The southeast corner of England may be the traditional getaway location for millions of Londoners but it’s also ideal for cool campervan owners, too. From day trips to historic locations and elegant old towns to week-long coastal adventures, a campervan owner can enjoy it all. The only issue being can you do everything in the time available?
With a healthy dose of Kent charm the area has huge amounts to keep everyone in the family happy – no matter what type of holiday you’re looking for. That is, once you’ve read our guide to Kent and got your campervan insurance in the bag!
North Kent coast
At one time the northern part of Kent was unfairly regarded as a bit of a scenic and cultural wasteland that drivers just raced through on their way to and from the Channel ports. But if you take the time to visit this area, you’ll be sure to agree this is no longer the case.
With its iconic castle, cathedral and connections to Charles Dickens the nearby town of Rochester has tended to grab all the attention from visitors. However, that all changed when the Chatham Historic Dockyard Museum was developed here in the 1980s.
One of the best museums in the country, it lets you step back to the ‘age of sail’ when Britain ruled the waves and our legendary shipbuilding heritage reached its zenith. There are three historic warships to explore on the vast 80-acre site. A Victorian sloop HMS Gannet, a Second World War destroyer HMS Cavalier, and a Cold War submarine HMS Ocelot.
These are moored alongside a variety of other interesting historical attractions. Including a Victorian rope factory and Lifeboat, a museum dedicated to the incredible work of the RNLI.
If history is your cup of tea, then also visit the nearby Napoleonic Fortress of Fort Amherst and Gillingham’s Royal Engineers Museum. There’s something to keep everyone occupied at these unique museums.
Where to stay: A 25-minute drive from Rochester, Allhallows Place Touring Park is a small and quiet year-round site with a laid-back attitude. There’s plenty to do in this countryside location, great for getting away from it all.
Formerly important for oyster farming, with its bohemian air, quiet shingle beach and pretty weatherboard cottages, Whitstable has a surprise up its sleeve. It is, in fact, a hub for adventure seekers. On the weekends, you’ll see plenty of adrenaline junkies flocking to this authentic seaside town to enjoy a range of extreme sports. Kitesurfing is by far the most popular water sport here, with courses run by a host of excellent local operators aimed at a range of abilities.
And if you want to explore beneath the waves then this is also a popular spot. The Kent coastline is one of the richest areas in the UK for historical treasure. With so many cargo ships sunk during the Second World War there’s plenty of scope for scuba divers to explore. And if underwater wrecks aren’t your thing, then there are ample opportunities for marine life tours and underwater photography courses.
Where to stay: Primrose Cottage Caravan Park is a small and friendly site with views out to sea and nearby Whitstable. Dogs are welcome and fresh eggs are available from the on-site chickens!
At one time, apart from its small but agreeable sandy beach the main attraction in Margate was the intriguing Grade I listed Shell Grotto. Discovered by chance in 1835 it’s a mysterious underground temple with 4.5 million shells on its mosaic walls. No one knows who made it or why but whether it’s a pagan temple or a Regency folly it’s undoubtedly a unique work of art that should be valued and preserved, whatever its age or true purpose.
But over recent years the London hipster set have descended on the town to create the ultimate edgy escape from the Big Smoke. With regenerated arcades, quirky cafes and offbeat cultural attractions there’s much to tempt the campervan tourer.
For cutting-edge art visit Turner Contemporary, experimental music and eccentric theatre productions can be seen at Tom Thumb Theatre and the renovated retro theme park Dreamland should definitely make it onto your must-see list. There are few better places for a brilliantly far-out day-out!
Where to stay: Located just south of Margate at the handsome nearby resort of Ramsgate, Nethercourt Touring Park is a small family-focused site in an excellent location. If you’re a keen cyclist then the Viking Cycle Trail is less than half a mile from the campsite.
One of England’s most venerable cities, Canterbury is an essential tourist stop if you’re visiting anywhere in the south east. This UNESCO World Heritage site offers a hugely rich slice through 2,000 years of English history. With Roman and early Christian ruins, a Norman castle and Britain’s oldest cathedral rising above an interesting medieval warren of dwellings, the sense of history here is palpable.
The gem at the heart of England’s second most visited city has to be the stunning Canterbury Cathedral. It was here that the famous pilgrims in Geoffrey Chaucer’s ‘Canterbury Tales’ were headed all the way back in the 14th Century. Even today millions of visitors follow in their footsteps to see the magnificent 16th Century interior, and the shrine to the murdered Archbishop Thomas Becket. The oldest parish church still in use in Britain (St Martin's Church) is also a popular destination.
But it’s not just history buffs who come to the area for entertainment. The city is fortunate to be surrounded by beautiful countryside and coastal scenery that walkers or cyclists can easily enjoy at their leisure. We recommend the charming Crab and Winkle Way running between Canterbury and the harbour in Whitstable. This 7.6-mile walking and cycling route is easy to manage and means you can enjoy much that Kent has to offer without ever having to move your camper. You could even explore on an electric bike!
If that seems a bit too strenuous, then try punting on the River Stour for a traffic-free view of the city that many visitors never get to appreciate.
