When it comes to getting around our beautiful county, we LOVE planning days out and breaks that are accessible by train. And really, what’s not to love? No traffic to contend with, no parking, no stresses of the road and the joys of being able to pair some of that famous Kentish produce with those famous Kent tipples. Better yet, as Kent’s Heritage Coast has been lauded by travel experts Lonely Planet for its sustainable travel options, train travel is the perfect way to ditch the car and do your bit for the environment. Ready to plan your traffic-free trip? Jump aboard and let our friends at Southeastern take the strain.
First up, who’s up for a little shopping? Minutes from Ashford International Train Station, which in itself is minutes from London St Pancras, Ashford Designer Outlet offers 70 premium brands from Armani to Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger, at up to 60% less. Shop til you drop, grab a photo opportunity at the incredible Living Wall, before rounding off your day with dinner and drinks at Wagamama, Comptoir Libnais or one of the many other restaurants.
Station – Ashford International
Hop off the train at Walmer and you’re just over a mile from the delights of Walmer Castle. Coastal views, beautiful gardens and a Tudor castle await at this English Heritage gem, not to mention a pretty astonishing history that includes Wellington and The Queen Mother. While you’re here, the gardens, woodland and meadows make for a tranquil place to relax and enjoy the view.
Station – Walmer
One of our absolute favourites here in Kent, The Historic Dockyard Chatham is a 20–30-minute walk, or just an 8-minute cycle from Chatham Station. Head here for a full day of history and intrigue as your visit leads from the Age of Sail and Chatham’s incredible history as a Royal Navy dockyard, ship builders and ropery, to the present day with a filming catalogue that includes Bridgerton and Call the Midwife!
Station – Chatham
A brewery tour as a designated driver doesn’t have the same ring to it somehow, does it, so we heartily recommend hopping on the train to Faversham to enjoy our next location. As Britain’s oldest brewer, Shepherd Neame has a lot to share on a tour, taking you through the brewing process, the beloved brands the brewery is famous for, including Spitfire and Whitstable Bay, all the way through to a tutored tasting.
Station – Faversham
You’ll no doubt have heard of Canterbury Cathedral, but did you know this city is just over an hour away by train from London? Walk through the cobbled streets and you’ll soon see the cathedral spires on the city skyline. A place of pilgrimage for centuries, Canterbury Cathedral is England’s oldest cathedral, famed for the brutal murder of Thomas Becket within the cathedral walls, and forever immortalised by Geoffrey Chaucer in The Canterbury Tales.
Station – Canterbury East or Canterbury West
A true foodie favourite, trust us when we say you could spend an entire day at Folkestone Harbour Arm. A 25 minute walk from Folkestone Central, this gem is the perfect place to while away a summer’s day by the sea. Enjoy street food in the sunshine, live music, Champagne from the lighthouse at the end of the Arm and live sport and films on the Harbour Screen. Visit on Sunday and we recommend the weekly Harbour Station Market for a unique shopping experience.
Station – Folkestone Central
This impressive manor house stands within Kent’s last remaining medieval deer park and was once the archbishop’s palace, passing into the hands of royalty, including Henry VIII and into the Sackville family. The vast manor alone has 400 years of history within its rooms, but the grand courtyards, parkland and Orangery are perfect for when you want to reconnect with nature and switch off.
Station – Sevenoaks
Viking Bay, Margate Bay and Ramsgate Main Sands – what do these three beaches have in common? They’re all beautiful sandy beaches and all reached by high-speed rail links. Enjoy café culture in Ramsgate, family fun and traditional seaside delights in Broadstairs and retro fun in Margate with the beloved Dreamland just minutes from Margate station.
Stations – Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate
From station to station, hop off the train in beautiful Royal Tunbridge Wells and head to the Spa Valley Railway Tunbridge Wells West Station for a heritage steam and diesel train experience through the Kent countryside. Travel along the line to Groombridge and we recommend heading to Groombridge Place Gardens for the countryside views and gorgeous gardens this area is famous for.
Station – Tunbridge Wells
In the county town of Maidstone, Maidstone Distillery is sharing the secrets of crafting gin on their distillery tours. See the bespoke 450 litre still, learn about the botanicals that go into crafting their artisanal spirits and finish up with cocktails in their beautiful tasting room. With plenty of tipples to try, there’s never been a better excuse to take the train.
Stations – Maidstone East or Maidstone West
It’s the finest example of a Motte and Bailey castle in England and it’s minutes from the nearest train station. The 13th century castle gives a great insight into life from 900 years ago, telling the tale of Kings and archbishops, tyrants, heroes and mercenaries. With so much history to unravel, it’s a true hidden gem.
Station – Tonbridge
Cyclists, hop on the train to Gravesend with your bike and head to Cyclopark a state-of-the-art off-road cycling centre with 6km of mountain bike track and nearly 3km of road track that’s great for perfecting your skills, or learning from scratch with training sessions. There’s even bike hire and a huge play park, making it the perfect spot for a family day out.
Station – Gravesend
And there you have it, now we've inspired you it's time to book up your next car-free getaway...