City life - Canterbury

What makes Canterbury a great student city? Is it the spectacular cathedral, quaint cobbled streets or the Marlowe Theatre? Maybe it’s the vast range of pubs and cafés within the city walls or because it’s one of the most affordable UK cities for students. Whatever your reasons for choosing Canterbury, take time to explore all our city and region has to offer.

History and heritage

The city’s medieval history is easy to see in its streets and buildings, along the River Stour and in the world-famous Canterbury Cathedral. This is also the venue for our degree ceremonies and the perfect backdrop for your graduation photo.

The Cathedral, St Augustine’s Abbey and St Martin’s church, the oldest church in the country, make up a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Religion and education have been at the heart of the city since St Augustine arrived in 598AD to evangelise England. With a population of almost 40,000 students, the city remains a centre of history, culture and learning.

Canterbury Cathedral
Canterbury Cathedral is Kent’s most visited attraction

Arts and culture

There are a number of galleries in Canterbury and the annual Canterbury Festival attracts thousands of visitors from across Europe. The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge is an art gallery, museum, library and café right on the High Street.

Exterior of the Marlowe Theatre
The Marlowe is one of the country’s leading regional theatres

The city is also home to the 1,200-seat Marlowe Theatre. Redeveloped in 2011, it hosts touring productions of West End musicals as well as plays, ballet, contemporary dance, opera and live bands. The main theatre welcomes some of the biggest names in stand-up comedy, while the Marlowe Studio is the place to see up-and-coming talents from across the country.

To catch the latest film releases in 2D or 3D, the ODEON Canterbury offers student deals on tickets, food, drink and more. Alternatively, Curzon Canterbury shows everything from Hollywood blockbusters to independent films, and it has a café and licensed bar.

Quote Gul Afroz Moin

Gul Afroz Moin

I like Canterbury. You see everyone there – students, locals, tourists – and I like diversity because that’s what I grew up with.

Gul Afroz Moin Read profile

Shops and restaurants

Canterbury’s Whitefriars shopping centre brings you the best in fashion, beauty and lifestyle from some of the biggest names in retail. Just a short walk away, the independent shops and boutiques in the King’s Mile, Westgate and St Dunstan’s sell fine art, jewellery, clothing, crafts, antiques and more.

A stroll through the city streets and you will come across almost every type of food. Grab a pizza, burger or fajitas in the high street or sample sushi, meze or fresh seafood in a local restaurant. Fancy something different? The annual Canterbury Food & Drink Festival showcases some of the very best food and drink our county has to offer.

Whitefriars is the largest shopping centre in Kent
Whitefriars is the biggest shopping centre in East Kent

Nightlife

The city has plenty to offer those looking for a good night out. Clubs include Steinbeck & Shaw, a unique venue blending a bar and nightclub experience, and Club Chemistry, the city’s biggest nightclub playing old-school classics, hip hop and dance music. For something more traditional, there are numerous pubs and bars both on the high street and hidden in the historic alleys and back streets.

Sports and leisure

Kent cricketer celebrates taking a wicket for England
Adam Ball, University of Kent elite Scholar and former Kent County Cricket Club player

The county of Kent is home to a number of professional sports teams, and if you want to get involved there are first-class facilities for all levels and abilities to use.

Play a round of golf at Broome Park, watch Gillingham FC play at Priestfield or head to the world-famous Brands Hatch motor racing circuit - all less than an hour's drive from campus.

Cricket is a hugely popular sport in Kent and teams have been representing the county for 300 years. Watch Kent County Cricket Club and the Kent Women's cricket team in action at the St Lawrence Ground, Canterbury. The ground also hosts the oldest cricket festival week in England, Canterbury Cricket Week.

The local region

The county of Kent is known as ‘The Garden of England’. It is one of the most picturesque areas in the country and despite its proximity to London, actually feels worlds away.

Kent has some of the best countryside and woodland to explore. From the Canterbury campus you can walk or cycle along the Crab and Winkle Way – a six-mile disused railway path – to the seaside town of Whitstable. Here you can enjoy paddleboarding, kayaking, kitesurfing, boat trips and more.

Kent's 350-mile coastline is one of the longest and most diverse in the country. During the second and third years at Kent, many students live in the seaside towns of Whitstable and Herne Bay, or the market town of Faversham. These are all on local bus routes to Canterbury and have direct rail links to London.

Punting along the River Stour