An Inexpensive (Yet Comfortable) Way to Travel Around the UK, Specifically South Kent & London

When I’m feeling stressed from working on my PhD, I like to take a break by walking around Canterbury’s City Centre and browse the shops, get a snack, or read in a lovely park. Sometimes, though, that’s not enough and I need a proper mini-holiday away, or at least get away from Canterbury and any reminders of my studies! Since I don’t drive in the UK, I have to rely on public transportation. However, since we’re in the UK, forget about any misgivings you may have about traveling by bus. In the UK, the buses are very clean, on time, AND they’re mostly double decker!! The British might be used to these factors, but to me, it made traveling a little more fun.

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Stour River in Canterbury

Traveling around Kent

If I can’t really get away for more than a couple of hours, then I use my trusty Coach Card to visit any one of nearby places in Kent.

Whitstable is perfect for eating some oysters at the historic Wheelers Oyster Bar:

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Here’s a tip: If you don’t have a reservation (and these are difficult to get unless you book way ahead of time), you can always sit at the oyster bar!!!

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Folkstone is perfect when you want to visit the beach or spend some time enjoying Kingsnorth Gardens on a sunny day:

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Pretty fountain in Kingsnorth Gardens

I usually visit Ramsgate for some delicious sushi and boat-spotting at the harbour:

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Ramsgate and a view of its harbour, just a short walk from restaurants and shops

Margate is the location of the Turner Contemporary museum where Princess Kate visited a couple of years ago.

Another tip: Admission is free at Turner Contemporary!

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Turner Contemporary – Free Admission!!

Stagecoach is the bus company that serves many UK cities, and if you’re a student, you can apply for a Coach Card that’s heavily subsidized. Usually a one-way ticket for a 5 minute journey costs almost £2, which is absurd, especially when you see how much (or how little) it can cost you to go to London. With the student discount, you have unlimited travel to anywhere in South Kent. Depending on the destination, the journey can take about 45 minutes, but it’s a very pleasant one. You’ll pass by thatched roof houses, timber-framed and Tudor-style buildings, and plenty of farmlands with animals like sheep, horses, and cows. I found it very calming to incorporate these trips at least once a week, especially when it wasn’t in my budget to book days-long holidays.

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One of the many amazing thatched-roof houses in Kent; this one is in Harbledown

Traveling from Kent to London

When friends visited me either in Canterbury or via London, I liked to take a few days off to spend time with them. It’s very easy to travel to London from anywhere in the UK, but particularly so in South Kent. Sure, you could travel by train (trains are super clean and well-maintained), but the cost of traveling by train can be 3x as much as the bus, and it doesn’t even save you any time. Unless the train happened to be more convenient, I much preferred to take the bus.

The main coach (bus) service in Canterbury is called National Express and if you book online, they frequently have excellent deals. A one-way bus to London can cost as little as £5, but make sure to book early enough as this offer is limited and sometimes they are booked quickly. Luckily, National Express has many Canterbury-London and London-Canterbury routes throughout the day. In the summers, I could leave Canterbury before 8am and arrive in London by 10am, and then leave London at 8pm and get back to Canterbury at 10pm, and the sun would just be setting. Compared to the non-discounted £2 for a five-minute journey in Canterbury I mentioned, paying £5 for a two-hour bus ride to London can’t be beat!

Once you’re in London, you can get an Oyster card. This makes traveling by bus or underground much easier and cheaper, and you can refill it at any underground station. The card caps at a certain amount, which means the card automatically will stop charging you once you reach that amount.

With your Oyster card filled and ready to take you around London, there’s so much to see! It’s simple to take a day-trip to London from Kent, and probably a lot cheaper to buy the £5 fare for travel to and from London for consecutive days instead of spending money on a hotel.

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Double-decker bus in London on beautiful Regent Street

Happy travels!

I hope this was a helpful guide for traveling around Kent and London! Have you visited any of the places in Kent that I mentioned? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks for reading!

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