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Europe > Britain and Ireland > United Kingdom > England > South East England > Surrey > Guildford

Guildford

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Guildford's cobbled High Street

Guildford is a large town in Surrey in the South East of England. It has still 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.

Understand[edit]

Guildford grew up into a large town because of its location at roughly the half way 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.

Get in[edit]

By bus[edit]

Guildford is served by many bus routes from Woking, Aldershot, Godalming and other local places. Prices can be fairly expensive and buses can be unreliable particularly after 6:30PM.

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[edit]

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), Ladymead Retail Park (round the back of the Cornhill Insurance building) and at the Spectrum Leisure Complex. At all three sites, the car parking is free and you just pay for the bus fare to get into the town centre, which is £1.20 for a return.

  • Ladymead – buses run every 10 min on Saturday only from 8:30AM-6PM
  • Spectrum Leisure Complex – buses run every 12 min M-F from 7:27AM–11:10PM, (although every 20 min after 7:30PM.)
  • Artington – buses run every 12 min from Monday to Saturday from 7:30AM–7:30PM. For more information: National Park and Ride Directory
  • Merrow – buses run every 15 min. The park and ride system is good for the environment and also it allows the city to stay congestion free!

By plane[edit]

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 [1] 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.

By train[edit]

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.

There is a smaller station called 2 London Road (Guildford) station, which is the penultimate stop on the line from London via Cobham.

Train times can be found on the National Rail Planner or by calling ☎ +44 845-748-4950 from anywhere in the UK.

By coach[edit]

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.

By car[edit]

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, or the site on the Old Portsmouth Road at Artington (on the way to Godalming) and catching the dedicated express bus from these locations.

Get around[edit]

By foot[edit]

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.

By bus[edit]

Buses not only provide a good way of getting around the central district of Guildford itself, but are adequate for the local community. Although there is a free bus which circles the town centre three times an hour, it is often snarled in the traffic and usually, if you are able, quicker to walk.

  • Traveline, telephone 087-608-2-608 from within the UK, provide an impartial online travel planner and telephone query service for local bus services.

By taxi[edit]

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:

By car[edit]

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.

Maps[edit]

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.

See[edit]

The Guildhall

Central Guildford[edit]

  • 1 Abbot's Hospital, High Street. Built in 1619 by Guildfordian Archbishop of Canterbury George Abbot as a retirement home for the local elderly. Abbot's Hospital (Q4664183) on Wikidata Abbot's Hospital on Wikipedia
  • 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. Guildford Guildhall (Q5615827) on Wikidata Guildford Guildhall on Wikipedia
  • 4 Guildford Museum, Quarry St, +1483 444751. Guildford Museum (Q5615834) on Wikidata Guildford Museum on Wikipedia
  • 5 The Spike Heritage Centre, Warren Road, GU1 3JH, +44 1483 598420, e-mail: . 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, e-mail: . 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. Guildford Castle (Q139629) on Wikidata Guildford Castle on Wikipedia
  • 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. Guildford Cathedral (Q687799) on Wikidata Guildford Cathedral on Wikipedia
  • 8 St Catherine's Chapel. Ruined abbey a short walk along the river wey from Guildford town centre. St Catherine's Hill, Surrey (Q24718385) on Wikidata St Catherine's Hill, Surrey on Wikipedia
  • 9 The Wey Navigation. 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! Wey and Godalming Navigations (Q16903161) on Wikidata Wey and Godalming Navigations on Wikipedia

Surrounding area[edit]

The Watts Chapel

There are also many interesting things to see around Guildford:

Do[edit]

The River Wey, five minutes away from Guildford town centre
  • 1 G-Live, London Rd, GU1 2AA, +44 1483 369350. Replacement for the Guildford Civic Hall. G Live (Q5515136) on Wikidata G Live on Wikipedia
  • Guided tour of Guildford, Tours start from under the Tunsgate arch (opposite the Guildhall clock in the High Street), +44 1483 444333, e-mail: . 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, +44 344 880 8866. An artificial climbing experience for all abilities.
  • 4 Spectrum, Parkway, GU1 1UP, +44 1483 443322. 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.

River trips[edit]

  • 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!

Walks[edit]

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 a another walk of 39 mi (63 km) split in 7 stages around Guildford.

Festivals[edit]

  • 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. Farnborough Airshow (Q1396967) on Wikidata Farnborough Airshow on Wikipedia

Learn[edit]

Adult learning providers include

There are also various private education providers including a Pitman Centre

Work[edit]

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.

Buy[edit]

Shopping[edit]

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:

  • 1 Friary Shopping Centre, North St, GU1 4YT (at the bottom of North Street and Onslow Street), +44 1483 503773. M-Sa 9AM-6PM, Su 11AM-5PM.
  • 2 The White Lion Walk, 40 Friary St, GU1 3DW (between the bottom of North Street and the bottom of the High Street), +44 1483 506877.
  • 3 The Tunsgate Shopping Centre, Tunsgate, GU1 3QT (halfway up the High Street), +44 1483 537153.

There are 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.

Money[edit]

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.

Eat[edit]

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.

