Guildford is a large town in Surrey in the South East of England. It has retained much of its historical charm. A short walk up the cobbled high street shows many buildings which are hundreds of years old. The medieval castle was used by the King of England in the 1400s and because of this Guildford is the only royal town in Surrey.
Guildford grew up into a large town because of its location at roughly the halfway point between England's main naval port at Portsmouth and the admiralty in Greenwich, London. People travelling by horse-drawn carriage between the two would stop at inns in Guildford (such as The Angel and The Lion) to swap horses over and to refresh themselves. With the advent of the steam train in the 19th century, Guildford was no longer needed for this purpose, and it fell into decline. But as more and more people started to commute into work in London in the early 20th century, Guildford became more and more rich and popular.
Guildford is the county town of Surrey, but not the administrative centre (that is Kingston upon Thames, which is actually in a London borough). It is the economic and cultural centre of the whole of West Surrey.
Although under 30 miles away from Central London Guildford has its own individuality and is not similar to boroughs in London or other commuter towns in Surrey. Guildford is a large town with all the amenities of a city.
The main bus station, which is the terminus for all routes heading into Guildford, is on Commercial Road (off the bottom of North Street). From here, one can pick up details about bus services and buy cheaper long term tickets.
Park and ride
Guildford has several park and ride carparks, and at the weekend they are the easiest way to get into the town centre. They are situated at Artington (on the Portsmouth Rd heading out towards Godalming, about 3 miles south of Guildford), at the Spectrum Leisure Complex, at Merrow on the A246 Epsom Road, east of Guildford, and at Onslow near to the RSCH and Surrey Sports Park, west of Guildford. At all four sites, the car parking is free and you just pay for the bus fare to get into the town centre. The park and ride system is good for the environment and also it allows the city to stay congestion free!
- Onslow - buses run every 15 minutes between 7:30AM and 7PM on Mondays to Saturdays. The park and ride from Onslow costs £1.50.
- Spectrum Leisure Complex – buses run every 12 minutes Mondays to Fridays from 7:27AM to 11:10PM, reduced to every 20 minutes after 7:30PM. The park and ride from the Spectrum costs £2.40 return.
- Artington – buses run every 10-12 minutes from Mondays to Saturdays from 7:30AM to 7:30PM. The park and ride from Artington costs £2.20 return.
- Merrow – buses run every 15 minutes between 7:30AM and 7:33PM from Mondays to Saturdays. The park and ride from Merrow costs £1.80 return.
Guildford is well served by London's collection of airports. For travellers coming directly to Guildford, the most convenient (in reducing order of convenience) are:
- Heathrow Airport (LHR IATA) is about 40 minutes drive along the M25 motorway and the A3 trunk road. It is also linked directly to Woking rail station by the RailAir express bus service.
- Gatwick Airport (LGW IATA) is about an hour's drive away via the M23 (northbound), M25 (clockwise) and A3 (southbound) roads. There is a through train service to Guildford from a rail station in the airport terminal complex, running twice an hour and taking less than an hour.
- Wikivoyage has a guide to Rail travel in the United Kingdom.
1 Guildford main line station is served by commuter and regional train services from many different directions, including two routes to London (one fast via Woking, the other slow via Cobham). The fast services continue southwards to Portsmouth. Guildford also lies on the line from Reading to Gatwick Airport; beyond Reading, services to Oxford and Birmingham may be accessed, and via Gatwick, connections to Brighton and Kent.
From London, you should travel from London Waterloo station and catch a train whose first stop after Woking is Guildford (there are several of these an hour), the travel time will be about 35 minutes. There are also a few Portsmouth bound trains that go non-stop to Guildford. There are other stopping services from Waterloo via Cobham, but these take so much longer it isn't normally worth considering them.
Train times can be found on the National Rail Planner or by calling ☏ (high cost) from anywhere in the UK.
National Express serve Guildford with express bus (UK English:coach) services from around the country; advanced ticketing is necessary. They serve a stop called Guildford Park Barn, which is a slightly out-of-town location near a Tesco supermarket. You will have to catch a local bus or taxi (if you can find one) to take you into Guildford.