Where to stay: Perfectly located for a peaceful stay close to Canterbury, Cobbs Meadow Caravan CL is a lovely, small site in the heart of the Garden of England. Be prepared for a phenomenal dawn chorus, a special place indeed!
Back when we had less friendly relations with our European neighbours the Channel ports in this area formed an important series of defensive coastal settlements to dissuade invaders and promote English traders. The once great medieval port of Sandwich is still very charming while the pleasant resort towns of Deal and Walmer also have much to recommend them.
Further around the coast a trip to the sedate seaside resort of Hythe isn’t complete without a ride on the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway. Billed as 'the world’s smallest public railway' its ⅓ scale trains running along a 13.5-mile route take in seven stations – Hythe, Dymchurh, St Mary’s Bay, Romney Warren, New Romney, Romney Sands and Dungeness.
Set in a somewhat spooky wasteland, the final stop Dungeness is well worth your time. See if you can spot the huge colonies of gulls and terns on the Dungeness shingle bank. The RSPB team at Dungeness Nature Reserve will let you know what to look out for.
Think of iconic sights that sum up the UK, and the White Cliffs of Dover will be towards the very top of the list. The cliffs’ majestic white chalk face create a magnificent coastal site overlooking the busy English Channel. A long walk along the top will give you a glimpse of the perpetually changing but always jaw-dropping scenery in this part of Kent. With rich green hilltops and precipitous chalk edges dropping to the sea below, the area has an abundance of wildlife to enjoy.
Other grand sites to visit include the indomitable fortress that is Dover Castle with its vivid medieval interiors and rich history. Don’t forget to visit the South Foreland lighthouse. It was built in 1843 to warn seafarers of the ever-shifting sands and guide them safely through the Strait of Dover. Decommissioned in 1988, today it is owned by the National Trust.
Where to stay: Just south of Dover is the very highly regarded Folkestone Camping and Caravan Club site, which is ideal for bird watchers, anglers and Channel hoppers alike. Whether you’re holidaying in Kent or travelling over to France, this is a great site with dramatic views of the sea and the famous chalky cliffs.
If you do plan on taking a trip over to the Continent, give your campervan insurance provider a call to check you’re covered for any eventualities. If you arrange cover through Motorhome Protect your policy could include unlimited EU cover. Call our helpful team to discuss your options before you leave.
This historic region is centred around the beautiful spa town of Royal Tunbridge Wells. In Saxon times this area was covered in dense forest but today it’s characterised by gentle hills, sunken country lanes and sleepy villages. As well as some of England’s most beautiful gardens and highly picturesque historical sites.
Royal Tunbridge Wells
This gorgeous spa town surrounded by quintessential English countryside is an elegant and diverting stop off on any campervan tour of Kent. The town owes its existence to a bubbling spring that was discovered here in 1606 by a rather hungover nobleman who found that its orange, iron-rich waters did wonders for his health. The town reached its height of popularity during the Regency period and the architecture of the place owes much to those days of well-mannered promenading.
Be sure to visit the Pantiles, an elegant colonnaded parade of shops, cafes and boutiques, and the original Chalybeate Spring in the Bath House. You could even have a taste of the rejuvenating waters from a period-costumed ‘Dipper’ for a small fee.
Where to stay: An adult-only, 4-acre caravan site with electric hook-ups can be found at Apple Acres Caravan & Camping Farm. It’s a peaceful setting with apple and plum orchards and there’s abundant wildlife here including deer, woodpeckers, herons, owls and even buzzards.
Just 12 miles east of Tunbridge Wells can be found one of the most beautiful gardens in England. The National Trust’s Sissinghurst Castle Garden was created by the poet and writer Vita Sackville-West and her husband Harold Nicolson in the 1930s.
The estate and its gardens are stunning throughout the year. The most impressive and popular are the White Garden, composed entirely of white flowers and silvery-grey foliage, and the Cottage Garden featuring shades of orange, yellow and red. Perhaps one of the most influential gardens in horticultural history. A must-visit for the green-fingered.
Where to stay: One of the closest campsites to Sissinghurst Castle Garden is the brilliant Bedgebury Camping. If you want to get the most out of your visit to Sissinghurst then there’s no place better to start off from.
One of Britain’s most beautiful castles, Leeds Castle and its exciting 900-year history are a joy to explore at any time of year. Great fun for all the family, there’s a testing castle maze to get lost in, over 500 acres of sprawling gardens, castle-themed adventure playgrounds, and the wonderfully designed Leeds Castle Adventure Golf. There’s even a Go Ape Tree Top Adventure through the castle’s woodland. There are few better places for a perfect family day out!
Where to stay: The immaculately maintained Bearsted Caravan Club Site in Maidstone is a pleasant and tranquil site to rest up after a busy day adventuring.
Protect your home on wheels with campervan insurance
Choosing campervan insurance from Motorhome Protect is the best way to get your Kent adventure off to the ideal start. Our helpful team of insurance specialists are sure to find you the cover you need at a great price. Benefits of campervan insurance arranged through Motorhome Protect include:
- Enhanced cover for personal effects
- Cover for vehicles up to £150,000
Get a quick quote for campervan insurance today.
Policy benefits and features offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.