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Overview

Widely known as Royal Tunbridge Wells, this quaint country town built its name on its chalybeate (iron-bearing) springs, once believed to cure everything from melancholy to "the vapours." The spas were a favorite retreat for Queen Victoria, and the town is dotted with grand Victorian and Georgian mansions built as hotels for these early health tourists. The historic center of town is the Pantiles - a colonnaded promenade made famous by Richard Beau Nash - whose tearooms and boutiques are the very image of English gentility. Befitting a former royal retreat, Tunbridge Wells is surrounded by grand stately homes, including Hever Castle, family ...

Widely known as Royal Tunbridge Wells, this quaint country town built its name on its chalybeate (iron-bearing) springs, once believed to cure everything from melancholy to "the vapours." The spas were a favorite retreat for Queen Victoria, and the town is dotted with grand Victorian and Georgian mansions built as hotels for these early health tourists. The historic center of town is the Pantiles - a colonnaded promenade made famous by Richard Beau Nash - whose tearooms and boutiques are the very image of English gentility. Befitting a former royal retreat, Tunbridge Wells is surrounded by grand stately homes, including Hever Castle, family home of Anne Boleyn. Among outdoor types, Tunbridge is famous for its grit-stone crags, used for training by the first British expeditions to Mt. Everest. Hordes of Londoners still descend on the town every weekend to scale the famous routes at Bowles, Harrison’s Rocks and High Rocks, a popular Victorian "curiosity" with an elevated boardwalk, a classic English country pub and a restored steam railway. Tours of local vineyards are another unexpected find in the Kent countryside.

Joe Bindloss
About the Expert

Joe Bindloss has written more than 30 guidebooks for Lonely Planet, Time Out and other publishers, with a focus on Southeast Asia, the Indian Subcontinent and island nations.

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Joe Bindloss for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    April to October, but peak season is the English summertime, for cricket, croquet and Pims on the lawn.