If you’re looking for a quick city escape, an epic day trip or the quick chance to explore a bit more of England, then there’s no question the county of Kent makes the perfect destination from London.
Situated in the southeast of the country, right on capital’s doorstep, Kent is a beautiful region of gorgeous countryside and sweeping coastal views.
In fact, it’s known as the Garden of England and has a huge amount of history just waiting to be discovered too.
From fossil-finding to ancient castles, not to mention quaint traditional pubs, gorgeous seafood, vineyards and orchards, Kent packs a top travel punch, giving visitors a wonderful flavour of England beyond the boundaries of the capital.
Kent is also home to Dover and Ashford – 2 common departure points for those heading to France either via ferry, the Eurostar or the Channel Tunnel.
So no matter whether you’re escaping the city for a day, the weekend or perhaps heading off on a longer jaunt to the continent, here’s all the info you need about how to get from London to Kent.
I start off by discussing the 4 main transport methods that get you between these 2 destinations, before moving on to talk about how best to get from London to several specific and popular Kent travel destinations.
I hope you find it useful!
- Top UK Destinations to Visit on a Budget
- Best London Day Trips for Budget Travellers
- 13 Top Places to Visit in Kent
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London to Kent by Train
As quite a large country, and spreading both to the east and south of London, it may come as no surprise to discover that trains from Kent leave from several London stations.
Depending on where in Kent you are travelling to, will determine which London station you need to get to, but the most popular with Kent departures include Charing Cross, Cannon Street, St Pancras, and Victoria.
Most trains to major destinations in Kent will take around an hour from London, which those slightly closer, such as Tunbridge Wells taking around 45 minutes, and trains bound for further destinations, such as those at the coast, taking about 2 hours.
Trains from London to destinations across Kent run frequently, often because they act as commuter-trains, and they generally aren’t too expensive as the distances from the city aren’t that big.
That said, travelling off-peak and booking your tickets in advance will definitely get you the best rates.
It’s also useful to know that several high-speed services run through Ashford International and Ebbsfleet International stations, both in Kent, as these stop points are part of the Eurostar line to France.
As a result, these trains are a bit pricier, but can get you into central London in under 20 minutes!
As always, I use Trainline to plan and book my train travel in the UK.
I like how they bring all the different train companies and journeys together, so you can compare schedules, journey times and prices easily.
I also like how Trainline provide you with simple-to-use e-tickets, meaning you can easily save them on your phone, or to your email account, and do away with the hassle of paper tickets or having to collect tickets at the station, which can be stressful.
Trainline also have a handy Journey Planner section, will allow you to check if your train is on time (sadly the answer is often not in the UK!) and also to keep track of the stops when you are on your way.
To check out Trainline for your own journey from London to Kent, just click here.
Train Travel Pros: Quick, Convenient, Many Destinations Serviced
Train Travel Cons: Price, Need to Book in Advance
London to Kent by Coach
If you find train prices are too high, then another great option for getting from London to Kent is by coach.
National Express are the most popular coach service that run across the whole of the UK and, having used them myself many times, I can definitely attest to how cheap they are and how good their service is in terms of punctuality and comfort.
National Express buses almost always depart from London Victoria Coach Station, which is a 5-10 minute walk from Victoria train and underground station.
It is well-signed and easy to find, but you may want to use the free and excellent app Citymapper to help you navigate your way there from across London.
National Express buses then run to several different Kent destinations including Canterbury, Margate, Dartford, Gillingham, Maidstone, Tunbridge Wells, Whitstable, Dover, Folkestone and Ashford.
If you’re travelling for a weekend or longer, than the bus really is a great option.
However if you’re only heading out on a day trip, it might be a bit much, because there’s no getting away from the fact that coach travel from London to Kent will take you longer than the train.
In general, you are looking at journeys of 2-3 hours for most Kent destinations and, depending on the traffic, this can go up too!
But those coach prices are just sooo good, and you can even score some top deals last minute – which certainly isn’t the case with the train!
So check out Trainline to book your National Express bus tickets too.
Yes Trainline sell coach and bus tickets, which allows you to handily compare them and make your choice based on journey times and prices.
Coach Travel Pros: Cheap Prices, Last Minute Bookings
Coach Travel Cons: Length of Journeys, Traffic, Fewer Destination Choices
London to Kent by Car
And now we come to the 3rd option of travelling from London to Kent (or visa versa), and this is to drive.
Of course, the advantages of driving include leaving when you want, as well as having access to your car when you arrive down in Kent, which is especially handy if you want to explore several destinations in this part of the country.
If you’re sharing the ride with others, then you can also share the costs of fuel on this journey as well.
But don’t forget, there’s often hidden costs when it comes to driving to Kent from London – not least the issue and fees associated with parking, which can be significant in popular tourist destinations during the holidays, especially in the summer.
In fact, forget the prices, just trying to find a parking space down here can be a whole thing, especially on a sunny weekend in popular coastal towns which can get rammed!
Check out PayByPhone – a great app for parking in the UK – to help you pay for the time you need without having to scramble to find a ticket machine or some loose change.
It’s also possible that driving to Kent will take you longer than the train, especially if the traffic is bad, and it certainly won’t prove as relaxing as a bus journey!
It’s also not great for your carbon footprint, which is why I don’t recommend driving to Kent from London – it’s not generally cheaper or quicker than bus or train and it definitely involves a lot more hassle such as traffic and parking.
Driving down to this part of England from the capital is only really worthwhile if you aren’t staying longer down here or perhaps you are enroute for a trip to France!
If this something that interests you, then check out Discover Cars for a great deal if you need to rent a vehicle.
