Travelling locally is just as important as travelling overseas. You often forget what amazing things you can see and do on your own doorstep. We decided to not only discover all the best things to do in Tunbridge Wells, but to also support our local tourism.
You might be visiting Tunbridge Wells from overseas or you’re a local wanting to discover the best things to do in your own backyard. Either way, you’ll have the chance to relax back in this spa town and enjoy all the best things to do in Royal Tunbridge Wells.
Yes, that’s right, the official title is Royal Tunbridge Wells, only three other towns in England have the Royal status, but to the locals we refer to the town as Tunbridge Wells.
So, what is there to do in this small town?
About Tunbridge Wells
We mentioned briefly that Tunbridge Wells is a spa town. But what made it a spa town?
Dudley Nord, a courtier to James I was suffering from many ailments. On his visit to the area, he found a spring, now called Chalybeate Springs. He drank from the spring and soon enough his health problems improved. Dudley was convinced that it was the spring water that aided in his recovery.
As the town grew, houses and shops started popping up along a promenade, now the Pantiles. Any visit to Tunbridge Wells must include taking a stroll down the Pantiles, to admire the grand buildings, the cobbled streets and the different restaurants and cafes lining the promenade.
The name Tunbridge Wells derives from the wells founded and the neighbouring town Tonbridge.
It wasn’t until 1909 when the Royal title was added.
When to visit
England’s seasonal, so it really will depend on when you want to visit Tunbridge Wells.
If you’re a budget traveler, then you’re better off travelling during the off peak, or shoulder months. But if you want to travel for the best weather, then you should visit in the summer.
Tunbridge Wells is a quiet town to visit, even in the height of summer. This means, travelling in the summer to Tunbridge Wells, is still possible, without the hustle and bustle that you’d expect in a big tourist city.
Travelling to Tunbridge Wells in winter
December – March
Winters are cold and can be wet but will come alive at Christmas with decorations and markets
Travelling to Tunbridge Wells in Spring
April – June
Spring brings warmer weathers but far fewer crowds.
Travelling to Tunbridge Wells in Summer
July – August
Lovely hot summers, everyone will be heading down to the beach to make the most of the sunshine.
Travelling to Tunbridge Wells in Autumn
September – November
Conditions like spring, but the golden foliage and abundant local produce to eat.
Is it safe to travel to Tunbridge Wells?
Yes, Tunbridghe Wells is a safe place to visit. Of course, every place has some level of crime, if anything, tourists may encounter pickpocketing or theft. But in our experience as two female travelers, we didn’t encounter any safety issues.
Although we didn’t encounter any issues, it is always best to be cautious, we are aware of our surroundings, research before we travel and try not to put ourselves in a position which is unsafe.
As female traveler’s, we have some great tips on how to stay safe while travelling. By following these tips, you should feel safer to travel, be that as a solo traveler, or traveling as part of a family or group.
What is the currency in Tunbridge Wells?
The currency in Tunbridge Wells is the £ (pound)
Overseas travelers will need to convert their currency into the £s. It is recommended to take enough cash with you for your holiday and a little bit extra for emergencies. You can also use debit or credit cards, but always check with your bank prior to travel. There could be a fee for overseas transactions.
Things to do in Tunbridge Wells
Tunbridge Wells has been our hometown for several years and we are still exploring many of the area that we didn’t even know existed.
Here are the fun things to do in Tunbridge Wells:
Free things to do in Tunbridge Wells
To help you keep to a budget, we’ll start with the free things to do in Tunbridge Wells.
Formally known as the walks, leads down to the Chalybeate Springs.
During summer, the wells of the Chalybeate Springs are open to the public to drink. Will you be drinking from the springs?
Many of the buildings along the Pantiles date back to the Victorian period and have now been converted into cafes, art shops and restaurants.
The original band stand is amazing to admire. Why not watch a live band play here on your visit.
Events are held along the Pantiles during the summer months such as jazz festival, beer festival, gin festival, just to name a few.
This fun pack pedestrianised area is lovely to walk along on a hot summers weekend. Stop at a restaurant or café for brunch or lunch.
Great fun for the kids to get out and let of some steam climbing Wellington Rocks. Fear not, the rocks are not very large, but you may wish to keep an eye on them.
The kids could have their own adventure, playing and climbing.
There’s a number of green spaces around the Tunbridge Wells area, and Calverley Gardens is just one of a few.
Smaller than some of the other parks in Tunbridge Wells, but great to relax back while having a picnic or just kicking a football around with the kids.
When the kids are fed up with kicking a ball around, the new children’s play area will keep them entertained for a while longer.
For the bigger kids, they could try shooting some hoops at the basketball court or have a kick about in the football nets.
Budget friendly travelers should bring their own picnic, it will be cheaper. But if you want to spoil yourself, with something to eat or even an ice cream on a hot summer’s day, then make your way to the small café.
During Christmas, Calverley Gardens comes to life with a small Christmas market. The ice-skating rink is very popular and must be booked in advance, while there are some small wooden stalls selling all kinds of Christmas gifts.