Guildford is served by the A3 trunk road which runs from London to Portsmouth. It is about an hour's drive from central London.
If you are visiting for the day by car, consider using the Park & Ride site at the Spectrum leisure complex just off the A3 southbound, Onslow just off the A3 northbound, Merrow to the east of Guildford or the site on the Old Portsmouth Road at Artington (on the way to Godalming) and catching the dedicated express bus from these locations.
The central area of Guildford is easily walkable, but hilly. From the railway station you must cross the river Wey in order to reach the town centre and the bus station.
Buses not only provide a good way of getting around the central district of Guildford itself, but are adequate for the local community. Buses are operated mainly by Arriva Kent and Surrey, Stagecoach South and Safeguard.
- Traveline, ☏ 087-608-2-608 (local rate). It provides an impartial online travel planner and telephone query service for local bus services.
Taxis are by far the most expensive way to get around Guildford. If you do wish to travel by taxi, there are taxi ranks at the front of the Railway Station, and at the bottom of North Street on the other side of the road from the Electric Theatre. You can also get taxis from various places around the city centre.
Taxis can also be booked by phone and will usually pick up from most locations within a 5-mile radius of the town centre. Popular operators include:
- 5 & 6's +44 1483 565656
- A-Line Cars +44 1483 564656
- Beeline Cars +44 1483 566666
- City Cabs +44 1483 888666
- GTA Taxis 0800 502250
- Guildford Express [dead link] +44 1483 577171
- Surrey Cars +44 1483 577677
- Guildford Taxi +44 1483 905789
Whilst not as bad as either London or Oxford, Guildford's roads can get very congested at peak periods, especially at the hogs back. Especially if you are not used to driving on the left, central Guildford is probably best avoided.
On the other hand, a car is the one (possibly along with cycling) of the only really practical ways of seeing a lot of the local countryside and villages. Out here the roads are a lot quieter.
If you are planning to do any visiting or exploring beyond central Guildford, you will probably want to obtain a decent map of the area. You should ensure that any map you buy clearly shows the national grid reference lines, and explains how to use them, as grid references are frequently used to indicate out of town locations. The best maps for this purpose are those published by the Ordnance Survey (Britain's national mapping agency) and the following maps cover all the locations mentioned below:
- Ordnance Survey Landranger 186. This map covers the area around and between Guildford and Aldershot at a scale of 1:50000 and is best for exploration by car or cycle.
- Ordnance Survey Explorer 145. This map covers the area around Guildford at a scale of 1:25000 and is best for walking.
These maps can be found in any good bookshop in Guildford (see 'Buy' section below), or can be bought online from the Ordnance Survey.
- 1 Abbot's Hospital, High Street. Built in 1619 by Guildfordian Archbishop of Canterbury George Abbot as a retirement home for the local elderly.
- 2 Chestnuts, Castle Hill. Lewis Carroll, author, mathematician and photographer, Lewis Carroll (b1832) lived in Guildford until his death in 1898. Visit Lewis Caroll's house 'Chestnuts', on Castle Hill in the centre. See Guided Tours of Guildford.
- 3 The Guildhall, High St. A marvellous Tudor/Stuart building with its overhanging 1683 clock.
- 4 Guildford Museum, Quarry St, ☏ .
- 5 The Spike Heritage Centre, Warren Road, GU1 3JH, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 19th-century workhouse used to house vagrants until 1960. This site has now been fully restored and is one of two similar sites in the UK.
- 6 Guildford Castle and Grounds, Castle Street, GU1 3TU, ✉ email@example.com. Gardens open all year dawn - dusk, castle closed in winter, weekends only in spring & autumn, summer: daily 10AM-5PM. Medieval castle built to protect the town in the 1400s and one of Henry III's most luxurious residences. Conservation work revealed a 12th century first floor chamber which is now open to the public. Free entry into gardens, castle Adult £3.
- 7 Guildford Cathedral, Stag Hill, GU2 7UP. Daily, all year round, 8:30AM-5:30PM; guided tours daily 9:40AM-4PM. A 1930s brick cathedral which was the first to be built on a new site in the south of England since the Reformation. The inside is more impressive than the outside. The cathedral was started in the 1930s, but it wasn't until 1961 that it was consecrated due to an interruption in construction due to World War II.
