Hertfordshire, on London's northern border, is a predominantly rural county. The countryside is broken up by several market towns like Hertford and Hitchin, large towns like Watford and Stevenage, one cathedral city in St Albans, and dozens of smaller villages.
Some of the county's parks and green spaces have special legal status to protect their unique appearances - among them the Chiltern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and the Lee Valley Regional Park. Many of Hertfordshire's towns are on mainline rail routes out of London, with some stations within the London fare zones, on the famous tube map.
The county is regularly seen on screen. With large film and TV studios at Elstree, Leavesden (which is home to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour) and Bovingdon, crews often make excursions to picturesque towns and villages nearby.
Towns and villages
- 1 St Albans – city with a magnificent cathedral
- 2 Hertford – the county town, with a castle and plenty of restaurants
- 3 Baldock
- 4 Berkhamsted – historic town on the Grand Union Canal
- 5 Bishop's Stortford
- 6 Borehamwood
- 7 Buntingford
- 8 Cheshunt
- 9 Harpenden
- 10 Hatfield – home of Hatfield House, childhood home of Queen Elizabeth I
- 11 Hemel Hempstead
- 12 Hitchin
- 13 Letchworth Garden City
- 14 Potters Bar
- 15 Rickmansworth
- 16 Royston
- 17 Stevenage
- 18 Tring – featuring the Natural History Museum Tring
- 19 Ware
- 20 Watford
- 21 Welwyn Garden City
- 22 Abbots Langley
- 23 Brookmans Park
- 24 Kings Langley
- 25 Knebworth
- 26 London Colney
- 27 Pirton
- 28 Redbourn
- 1 Chiltern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) - the Chiltern Hills spans several counties, across the area between Reading, Berkshire and Hitchin. In Hertfordshire, the AONB features countryside around Tring and the Offleys
- 2 Lee Valley Regional Park - protected land between Ware and the River Thames, London, to support "recreation, sport, entertainment and the enjoyment of leisure"
- 3 Colne Valley Regional Park - managed land along the River Colne between Staines, Surrey and Rickmansworth in Hertfordshire
The county is situated just north of London. It has the third highest population density for a non-metropolitan county after Surrey and Berkshire which are similarly suburban in nature. The Hertfordshire district of Hertsmere has the highest percentage of Jewish residents (11% but much larger in certain towns such as Radlett) of any English district outside London.
Hertfordshire is easy to get to by train, with some stations in London's fare zones.
National Rail from Central London
Hertfordshire is on several train lines, with routes from several major London termini (from west-east):
- 1 London Marylebone - Local Chiltern Railways services into Rickmansworth and Chorleywood.
- 2 London Euston - Fast Avanti West Coast services into Watford Junction. Local London Northwestern Railway towards Bushey, Watford Junction, Hemel Hempstead, Berkhamsted and Tring. London Overground towards Bushey, Watford High Street and Watford Junction.
- 3 London St Pancras - Fast and local Thameslink services towards Elstree and Borehamwood, St Albans City and Harpenden.
- 4 London King's Cross - Fast and local Great Northern and Thameslink services towards Potters Bar, Hatfield, Welwyn Garden City, Stevenage, Hitchin, Letchworth and Royston. Fast London North Eastern Railway and Hull Trains services towards Stevenage.
- 5 London Moorgate - Local Great Northern services towards Potters Bar, Hatfield, Welwyn Garden City, Cuffley, Hertford North and Stevenage.
- 6 London Liverpool Street - Fast and local Greater Anglia services towards Waltham Cross, Cheshunt, Broxbourne, Ware, Hertford East, Sawbridgeworth and Bishop's Stortford. Fast Stansted Express services towards Bishop's Stortford. London Overground towards Theobalds Grove and Cheshunt.
- 7 London Stratford - Local Greater Anglia services towards Waltham Cross, Cheshunt, Broxbourne, Sawbridgeworth and Bishop's Stortford.
- - London Underground Metropolitan line connects the City and Central London with Moor Park, Rickmansworth, Chorleywood, Croxley and Watford.