Our favourite park in Tunbridge Wells, with hidden gems to seek out.
This large expanse of park land was once a private garden to the mansions of Dunorlan House. Over the years the mansion fell into disrepair, eventually the mansion and gardens were sold to the council.
The council opened the gardens to the public and demolished the mansion, replacing them with eight new houses. The only remaining part of the mansion is the original terrace. Relax on the benches along the terrace and admire the views.
The small tea rooms were built in 1966 and remain today.
Parking is small and limited in both the upper car park and the lower car park. But if you do get a spot then it is free with no time restrictions.
There’s a large lake in the middle of the park, with Pedlow’s available for hire for a short period.
Want to find those hidden gems?
Starting at the top car park, follow the path down towards the lake, before taking a left along the terrace. On the other side of the terrace is the temple.
This simple structure once had a statue inside. Sadly, the statue of the dancing girl was stolen, only the temple remains.
Take a look down the avenue to the grand water fountain at the bottom.
Looking for a bit of privacy in a large park? Walk to the right of the water fountain to the water garden. A small trickle of water creates a tiny water fall.
Take an afternoon stroll around the lake back to the café. If it’s hot, cool yourself with an ice cream.
Can the children find the natural play area? What other gems did the family discover at Dunorlan’s Park?
It is understandable, that this is one of the popular parks in the town and definitely worth a day out.
Things to do in Tunbridge Wells at Christmas
Christmas in Tunbridge Wells is lovely with the bright lights and decorations adorning the town.
Of course, there’s shopping to be done in Tunbridge Wells during Christmas, but what about Christmas markets?
As mentioned above, the only Christmas market in the town is at Calverley Gardens, with ice-skating, mulled wine for the adults and a few stalls selling all kinds of gifts and crafts. Although it is small, if you are visiting Tunbridge Wells during Christmas, then you must stop by at Calverley Gardens Christmas Market.
Activities to do in Tunbridge Wells
If you are looking for a bit of adventure, or just something to do with the children over the holidays, then there are a few activities to do in Tunbridge Wells.
Price: £13.00 per adult for non members, 10 entries £100.00, monthly membership for 12 months £55.00 per month. Children 16 years and younger £10.00 per child for non members. 10 entries £80.00, monthly membership £55.00 per month
Do you or the kids love climbing? Then you’ll want to visit Chimera on the High Brooms Industrial Estate.
No ropes required, you just hire the shoes and climb.
The walls are not too high and if you should fall, there’s mats below to prevent serious injuries.
We took our nephews on a trip to Chimera and they loved it. They were only 6 at the time. They were up and down the wall in no time. Great for giving the kids a bit of confidence.
While the kids might like this, so do the adults with more challenging climbs.
Things to do in Tunbridge Wells with kids
We have mentioned a few suggests above, to get the kids active, but what if you want to do something together with them? Then here are some suggestions:
Spa Valley Railway
Cost: Price varies
Whether you’re an avid train lover or not. Spa Valley Railway offers steam train rides from Tunbridge Wells to Eridge.
During the year, Spa Valley offer different events, such as A Taste of Faulty Towers, Afternoon tea, murder mystery fish and chip supper and Santa at Christmas.
Ideal for the young and old to have fun on the railways.
Shopping in Tunbridge Wells
Are you needing a bit of retail therapy? Then look no further for all your shopping needs:
Royal Victoria Shopping Centre
The shopping centre was open in September 1992 by Diana Princess of Wales and comprises of 3 floors with about 110 shops.
The lower section, is the main food court and toilets. Fast food outlets such as McDonalds and KFC available, but if that isn’t what you fancy, there’s a few smaller cafes available with a selection of foods to fill you up.
Designer clothing and stores take up the first and second floor of the shopping centre, such as Super Dry, Fenwicks, Boots, M&S, Apple, O2, HMV, WH Smiths and many more.
You can shop till your hearts content.
The High Street
Looking for more upmarket expensive attire, then the High Street will have you covered.
Upmarket and expensive clothing shops, furniture shops, jewelers and more.
We at least love to window shop, as we know we could never afford the prices of some of the items on display.
Things to do near Tunbridge Wells
Taking a road trip around England is a great way to see much of the country, here are some of the suggestions on things to do near Tunbridge Wells:
Located on the south east coast of England about 1 hours’ drive from Tunbridge Wells. But a great little day trip and there’s so much to do than just relaxing back on the beach on a hot day.
Over 200 years ago, smuggling was rife in the town, with the tunnels in the cliffs of Hastings that would have hidden their loot. You can enter the cave and learn more with the interactive displays. But can you find any treasures?
Only a short drive from Hastings is the location of the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Visit Battle, where it is said the actual battle took place and Harold died from an arrow shot through his eye.
Also located on the south east coast of England, Eastbourne is about 1 hours’ drive. Relax back on a hot day with the rolling Seven Sisters cliffs as your view.
If you’re looking for something more exhilarating that will tire you out, then hike the Seven Sisters. Take on the long journey by foot from Eastbourne to Seaford or Alfriston.
