Watford is a large town in Hertfordshire, a few miles from the Greater London boundary. It is around 20 minutes from central London using National Rail trains, and slightly longer on the London Underground and Overground networks. Warner Bros. Studio Tour London is on the outskirts of Watford, while the town centre is home to the Colosseum music venue, the Atria shopping centre and Watford Market.
Cassio is listed in the 1086 Domesday Book. It lent its names to one of Hertfordshire's historic hundreds and lends its name today to Cassiobury Park, named after a former mansion. In the 12th century, the Abbot of St Albans who owned the land was given permission for a weekly market near the River Colne, where it was held until 1928.
The town developed rapidly in the late-18th century. Construction began on the Grand Union Canal in 1793, and the waterway reached Watford by 1797 (and Birmingham by 1805). The railway opened in 1837. The town became its own urban district in 1922.
Today, the town is in the commuter belt with fast and slow trains into London. A booming film industry surrounds the town, with Warner Bros. in Leavesden, BBC Elstree and Elstree Studios in nearby Borehamwood, and Bovingdon.
Today, Watford lies at the junction between the M1 and M25 motorways. There are car parks throughout Watford town centre, including at the Atria shopping centre, Avenue Car Park and behind the Town Hall. There are direct road connections to towns and cities throughout the country:
- from Brent Cross: leave at junction 5 for and ;
- from Marylebone, Swiss Cottage and Brent Cross: direct into North Watford, and connects with routes into Watford town centre;
- from Neasden, Stanmore and Bushey: direct into Watford town centre.
From the City of London and Holloway, the connects with the and in north London.
From Heathrow Airport and the South
- from Heathrow Airport, Uxbridge and Gatwick Airport: leave at junction 19 Hunton Bridge. Follow for Warner Bros. Studio Tours and North Watford. Follow towards Watford town centre;
- from Rickmansworth: direct into Watford town centre;
- from Rickmansworth: towards Vicarage Road and Watford General Hospital.
From Luton Airport, Aylesbury and the North
- from Luton Airport and the North: leave at junction 6 for into North Watford and routes towards Watford town centre. Alternatively, leave at junction 5 for into southern Watford;
- from St Albans: direct into North Watford. Connects with routes into Watford town centre;
- from Aylesbury and Hemel Hempstead: direct into North Watford. Leave at Hunton Bridge for and Watford town centre.
From the East of England
- from Potters Bar and Waltham Cross: leave at junction 21A (exit 21A) for direct into North Watford and routes into Watford town centre. Alternatively, exit at junction 20 for the for Warner Bros. Studio Tours and western Watford.
Watford has several train stations on the National Rail and London Underground networks.
1. The largest station in the town, with direct connections to London Euston, Milton Keynes, Birmingham, destinations in Scotland, and local stations. There is a daily sleeper service to and from Glasgow Central and Edinburgh.
You can use your Oyster or contactless card to travel between Watford Junction and stations in London:
- Avanti West Coast - 20 minutes from London Euston. Regular trains from Milton Keynes, Coventry, Birmingham International (for Birmingham Airport) and Birmingham New Street. Limited services every day from Crewe and Edinburgh. These long-distance trains can be expensive, particularly if you have not booked in advance. Most services include a café area, first-class seating and free WiFi.
- London Northwestern Railway - 20-40 minutes from London Euston. Regular trains also from Harrow & Wealdstone, Hemel Hempstead, Berkhamsted, Tring, Milton Keynes Central, Northampton and Birmingham New Street. Also trains during the daytime from St Albans Abbey, Bricket Wood and Garston.
- London Overground - Around 50 minutes from London Euston, with trains leaving roughly every 15 minutes. These trains call at all stations on the route, including South Hampstead, Willesden Junction, Wembley Central, Bushey and Watford High Street.
- Southern - Daytime hourly service from Clapham Junction, with calls at West Brompton, Kensington Olympia, Shepherds Bush, Wembley Central and Harrow & Wealdstone.
- Caledonian Sleeper - Daily overnight sleeper train to and from Glasgow Central and Edinburgh.
Daytime London Northwestern Railway services from St Albans Abbey, Park Street, How Wood, Bricket Wood and Watford Junction call at 2 Garston and 3 Watford North in the northern part of the town. Trains run roughly once per hour. Oyster and contactless cards cannot be used for travel to or from these stations.
4 Watford High Street is in London fare zone 8. The station is on the main shopping drag in Watford, and is less than a mile from Watford FC Vicarage Road Stadium (approximately 15 minutes' walk). Direct London Overground trains from Watford Junction, London Euston, Bushey, Harrow & Wealdstone, Wembley Central, Willesden Junction and others. Trains run every 15 minutes throughout the day in both directions. 5 Bushey is served by London Overground trains and some local London Northwestern Railway routes from Euston.
