuries.
Whilst visiting, don’t miss out on the many exhibitions the castle has to offer. You can discover the story of Dunkirk at the Secret Wartime Tunnels, see the injuries of those in the Underground Hospital, explore the great tower where you’ll find amazing views at the top, learn Morse code at the Port War Signalling Station and roam around 80 acres of castle ground where you’ll find a Roman Lighthouse and a Saxon church.
Labelled as ‘the loveliest castle in the world’, Leeds Castle does not disappoint visitors. It’s positioned on an island in a lake and surrounded by Kent’s magnificent countryside. While visiting the castle, you can discover the castle gardens and maze, explore the local wildlife and learn about the castle's history.
Leeds Castle has often been referred to as the “Castle of Queens, Queen of Castles” due to it being home to six medieval queens – Eleanor, Isabella, Philippa of Hainhault (wife of Edward III), Joan of Navarre, Catherine de Valois and Catherine of Aragon (King Henry VIII first wife). Leeds Castle was also a prison for Elizabeth I before her coronation in 1559.
Once the childhood home of Anne Boleyn (Henry VIII’s second wife), Hever Castle and Gardens is a must-visit attraction in Kent. The romantic double-moated castle has over 125 acres of greenery and 700 years' worth of history to discover.
At Hever Castle and Gardens, you’ll find a water maze, playground for children, yew maze, plenty of exhibitions and the KSY Military Museum. You can also take a peaceful walk around the lakes, spot beautiful wildlife, enjoy birdwatching, or try something new like archery.
Discover the award-winning gardens and castle grounds of a Tudor fortress turned country house when visiting Walmer Castle and Gardens. The eight acres of land were built on the orders of Henry VIII to defend England. It later became home to the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, Duke of Wellington and the Queen Mother.
While visiting Walmer Castle and Gardens, check out the Duke of Wellington's bedroom, see all the beautiful flowers in the gardens as well as what’s growing in the kitchen garden and let the children run free at the family play trail.
Hop aboard the Kent and East Sussex Railway for a relaxing afternoon tea while you see the county's spectacular views and take in its history. You can book an intimate evening meal where the onboard chef will cater for you and your party.
On arrival at Bodiam Station, you’ll have time to visit the steam locomotive, talk to the friendly crew and take some images to capture the memories.
If you’re visiting during the festive period, the train transforms into the Polar Express, making for a joyous family day out. You’ll get complimentary refreshments, treats and, best of all, you’ll get to meet Santa.
More historical things to do in Kent
No matter what time of year you visit Kent, make sure you pack a pair of comfortable walking shoes because the Kent outdoors is not to be missed.
Walk through Kent's beautiful parks
There are plenty of great parks in Kent which are perfect for the whole family. You’ll find dog walks, playgrounds, cafes, lakes and more at these charming parks. Popular ones include:
- Mote Park (an award-winning Green Flag Park covering over 450 acres)
- Cobtree Manor Park (Includes 50 acres of parkland, a sculpture trail, and a cafe)
- Betteshanger Country Park (250-acre park with plenty of cycling and walking routes, activities such as archery, geocaching, orienteering and more)
Penshurst Place and Gardens has had some incredible royal residents over time. It was first given to Anne of Cleves (Henry VIII’s 4th wife) as part of her divorce settlement. It was shortly handed to Sir Ralph Fane before Edward VI (Henry VIII’s son) gifted it to his steward and tutor, Sir William Sidney, in 1552. It has since been owned by the Sidney family, who have looked after the building and gardens and opened it up to the public.
Penshurst Place, which has been visited by Queen Elizabeth I, makes for a great family day out in summer. You can attend their upcoming events, walk through the acres of parkland, spot incredible wildlife and colourful flowers, relax at the cafe and spoil yourself at their gift shop.
Check out this award-winning tourist attraction with over 12,000 specimen trees. Bedgebury National Pinetum and Forest is a great place for a stroll, picnic, or to see views of rolling hills and valleys of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). As well as learning about trees, you can also enjoy cycling, orienteering and discovering wildlife.
Are you feeling adventurous? Head down to Hangloose Adventure Bluewater, where you can take the leap and go skydiving, zip wiring, trekking, enjoy the giant swing, or head to the water and take part in wild swimming and the aqua obstacle course.
Home of the National Fruit Collection, Brogdale has 150 acres of farmland with over 4000 varieties of fruit trees, including apples, pears, quinces, plums, cherries and more. You can enjoy a self-guided tour around the fields and spend as much time as you want wandering through the pathways and countryside. On your journey, you'll get to see the fruits cycle from blossom to fruit and frost.
