City Orientation Walk, Canterbury

There are a lot of sites in Canterbury that are related to British Medieval history and earlier. Its buildings, churches, towers, gardens and gates are located on the streets with provincial charm, along the old city walls. Take this tour to enjoy a day out in Canterbury and visit the most significant historic objects in England, particularly the world famous St. Augustine's Abbey, St Martin's Church and Canterbury Castle that comprise the Canterbury World Heritage Site.
You can follow this self-guided walking tour to explore the attractions listed below. How it works: download the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play to your mobile phone or tablet. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and its built-in GPS navigation functions guide you from one tour stop to next. The app works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

Download The GPSmyCity App

Download 'GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities' app for IOS   Download 'GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities' app for Android

City Orientation Walk Map

Guide Name: City Orientation Walk
Guide Location: England » Canterbury (See other walking tours in Canterbury)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 15
Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.3 km
Author: Sandra
1
Canterbury Cathedral

1) Canterbury Cathedral (must see)

The cathedral precinct comprised the core of the Medieval town of Canterbury. It’s one of England's largest cathedrals and the centre of the Church of England. It was founded in 600 AD by St. Augustine, dedicated to Christ the Saviour, and is the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The original structures were burnt down. The present cathedral core was built in 1174. There have been many alterations in the cathedral structure for the past 900 years, but the choir music and some of the windows and their stained glass date from the 12th century. The Cathedral exterior immediately impresses by its size. Its structure has a Latin-cross plan and Romanesque and Gothic features for the exterior/interior. There are invaluable treasures like Norman crypt, with intriguing carvings atop the columns, murals of the 12th century, the site of Archbishop Beckett that attracted thousands of pilgrims, the 'Bell Harry' Tower and many more. It provides local state and national services and events.
2
The Old Buttermarket

2) The Old Buttermarket

This large pub is situated on Buttermarket Square, which is over 800 years old. It is a very busy place, close to the main entrance of the Cathedral. The Old Buttermarket is a traditional British pub with a modern feel, in a house built upon Roman remains. There are plenty of outdoor tables and indoor seats. They provide an impressive choice of real ales on tap and malt whiskeys, as well as a fine selection of red and white wines. They serve high quality pub food. One of their specials is the Old Buttermarket Steak Pie, that is always a popular choice.

Opening hours: Monday- Thursday 10:00 - 23:00; Fri 10:00 - midnight, Sat 10:00 – midnight, Sun 10:00 - 22:30.
3
St. Thomas’ Catholic Church

3) St. Thomas’ Catholic Church (must see)

St. Thomas’ Roman Catholic Church is situated close to Canterbury Cathedral on Burgate Street. It was completed and consecrated in 1875 by Cardinal Manning. The church architecture can be referred to as Neo-Gothic style. Its facades clad in Kentish rag and Bath stone are decorated with the images of St. Thomas and two angels on each side set in the niches. On a wall on the bell tower there is a massive relief representing the significant event of St. Thomas’ Church. The church is visited by a large number of people due to the beauty of its interior and the altars.
4
St. Augustine's Abbey

4) St. Augustine's Abbey (must see)

St. Augustine found a monastery outside the town walls to the east of Canterbury in about 598 AD. Its building marked a significant restoration of Christianity to the south of England. It is one of the oldest monastic sites in the country. Originally it was used as a graveyard for the kings of Kent and archbishops of Canterbury. In 978 a new, great building was erected. It was devoted to Saints Peter, Paul and Augustine. There were three Saxon churches on the site until the beginning of the 12th century. One of them survived, and two others were turned into a massive Romanesque edifice after the Norman Conquest. In 1390, the gatehouse known as Fyndon Gate was constructed; it has survived. Part of the abbey was converted into a royal palace by Henry VIII in 1538. Today St. Augustine's Abbey is owned by English Heritage. Visitors are offered an audio and sightseeing tour around the ruins. There is also a museum that exposes artifacts found on the site.
5
St Martin's Church

5) St Martin's Church (must see)

The Church of St Martin in Canterbury is England's oldest parish church in continuous use. Since 1668 St Martin's has been part of the benefice of St Martin & St Paul Canterbury. Both St Martin's and nearby St Paul's churches are used for weekly services. St Martin's was the private chapel of Queen Bertha of Kent in the 6th century before Augustine arrived from Rome.

Shortly before 1844, a hoard of gold coins was found in the churchyard, one of which is the Liudhard medalet, which bears an image of a diademed figure with a legend referring to Liudhard. Local finds prove that Christianity did exist in this area of the city at the time, and the church contains many reused Roman bricks or spolia, as well as complete sections of walls of Roman tiles. Several sections of walls are clearly very early, and it is possible that a blocked square-headed doorway in the chancel was the entrance to Bertha's church, while other sections of wall come from the period after the Gregorian mission in the 7th or 8th centuries, including most of the nave.