- 8 St Catherine's Chapel. Ruined chapel a short walk along the river wey from Guildford town centre.
- 9 . This canal winds its way through Guildford until it reaches the River Thames in Weybridge. Of particular interest is the HQ at Dapdune Wharf, but just sitting down by the locks near the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre watching canal boats is very peaceful and gives one an insight into what the Wey once was - a busy industrial thoroughfare connecting Guildford and Surrey's industries with the rest of the country - and you might even get to help open the locks for the boat!
There are also many interesting things to see around Guildford:
- 10 Clandon Park, West Clandon, GU4 7RQ, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 11 Denbies Wine Estate, London Road, RH5 6AA, ☏ . Very good wine, England's largest vineyard.
- 12 Hatchlands Park, East Clandon, GU4 7RT, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com.
- 13 Leith Hill and its folly, near Coldharbour village, Dorking, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 14 Loseley Park, GU3 1HS, ☏ .
- 15 Newlands Corner, Albury, GU4 8SE, ☏ . Situated on the southern facing side of the North Downs, there are fantastic views over Surrey and also plenty of walks to be done. 10-min drive from the centre of Guildford.
- 16 Painshill Landscape Gardens.
- 17 RHS Garden Wisley, Wisley, Surrey, GU23 6QB (15 min drive up the A3 in the direction of London), ☏ . Mar–late Oct: M–F 10AM–6PM; Sa Su bank holidays 9AM–6PM; late Oct–Mar: M–F 10AM–4:30PM; Sa Su bank holidays 9AM–4:30PM. Closed 25 Dec.. The Royal Horticultural Society's (RHS) flagship garden is one of the world's great horticultural gardens, with thousands of plants from every continent across dozens of themed areas including formal gardens, borders, arboreta, rockeries, orchards and glasshouses. Adult £14, children 5-16 £7, free for RHS members.
- 18 Waverley Abbey, Farnham, GU9 8EP, ☏ . Free.
- 19 Watts Gallery and Watts Chapel, Down Lane, Compton, GU3 1DQ, ☏ . The gallery and exceptional chapel are just off the A3, south of Guildford, near Compton. It is well worth a visit to see the fine Arts and Crafts buildings.
- 20 Shalford Mill, Shalford, near Guildford, GU4 8BS (2 miles south of Guildford), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com.
- 1 G-Live, London Rd, GU1 2AA, ☏ . Replacement for the Guildford Civic Hall.
- Guided tour of Guildford, Tours start from under the Tunsgate arch (opposite the Guildhall clock in the High Street), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M 11AM, W 2:30PM, Su 2:30PM, Th 7PM. Walks last 70 to 90 minutes and cover about half a mile, and there are a choice of tours to do from ghosts and legends to tours looking at historic buildings in the town. Booked through the Tourist Information centre.
- 2 Odeon Cinema, Bedford Rd, GU1 4SJ. Multi-screen cinema showing all the usual Hollywood offerings.
- 3 Craggy Island, Unit 9 Cobbett Park, Moorfield Rd, GU1 1RU, ☏ . An artificial climbing experience for all abilities.
- 4 Spectrum, Parkway, GU1 1UP, ☏ . Leisure centre with swimming, bowling, ice skating, fitness suites.
- 5 Guildford Lido, Lido Road, Stoke Park, GU1 1HB. Closed in Winter. Fully restored 1930s art deco outdoor swimming pool.
- Boat trips from Dapdune Wharf. Run by the National Trust with help from volunteers.
- Guildford Boats.
- Hire a rowing boat (£7) or a canoe (£5) and travel along the river at your own pace. Boats can be hired from the Guildford Boathouse, located at the back of Millmead short stay car park off the Shalford Road. The boats tend to be in good condition and the river is not too crowded!
There are many walks around the North Downs surrounding Guildford including the North Downs Way which runs from Farnham (8 miles west of Guildford) to Folkestone some 80 miles away. There are also pleasant walks to be had along the River Wey to Godalming or Woking. Pewly Down and The Chantries which are south-east of the town centre offer a change of scenery. The Fox Way is another walk of 39 mi (63 km) split in 7 stages around Guildford.
