Lying on the gorgeous River Great Stour, Ashford is a stunning market town in England. Ashford is located in the heart of Kent and is famously known as the "Garden of England." The city is only an hour and a half drive away and a 40-minute train ride away from the capital of England and the United Kingdom, London. Ashford has been a significant market town since the 13th century. The city also houses the award-winning Ashford Designer Outlet that offers international brands like Diesel, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klien, and many other brands at a discounted price. Ashford is surrounded by fascinating countryside beauty and charming English villages. The town also has an International Train Station where you can board a train straight to Brussels or Paris and be there in less than two hours, isn't that amazing? This quaint and charming town is worth checking out. The city is a popular tourist destination and offers several attractions and activities to explore and do around the city. Here are the 20 best things to do in Ashford, UK.
Take a Stroll
Walking is one of the best ways to explore any city. Ashford is a tiny and picturesque town, and this makes it perfect for exploring it on foot. You can stroll around the town to take in the scenic glory of the charming city and discover what the town has to offer while gazing at the magnificent architecture of the city. You can find the town's little secrets like the St Mary the Virgin Church, that you wouldn't have known if you were exploring the city in any other way like every other tourist. Long walks with clean air and beautiful streets of Ashford will refresh your mind and body.
Situated in the heart of Kent, Godinton House is a magnificent English country house, dating back to the 14th century. This Jacobean house is not designed like other country houses that feel like museums, Godinton House is a lot more informal and house-like so visitors can know what living in the lavish mansion felt like. The guided tours of the house are led by expert guide tours that explain the wealth of history of the delightful country house to the visitors. The estate also has a cafe called Billiard Room, where you can enjoy the delicious afternoon cream tea and homemade cakes.
Godinton House is set in beautiful 12 acres of Godinton Garden with the famous yew hedges surrounding the gorgeous gardens. The garden contains different types of gardens, like wild gardens, walled gardens, and Italianate gardens. The landscape of the estate is stunning and changes colors through different seasons. The incredible immaculate gardens of Godinton House is perfect for visiting on a sunny day.
Kent Downs is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty stretching from Surrey border to the White Cliffs of Dover. This AONB offers some of the most enchanting English landscapes with beautiful cliffs, ancient woodlands, gorgeous rivers, chalk downland, and traditional orchards. Ashford falls on the southern edge of the trail and boasts the chalk downland. You can also spot several types of plants and wildflowers with more than 20 kinds of orchids. You can visit this picturesque place to enjoy hiking on a sunny day and out-of-the-world views.
Wye National Nature Reserve
Located just a 15 minutes drive away from Ashford, Wye National Nature Reserve is a fantastic place to enjoy nature and experience fantastic wildlife. The reserve is also an amazing hiking trail with grasslands and step slopes offering sweeping views of the breathtaking surroundings. It also has circular nature trails where you can walk and take in the beauty of the surreal surroundings. On a clear day, you can even see France. Isn't that bonkers? Wye National Nature Reserve offers a tranquil and fascinating atmosphere to enjoy and relax surrounded by plenty of amazing flora and fauna.
St Mary the Virgin Church
St Mary the Virgin Church is a parish church dating back to the 13th century. This Grade I monument is an integral part of Ashford. This place of worship is a lovely place full of history and culture. This magnificent church is a hidden gem. It is cunningly hidden away behind the high street, and only natives of Ashford know about this enchanting place of worship. The best feature of this stunning church is the square central tower; it was enhanced in the 15th century. This Parish church has impressive architecture and stunning stained glass windows. The tranquil atmosphere of the church is perfect to relax your mind and contemplate.
Ashford Designer Outlet
Designed by Richard Rogers, Ashford Designer Outlet is a shopping center in Ashford, and it offers several international brands at a discounted price. The outlet also has a food court and a play area for kids.
Ashford Borough Museum
Ashford Borough Museum is located in the courtyard of the Ashford Church of the town center and showcases the culture and history of this stunning English town. This hidden gem museum is a Grade II listed building, dating back to the 17th century. The two-floor museum has plenty of history to keep you occupied for a couple of hours. The museum even houses a 200 million years old dinosaur leg. It opens from April to October, and its opening hours are from 11 am to 2 pm.
Victoria Park is a 17-acre English park with fantastic architecture in the form of Hubert Fountain, memorial garden, a riverside walk, and so much more. The Hubert Fountain is a grand and stunning sculpture in the middle of the park. The park is also great for taking walks, running, cycling, and dog-walking. It also has play areas for young children. There is also a Park Run every Saturday at 9 am, and a Junior Park Run every Sunday at 9:30 am for kids. The park has a very peaceful and calm environment on the weekdays and is perfect for taking a walk to refresh your mind.