You may also want to read the post I wrote about renting a car in the UK, which features my top 12 tips for scoring the best deal.
Car Travel Pros: Flexibility, Unlimited Luggage, Freedom to Explore More
Car Travel Cons: Price, Parking, Hassle, Stress
London to Kent by Bike
There are a million variables when it comes to cycling from London to Kent, not least the issue of how fit you are, how used to long-distance cycling you are, how long you have and where you want to go!
As such, I just want to point out here, that it is totally possible to cycle from London to Kent, especially to parts of the county that are closer to the city.
The free app Komoot has some good cycling options, and I know you can also take the National Cycle Route 1 from London along the Thames Path out to Dartford all the way to Gravesend and then eventually down to Dover.
National Route 17 of the National Cycle Network also runs south from Northfleet in Kent, via Rochester, Maidstone and Ashford, to join with National Route 2 on the south coast.
Otherwise, if you’re looking for coastal cycling within Kent, the Oyster Trail and Viking Trail in the east of the county are delightful bicycle and walking trails that skirt the edge of the UK and come highly recommended.
Bike Travel Pros: Flexibility, Freedom to Explore More, Cheap
Car Travel Cons: Effort, Organisation, Gear Required, Fitness!
And now we move on to tackle specific destinations in Kent that are popular with travellers and the best ways to get there from London …
How to Travel from London to Canterbury
Getting from London to Canterbury by train is incredibly simple.
There are several direct departures, every hour, from 4 London stations that begin very early (pre 5am) and run until midnight.
Canterbury actually has 2 stations (Canterbury East and Canterbury West) and in London, trains leave from Charing Cross, Victoria, St Pancras and Cannon Street.
The fastest route is from St Pancras to Canterbury West which takes just 50 minutes direct.
The slowest direct route takes over 2 hours and runs from London Victoria to Canterbury West.
In general, the slower trains are cheaper, but this isn’t always true and advanced purchases can lead to some great fares that cost just over £10.
The National Express Bus also runs direct from London Victoria to Canterbury generally taking around 2 hours and costing £10 too!
Learn more about getting from London to Canterbury in this specific post I wrote about how to make the journey.
How to Travel from London to Margate
I’ve actually written a whole post about how to travel from London to Margate (or visa-versa) by train, coach or car, so I recommend you check it out here.
How to Travel from London to Dover
London to Dover can also be made by both bus / coach and train from London.
Coaches with the National Express cost around £10 and take 3 hours. They leave from London Victoria Coach station and go to both Dover town centre and the ferry port.
Of course, if you’re heading to Dover to then catch the ferry to France, it’s likely you’ll be driving, so that you have your own vehicle in mainland Europe.
In this case, it’s useful to know you should allow at least 2 hours, and perhaps a little more in case traffic is bad, to get from London to Dover.
Most people head to Greenwich and then follow the M20, so depending where in London you are based, you may want to add on some extra time to get to Greenwich too.
It’s only amazingly 86 miles from the capital to the famous White Cliffs in Dover – which you should definitely stop to see if you’re heading down this way!
You can also cycle to Dover, as discussed earlier this in article (it’s surprisingly popular with fitness fanatics), or you can get the train too.
Trains from London to Dover leave from 4 central stations (Charing Cross, London Bridge, St Pancras and Victoria).
The station you want to arrive at is called Dover Priory and the fastest journey takes just over 1 hour from St Pancras.
Tickets start from just over £10 and can be booked via Trainline, where you can compare different routes, schedules, departure stations and journey times.
There’s so many trains that you’ll have tons of options to choose from, but for the best prices you should certainly book in advance.
How to Travel from London to Whitstable
An absolute gem of a coastal spot in Kent, check out this ultimate travel guide to Whitstable I wrote, which has the full details on how to travel from London to this wonderful coastal spot.
How to Travel from London to Folkestone
The best way to get from Folkestone to London is via train.
Fast and direct trains run here from St Pancras in under 1 hour.
The line here goes through Ashford International, which is the best place to get off if you want to visit New Romney or the post-apocalyptic landscape of Dungeness – 2 top Kent spots.
You can also catch the National Express from London Victoria to Folkestone, which takes 3 hours and costs around £10.
Both the train and bus can be booked via Trainline.
How to Travel from London to Tunbridge Wells
Royal Tunbridge Wells is one of the larger destinations in Kent.
A beautiful historic town, it has lots of great attractions around, including the High Weald (perfect for walkers) and the Medieval town of Cranbrook.
Trains here from London are cheap, direct and fast, making them the best option.
There’s several trains an hour and most run from Charing Cross and, if booked in advance, can cost as little as £7.
How to Travel from London to Maidstone
Maidstone is another historic destination in Kent that has lots of attractions around it including the wonderful Leeds Castle.
The best way to get this town is via train too, because it’s cheap and quick from London Victoria – less than an hour and direct.
The most affordable fares start from around £8.
The National Express bus costs around the same amount, but takes an hour and a half from London Victoria.
I’d only use this bus / coach option if I was travelling on a budget and booking last minute.
Top Travel Tips for Kent
The best time to visit Kent is definitely during the summer months in my opinion.
The better weather from June to August will definitely allow you to get out and explore the glorious walks and historic sights around.
That said, I’ve also visited in winter, spring and autumn and loved it!
These are the perfect times for exploring without the summer crowds.
Where to Stay in Kent?
Check out these top accommodation picks in the area.
How Long to Spend There?
I’d allow at least 3-4 days to explore all the top places to visit in Kent.
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And that’s my full guide on how to travel from London to Kent.
I hope it’s been useful and given you all the info you need.
Fingers crossed you get to enjoy your time in this wonderful part of England!