From west-east, National Rail routes into Hertfordshire are:
- Chiltern Railways - from Aylesbury and Amersham into Chorleywood and Rickmansworth;
- Avanti West Coast - from destinations such as Glasgow, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham and Milton Keynes into Watford Junction;
- London Northwestern Railway - from Northampton and Milton Keynes into Tring, Berkhamsted, Hemel Hempstead, Watford and Bushey;
- Southern - from Croydon, Clapham Junction and Shepherd's Bush into Watford Junction;
- Thameslink - from destinations such as Bedford, Brighton, Cambridge, Croydon, Farringdon, Finsbury Park, Gatwick Airport , Huntingdon, London Blackfriars, London Bridge, Luton, Luton Airport Parkway , and Peterborough into various destinations - including Elstree and Borehamwood, Hatfield, Harpenden, Hitchin, Letchworth, Royston, St Albans City, Stevenage and Welwyn Garden City;
- Great Northern - from destinations such as Alexandra Palace, Cambridge, Finsbury Park, Huntingdon and Peterborough into Hatfield, Potters Bar, Stevenage and Welwyn Garden City;
- Greater Anglia - from destinations such as Ely and Cambridge into Bishop's Stortford, Sawbridgeworth, Broxbourne and Cheshunt;
- Stansted Express - direct trains between Stansted Airport and Bishop's Stortford.
- (London - Luton Airport and Leeds) - passing Watford, St Albans and Hemel Hempstead;
- (London Orbital with a direct connection into Heathrow Airport) - passing Watford, St Albans, Hatfield, Potters Bar and Waltham Cross;
- / (Central London and Barnet - Peterborough and Scotland) - passing Borehamwood, Hatfield, Welwyn Garden City, Stevenage and Letchworth;
- (London and Enfield - Cambridge and King's Lynn) - passing Waltham Cross, Cheshunt, Hertford, Ware and Royston;
- (Puckeridge - Colchester and Harwich) - passing Bishop's Stortford;
- (London - Bicester and Birkenhead) - passing Watford, Hemel Hempstead, Berkhamsted and Tring;
- (Hemel Hempstead - Chelmsford and Maldon) - passing Ware, Hertford, Welwyn Garden City, Hatfield, St Albans and Hemel Hempstead;
- (Luton - the Cambridge area) - passing Hitchin, Letchworth, Baldock and Royston.
The M11 motorway, although not in Hertfordshire, passes close to Bishop's Stortford, accessed via junction 8.
There are no international airports in Hertfordshire, but two London airports are near the county's borders. These are:
- 8 London Stansted Airport (STN IATA) - near Bishop's Stortford;
- 9 London Luton Airport (LTN IATA) - near Harpenden and Hitchin.
The M25 motorway connects Hertfordshire with London Heathrow Airport (LHR IATA), Britain's largest airport, approximately 11 mi (18 km) south of Maple Cross, near the Hertfordshire town of Rickmansworth. London Gatwick Airport (LGW IATA), although the other side of London to Hertfordshire, is on the Thameslink railway route with direct trains to and from the county.
By bus and coach
From Central London
- Flixbus UK006 - London to Cambridge via Stevenage;
- Green Line 755/757 - London to Luton Airport and Luton Interchange, via Bricket Wood.
- National Express 230 - Gatwick Airport to Derby, via Hemel Hempstead, Luton Airport , Leicester and Nottingham;
- National Express 707 - Heathrow Airport to Birmingham, via Hemel Hempstead, Luton Airport , Northampton and Coventry;
- National Express 737 - Stansted Airport to Oxford, via Harlow, Hertford, Hatfield, Luton Airport and Milton Keynes.
- Carousel 1 - High Wycombe to Hemel Hempstead, via Amersham and Chesham;
- Stagecoach 9 - Bedford to Hitchin;
- Vectare 13 - Epping and Epping tube station to Waltham Cross;
- Centrebus 26 - Cambridge to Royston;
- Centrebus 46 - Luton to Hemel Hempstead, via Redbourn;
- Arriva 66 - Loughton and Debden tube stations to Waltham Cross;
- Arriva 100/101 - Luton and Luton Airport to Stevenage, via Hitchin;
- Central Connect 301 - Saffron Walden to Bishop's Stortford;
- Arriva 321 - Luton to Watford, via St Albans;
- Arriva 500 - Aylesbury to Hemel Hempstead, via Tring and Berkhamsted;
- Arriva 508/509/510 - Harlow to Stansted Airport , via Sawbridgeworth and Bishop's Stortford;
- Uno 610 - Luton to Potters Bar, via Harpenden and Hatfield;
- Uno 614 - Queensbury tube station to Hatfield;
- Green Line 724 - Harlow to Heathrow Airport , via Ware, Hertford, Welwyn Garden City, Hatfield, St Albans, Watford and Rickmansworth.