- Guildford Book Festival. October. Annual festival of literature featuring signings, readings, plays, etc.
- Guildford International Music Festival. March. A biennial festival (2017, 2019, etc.) featuring many concerts across 2–3 weeks. Genres are mixed, and the festival brings high quality professional acts to the town.
- 6 Farnborough International Airshow. Not in Guildford (10 miles away in Farnborough), but well worth a visit to this biennial airshow.
Adult learning providers include
- University of Surrey, ☏ , fax: .
- Guildford College, Stoke Road, ☏ . Courses include summer English courses of two weeks or longer.
- Guildford Adult Education Centre, Sydenham Road, ☏ . Run by the county council. Has some 1-day summer art clasees.
There are also various private education providers including a Pitman Centre
Guildford has a vast array of temping agencies and private owned job centres. Walk up the High Street or North Street, or look in the local newspaper, the Surrey Advertiser.
Sometimes regarded as one of the premier shopping destinations in the South, Guildford is the major shopping centre of West Surrey - possibly the whole county - with most of its shops clustered in a fairly compact area on and around the High Street, and the parallel North Street.
There are three shopping centres:
and two major department stores:
Although there are several shopping malls, unlike many modern towns in England, the famed and attractive cobbled High Street has remained the focus of Guildford's shopping district. It is here, on the High Street and on North Street that you will find the best shops, and have the nicest shopping experience.
In general stores open M-Sa 9:30AM–5:30PM and Su 10AM-4PM although many stay open longer on some days and some do not open on a Sunday.
In addition to the shops and malls scattered around North Street and the High Street there is also a regular market each Friday and Saturday which stretches along North Street which offers a variety of goods including traditional fresh meat, fish, fruit, fresh ground coffee, cheese, olives, vegetables, flowers, pet food, luggage, linen, rugs, bags, towels, jewellery, clothes, cards, wooden carvings, CDs and picture frames.
The market operates during normal shopping hours on Fridays and Saturdays on North Street in Guildford, and is very close to Leapale Road and Castle multi-storey car parks.
There is also a Farmers Market on the High Street generally on the first Tuesday of every month. These times can vary during the summer season and during Guilford Summer festival, where markets, including crafts and handicrafts markets can be seen lining the high street for several weeks. During the run up to Christmas, too, there will be extra markets.
All main British banks and building societies have branches in Guildford, and most of them are situated around the eastern end of the High Street. These branches normally open M-F 9AM-4PM and Sa 9AM-noon.
Most bank and building society branches have 'through the wall' type ATMs that are open 24x7.
For changing money there are many Bureaux de Change services throughout the town, with some such as the post office offering commission free exchanges.
Guildford has a good selection of restaurants with many different themes attracting different tastes. On Friday and Saturday many of them are booked up weeks in advance and early booking is advisable to avoid disappointment.
- Olivio, 53 Quarry Street, ☏ . Tucked away from the high street and hard to find if you are not a regular visitor to the town. Worth perservering as an excellent choice.
- Loch Fyne, Centenary Hall Chapel Street, ☏ . Part of a national chain of restaurants, in a classic style building in a prominent position in the town.
- Shardana, Bakers Yard, High Street, ☏ . Italian bar and pizzeria.
- Cote Bistro, 35 Castle Street, ☏ . French cuisine.
- Brasserie Gerard, 260 - 262 High St, ☏ .
- Magnifico's Restaurant, 144 High St, ☏ .
- Mandarin Restaurant, 13 Epsom Rd, ☏ .
- Maloncho Tandoori, 7 Epsom Rd, ☏ . Indian food.
- Pews Bar & Restaurant, 21 Chapel St, ☏ .
- Rose Valley Curry House, 50-52 Chertsey St, ☏ . Best curry house in town. Prince Harry and his mates have been known to dine here in the past.
- Rumwong, 16-18 London Road, ☏ . Well presented Thai restaurant with a decent menu. There is normal seating, and for the brave, more traditional Kan Tok (much lower!) seating. Mains from around £8.
