The River Stour winds its way through the centre of Canterbury, flowing underneath the high street and along to the Friars, and branching out through the Westgate gardens. This tranquil, picturesque and ancient waterway is one of the cleanest in the South East of England, and is home to a great variety of wildlife and fish. It is also home to some of Canterbury's most important and historic architecture. Because of this, river tours along the Stour have proved highly popular, and are becoming one of the 'must do' attractions in the city. There are three tour operators to choose from. The first two specialise in city tours, whilst the third specialises in countryside tours (although both punting companies offer tours along all parts of the river). Tickets for each can be pre-booked or in the case of the first two companies listed below purchased on the day from their respective areas on the main High Street.

Canterbury Historic River Tours: Their tour has received much acclaim, both internationally and at home, and are officially accredited as a ‘Quality Assured attraction’ by national tourism board Visit England, who have nominated the company for their national accolade of ‘Best Told Story’. The tour itself departs from the Kings Bridge, on Canterbury's main High Street. Their meeting location represents the second most popular photo opportunity in the city since it encompasses the world famous Old Weavers house, and infamous ducking stool overlooking a picture perfect view of the river. Their historic tour seats passengers around the tour guide who acts as the boat’s ‘engine’, putting him on centre stage for the tour, which lasts around 40 minutes. They offer a historical yet humorous commentary on the sights of Canterbury's historic city centre via the old branch of the River Stour, originally rumoured to have been built by the Romans. The guides also recommend other sights and attractions on the tour route that could be of interest. The tour has also been translated into several different languages to cater for visitors from Europe.

 matt giving guided tour

Canterbury Punting Company: The newest river tour operator in Canterbury opened in 2009 after travelling to Canterbury from Cambridge, where punting is popular. This long heritage in Cambridge has also been exported to Canterbury with a focus on traditional tours and creating an authentic experience, and all staff can be seen wearing typical punting attire. The tour departs from Water Lane, by the Canterbury Heritage Museum. This follows a similar but slightly extended  route as covered by the Canterbury Historic River Tours, although the tour is conducted in a traditional wooden punt rather than a rowing boat. It lasts about as long, at 45 minutes. Anyone who has visited Cambridge will be familiar with this style of boat, for those who have not some comparisons can be drawn with the Gondolas of Venice. The guides offer an in depth history of the city and the special punt boats are capable of reaching some parts of the city which would be unaccessable in other boats. Passengers are seated on cushioned seats on the floor of the boat facing each other whilst the standing guide propels the boat by pushing from the back with a pole. As well as day time tours, they also specialise in tours for couples, large groups, night time ghost tours, and other special requests. At time of writing (2014) this company offered the lowest priced river tours available in the city.

Canterbury River Navigation Company: Has operated in Canterbury for twenty years. The guides use slim streamlined punts suitable for two to six passengers. The small boats have made this tour popular with couples. The tour departs from Westgate Grove and follows the other branch of the river through Westgate Gardens and beyond into the nature reserve of Hambrook Marshes. The tour is focused on the sights, rather than a historical commentary. They offer several types of tour, from a short trip of 35 minutes to a long city tour of 65 minutes.