Today I want to share about a day trip to Leeds Castle, Dover, Canterbury, and Greenwich. This whistle-stop tour is a great way to pack a lot of sights into a short amount of time when you’re in London.

Day Trip to Leeds Castle, Dover, Canterbury, and Greenwich

Day Trip to Leeds Castle, Dover, Canterbury, and Greenwich

I could live in London for the rest of my life and still never see all there is to see. The same goes for England. And the UK.

Living here has given me the opportunity to see a lot of the country on day trips, and I’ve had the luxury of taking my time.

But most Americans only have two weeks of vacation each year and need to pack all their sightseeing into one short trip.

I had been to all of the places on my day trip itinerary before, and I’d had enough time to spend a full day in each.

Seeing them all in 11 hours sounded intense, but I was curious to discover how much I could actually do in each location in one day.

GetYourGuide offered me a ticket on their tour, and off I went on a day trip to Leeds Castle, Dover, Canterbury, and Greenwich.

Tomb of an archbishop in Canterbury Cathedral in England

Leeds Castle

I boarded a sparkling new bus at Victoria Coach Station at 8:30am with 28 other passengers. The tour guide, David, entertained us on the way to Kent by pointing out sites of interest and telling stories about the places we were going to see.

Leeds Castle in England

Soon we arrived at Leeds Castle. The beautiful building was surrounded by a moat where black and white swans swam peacefully. The scene looked like something straight out of a fairy tale.

Facade of Leeds Castle in England

Upon entering Leeds Castle, we were taken on a private tour by one of the guides.

From her we learned that the fortress, which was originally built in Norman times, was called The Ladies’ Castle due to the fact that six medieval queens resided there.

Bookcase in the library at Leeds Castle in England

During the tour we saw several of those queens’ state apartments, as well as the more modern rooms of the last private owner of this English castle, an American named Lady Baillie.

Overall the tour was a good one, although the guide put a little too much emphasis on how each room in Leeds Castle could be used if we rented it out for a wedding.

I would have liked a bit more historical detail and a bit less commentary on how to plan my future nuptials.

Bedroom at Leeds Castle in Kent, England

After the tour we had exactly 25 minutes of free time to explore the rest of the castle grounds. I sprinted up to the aviary and then to the maze and the vineyard.

Near them were the cages where the birds of prey resided during my falconry day at Leeds Castle years ago. I didn’t have nearly enough time to see everything I wanted to see, but it was still nice to get a quick visit.

Bridge over the moat at Leeds Castle in England


Back on the bus, we drove deeper into Kent while David once again told us stories and answered every question from “is the Queen married?” to “why are private schools called public schools in England?”.

His enthusiasm and humor made the time pass quickly, and before we knew it, we had arrived at the coast.

Ferry in Dover, England

When we got to Dover, most of the group went to lunch at a seafront restaurant. In the beginning of the tour, a clipboard had been passed around for us to check off which meal option we wanted.

All meals, including the Greek salad, were 11 pounds, which seemed pretty steep for Dover.

From my last day trip with the company, I knew that the meal was optional. It would have been nice if it been made clear to us that we were free to eat elsewhere if we wanted to.

White buildings by the harbor in Dover, England

When we got off the bus, I broke off from the group and found a cafe to have lunch. Afterwards I walked around the waterfront to watch the ferries ply the route from Dover to Calais.

In the distance was the coast of France, and closer in were memorial plaques from World War II.

White Cliffs of Dover in England

Atop the famous white cliffs was Dover Castle, where I went once on another day trip from London.

We didn’t have time to see it that day, which was somewhat strange since it meant that we drove all the way to Dover just to eat lunch. In any case, it was nice to be by the sea for an hour.

Castle and Roman lighthouse in Dover, England


Back on the bus, the day trip to Leeds Castle, Dover, Canterbury, and Greenwich continued with a stop at the famous Canterbury Cathedral.

The house of worship is the seat of one of the two archbishops of the Church of England (the other being in York).

We arrived and went directly to the candle that marked the spot of the famous shrine of St Thomas Becket, who was murdered in the cathedral in 1170 after a dispute with King Henry II.

Trinity Chapel in Canterbury Cathedral in Kent, England

Continuing our self-guided tour of Canterbury Cathedral, we walked through the 12th-century Trinity Chapel and Quire, down to the 11th-century crypt, and through the 14th-century nave with its beautiful Gothic architecture.

Gothic nave in Canterbury Cathedral in England

Outside we saw the cloister and chapter house before walking around the bustling retail area by the cathedral. I had ample time, so I popped into a great little coffee shop called Cafe Chambers for a cup of tea.

It seemed a bit strange to have so much time in Canterbury and so little elsewhere, but it was nice to sit and relax for a bit. When my cup was empty, I met my group to get back on the bus for our final stop of the day: Greenwich.

Statue in Canterbury Cathedral in Kent, England


Greenwich is located in southeast London, and was given royal borough status in 2012 in honor of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee.