- Sir & Madam Thai Restaurant, 8-9 Jeffries Passage, ☏ .
- Strada Restaurant, 222 High St, ☏ .
- TGI Fridays, 2 North St. American restaurant chain. Good cocktails and ribs.
- The Thai Terrace-Rooftop Restaurant, 7th Floor Castle Car Park, ☏ . Offers a superb view of the town
- Yvonne Arnaud Riverview Restaurant, Millbrook, ☏ .
- Zinfandel Restaurant, 4 Chapel St, ☏ .
- Turtle Bay, 1 North Street, ☏ . Caribbean food and cocktails. Part of a chain.
- Worplesdon Place Hotel - very good food, but a bit expensive, and service can be slow.
Pubs and bars
In the town centre, Bridge Street (between The Friary shopping centre and the railway station) has a cluster of formulaic wine bars and cafe bars. Cheap prices and themed nights are fun, and popular with locals, as such the area gets extremely busy around closing time.
- Bar Mambo Onslow Street. Brilliant location.... Drink prices now very reasonable. Shows a lot of sport - football, rugby, etc. Staff are very friendly, food is fantastic. It's the place to be.
- Bar Med Bridge St. A (loosely) Mediterranean themed bar that shows a lot of Sky football matches. Reasonably priced beer, and pretty good food as well. Well due a facelift.
- Rodborough Buildings Bridge St. huge bar on two floors. JD Wetherspoons bar.
- Tickled Ivory Onslow Street. Piano bar with a limited drinks selection. Avoid on Saturdays.
On or near the High Street:
- Joe Clarks, 176 High Street, ☏ . Cafe and wine bar with a Mediterranean feel.
- The Tudor Lounge, 144 High Street, ☏ . Small bar - good for a passing drink.
- [dead link] Fahrenheit 55, 3 Milkhouse Gate (just off the High Street, near Sainsburys), ☏ . Independent tapas bar which is quite cramped inside. Serves as a late bar and can be a cheaper alternative to going to one of the clubs.
- Five & Lime, Leapale Road. Small cocktail bar.
- The King's Head, 52 Quarry Street, ☏ . Inside, a traditional English pub, outside a very chic rooftop terrace. Very nice sitting outside in the summer.
- Pews Bar, 21 Chapel St, ☏ . Large outdoor bar area.
- The Robin Hood Sydenham Road, +44 1483 888307. Just behind the High Street, a 'proper' pub, good beer, great friendly atmosphere, food lunchtimes and evenings with new menu and famous Sunday Roast which takes some beating! Live music Friday and Saturday evenings with acoustic Sunday night entertainment starting mid-August. Need to book for Sunday lunch.
- The Royal Oak, 15 Trinity Churchyard, ☏ . Hidden just behind the top of the high street, a traditional English pub, serving a range of real ales and imported drinks. Also known to host a few live music events from time to time.
- The Star Inn, 2 Quarry St, ☏ . Quite a lively pub with a young crowd. Good live local bands on some nights.
- The Guildford Tup, 46 Chertsey St, ☏ . Close to York Road Car Park. Expensive beer.
- Ha Ha Bar and Canteen, 16-17 North Street, ☏ . Refurbished in a fairly central location, close to the bus station and taxi rank.
Close to the River Wey
3 The George Abbot, 7-11 High St, GU2 4AB, ☏ . Large pub with big screens with live sports. Good selection of beers and real ales. Nice selection of food.
5 The Weyside (Boatman), Millbrook, GU1 3XJ (a short walk out of town close to the Yvonne Arnold Theatre), ☏ . Nice outside deck which stretches right out next to the river (railings are now placed at the edge for safety).
More traditional English pubs
7 The Angel, 91 High St, Guildford GU1 3DP. A very pleasant pub, with a fine selection of locally brewed ales. It is expensive to drink here but this keeps the youth out, making it one of very few pubs in Guildford town centre where you can enjoy a quiet drink!
In the Stoke Park area
For visitors to Guildford this is generally an overlooked area of guildford, which is up and coming due to the increasing student population. Also it has been billed as Guildford's Latin quarter because of its dancing and salsa venues.