Central Guildford[edit]

  • Olivio, 53 Quarry Street, +44 1483 303535. 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, +44 1483 230550. Part of a national chain of restaurants - situated in a classic style building in a prominent position in the town.
  • Shardana, Bakers Yard, High Street, +44 1483 560752. Italian bar and Pizzaria.
  • Cote Bistro, 35 Castle Street, +44 1483 579714. French cuisine.
  • Brasserie Gerard, 260 - 262 High St, +44 1483 569199.
  • Jamie's Italian, 13 Friary St, +44 1483 600920.
  • Magnifico's Restaurant, 144 High St, +44 1483 300999.
  • Mandarin Restaurant, 13 Epsom Rd, +44 1483 572293.
  • Maloncho Tandoori, 7 Epsom Rd, +44 1483 534060. Indian food.
  • Pews Bar & Restaurant, 21 Chapel St, +44 1483 535012.
  • Rose Valley Curry House, 50-52 Chertsey St, +44 1483 572572. Best curry house in town. Prince Harry and his mates have been known to dine here in the past.
  • Rumwong, 16-18 London Road, +44 1483 536092. 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, +44 1483 535025.
  • Strada Restaurant, 222 High St, +44 1483 454455.
  • TGI Fridays, 2 North St. American restaurant chain. Good cocktails and ribs.
  • The Thai Terrace-Rooftop Restaurant, 7th Floor Castle Car Park, +44 1483 503350. Offers a superb view of the town
  • Yvonne Arnaud Riverview Restaurant, Millbrook, +44 1483 569334.
  • Zinfandel Restaurant, 4 Chapel St, +44 1483 455155.
  • Turtle Bay, 1 North Street, +44 1483 300307. Caribbean food and cocktails. Part of a chain.

Surrounding Villages[edit]

  • Worplesdon Place Hotel - very good food, but a bit expensive, and service can be slow.

Drink[edit]

Pubs and bars[edit]

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, +44 1483 563846. Cafe and wine bar with a Mediterranean feel.
  • The Tudor Lounge, 144 High Street, +44 1483 300999. Small bar - good for a passing drink.
  • The Three Pigeons, 169 High Street, +44 1483 574310. Historic town pub renamed back to the Three Pigeons in 2009.
  • Fahrenheit 55, 3 Milkhouse Gate (just off the High Street, near Sainsburys), +44 1483 579111. 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, +44 1483 575004. Inside, a traditional English pub, outside a very chic rooftop terrace. Very nice sitting outside in the summer.
  • Pews Bar, 21 Chapel St, +44 1483 535012. 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, +44 1483 566637. 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, +44 1483 532887. Quite a lively pub with a young crowd. Good live local bands on some nights.
  • The Guildford Tup, 46 Chertsey St, +44 1483 562441. Close to York Road Car Park. Expensive beer.
  • Ha Ha Bar and Canteen, 16-17 North Street, +44 1483 573534. Refurbished in a fairly central location, close to the bus station and taxi rank.

Close to the River Wey[edit]

  • The White House, 8 High Street, +44 1483 302006. Nice outside terrace close to the river, very nice to relax an a summers day or night.
  • The Rowbarge, 7 Riverside. Outside deck looks over the river.
  • The George Abbot, 7-11 High Street, +44 1483 302006. Large Pub with big screens with live sports. Good selection of beers and real ales. Nice selection of food.
  • The Britannia, 9 Millmead, +44 1483 572160. previously called Scruffy Murphys, there is a deck on the front of the pub which overlooks the river.
  • The Boatman, Millbrook, Guildford. 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[edit]

  • Ye Olde Ship Inn, St. Catherines, Portsmouth Road. Next to the College of Law, is the oldest pub in Guildford.
  • The Angel, on the High Street. 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!
  • The White Hart, White Hart Lane, Wood Street (3 miles outside of Guildford) is a nice traditional English pub serving good quality local ales in a very attractive setting.
  • The Ship Inn Pitch Place, Worplesdon Road, 1 mile out of Guildford. Next to Yeomans Honda, serves traditional food and quality ales.

In the Stoke Park Area[edit]

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.

  • The Stoke, 103 Stoke Road. Holds dance classes every Thursday which include include Salsa (Cuban, Cross Body On 1)and Rueda. Student discounts apply.
  • The Prince Albert, 85 Stoke Road. It offers a selection of pub meals from £2.

Nightclubs[edit]

  • 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[edit]

  • 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.

Sleep[edit]

Budget[edit]

Mid-range[edit]

Splurge[edit]

Stay safe[edit]

Guildford was the safest and most attractive shopping destination in the UK, according to the Eve Prime Retail Survey, 2004.

Much of the centre of town is monitored 24 hours a day by CCTV cameras.

Connect[edit]

Phone[edit]

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.

Internet[edit]

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. WiFinder [2] provides a register.

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), +44 1483 568496, fax: +44 1483 579177. Free access.
  • Quarks Internet Cafe, 7 Jeffries Passage, ph: +44 1483 451166, [3].

Cope[edit]

Consulate[edit]

Go next[edit]

  • 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
PortsmouthGodalming  SW UK road A3.svg NE  WeybridgeLondon
END  W UK road A25.svg E  DorkingRedhill
WinchesterAldershot  W UK road A31.svg E  merges with UK road A3.svg


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