"(The above description is based on Wikipedia under Creative Common License)"
Sight description based on wikipedia
6
St. George's Clocktower

6) St. George's Clocktower (must see)

The tower of St. George's church is situated on St. George’s Street inside the old town walls. It was the bell tower of the large and antique church of St. George the Martyr. The name of St. George refers to the construction of the church in the late 7th Century. So it could have been the very first church in this location. It also has remains of Norman work in the lower part of the tower and the west door. The destruction of St. George's occurred in June of 1942 during bombing raids. The demolitions were leveled and the clock was restored in the 1950s.
7
Dane John Gardens

7) Dane John Gardens (must see)

This is a historic park on the inside of the city's walls on the southwestern side of Canterbury. It was founded in 1551. In 1790, the park was laid out into formal gardens. In 1999, renovation of the Dane John Gardens was completed. These award-winning gardens have lawns, flower borders, many mature trees, bandstands, a playground with a small fortress, an alley of lime trees and a prominent fountain. It also houses the dome-shaped mound, about 80 feet high, dating back to pre-Norman times. There is a memorial of Alderman Simmons, who was the designer of the gardens' landscape. Visitors climb the spiral footpath that leads to the top of this mound to observe the city's skyline. In the summer, many city events take place here.
8
Canterbury Tales

8) Canterbury Tales (must see)

The Canterbury Tales attraction is housed in the historic building of St. Margaret’s Church. It is situated on St. Margaret’s Street, several blocks southwest of Canterbury Cathedral. Kent’s most mentioned attraction has stories written by Geoffrey Chaucer of the 14th century. It’s a reconstruction of Medieval England. Visitors perceive the sights, sounds and smells of a Medieval environment. All the scenes and characters are very colourful, accurate and interesting. The Canterbury Tales museum provides the exciting audio introduction to the mysterious city and its literary characters and guides. This stunning trip over 500 years back is attractive for kids and adults. The museum is open daily; visiting hours vary from about 10.00am - 5.00pm depending on the month.
9
Canterbury Castle

9) Canterbury Castle (must see)

Canterbury Castle is a Norman Castle in Canterbury. It was one of the three original Royal castles of Kent (the other two being Rochester Castle and Dover Castle). They were all built soon after the Battle of Hastings, on the main Roman road from Dover to London. This was the route taken by William the Conqueror in October 1066, and they were built originally as motte-and-bailey castles to guard this important route. A wooden motte and bailey castle was erected in 1066 - its motte may be the mound which is still visible in the Dane John gardens near the stone castle, with Dane John deriving from donjon.

The great stone keep was largely constructed in the reign of Henry I as one of three Royal castles in Kent. This massive structure, which has dimensions of about 98 by 85 feet externally at the base, was originally probably at least 80 feet high. It is mainly made of flint and sandstone rubble. By the 13th century the castle had become the county gaol. It was given up to the invading French in the First Barons' War. In 1380 a new gate was built. By the 19th century it had been obtained by a gas company and used as a storage centre for gas for many years, during which time the top floor was destroyed.

"(The above description is based on Wikipedia under Creative Common License)"
Sight description based on wikipedia
10
Greyfriars Chapel and the Franciscan Gardens

10) Greyfriars Chapel and the Franciscan Gardens (must see)

Franciscan Friary was founded on this site in the west part of the town, on the branch of the River Stour in the middle of the 13th century. Monks built their conventual houses here. The only house that survived, named Greyfriars Chapel, represents the remains of these buildings of Minorite Friars, the first English Franciscan Friary. The river flows under this house. Picturesque ruins of court yard walls are found near the chapel. Visitors can attend the exhibition on the lower floor to learn more about the history of the friary. Today the chapel is the place of worship of Anglican Franciscans. The services are held on the upper floor. There is a foot-walk signposted entrance past the little bridge from the west side of Stour Street. The tiny peaceful garden area is surrounded by old brick walls.
11
Beaney Institute building

11) Beaney Institute building (must see)

The Beaney Institute building on High Street was completed in 1897. It was planned by architect and land surveyor A.H. Campbell. The building exterior features the highly ornate facade with the half-timbered upper level. This admirable historic Victorian building was founded by Dr. James Beanery, an eminent Canterbury physician. It housed the Canterbury Museum and Public Library, established in the middle of the 19th century. The Slater family donated money for building an annex at the rear of the building in the 1930s. The building is home to the Royal Museum and Art Gallery, Canterbury’s central cultural establishment. Today the museum is closed for vast refurbishment work, and is expected to reopen in 2012. It is in the plans to double the building’s area, producing more and better space for museum and library services.
12
Eastbridge Hospital