Although buses are run by different companies with their own ticket systems, the Intalink website has a collection of routes and timetables. Ask for the "Intalink Explorer" ticket for unlimited travel around the county.
London buses connect Watford, Borehamwood, Potters Bar and Waltham Cross with destinations in the capital. London night bus N279[dead link] links Waltham Cross Bus Station in Hertfordshire directly with Tottenham Hotspur FC, Camden Town, Leicester Square and Trafalgar Square.
There are very few east-west rail links across Hertfordshire. It is often quicker to travel through central London by train, rather than using alternative public transport within the county only.
East-west routes in Hertfordshire include:
- Watford Junction - St Albans Abbey - London Northwestern Railway via Watford North and Bricket Wood
- London - Letchworth - Cambridge - Thameslink and Great Northern via Stevenage, Letchworth, Royston and Cambridge
It is easy to travel within Hertfordshire by car, but there is heavy congestion at peak times on some routes - particularly around Broxbourne, Hemel Hempstead, Hertford, St Albans, Hemel Hempstead and Potters Bar.
Check local routes online or at bus stops. Intalink is the official Hertfordshire County Council public transport website. In addition to regular, timetabled routes, dial-a-ride (bookable) services include ArrivaClick in Watford and HertsLynx in eastern and northern Hertfordshire.
Cycle routes criss-cross Hertfordshire. Some longer routes include:
- Ware - Hertford - Welwyn Garden City (Cole Green Way) - approximately 10 mi (16 km) miles of signposted cycleway between Ware, Hertford and Welwyn Garden City. The seven-mile stretch between Hertford and WGC follows a former railway line. Part of the National Cycle Network Route 61;
- Chilterns Cycleway - a 170 mi (270 km) route which mostly follows minor roads. Access via Berkhamsted, Harpenden or Tring in Hertfordshire.
Towpaths along the Grand Union Canal (Hemel Hempstead, Berkhamsted, Tring), Lee Navigation (Hertford, Ware, Hoddesdon and Cheshunt) and River Stort (Sawbridgeworth and Bishop's Stortford) are also shared-use paths.
With historic homes, pretty market streets, and rivers and valleys, there are a great many things to see in Hertfordshire.
Ashridge Estate, near Tring, has rolling hills and a 5,000-acre woodland managed by the National Trust. The Natural History Museum at Tring is a sister museum to the larger Natural History Museum in London. More than 4,900 objects are stored in the Hertfordshire collection, including two little fleas dressed as Mexicans dating back to 1905 and the last British specimen of the great auk, which is extinct.
Hatfield House, near Hatfield, was the childhood home of Queen Elizabeth I.
The Henry Moore Studios, in Much Hadham near Bishop's Stortford has a 70-acre sculpture garden at his former home.
Royston Cave, near Royston, features carvings which depict Christian icons in a medieval style, and some earlier Pagan symbols.
You can spot common tern, kestrel, owls and kingfisher at the RSPB Rye Meads bird reserve in the lush green Lee Valley south of Ware.
St Albans Cathedral has the longest nave of any cathedral in England. The St Albans Museums include 159 Roman coins unearthed in the Hertfordshire countryside, an ancient Roman heating system, and an exhibition space in the city centre.
The Welwyn Roman Baths, in Welwyn Garden City, is a 1,800-year-old Roman bathhouse.
A large county close to London, Hertfordshire is home to several hands-on attractions, sports venues and events.
Paradise Wildlife Park in Broxbourne outside of Hertford, has white lions, tigers, snow leopards, zebras, reindeer, tapir, meerkat, red pandas and capybaras.
The Warner Bros. Studio Tour takes you inside the Leavesden studios, where the Harry Potter films were made, just north of Watford Junction.
Arts, music and festivals
Alban Arena in St Albans hosts a range of events, from local theatre and dance groups to shows on the national comedy circuit. The St Albans Comedy Garden is an annual summer festival of comedy in featuring some of the biggest names on the London and national circuts.