Located just outside Ashford, Willesborough Windmill is a 150 years old restored and working windmill. The Windmill was built in 1869 by John Hill. The mill was used to be a flour mill until the 1930s. In 1991 Ashford Borough Council renovated the Windmill and opened it for the public as an attraction. It has a quaint museum inside and also a cafe where you can have tea and coffee with delicious homemade cakes. The mill is open only from 30th March to 27th October; however, the museum is open on the weekend.
Biddenden Vineyards is a 50-year-old award-winning vineyard in Ashford. The 11 different types of grapes are grown across 23 acres on the estate to produce the award-winning wines, ciders, and juices. The vineyard is open all year round for the visitors offering wine tasting along with a carefully curated selection of locally sourced wholesome English food to pair with the wine. You can also take private or open tours from April to September to know more about the Biddenden Vineyards and its wines. At the end of the tour, you can buy wine from a wide range of wines and ciders, juices, local beer, chutneys, and preserves at a good price.
Ashford Green Corridor
Running through Ashford, Kent, Ashford Green Corridor is a 117-acre green space and a local nature reserve, consisting of parks, lakes, ponds, meadows, and other recreational grounds. The corridor protects wildlife, including voles, kingfishers, and bats and nature. There are play areas and open spaces to play games and sports. You can cycle along the cycling paths in the lush nature. This green corridor is perfect for taking a stroll in with greenery to experience the most scenic walk. You can also walk your pup here. Ashford Green Corridor is ideal for witnessing the luscious countryside of England with the breathtaking beauty of nature and incredible views.
Elwick Place is a picture house located near the town center. It has a 6-screen cinema, and it screens the latest Hollywood blockbuster movies. The place also has a restaurant and bar to make the night more eventful for you.
Mark IV Female Tank
Ashford displays the last example of Mark IV Female Tank in New Street, St George's Square. All the remaining tanks were crushed for metal during World War II, but Ashford saved its Mark IV Female Tank. The tank has been painted in its original colors of World War I and has been an official war memorial. You can witness this piece of English history in the middle of the town.
South of England Rare Breeds Centre
South of England Rare Breeds Centre is a 100-acre beautiful countryside farm attraction near Ashford in Woodchurch. It is approved by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust and houses not your usual domestic animals. You can even pet the animals and ask the staff your questions about the animals. The highlight of this quirky farm is the Butterfly Tunnel.
Port Lympne Reserve
Port Lympne Reserve is a safari park and hotel set in 600 acres of the beautiful English countryside. It is located just a 20 minutes drive away from Ashford in Hythe, Kent. The reserve provides shelter to the only giraffes in Kent, along with more than 750 animals from about 90 species. Inside the reserve, you can board safari to watch and observe the animals. It also houses the UK's biggest collection of full-sized dinosaur models. Port Lympne Reserve is a perfect escape from the city's hustle into the tranquil and incredible English countryside.
Kent and East Sussex Railway
Dating back to the 1900s, Kent and East Sussex Railway was England's first "light railway." It is located just a 25 minutes drive away from Ashford in the town of Tenterden. You can even ride on the train. Be sure to visit this railway line to experience the delightful light railway.
Where to Stay
The accommodation is not going to be the problem when you're in the charming market town of Wells. The city has a wide range of hotels, from budget to luxurious. Some of the most comfortable hotels in the city are- Cornerstone B&B, The Conningbrook Hotel, and Ashford International Hotel – QHotels. These hotels are at convenient locations and provide many amenities to make your stay more comfortable.
Where to Eat
Wells has a fantastic food scene with numerous fabulous restaurants and cafes located throughout the town. The town offers a wide variety of cuisines, but it is known for its British and Mediterranean cuisine along with various vegetarian and vegan options. Some of the most famous eateries in the town are Amici Restaurant, Footprints Cafe Bistro, The Wife of Bath, Rose and Crown, and The Kings Head Restaurant. You will find delicious and flavorsome food at these places.
Best Pubs of Ashford
You just cannot miss pubs when you're in England. Ashford has some fantastic English pubs where you can drink, talk, and eat pub food. The picturesque backdrop of the town is just perfect for you to enjoy the delicious drinks and fantastic food from pubs. Curious Brewery is a very famous and rightfully so. You have to try the veggie burger and Kent cheesecake here. Other amazing pubs in the town are Old Mill, Swan & dog, The Blacksmiths Arms, Tap Room, and The County Hotel – Wetherspoons. Visit these places in the happy hour to get your money's worth.