Motorists on the M25 and M20 may well pass this county by en route to the Channel ports, completely unaware of the tranquil landscapes and delightful country towns and rural villages that are hidden away beyond the slip-roads. Take time and delve deep into the heart of the beautiful Kentish countryside - The Garden of England - and discover a diverse landscape with a rich heritage. The chalk escarpment and rolling downland of the North Downs and the fertile slopes of the greensand ridge characterise the high points of the county, the latter providing panoramic views across the level, sheep-grazed pastures of the Weald to the undulating ridges of the High Weald and the Sussex border.
Kent's coastal scenery is just as varied, ranging from the spectacular White Cliffs of Dover with views of France, and the unique and truly atmospheric pebble landscape of Dungeness, to wild and desolate marshland along the estuaries of the Swale, Medway and Thames.
Dotted across this glorious patchwork quilt of hop fields, vineyards, orchards, woodland and pasture are the ubiquitous oast houses, fine medieval manor houses and a wealth of unspoilt villages that preserve ancient black-and-white timbered, weatherboarded or tile-hung cottages and historic churches set around picture-book greens.
Sissinghurst Castle Garden
Balfour Winery, Staplehurst
Bicycle Bakery, Tunbridge Wells
Botany Beach, Broadstairs
Chapel Down Vineyard, Smallhythe
Dungeness RSPB Reserve
Saxon Shore Way, Dover
The Goods Shed, Canterbury
Hole Park, Rolvenden
Gusborne Wines, Appledore
Ightham Mote, Sevenoaks
Kent & East Sussex Railway, Tenterden
Macknade Food Hall, Faversham
Rochester Castle & Cathedral
Turner Contemporary Gallery, Margate
Knole Park, Sevenoaks
Water Lane Cafe, Hawkhurst
Scotney Castle, Lamberhurst
Check out the cool cafes following a day beside the sea, tour the brewery that brewed your favourite pint, or the distillery that produced your tipple of gin, visit the shop on the farm that reared your delicious Sunday roast beef and seek out the markets, delis and artisan producers that supplied the treats on the inn's menu, then enjoy them at home.
Explore downland trails and riverside paths, take in the wild marshlands and serene Wealden landscape that inspired writers like Charles Dickens and Vita Sackville-West, or walk the breezy Saxon Shore Path between Folkestone and Sandwich. And with Oare Marshes Nature Reserve, Dungeness and unspoilt estuaries, take some time to discover British flora and fauna.
Take a journey through time, exploring traditional seaside towns, medieval castles and abbey ruins, and grand moated houses. Visit historic Canterbury and its magnificent cathedral, linked to many people in history, notably Thomas Becket, and explore glorious gardens - Sissinghurst Castle Gardens - heady with the scent of summer blooms. No visit to Kent is complete without strolling around the quintessential timbered villages - picture-book weatherboarded houses cluster around idyllic greens.
Explore the Kentish lanes and downland trails by bike or stay in a safari lodge overlooking the tiger enclosure at Port Lympne Reserve; or take a glorious 10-mile steam train journey through the Weald from Tenterden to Bodiam on the Kent & East Sussex Railway. Or take to the skies on a hot air balloon over Leeds Castle with views of the North Downs.
Escape to Kent and treat yourself to a night or two at one of these brilliant foodie inns. Hunker down by blazing fires in beamed bars and rest and refuel having explored local towns and pretty timbered villages, or a stately pile, or following an invigorating coast path walk. Expect to find a comfortable room with cossetting extras and smart bathrooms, imaginative menus brimming with local produce, a cosy bar serving tip-top beers and eclectic wines, and great walks from the front door.