Kent is quintessential English countryside, ancient castles and those iconic White Cliffs of Dover. Lined by over 350 miles of coastline, the county has dozens of sandy beaches and classic seaside towns. Head inland and you’ll reach fabled Canterbury and the grassy slopes of the Kent Downs. Such great variety draws families and young Londoners seeking a weekend getaway in the great British countryside.
Bright young things should head to Margate, which has undergone a rapid makeover during the last few years and now brims with hip cafes, indie galleries and vintage clothes shops. Conversely, quaint little Broadstairs, where Charles Dickens used to summer, remains unchanged in years. Families will like Ramsgate, thanks to its Blue Flag beaches, Victorian architecture and bustling Royal Harbour. For something a little more rugged, Sandwich Bay is a long stretch of shingle beach backed by sand dunes, ideal for a beach walk without the crowds.
The ancient walls that encircle pretty Canterbury conceal a city of timeless beauty. Relics from Roman, Norman and Tudor times form its historical centre, while the spires of the great cathedral - a building so beautiful that it’s been awarded World Heritage status - pierce the skyline. But it’s not all olde-worlde appeal; the university draws a big student population, and as a result there are lots of independent cafes peppering its medieval streets. In summer, go punting along the River Stour, which runs right through the city’s heart.
Kent is dotted with some of England’s most beautiful castles. Hever, the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, has a Tudor exterior and an elegant interior refurbished by Lord Astor in the early 1900s. Outside, the grounds contain 3 mazes. A great family-friendly option is Leeds Castle, which has holiday cottages, a huge maze and a Go Ape outside. Out on the coast, Dover Castle governs the cliffs, and has been guarding the land from invaders for over 2000 years.
Much of Kent is blanketed in the verdant slopes of the Downs and the High Weald: 2 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Here, you’ll find winding country roads, traditional oast houses and trickling streams. Ranscombe Farm is famous for its wild flowers, particularly bluebells, and is a lovely spot for a springtime walk. Keen cyclists will find plenty of excellent routes, including the Pilgrims Cycle Trail that winds through the North Downs from Rochester to Canterbury. Horse riders should head to Blue Bell Hill, which is also a lovely picnic spot.