By London Underground
6 Watford (known as Watford Met) is in London fare zone 7. It is close to Cassiobury Park and approximately one mile from Watford FC Vicarage Road Stadium (approximately 20 minutes' walk). This station is more than one mile from Watford's Atria shopping centre. Paper tickets are not required for travel. You can touch in and out using an Oyster or contactless card anywhere on the London Underground. Direct trains from a range of London destinations including Harrow-on-the-Hill, Wembley Park, Baker Street, King's Cross St Pancras, Liverpool Street and Aldgate in the City of London.
Major bus routes in and around Watford include:
- Warner Bros. Studio Tour London bus transfer - book tickets through Golden Tours for a bus transfer from London Kings Cross and London Victoria. Check on the Warner Bros. Studio Tour website for details: https://www.wbstudiotour.co.uk/getting-here/
- Warner Bros. Studio Tour Watford Junction shuttle bus - free shuttle bus for ticketholders. Runs at least every 30 minutes during the daytime;
- Arriva 20 Hemel Hempstead to Watford - into Watford Junction and Watford Vicarage Road from Hemel Hempstead town centre;
- London Buses 142 Brent Cross to Watford - into Watford Junction and Watford High street from Stanmore, Edgware and Burnt Oak;
- London Buses 258 South Harrow to Watford - into Watford Junction and Watford High Street from Harrow & Wealdstone and Harrow bus station;
- Sullivan 306 Borehamwood to Watford - into Watford High Street from Bushey and Borehamwood;
- Arriva 321 Luton to Rickmansworth/Maple Cross - into Watford Junction and Watford Vicarage Road via Harpenden, St Albans, Chiswell Green and Croxley Green;
- Arriva 508 Hemel Hempstead to Northwood Mount Vernon Hospital - into Watford Junction from Hemel Hempstead, Kings Langley and South Oxhey;
- Uno 602 Hatfield to Watford - into Watford High Street from Hatfield, St Albans, Radlett and Bushey;
- Green Line 724 Harlow to Heathrow Airport - past Watford Town Hall and Watford Junction via Ware, Hertford, Welwyn Garden City, Hatfield, St Albans and Uxbridge.
London Heathrow Airport is roughly 20 miles by car, a short hop along the - roughly 30-40 minutes away at most hours of the day, but longer during peak periods. Green Line 724 bus connects Heathrow directly with Watford town centre.
London Luton Airport is less than 20 miles along the by car.
Birmingham Airport is just over an hour away by train from Watford Junction, on the Avanti West Coast and London Northwestern Railway networks.
The Grand Union Canal passes through Watford between Uxbridge and Hemel Hempstead. Longer distance destinations include Paddington in London, Milton Keynes, Northampton and Birmingham. A leisure mooring lies at Cassio Bridge Lock, equipped for shorter-term stays.
Most attractions in Watford are within walking distance of each other and do not require buses or trains.
All Hertfordshire buses offer an 'Explorer' ticket which permits a maximum of 2 adults, 2 adults and 2 children or 1 adult with 3 children to unlimited travel for £7. It is often worth doing as it can save money even if you are on your own.
- 1 Warner Bros. Studio Tour, ☏ 08450 840 900 (high cost number). Take a tour around the studios where Harry Potter was filmed and visit the large gift shop. Taste some famous Butterbeer, immerse yourself in real-life sets, and get hands-on with some of the props and techniques used to make the internationally famous series of films. A shuttle bus from Watford Junction station is included in the ticket price. (must be purchased in advance, 2023 prices) adult: £45, child (5-15 years old): £53.50, infant (0-4 years): free.
- 2 Watford Palace Theatre, 20 Clarendon Road, ☏ . Alongside touring productions, the theatre provides programmes in new writing.
- 3 Watford Museum, 194 Watford High Street, ☏ . Its collection includes fine art, displays about local heritage, industry and sport, with a special collection related to the history of the Cassiobury Estate.
There are plenty of things to do in Watford. For example, visit the Warner Bros Studios in north Watford, shop in the town centre, stroll through Cassiobury Park, play golf at Watford TopGolf or even visit Woodside Leisure Park, home of Vue cinema, indoor play areas and some restaurants. Watford is also home to many leisure centres, for sporting activities, including a running and athletics track in Garston. Watford Colosseum hosts many comedy shows and live music concerts, check out their website for upcoming shows.
- 1 Watford FC, Vicarage Rd WD18 0ER. They were relegated in 2022 and now play soccer in the Championship, the second tier. Their stadium (capacity 22,000) is at Vicarage Road, half a mile west of town centre. The women's team were also relegated in 2022 to play in the National League South, their third tier, with home games at Gaywood Park in King's Langley.
- 2 Watford Colosseum, Rickmansworth Rd, WD17 3JN, ☏ . Watford Colosseum is famed for its world-class acoustics. The Hertfordshire venue was used as a recording location for several film soundtracks, among them The Lord of the Rings. The theatre and concert venue hosts a range of music and drama events throughout the year.
- 3 Watford Topgolf, Bushey Mill Ln, WD24 7AB, ☏ . M-Th Su 9AM-11PM, F Sa 9AM-1AM. A high-tech golf driving range. Much like a modern bowling alley it has sensors and screens which track your shots.