Hatfield Park hosts a year-round calendar featuring markets, immersive theatre, music festivals, concerts, motor shows, fireworks, Christmas lights, and the Folk by the Oak festival.
Knebworth House near Stevenage runs events throughout the year including concerts, gardening events, motor shows and Christmas markets.
Standon Calling, held in fields near Standon south of Buntingford, is an enormous, friendly festival featuring some of the biggest names in UK music.
Watford Colosseum hosts a range of music and drama events throughout the year.
Hertfordshire is home to a network of active travel trails for walking and cycling. Among them are:
- Chilterns Cycleway. A 170-mile circular cycle route through Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Oxfordshire, through the Chiltern Hills AONB. More than 95 per cent of the route is on-road, mostly following minor routes.
- The Hertfordshire Way. A 195-mile waymarked, circular, long-distance footpath through Hertfordshire's countryside. The route takes in the Chilterns as well as several towns and villages, including Hertford, Kings Langley, Tring, Royston, Bishop's Stortford and St Albans. An extension to the path passes through the Lee Valley.
- Icknield Way. A 110-mile footpath between Ivinghoe Beacon in Buckinghamshire to Thetford Forest in Norfolk. Dubbed the "oldest road in Britain" and one of the "four highways of medieval England", this ancient track joins the Ridgeway National Trail near Tring in Hertfordshire, linking it up with Dorset. Join the Icknield Way in Hertfordshire near Tring, Hitchin, Letchworth, Baldock and Royston. There is a 170-mile Icknield Way equestrian and mountain bike trail which runs roughly parallel to the walking route.
- New River Path. A 28-mile walk between Finsbury in London and Hertford, through Great Amwell, Hoddesdon and Cheshunt. It follows the course of the New River, which opened in 1613 to supply the capital with water.
The Lee Valley White Water Centre, near Waltham Cross in the Lee Valley, was the London 2012 Olympics canoe and kayak venue. The centre is open to the public for rafting or paddling.
The Stanborough Park Water Sports Centre has lakes open for sailing, canoeing, paddleboarding, rafting and open water swimming in Welwyn Garden City.
Hertfordshire is the second safest county in the UK. The chances of you being attacked/robbed at night are slim, and in the daytime basically none. The only crime you may encounter is at closing time in the larger urban areas (Watford, St. Albans, Hatfield and Stevenage) around clubs/pubs. Theft or interference with cars may occur, but only if left in the more unpleasant areas overnight.
Usual instructions apply, if a crime/emergency is in progress call 999 or 112 and ask for Police/Fire/Ambulance as needed. There are three main police stations (Open M Th 8AM-11PM, F Sa 8AM-midnight and Su 10AM-8PM) in Watford, Hatfield and Stevenage. A police counter service is available at Abbots Langley and Rickmansworth police stations.
- Stevenage (Lister Hospital) with 24-hr A&E
- Watford (Watford General) with 24-hr A&E
- St Albans (St Albans City Hospital) with a Minor Injuries Unit (MIU) open every day of the week from 9AM-8PM. No A&E
- Bishop's Stortford (Herts and Essex Hospital) with Minor Injuries Unit (MIU) open M-F 9AM-4:30PM. No A&E
- Cheshunt (Cheshunt Community Hospital) with a Minor Injuries Unit (MIU) open every day of the week from 8AM-8PM. No A&E
- Hemel Hempstead (Hemel Hempstead Hospital) with Urgent Care Centre open 8AM-10PM. No A&E
- Northwood (Mount Vernon Cancer Centre) with Minor Injuries Unit (MIU) open every day 9AM-8PM (except Christmas Day). No A&E
- Welwyn Garden City (QEII) with 24-hr Urgent Care Centre. No A&E
- London, England's capital city, lies just south of Hertfordshire. Central London, with its museums, galleries, theatres, bars, restaurants and nightlife, is as little as 30 minutes by train from some Hertfordshire destinations
- Bicester in Oxfordshire is home to a busy shopping village which is less than an hour from Tring
- Cambridge, the world-famous university city, lies to the north-east of Hertfordshire
- Saffron Walden in Essex is a picturesque market town near the Hertfordshire border
- Southend-on-Sea - a coastal city in Essex - features the world's longest pier
- Whipsnade Zoo near Dunstable is part of the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) family