From famous cathedrals to Norman castles – here are five of the best Kent towns to visit by train from south east London for a fun day out.

Kent has some great historic towns to visit offering local attractions for all the family to enjoy, whether you love history, the outdoors or a bit of retail therapy.

We’ve rounded up five of the best Kent villages you can easily visit by train from south east London for a great day out:  


Famous for its iconic cathedral and links with Geoffrey Chaucer and Thomas Becket, Canterbury is a great place for any history buffs.

Check out the famous cathedral itself, which is one of he oldest and most famous Christian buildings in England, dating back to 597 AD.

You’ll see many old buildings like the Weavers House, a 16th century building-turned-pub serving pies and Sunday roasts.

If you like books you simply must check out the Catching Lives Bookshop in Palace Street, which claims to be one of the most photographed buildings in Canterbury and for good reason.

The 17th century building has become skewed over the years and now resembles something out of a picture book with its lopsided entrance. They also have a wide selection of second-hand books to chose from.

Why not take a punt and spend some time on the Great Stour with picturesque views of Westgate Gardens and Canterbury’s many historical buildings.

You can catch a train to Canterbury directly from Denmark Hill or Swanley to Canterbury East. If you’d prefer to travel by coach you can take a National Express Coach in just over an hour from Eltham.


Known for its links to Victorian writer Charles Dickens, Rochester still feels like something out of a Dickens book even today.

Rochester has several museums as well as Rochester Castle and Rochester Cathedral for you to explore.

The castle itself is a Norman tower dating back to 1127, when it was built by William of Corbeil to defend an important crossing on the River Medway.

Book lovers should also pay a visit to Baggins Book Bazaar – the largest second-hand bookshop in England.

Don’t let appearances fool you - this bookshop may seem small from the outside, but upon entering you’ll soon feel as if you’ve stepped into Doctor Who’s Tardis.

You can take a direct train from Bromley South Station to Rochester in just over an hour for the fast service.

Royal Tunbridge Wells  

Full of parks, two theatres and a heritage railway, Tunbridge Wells has plenty to offer for a day trip or even a weekend away.

Tunbridge Wells was formerly a spa town for the gentry from 1606, when a spring containing distinctive minerals was first discovered.

No visit to Royal Tunbridge Wells is complete without paying a visit to The Pantiles, a Georgian colonnade walkway with buildings dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries.

If you’re a fan of old trains why not hop aboard the Spa Valley Railway from Tunbridge Wells West station, where you can see beautiful views of the Kent countryside.

On your way you could hop off and take a tour of other villages on the route including Groombridge and Eridge.

You can catch a direct train to Tunbridge Wells from Orpington in just 30 minutes.


The market town of Tonbridge, with its churches, oast houses and 13th century castle, is just 20 minutes away by train from Orpington.

You can explore the town’s 13th century Castle, originally built to fortify the town by the Normans.

The castle is currently closed for repair works on the roof, although according to the website the castle is expected to reopen by July.

On Sundays you can look around Tonbridge Farmers Market to buy fresh produce, bakes and goods from the farmers there.

If you fancy a trip to the theatre with a difference why not check out the Oast Theatre, a small venue which has been set up in a former oast house.


Just over an hour away by train from Grove Park, Petts Wood, Chislehurst and Orpington, Sevenoaks has plenty to offer in the town as well as further afield.

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Sevenoaks has plenty of independent shops and well-known retailers if you fancy some retail therapy.

If you fancy a walk in the park, you can head over to National Trust owned Knole Park, which is home to free-roaming wild deer.

If you are driving or fancy a walk through the countryside then head over to Ightham Mote, a medieval manor owned by the National Trust.