Travel southeast from the city of London and you will arrive in the Garden of England: Kent. Spanning from the London Borough of Bromley all the way down to a glorious coastline, this county offers so much to see and do – including castles and caves. We have selected the most unique attractions in Kent to guide you through the county’s history.
Retaining beautiful towers built in the 11th and 12th centuries, Dover Castle is a fortress with an amazing history. Visitors can wander through the secret wartime tunnels deep within the famous White Cliffs, and watch drama unfold as real-life stories are captured, illustrating the Dunkirk evacuation of May 1940. The medieval palace and the Great Tower captures the richness of royalty, also providing guests with remarkable views of Dover. There are plenty of cafes to dine in, and special events take place throughout the year.
Located just five minutes from the historic Canterbury Cathedral, the Moat Tea Rooms are in a marvellous 16th-century building containing original wood interiors that take visitors back in time. A variety of teas are on offer, along with 14 types of freshly ground coffee beans and homemade delicacies. Take afternoon tea like a king, with sandwiches followed by homemade scones, locally produced jam and clotted cream. Light lunches and other snacks are also available. Although there is no wifi or background music, you can truly soak up the ancient atmosphere.
The steam locomotive officially opened in the summer of 1927 and has since served the Kent coastline from Hythe along to the National Nature Reserve of Dungeness. Also known as Kent’s Mainline in Miniature, Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway has six stations spanning along the 13.5mi (22km) of track in the picturesque Kent corner that also offers access to beaches, lighthouses, cycle rides and medieval churches. Refreshments are available at some stations, and train rides are suitable no matter the weather.
Having the largest collection of iconic Victorian Oast houses, the Hop Farm dates back over four centuries but has only changed hands four times in 450 years. The land was a fully working farm before opening to the public, and it now provides a wealth of entertainment. Take a trip down memory lane in Yesterday’s World, a museum processing over 1,000 artefacts from Victorian times, and then prepare to be mystified in the Magic Castle. Visitors can also enter into the life of a hop farmer in the Hop Museum and meet friendly animals in Hopper’s Animal World and the birds-of-prey zone, while children can enjoy rides, a soft play area, outdoor adventure areas and so much more.
Take a lantern and explore the dark labyrinth of Chislehurst Caves, where you’ll discover tales of the Druids, Romans, and Saxons and a haunted pool in the guided tour. The man-made tunnels cover a massive 22mi (35km) and were originally constructed as chalk and flint mines. Opening to the public for the first time in 1900, the maze of caves famously provided air-raid shelters during World War II and then became a music venue during the 1960s and ’70s, with performances from legends including Jimi Hendrix. Tours leave every hour and last for around 45 minutes.
Positioned upon a pretty village green in Bearsted, just a few miles from the town of Maidstone, the Oak on the Green is an authentic pub and restaurant that can historically be traced back to 1665. The cosy candle-lit interior serves a whole range of fresh dishes for starters, lunch, dinner and dessert, all from the cookhouse and made from good-quality, local ingredients. As the pub is still a free house, a quality ale list is available – and they serve wine too.