12) Eastbridge Hospital (must see)

Eastbridge Hospital established its foundation in the last decade of the 12th century. The establishment was patronized by the Archbishop of Canterbury. This old stone building stands on the busy High Street beside the River Stour. It was a place of hospitality that served as a shelter and support for pilgrims, infirm persons, the poor and homeless, local associations and scholars. Today the hospital is a centre of tourist interest and also home for elderly people of limited means. There is a Norman arch above the entrance, a tiny chapel with an amazing roof and beamed ceiling, a Norman vault open to the public and a remarkable Medieval mural on the underground floor.
13
St. Peter’s Church

13) St. Peter’s Church (must see)

St Peter’s is located on eponymous street and half hidden behind the houses. The church is Medieval, but it stands on the remains of the original Roman church. Its tower incorporates fragments of Roman tile, and quoin cornerstones and ancient bells. The church was believed to be a place of prayer and worship for about 900 years. It is known as a church where a 'Mayor-Making' ceremony for Henry VI took place in the middle of the 15th century; mayoral race attributes are seen inside the building, as well as a brass that mentions the Hugenots and Walloons, Flemish weavers. The interior of St. Peter’s contains many religious implements and structural elements referring to the period of the 12th to 14th century.
14
West Gate

14) West Gate (must see)

West Gate, close to the Canterbury Cathedral, beside the river, served as a Medieval fortified gatehouse when pilgrims flocked through it on the way to Thomas A. Beckett's tomb. This 20-meter high gate of Kentish ragstone is the largest remaining gate of Canterbury's seven Medieval gates. The present towers, more than six centuries old, replaced the Roman ones and house the hundred-year-old museum. You can find the Guard Chamber, Murder Holes, hands-on Armour Display and City Walls Display up a narrow winding staircase. It is an absorbing collection on the history of the town. Visitors are allowed to climb to the roof for superb panoramic views of Canterbury.
15
Tower House and the Westgate Gardens

15) Tower House and the Westgate Gardens (must see)

The present Tower House is an early Victorian structure, supposedly built in the middle of the 19th cent., but the exact date is uncertain. It sits at the south end of the Westgate Gardens, a splendid small area along the banks of the River Stour starting at the city’s West Gate. This castle-like house was the residence of Catherine Williamson, Canterbury’s first female mayor. After her death, the house and the 11 acres of surrounding gardens were donated to the city. Today it is the Mayor's administrative headquarters. The gardens are an ideal place for a gentle stroll along the river banks and they contain many archaeological remains like vestiges of a Roman wall. It features colourful planting, flower beds, neatly trimmed lawns and a curious oriental plane tree with an enormous trunk said to be one of the largest in Britain. There is a superb old Medieval archway that probably led to St. Augustine's Abbey in the 19th century.

Walking Tours in Canterbury, England

Create Your Own Walk in Canterbury

Create Your Own Walk in Canterbury

Creating your own self-guided walk in Canterbury is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Nightlife in Canterbury

Nightlife in Canterbury

Nightlife in Canterbury is vibrant and colourful with its multiple pubs, bars, restaurants and clubs. These numerous venues attract the local public and tourists with the diversity of their statuses, interiors, and peculiarities, offering a different set of entertainment, drinks and food. This self-guided tour provides an excellent selection of Canterbury’s night establishments, so you can enjoy a nice evening out.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.7 km
Canterbury's Museums and Art Galleries

Canterbury's Museums and Art Galleries

Canterbury offers a brilliant choice of museums. It is situated on the site of the Durovernum Cantiacorum, Roman Britain's most important centers. The city's museums feature lots of interactive exhibits and are excellent attractions for families with children. Canterbury has a number of galleries and hosts the annual Canterbury Festival. Explore the most alluring museums and fine art galleries by following this self-guided tour.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.1 km
Canterbury Cathedral and Grounds

Canterbury Cathedral and Grounds

Canterbury Cathedral is one of the oldest regional Christian churches that played a major role in English Christianity. The Cathedral stands within its own walled area, surrounded by Medieval buildings and ruins. This walking tour offers sightseeing and visits to all historically significant, magnificent structures within the precinct. It’s an amazing trip back to the Middle Ages.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.0 km

Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Canterbury for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Canterbury has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Taking Care of Your Feet


To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Canterbury, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device


Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.