A family camping trip to Kent makes for a spectacular UK getaway. You can enjoy some fun camping games at our campsites, a relaxing day at the beach with the kids, or you can check out these exciting, family-friendly activities, perfect for an entertaining day out.
With over 800 rare and endangered animals to see, Port Lympne Safari Park is a fun adventure for the whole family. You’ll see the largest herd of black rhinos in the UK alongside western lowland gorillas, giraffes, tigers, lions, leopards, bears, and so much more!
On your visit, you can enjoy tasty food and snacks and treat yourself to something nice at the gift shop.
An entertainment and amusement park like no other, Dreamland Margate is considered one of the oldest amusement parks in the UK. The park has more than just vintage rides. You’ll find roller skate events, art exhibits, live music and entertainment, classic seaside food favourites, and so much more. The location is slowly transforming into an iconic music venue which hosts plenty of festivals and has music legends taking to the stage. Before visiting, check out what’s on during your holiday and make the most out of your visit.
Pack a pair of sensible walking boots and maybe some waterproof clothing for this fun family event. There are plenty of treks to choose from for varying abilities, but if you’d like to see the breathtaking views, you’ll need to be prepared for a steep walk up.
The alpaca trek means walking your alpaca through the ancient woodland, feeding them, keeping them happy and taking plenty of memorable images.
Once you’ve completed the alpaca trek, you can rest your feet at the cafe and treat yourself to some tasty food. Depending on what time of year you visit Reuthes, you could also explore their Christmas Markets, see their spectacular fireworks events or check out their owl demonstrations.
Meet the rare and endangered animals at Howletts Wild Animal Park. The park is committed to conserving, breeding and reintroducing these rare and beautiful animals. On your visit, you’ll get to explore 90 acres of ancient parkland and meet elephants, gorillas, rhinos, tigers, cheetahs and many more. You can also walk alongside lemurs in their enclosure, explore animals of the ice age or book a guided tour with park rangers and learn more about each animal.
Have you got a fear of heights? Well, now’s the time to test your abilities and conquer your fears at Go Ape Leeds Castle. There are three high-rope courses to choose from; Treetop Challenge, Treetop Adventure and Treetop Adventure Plus. Each one is suitable for varying abilities, but if you’re feeling extra adventurous, challenge yourself to the 250m zipline across the beautiful countryside.
Kent is well known for its fresh produce, including apples, berries, asparagus and oysters. If you’re looking for some tasty beverages, the county is also well known for hop growing and beer brewing – this dates back to Tudor times. While exploring Kent, don’t forget to stop at one of the many cosy pubs or visit a winery to taste some exceptional beverages.
Whether you’re looking for a luxury dining experience, a tutored wine-tasting session or a guided tour of the vineyards, you’ll have a great time at Chapel Down Winery. Chapel Down not only has an award-winning selection of wines, but it is also England's leading wine producer. They produce high-quality beverages from ingredients grown on-site.
Take a self-guided or guided tour around the vineyard, orchards and ancient oak woodlands that are nestled in the Kent countryside. At Balfour Winery, they work with nature to create award-winning wines which you can taste and pair with your favourite dishes. You can also enjoy learning about the wine-making process from grape to glass and understand how Balfour Winery is exceptional at what they do.
Cafes, pubs and restaurants in Kent
After a day of exploring, it's sometimes best to put your feet up and unwind with flavourful food and tasty drinks. Here is a list of some great cafes, cosy pubs and recommended restaurants in Kent.
Cafes in Kent
- Heathfields, Keston
- Arthur’s Coffee House, Cranbrook
- Tadpole Tearooms, Canterbury
- Artisserie Patisserie, Tenterden
- Deal Pier Kitchen, Deal
- Garage Coffee, Canterbury
- Refectory Kitchen, Canterbury
- Harbour Coffee, Folkestone
- Steep Street Coffee House, Folkestone
- Baskerville’s Coffee House, Maidstone
- Greek Paradise, Maidstone
Pubs in Kent
- The Sun Inn, Swale
- The Ferry House Inn, Swale
- The Pepper Box Inn, Maidstone
- The Potting Shed, Maidstone
- The Griffin's Head, Canterbury
- Thomas Becket, Canterbury
- White Hart Inn, Canterbury
Restaurants in Kent
- The Fordwich Arms, Fordwich
- Stark, Broadstairs
- The Bridge Arms
- The Goods Shed
- Rocksalt, Folkestone