- Countryside White cliffs, windmills and high weald
- Country life Farmer’s markets, smuggler’s inns
Ever since Caesar first came, saw and conquered it, the Garden of England has attracted visitors with its sandy beaches and fertile countryside.
From the chalky cliffs, sandy bays and flint fisherman’s cottages of its coast to the windmills and weather-boarded houses of the wild weald and downlands, Kent’s landscapes are both bountiful and varied. Its towns and topography have inspired authors from Geoffrey Chaucer and Charles Dickens to John Buchan; and historic leaders from Churchill to Henry VIII have escaped to relax at the county’s full deck of stately homes and Blue Flag strands. And if that all sounds a bit worthy, there’s plenty of boutique shopping, antiques hunting, spa pampering, wine-tasting and outdoors adventures to be had, too…
Do go/Don’t go
You can't beat a bright spring day in the countryside, but we're rather partial to wrapping up for wintry walks and then warming up by the fire. Kent’s beaches are mercifully uncrowded; even in the height of summer, you should still be able to find somewhere to erect your windbreak and unfold your deck chairs. Family-friendly sites such as Hever Castle will, of course, be less busy outside the school holidays, and Bank Holiday weekends can bring short but tiresome traffic jams.
- Planes The nearest international airport is London Gatwick | from where a 45-minute drive will take to the centre of Kent | but Heathrow and Stansted are also well-connected. Kent International Airport at Manston (www.kentinternationalairport-manston.com) is a small airport with charter flights to short-haul destinations such as Palma and Jersey; there are plans to offer domestic flights | too.
- Boats Dozens of ferries from Calais and Boulogne arrive into Dover daily. If your sea legs aren’t the best, the Channel Tunnel at Folkestone will whisk you and your car beneath the sea to Calais in a little over half an hour (www.eurotunnel.com).
- Trains Southeastern trains (www.southeasternrailway.co.uk) connect Kent to London and the rest of the country, with regular services from London Victoria, Cannon Street and Waterloo East to destinations including Royal Tunbridge Wells, Rochester, Whitstable, Canterbury and Dover. 2009 sees the launch of a high-speed link from London St Pancras; and Eurostar trains from the Continent also stop at Ashford in Kent.
- Automobiles The M20 | M2 and A2 carve through northeast Kent on their way towards Folkestone | Faversham and Dover respectively. If you’re heading for Royal Tunbridge Wells from London | it’s only about 30 miles’ drive: jump off the M25 at Sevenoaks and take the A21/A26 route.
- Taxis If you need a taxi, your best bet is to get your hotel to arrange pick-ups and drop-offs, since they’ll know the most reliable local cab companies.