Visiting Kent: the best things to see and do

Leeds Castle, Maidstone
Leeds Castle, Maidstone

Referred to as the ‘Garden of England’, Kent is full of history, culture, natural beauty and fantastic food. Read on for some of the best things to see and do…

Leeds Castle, Maidstone

The medieval Leeds Castle looks like something from a fairy-tale, and is considered to be one of England’s most romantic castles. Explore the grounds, get lost in the garden maze, dine in its restaurants, watch an open air play or have a round of golf.

If you’re visiting Kent and looking for something a little less common why not check out the Medieval Jousting and choose your favourite Knight. Leeds Castle is hosting a this great event to entertain children and adults alike. The kids will definitely be entertained and can also take part in archery and medieval crafts.

Accommodation at the caste is extravagant and beautiful but if you are looking to explore more of the area, staying at the castle might not be the best option, don’t worry: there are lots of top-quality cheap hotels in Maidstone from.

Sittingbourne’s Steam Railway

All aboard! The Sittingbourne Railway line has the longest narrow-gauge viaduct in Britain and amazingly, still uses the original engines (dating back to 1905) and rolling stock. Children will love a ride on one the Thomas the Tank Engine-like trains, which will take you on scenic journey from Sittingbourne to Kemsley.

Canterbury

Canterbury is of course the star of Chaucer’s epic Canterbury Tales, in which a group of pilgrims make their way to the shrine of St. Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral. Go on your own pilgrimage to Canterbury Cathedral (http://www.canterbury-cathedral.org/) and get to know the city’s cosy pubs, lively theatre scene and surrounding countryside.

You can enter Canterbury in style by hiring a punt and slowly easing your way down the river Stour into the city boundaries, arriving at Westgate Towers.

Margate’s seaside

Something very exciting is happening in Margate: it’s once again becoming a popular, vibrant seaside destination.

Victorians used to flock to the town on holiday and take a restorative dip in the sea. And the new efforts to bring it back to glory have started to work: the Rough Guides have recently named it as one of its top 10 destinations in the world.

The opening of the Turner Contemporary gallery has helped: this exciting gallery is dedicated to cutting edge modern art, including one by Margate’s most famous ex-resident – Tracey Emin, who has described her home town has ‘romantic, sexy and weird’. Along with several other galleries, quirky vintage shops and great cafes, it’s putting Margate firmly on the map for all the right reasons.

Sissinghurst Estate

Find out why Kent is called ‘the Garden of England’ at Sissinghirst Estate – a sprawling area with lakes, perfectly tendered gardens, lush woodland, a restaurant and even a vegetable garden.

Foodies will love it here: all the vegetables are grown organically, which you can choose to buy on the spot or sample at the Granary restaurant, which is lucky enough to have fresh produce right on their doorstep.

Vineyards in Kent

Kent’s fertile soil make it perfect for growing apple trees and grapes, so visit some of its best vineyards like Biddenden Vineyards and Cider Works for a glass of cloudy apple juice and proper cider or Chapel Down Winery for some fantastic English wine (yes, it does exist).

Teapot Island

This eccentric museum is home to some 3,500 teapots, each with its own back story and colourful history. Have tea (what else) and scones at the café before making your way around the extensive collection at one of Kent’s more unconventional (but thoroughly fun) attractions.

Image credit:  Karen Roe