How to get around Tunbridge Wells
Here are the best ways to get to and from Tunbridge Wells
The closest airport to Tunbridge Wells would be, London Gatwick. However, you will need to catch a train into London, before taking a further train on the Hastings Line to Tunbridge Wells.
If you are arriving via another airport such as London Heathrow, Luton, Stansted or any other airport in the UK, then you will need to take a train into London, before catching a further train on the Hastings Line to Tunbridge Wells.
The best method to get to Tunbridge Wells would be to drive and then park your vehicle in the number of car parks in the town.
The roads are easy to navigate and parking is aplenty.
There are bus routes, that connect the suburbs and areas outside Tunbridge Wells.
For day trips to Brighton, take the bus from Tunbridge Wells town centre to Brighton.
There’s a direct train from London to Tunbridge Wells, which takes about 45 minutes to reach.
Trains from other areas of the country such as Eastbourne, Brighton etc, will need to take a train to London, before taking a further train to Tunbridge Wells.
You can take a train from Kent, changing at Tonbridge for Southeastern trains to Tunbridge Wells.
Walking is the easiest and healthiest way to explore the town. Most areas are flat, apart from the walk from the station to the town centre which is a slight incline.
Places to eat
There’re some excellent places to eat in Tunbridge Wells from fine dining to budget friendly places. Here are a few options that we would recommend:
Asian-inspired Japanese restaurant offers eat in and take away meals.
Reasonably priced and very good portion sizes. We often order just the one main dish and sides and that is sufficient for us.
Wagamama offer a good selection of dishes, from sides, main meals, to ramen, vegetarian dishes and vegan dishes. Our favourites would be the ramen, katsu curry, noodles and the sides.
Eating in the restaurant is far better than take away, plus all you can drink green tea is free.
French cuisine at its best.
Breakfast, brunch and A La Carte menu available. A simple breakfast and brunch, with the French classic such as croissant, pain aux chocolat, full breakfast, French toast, eggs benedict to name a few.
If you want to flash the cash a bit, why not go for the champagne breakfast, any breakfast, hot drink or fresh juice and champagne. Bit early for an alcoholic breakfast, at a price of £16.95.
Food is very good and reasonably priced.
Fancy a bit of Turkish food and why not, when it is the best Turkish in the town. Well, that’s our opinion anyway.
Choice of cold or hot starters or even both, mains with a choice of sides. But vegetarians might struggle eating here, with only one or two vegetarian dishes.
Whether we want to eat out or have a take away, this is our go to place and would highly recommend.
The Barn is a pub and upstairs restaurant.
The restaurant is quite small, but offers good food at a reasonable price. But you must book a table in advance to not be disappointed.
A small range of dishes on offer mainly steaks, burgers, salads and spaghetti. Only a few vegetarian and vegan dishes available.
Do you have a sweet tooth? The desserts here are good though.
If you don’t fancy food, downstairs offers a relaxed but young crowd at the bar. Weekends are busiest, while a week night drink, will be a peaceful one.
There’re a few good pubs and clubs in Tunbridge Wells, if you fancied a night on the tiles.
Wetherspoons has a reputation for cheap and cheerful drinks. Budget friendly travelers will love to start their night here.
But the real highlight isn’t the drinks. Spoons was once a theatre and much of the interior hasn’t changed since it’s last performance.
Sit in the original stalls or up on stage and look back at the amazing décor and the circle that looks down on you.
Pub grub’s available at an affordable price.
Pitch and Piano
A popular club with the latest music pumping out and revelers dancing the night away on the dance floor, at ground level.
Places to stay
Planning a few nights stay in this spa town, then here’s some of the places to stay:
Hotel Du Vin
In a great little spot only a short distance from the train station and the town centre. Close to all the main attractions and things to do.
But is Hotel Du Vin a great place to stay while visiting Tunbridge Wells? You can find out, in our post on Hotel Du Vin Review.
We may just add, the afternoon tea is a must.
You can find other places to stay here:
What to pack for a trip to Tunbridge Wells?
Packing is essential when going on holiday, but you have to be smart about what to pack.
Whether your day tripping to Tunbridge Wells or spending a few days here, you’ll need to pack the essential clothes and items.
If you’re crossing any borders, you’ll need to pack the all-important passport and tickets.
Why not head over to our post on what to pack for a trip to the UK. We provide an extensive list of all the important things to pack. You can also download, a check list to help you pack the right things and never miss an item.
Each time we decide on a trip out in our home town, we always find something new to do. But Royal Tunbridge Wells is a spa town after all, with all the relaxing things to do.
If you’re with kids and need some adventure, there’s plenty of that, making Tunbridge Wells a great place to visit be it for a relaxing weekend away or as a family.
We hope you enjoy visiting our little home town of Tunbridge Wells. Or should we say Royal Tunbridge Wells.
Have you visited Tunbridge Wells? What was your favourite thing to do? Maybe you haven’t been to Tunbridge Wells yet? Let us know, by leaving a comment below.
Continue your UK travel planning, with these useful posts:
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- Travel Guide to UK on a Budget
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