Canterbury is a hive of classic vintage charm. Throughout the winding cobbled streets that bask in the shadows of the majestic Cathedral, you’ll find cute artisan shops, lively bars, and more pubs per square metre than anywhere else in Britain.
Unravelling the lure of Canterbury is easy – just take a leisurely stroll down the high street, dipping off every now and again to check out what’s tucked away around the corners.
Expect a walk down memory lane at the Old Gate Inn (162-164 New Dover Road), which dates back to the early 18th century. At one point, this coach house marked a resting spot for travellers, while today it’s a traditional country pub with a rustic, rural charm to boot. Its seasonal menu is packed full of hearty pub classics and its bar is stocked with a collection of cask ales.
The Unicorn Inn (61 St. Dunstans St) is another classic delight set in the heart of Canterbury. Serving up a selection of fine local ales and home-cooked treats, its garden has also been dubbed one of the best kept secrets in the city – that alone is intriguing enough to check it out.
The Parrot (1-9 Church Lane) taps into the medieval appeal of Canterbury, promising punters rustic beams, polished wooden floors and, in winter, a selection of three open fires to thaw out next to. While the ambiance is decidedly vintage, the menu proffers a contemporary list of British dishes.
For a combination of British charm and contemporary pub culture, grab a drink at the Old City Bar (2 Oaten Hill Pl). It effortlessly brings together the stylish décor of modern-day drinking holes with the allure of olde-worlde pubs that are so characteristic of Canterbury.
Known for its real ales and ciders brewed in the local vicinity, The City Arms (7 Butchery Ln) welcomes visitors with home-cooked food set in the shadow of the cathedral. Here, you can knock back a pint or two whilst tucked snugly away in the winding laneways of the city.
The youthful vibe of the Penny Theatre (30-31 Northgate) draws in students from far and wide who are looking for an energetic place to spend the evening. After dark it bursts into life with live DJs and bands, craft beer and cocktails, and even retro games nights.
Alberrys (38 St Margaret’s St) takes the title as one of the oldest bars in Canterbury. For more than three decades it has served up an eclectic collection of cocktails to thirsty partygoers against a backdrop of ambient lighting and chart hits.
Hidden away down one of the city’s many side streets, it’s easy to overlook the Old Brewery Tavern (Stour St). By day it simply serves hearty dishes, but when darkness falls it clears way for a dance floor, DJs, and drinks deals.
For a night with a difference, hotfoot it to The Ballroom (15 Orange St). This quirky venue is set inside a magnificent 18th century ballroom (hence its name) and oozes opulent vintage charm through twinkling chandeliers and elegant details.
The cute appeal of Café Boho (27 High St) can be spotted a mile away. With its vibrant interior popping with kitsch colours, it makes a stand against the greyscale cobblestones of central Canterbury. Here, you can tuck into a bohemian selection of brunch dishes or simply slug down a coffee and watch the world go by.
Tiny Tim’s Tearoom (34 St Margaret’s St) is a quintessentially English addition to the city centre. Voted the top tearoom in Kent in 2015, it causes a stir with its fresh scones and sweet treats as well as its sumptuous brunch menu that bursts with local flavours.
Veg-lovers will definitely want to check out The Veg Box Café (17A Burgate), which does exactly as it says on the tin. Boasting an extensive menu of vegetarian and vegan dishes, it is the perfect place to go for a meat-free brunch.
If fresh, local flavours are your thing, grab a table at Deeson’s British Restaurant (25-27 Sun Street). Specialising in traditional British dishes with a twist, the owners grow many of the ingredients on their own smallholding – you can’t get fresher than that.
The Olive Grove (12 Best Ln) provides guests with a laidback Italian dining experience. Its menu is packed full of hearty Italian dishes (think rich pastas, thick pizzas, and fresh seafood), while its décor radiates sophisticated charm.
Canterbury’s dining scene wouldn’t be complete without Chom Chom’s (10-11 Burgate Ln), an all-you-can-eat dining experience that brings together Asian and European cuisine. Pizzas sit side by side with chow meins, guests can watch their food being cooked in the live theatre kitchen, and the ambient Oriental décor adds a fancy touch.
Marlowe’s Restaurant (55 St Peter’s St) adds a lively element to any evening. Centred around a theatrical theme, the rich-coloured walls are adorned with black and white photography, while the menu promises a wide variety of dishes for every taste.
Fair Trade Siesta Crafts (1 Palace St) is a haven of gifts for every occasion. From hand-carved musical instruments to woollen garments and unusual artefacts from around the globe, it offers shoppers a rabbit-warren of ideas and inspiration.
Got a fancy dress party coming up? Or simply want to be transported to another world for half an hour? Marlowe Costumes (Roper Rd)has you covered. Set in a low-ceilinged basement, it sells everything from plush Venetian masks to the outfits of world-famous celebrities and characters.
The Sewing Shop (19 Sun St)is a quaint addition to Canterbury’s high street. Layered in all sorts of pastel patterns, eye-catching threads, and even craft workshops, it offers visitors a luxury browse with a creative edge.
Indulge your sweet tooth at the Fudge Shop (16 Sun St), an entire shop dedicated to – you got it – fudge. Try counter samples and browse unique flavours, and pick up a pack or two to take home with you.