The cathedral city of Canterbury is one of the best cycling hubs in Kent. We show you our pick of routes and cycle-friendly places
Home to three UNESCO World Heritage Sites – Canterbury Cathedral, the Church of St Martin and the ruins of St Augustine’s Abbey – Canterbury’s rich history and beautiful buildings make it a popular tourist destination, which is consistently ranked as one of the most-visited cities in the United Kingdom.
As a result it has great facilities for visitors, and with lovely riding in all directions it makes a wonderful place to visit and explore by bike. Our three routes all head out in different directions, each offering a slightly different experience, but each with wonderful riding, scenery, and unique history. All are suitable for gravel, hybrid or mountain bikes.
Canterbury started life as an Iron Age settlement, and was a centre for the local Celtic tribe, the Cantiaci, in the first century AD, until 43 CE when the Romans invaded. They called the town Durovernum Cantiacorum, until they left in 407AD when town life broke down and the town was probably left abandoned. In 597 AD the Pope sent Augustine and some monks to convert the Saxons, and in 603 they built an abbey and Canterbury was chosen to be the seat of the first archbishop, which lead to it being rebuilt.
Canterbury to Coast (43 miles)
This ride starts by exploring the quiet, rural countryside of Kent, using bridleways and back roads, to pass through the 'garden of England'. The peace and tranquility of the ride through these gentle green hills are replaced as you hit the coastline, with concrete tracks, busy paths and numerous cafes and shops.
Canterbury Cathedral Cycle (25 miles)
This route uses a mixture of cycle paths, quiet roads and bridleways making it suitable for gravel, hybrid and mountain bikes, and visits no less than three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Canterbury Cathedral, the ruins of St Augustine’s Abbey and the Church of St Martin. After a rich historical start to the ride, the route guides you out of the busy city centre and plunges you into the beautiful, quiet countryside where you will enjoy leafy tracks, orchards and a ford. After a choice of refreshments at some excellent cafes and country pubs along the way, the route then guides you back along traffic-free cycle paths, into the bustling centre of Canterbury along its amazing narrow historical streets, for a wonderful and varied journey.
Canterbury to Chilham (7 miles)
This route offers a nice, gentle ride along the River Stour which is suitable for all types of bicycle, including a road bike, although you’ll want to stick to the road and avoid the short optional off-road trail between Chartham and Chilham if you are on a road bike. You can ride it from either one of the ends, and catch the train back, or ride it in both directions if you wish. With so much history to see in Canterbury, a charming setting with refreshments to enjoy in Chilham and lovely countryside including a vineyard to visit along the way too, it provides an enjoyable ride with a taste of traditional England thrown in for good measure.
By train there are two mainline stations in the city, Canterbury West (in the north) and Canterbury East (in the south)!
By road, Canterbury is just beyond the end of the M2 motorway, another five miles down the A2.
By bike, National Cycle Network routes 1, 16 and 18 all run through Canterbury.
More cycling experiences in Kent, Cornwall and Norfolk
Canterbury is just one of our highlighted locations that's perfect for cycling. Here's Cycling UK's full set of cycle-friendly hubs, with accredited facilities and promoted routes
EXPERIENCE is a €23.3 million project co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF, €16 million) through the Interreg VA France (Channel) England Programme 2014-2020, boosting visitor numbers in six pilot regions across England and France. This project will harness the experiential tourism trend to extend the season (October – March), generating 20 million new off-season visitors spending €1 billion across the Channel region by June 2023.