Canterbury is known as the spiritual home of England, with the Archbishop of Canterbury a resident since 597 when Pope St Augustine visited the town and converted its inhabitants back to Christianity. Today, with UNESCO World Heritage status held by St Martin's Church, St Augustine's Abbey and Canterbury Cathedral, the town is one of the most arresting places to visit in the UK, and its pull as a pilgrims' destination is as strong today as it was in Chaucer's time.
Deep in the Garden of England, the small city of Canterbury has a surprising amount of shopping – head to the King's Mile, where independent stores are in abundance, selling everything from bean-to-bar chocolate, fair-trade clothes and all manner of trinkets. Up next, the High Street and Whitefriars Shopping Centre offer hundreds of household brand names.
But there is no doubting that Canterbury Cathedral is the must-see place to visit. One of the oldest and most famous religious buildings in the world, it's truly striking, with over a millennium of history to explore, including one of the world's greatest medieval stained-glass windows. Most poignant, however, is the continuously burning candle at the front of the pews, commemorating the murder, on that spot, of Archbishop Thomas Becket, who was put to death by Henry II's knights in 1170. The solitary candle acts as a vigil for the fallen saint – and it's one of the most important religious spots in the world.
Similarly spiritual, though, is the sight of Canterbury from the River Stour, which runs through the city. Be transported back a thousand years on a boat trip from the Old Weavers Restaurant, a considerably more genteel way to take on one of the country's busiest – and smallest – cities.