Things to do in Kent

With picture-perfect castles, great seaside destinations, rolling downs and picturesque villages, Kent’s coast and countryside has much to offer

The great outdoors

Kent has long been known as the Garden of England. Its rolling chalk downs, ancient woodlands, oast houses and picturesque villages conjure up images of a classic English idyll.

With 350 miles of coastline and a third of the county designated as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, lovers of the great outdoors will never be short of things to do in Kent.

The North Downs Way and the Saxon Shore Way provide spectacular views for walkers, while cyclists will find designated routes across the county to suit all ages and abilities.

Beside the seaside

Relax and take in some fresh sea air on one of Kent’s 11 Blue Flag beaches. The beautiful sands of Botany Bay sit beneath spectacular white chalk cliffs, while Greatstone Beach offers two miles of windswept sands, perfect for those looking to enjoy a spot of kitesurfing. Favourite beach destinations for families include Viking Bay at Broadstairs, Sunny Sands beach in Folkestone, and West Bay Beach and the Main Sands in Margate.

Margate offers an exciting blend of the traditional and the new. The pleasure park at Dreamland has been lovingly transformed and once again offers the thrills and excitement of a traditional British seaside amusement park. English painter JMW Turner came to Margate for inspiration and you too can be inspired by the exhibitions at the Turner Contemporary Gallery, which was built on the site of the location he used to visit when in town.

Bohemian Whitstable serves up fine local shellfish and is full of boutique shops, galleries and eateries, while the harbour at Ramsgate is packed with stylish waterside restaurants and bars.

You’ll find abundant wildlife on the marshlands and nature reserves of the Isle of Sheppey, while those looking for something a little different should head to Dungeness where the coastline possesses a haunting, otherworldly quality.

A rich heritage

Step back in time at Penshurst Place. The stunning 14th-century manor house and its beautiful gardens have been used as a setting for TV dramas and films, including Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and the The Other Boleyn Girl. Picturesque Leeds Castle has been described as ‘the loveliest castle in the world’, and the romantic 13th-century Hever Castle, set in award-winning gardens, was once the childhood home of Anne Boleyn. Take a trip to Dover Castle and explore its Secret Wartime Tunnels – this coastal fortress has been guarding our shores for 900 years. Discover more about Kent’s rich maritime history at The Historic Dockyard Chatham, where you can board old warships and find out what life was like on a Cold War submarine.

From the Roman villa at Lullingstone to Canterbury Cathedral, Kent boasts a wealth of historic buildings waiting to be discovered.

Kent Vineyward

Going to town

Canterbury is a bustling cathedral city steeped in history. Explore the city’s Roman roots at the Canterbury Roman Museum, the ruins of its Norman castle, and of course the magnificent cathedral. Against this wonderful architectural backdrop, there’s some seriously good shopping on offer with high-end fashion brands, high street favourites and specialist shops. There are also plenty of cafes, teashops and restaurants to choose from, and the city’s bars and pubs come alive in the evening. Enjoy live entertainment at various venues, including the stunning Marlowe Theatre and Westgate Hall.

The historic spa town of Tunbridge Wells is surrounded by the beautiful rolling countryside of the High Weald. People have been visiting the town for centuries to ‘take the waters’, which you can still do today at The Chalybeate Spring. Follow a heritage trail to discover more about the town’s history, or head to the elegant Pantiles for some stylish shopping. There’s a great selection of bars and pubs, and food lovers will be spoilt for choice with restaurants showcasing fresh local produce.

Maidstone is Kent’s county town and offers plenty of options, from scenic cruises on the river Medway to retail therapy in the town’s historic streets and modern shopping centres. Here, you’ll find a great selection of pavement cafes, bistros and restaurants. The town’s nightlife provides a mix of live music, theatre and entertainment at various venues including The Hazlitt Theatre.

Fun things to do in Kent

For a fun day out with the family, visit Howletts Wild Animal Park where you can encounter lions, tigers, elephants and gorillas and experience wildlife conservation in action. Thrill-seekers can enjoy all the fun of the fair at Margate’s Dreamland or a white-knuckle ride of a different kind at the Buckmore Park Kart Circuit. Those looking for excitement on two wheels will find mountain biking trails at Bedgebury and BMX tracks, road circuits and mountain biking at Cyclopark near Gravesend. Watersports enthusiasts will also find plenty of things to do. Kent has water-based activity centres across the county, where can try your hand at surfing, paddle boarding, kitesurfing, canoeing and sailing. The fun in Gravesend doesn’t stop at watersports either, visitors can discover a wealth of heritage as well as picturesque country parks. If the weather is sunny, how about a cruise on the river Thames to see the best of Gravesend at a relaxed pace.

Food and drink

Kent’s reputation as the Garden of England should give you a good idea of the fabulous produce the county has to offer. You’ll find Whitstable oysters, Romney Marsh lamb, and freshly caught fish on menus from Tonbridge to Tenterden. Its vineyards and breweries produce wonderful wines and beers, and tours are available at the Chapel Down and Biddenden Vineyards, the Hush Heath Winery and at the Shepherd Neame Brewery.

So why not check out our accommodation in Kent and see what this beautiful county has to offer.