11 The Prince Albert, 85 Stoke Rd, Guildford GU1 4HT, ☏ . It offers a selection of pub meals from £2.
- The Casino, Onslow St. Guildford's main event night club.
- Dusk (formerly known as Cinderellas). This is a smaller club than Harper's, attracting a younger crowd.
- The Legion, Millbrook. On 3 floors, with 2 bars and a dance floor.
- Flares, Bridge Street. 1970s/80s themed bar.
- m.Brasserie & Bar, 36-40 London Road. Part of the Mandolay hotel, this bar is at the top of the high street on the town centre and has a free-entry disco/club before 10:30PM.
Live music venues
- The Boileroom, 13 Stokefields +44 1483 440022. Billed as Guildford's Premier Live Music venue.
- Wooden Bridge Pub, Woodbridge Hill, GU2-9AA, +44 1483 572708. Guildford's live music venue for the talent that the ACM, Guildford and the surrounding areas have to offer. Weekly live nights: The Other Side of the Bridge, hosted by Way Out. Every Saturday from 8PM.
- Acacia Villas Guest House, 29 Woodbridge Road, ☏ . From £35.
- Stoke House, 113 Stoke Road, ☏ . From £37.
- Guildford Guest House, 117 Stoke Road, ☏ . From £37.
- Holiday Inn, Egerton Rd, ☏ . £35-199.
- Premier Travel Inn, Parkway, ☏ . From £47.
- Travelodge, Woodbridge Meadows, GU1 1BD, ☏ . From £19.
- Holiday Inn Guildford, Egerton Road, GU2 7XZ, ☏ . Situated on the outskirts of Guildford, the hotel is near Heathrow Airport and Central London. There are also leisure and business facilities on-site.
- Asperion Hotel, 73 Farnham Rd, ☏ . From £50.
- Clavadel Hotel, Epsom Rd, ☏ . From £59.95.
- Quinns Hotel, 78 Epsom Rd, ☏ . From £54.50.
- The Angel Posting House and Livery, High Street, ☏ .
- The Guildford Hotel, 253 High St, ☏ . From £50.
- Premier Inn Worplesdon Place, Perry Hill, ☏ . From £57.
- Ramada Jarvis Hotel in Guildford/Leatherhead, E Horsley, ☏ . From £59.
- Manor House Hotel, Newlands Corner, ☏ . From £95.
- Mandolay Hotel, 36-40 London Rd, ☏ . From £110.
- Radisson Edwardian, 3 Alexandra Terrace, High Street, ☏ . Landmark hotel next to G-Live. From £92.
Guildford's area code (for landline numbers) is 01483 when dialed from within the UK or +44 1483 from outside the UK.
Cellphone coverage is generally good within the city and surrounding area.
If you are travelling with a laptop then you will find broad-band internet access in the rooms of most, but not all, medium to high end hotels. If this is important to you check before booking. And there are many Wi-Fi hot spots in and around Guildford.
There are also several places that offer web and other internet access if you are travelling without a laptop. These include:
- Caffe Nero, High Street.
- Guildford library, 77 North Street (at the top of North Street), ☏ , fax: . Free access.
- Quarks Internet Cafe, 7 Jeffries Passage, ☏ .
- Bhutan, Windacres, Warren Road, GU1 3HG, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Bhutan's consulate to the UK.
Much of the centre of town is monitored 24 hours a day by CCTV cameras.
- There are three very good theme parks within 45 minutes drive of Guildford:
- Surrey Hills
- London 45 min by train or car, with many tourist attractions and things to do.
- Portsmouth to see the historic dockyard. About 50 min by train/car.
- Farnham Historic market town, about 15 minutes by train or car from Guildford Centre.
- Windsor Fabulous royal castle, which the Queen still uses, and very attractive town. St George's Chapel in the town hosted the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
- Brookwood Military Cemetery, home to a lot of British, Commonwealth and Allied war graves from the world wars and the modern era.
|Routes through Guildford|
|Portsmouth ← Godalming ←||SW NE||→ Weybridge → London|
|END ←||W E||→ Dorking → Redhill|
|Winchester ← Aldershot ←||W E||→ merges with|