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From romantic moated castles and historic houses to glorious vineyards and pretty villages surrounded by hop fields and traditional oast houses, you will be surprised at how much you can pack in while visiting Kent. Visit the cathedral city of Canterbury, the spa town of Royal Tunbridge Wells, or the coastal towns of Whitstable and Broadstairs. Take a cream tea in one of our Kentish tea rooms and walk it off on one of our beautiful beaches or over the glorious North Downs.
If you are after a quick escape from the big smoke for a couple of days, Kent is the perfect choice. With Tunbridge Wells just under an hour by train from Charing Cross and Ashford an hour and a half from Victoria, you will be taken right into the heart of Kent. Easily accessible from the M25, you can then branch off onto either the A21 which will take you towards the south coast, the M20 which goes to Dover and Folkestone or the M2 which will take you to the coastal towns of Broadstairs, Margate and Whitstable.
FRIDAY EVENING - RELAX IN YOUR NEW SURROUNDINGS
Flee from the city on Friday afternoon and feel your cares melt away as buildings and tarmac give way to fields and forest. Once you have settled into your holiday cottage, think about dining options. If you are near one of the larger towns or cities, there are plenty of up-and-coming places to grab dinner - The Ivy in Tunbridge Wells is highly recommended, as well as The Café du Soleil in Canterbury and The Sportsman in Seasalter (near Whitstable). Follow with a late-night drink in one of the many bars or clubs if you don’t feel like turning in for the night.
If this all sounds like too much effort and you are staying somewhere more rural, there is nothing nicer than heading to a country pub and having a quiet meal in front of a roaring log fire. There are so many that we can’t possibly recommend them all but you’d be hard pushed to not find a lovely traditional inn in Kent wherever you are staying.
SATURDAY MORNING - CITY OR COAST?
Start the day with a visit to Canterbury with its majestic cathedral and cobbled streets. Step back in time and discover a bygone era at the Canterbury Tales or choose Tunbridge Wells with its fabulous shopping at The Pantiles, a Georgian colonnade which leads from the well that gave the town its name. There are also some lovely art galleries and parks in the area to visit, including the magnificent Dunorlan Park on the outskirts of the town.
If you prefer to get away from the crowds, head to one of our many coastal villages or towns. The pretty fishing harbour of Whitstable is great for sampling freshly caught oysters and the quintessential seaside town of Broadstairs has seven fabulous sandy beaches and bays to explore – try Botany Bay if you fancy a spot of fossil hunting.
Further south, Folkestone, Hythe and Romney Marsh offer a mixture of art, history and wildlife – try the cutting-edge Creative Quarter in Folkestone, St. Leonard’s Church in Hythe and the bleak landscapes of Dungeness where you will find the spectacular RSPB reserve and the infamous nuclear power station.
SATURDAY AFTERNOON - VINEYARD TOURS
After a morning seeing the sights, slow down the pace and visit one of our lovely vineyards – Biddenden Vineyards, Chapel Down Winery in Small Hythe and Hush Heath in Staplehurst offer great tours and tastings if you are more centrally based and the environmentally friendly Chartham Vineyard is perfect if you have spent the morning in Canterbury as it is only a 15-minute drive away. Make sure you pick up some wine and apple juice to take home.
SATURDAY EVENING - IT'S SHOWTIME!
If you have spent the day in or around the bigger towns or cities why not stay in the area to have dinner or catch a show? The Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury city centre is a fantastic glass structured venue which has some brilliant touring operas and ballets, including the Northern Theatre and Glyndebourne to name a few. Tunbridge Wells is home to the Assembly Hall Theatre which also has some fun shows and the boutique style Kino Cinema in Hawkhurst has all the latest films with comfortable seats and a coffee bar.
If the day has been a long one and you just need to rest your weary legs, why not head home instead? Buy some freshly caught fish, switch on the barbie and relax with a glass of wine while you chat about your day. Finish off with a movie then sink into bed, ready for the next day’s adventures.
SUNDAY MORNING - CASTLES AND HISTORIC HOUSES
Sunday is the perfect day for a visit to one of our romantic castles or historic houses – wherever you are in Kent, you are not far from a National Trust or English Heritage property. From the imposing picture-perfect castles of Leeds and Hever, where romance blossomed between Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, to the stony fortress and secret tunnels of the white cliffs of Dover, there is a piece of history at every corner.
Discover all of the historic castles in Kent with our guide
Discover the charming gardens of Sissinghurst, home to Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicholson, the medieval moated manor house of Ightham Mote or Chartwell, the home of former prime minister Sir Winston Churchill.
Check out our full guide to National Trust houses in Kent
SUNDAY AFTERNOON - TIME FOR AFTERNOON TEA
Most National Trust and English Heritage properties have tea rooms on site, where you can take a few minutes to relax and recharge your batteries. Alternatively, discover a new village and enjoy a delicious cream tea at the same time.
Appledore is the perfect place to do this with its wonderful Miss Mollett’s High Class Tea room, and Tenterden and Cranbrook have some lovely cafes too. Make sure that you pick up some local produce from a farm shop to take a taste of the country back to the city with you – our apple juice, jams and chutneys are some of the best in the land!
If we have inspired you to come to Kent for the weekend, why not browse our Kent cottages for somewhere to stay while you explore?
Enjoy another weekend break just a short distance from London with our guide to spending 48 hours in Sussex.