Its royal connections and maritime history date back centuries, as does its fame for being the location from which Greenwich Mean Time is measured.

The Queen's House in Greenwich, London

The bus dropped us off in front of the Queen’s House, which was the first classical Renaissance building built in England. Dating back to the early 17th century, it was designed in the Palladian style by Inigo Jones.

Next to it sat the National Maritime Museum, and in front of it were the two halves of Sir Christopher Wren’s Old Royal Naval College, which were built across a courtyard from one another so as not to ruin the view from the Queen’s House.

Royal Naval College in Greenwich London

Up the hill was the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, and on the Thames sat the Cutty Sark, the world’s only surviving tea clipper ship.

I’d been to Greenwich before and explored all these places, but on this trip we didn’t have time to see anything but their facades.

The description online listed a “walking tour of Greenwich” as part of the day trip, but the 10-minute walk from where the bus dropped us off to where we picked up the Thames Clipper didn’t seem sufficient.

Thames Clipper

The same went for the “afternoon tea” on a “Thames River cruise”. A muffin and drink on board public transportation wasn’t exactly the same thing as trays of sandwiches and sweets on a table in an official cruising vessel.

I ate my muffin as I balanced a glass of Cava between my knees. It was a far cry from the afternoon teas in London that I’ve enjoyed previously, but the calories were welcome after a long day trip.

Day Trip to Leeds Castle, Dover, Canterbury, and Greenwich

As the Thames Clipper pulled into Embankment Pier, I left the tour having had a good experience overall.

While the itinerary felt rushed in some ways and a few things weren’t quite as they were advertised, it was still great to go on a day trip to Leeds Castle, Dover, Canterbury, and Greenwich.

I’ve had the luxury of doing each as its own trip, but if I didn’t live in London and I was pressed for time, it would be a nice way to see everything in one day.

Otherwise I would break it up into shorter trips, including a day trip to Canterbury and Dover, a day in Greenwich, and a day at Leeds Castle.

If you want to do this tour, you can book it on the GetYourGuide website here.

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Day Trip to Leeds Castle, Dover, Canterbury, and Greenwich

14 Comments on Lady’s Day Trip to Leeds Castle, Dover, Canterbury, and Greenwich

  1. Found this blog post as I track all references to ‘Leeds’ as I live there…..mostly.
    Great text and photos. Always good to read about visitors who manage to get out of London and explore other parks of the UK. I wish more had the time to go further north but it’s understandable why they don’t – as you pointed out.
    Off to read your N.I blog as I was born there.

    • I’m glad you like the blog and photos, Silverback! I’ve been up to Leeds before, and really liked the city! I hope you enjoyed reading the post about Northern Ireland, too. Beautiful place!

  2. You are the best photographer! Great shots, really make me feel like I’m experiencing it myself. I think you definitely should rent out at least a few rooms at Leeds Castle for your wedding one day. That just sounds fabulous!

    • Thanks Pam! I’m glad you like the photos from the castle. It was such a beautiful place. I will keep it in mind if I ever have a wedding :).

  3. Iam the HEADMASTER of a secondary school in Kerala,India.Casually I noticed the blog and all the collections are found good. All the best for your attempt
    Paulose A.K.
    National High School

  4. Wow! That is a lot to see in one day! I have been to Dover, Canterbury and Greenwich as day trips and can imagine that you slept well that night! But I get what you’re saying, this is the type of day excursion we take when we’re in a new city so it makes sense to try it in the UK.

    I am dying to go to Leeds Castle one day.

    • It was definitely a lot to see in one day, Emm! I’m glad you can relate.

      You should go to Leeds Castle someday if you get a chance. It’s really beautiful!

  5. We went to Leeds castle a couple of years ago and had a great time. One thing I noticed is how tiny the beds were in the chambers – because people were smaller back then.

    As the joke goes… “What size bed does the Queen sleep in?”… well, it’s quite a small one judging by Leeds Castle.

    • That’s great that you enjoyed Leeds Castle, Mark! I had always heard that the beds were smaller because people thought it was bad for the health to lie flat when they slept, but maybe they were shorter as well!

  6. I did my ex husband’s family tree a number of years ago and we found that Lady Baillie (of Leeds Castle) had a sister who had estates in Sri Lanka. I had it in my head this morning that now we have the internet, things are easier to find and low and behold I found your blog. I knew her sister owned Leeds Castle but not that she was American – which is a bit of a mystery. So I have now a bit more information…. No I can’t be bothered to go into the family tree again but my daughter might pick up the bits when she is older. Glad you had a nice day if anyone reads this, the person we were researching was Jose Vennas Miranda (That is how it was written) and he was Brzilian and was wealthy – thats all we know….

    • Thanks for sharing that, Anne! I hope your daughter finds some more links if she looks into the family tree when she’s older.

  7. Amazing post!

    We read it before going to Canterbury and found it very useful!! Now we wrote our own one afte the trip.

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