- 1 Atria Watford (formerly intu Watford), 201 The Harlequin, Watford, WD17 2UB, ☏ . M-W 9AM-6PM, Th 9AM-9PM, F 9AM-6PM, Sa 9AM-7PM, Su 11AM-5PM. This is the main shopping mall with various High Street chains represented.
There are many choices.
For restaurants, there is Middletons Steakhouse and Grill, Flower Drum (Chinese), Flame (Chinese buffet), various Pizza restaurants (Pizza et pizza, Zinco, Ask, Pizza Hut, Pizza Express), Caribbean, Japanese (Hanko)...
Fast food - Two McDonalds (with an extra 2 in the north of the town), Five Guys, two Subways, various pizza takeaway places (Dominos, Pizza hut, Pizza express and various kebab shops. Roosters Peri Peri Chicken is halal and serves very inexpensive but absolutely delicious chicken meals, including wraps, burgers, etc., and even apple pies and ice cream in the summer. Try the chicken burger meal. Yum. For a sit down, go to Pepe's, opposite the indoor market (behind Poundland) which serves Greek Cypriot fare as well as burgers, steaks, sandwiches, and puddings.
Vegetarian - GoKula Vegetarian Cafe, a vegetarian and vegan fast food restaurant with links to the nearby Hari Krishna Temple. A breakfast & brunch restaurant but not evenings . At 65 Market Street.
Halal - Roosters (burgers, chicken wings, chips...), various kebab shops.
Cafés - Presence coffee shop with paninis, muffins, with a spa upstairs and a gift shop out front. TJ Hughes has a restaurant/café. For the more traditional fry up, head to Aroma at the bottom of the high street for relatively healthy and delicious breakfasts, chips, burgers etc. Toast, next to Roosters and almost opposite the Palace Theatre, serves sandwiches, juice etc. Try Go Kula cafe on Market Place for vegetarian food but it is a bit hit and miss. Best to go there for a chat, read a few books and meet the local mums and toddlers. The YMCA serves good food - it is behind Poundland/next to the indoor market.
Coffee - Starbucks and Costa in the Harlequin, Caffe Nero by St. Mary's Church on the High Street, Presence in the north end of the High Street, McDonald's on either end of the High Street. Plenty of places with plenty of choice.
Watford Town Centre comes alive at night particularly on Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays. The bars and clubs are practically all positioned next to each other up the High Street. As a general rule the music is louder, the drinks are more expensive and the atmosphere is more lively the further up the High Street you go, though there are exceptions.
A flyover divides the strip into the 'High Street' and 'The Parade'. Starting from the High Street and walking up:
- Que Pasa, 58 High Street, WD17 2BS, ☏ , email@example.com.
- 1 The Moon Under Water, 44 High Street, WD17 2BS, ☏ . M-F 7AM-midnight, Sa 9AM-midnight, Su 9AM-10PM. Wetherspoons
- Chicago Rock Cafe, The Parade.
- O'Neills, The Parade.
- 2 Reflex, 66-68 The Parade, WD17 1AH, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The Columbia Press (Formerly 'Lloyds No. 1 Bar'), 72-74 The Parade, WD17 1AW, ☏ . M 8AM-12:30AM, Tu W 8AM-midnight, Th 8AM-12:30AM, F Sa 8AM-1AM, Su 8AM-11PM.
- Walkabout, 76 The Parade, WD17 1AW, ☏ , email@example.com.
- Kandi Klub.
- Bar Me.
- 3 Oceana, 127 The Parade, WD17 1NA. M Th-Sa 10AM-3AM. Watford's biggest nightclub.
- Bar Nazdrovya.
- Bodega, 151 The Parade, WD17 1NA, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. M-W 5-11PM, Th-Sa 5PM-midnight, 5-11PM.
- The Orchard House Guest House, 24 Garston Ln,, ☏ .
- Ricky Road Guesthouse, 73 Rickmansworth Road.
- Berrygrove Lodge B&B, 2 Berry Grove Ln, ☏ .
- Premier Inn.
- The Grove, Chandler's Cross, WD3 4TG. tres expensive but tres beautiful from £225.
As of May 2022, Watford has 5G from all UK carriers.
- Fast trains to London Euston are regular at Watford Junction station, a ten minute walk from the high street.
- "Overground" operated trains on which accept Oyster cards are accepted that take longer, with stops in Bushey, Harrow, Wembley, and the northwest suburbas of London, are also an option.
- Heading north Trains run to: St Albans (a definite must visit for the market, the cathedral, the park and the canal), Tring, Hemel Hempstead, Bletchley, Birmingham, Milton Keynes, Leighton Buzzard.
Take the Metropolitan line from a secluded tube station after a walk through Cassiobury Park to Baker Street, Harrow, Wembley... And change at Baker Street for various other London lines and of course to visit Sherlock Holmes's offices. Change at Moor Park to go to Rickmansworth, Chesham, Amersham, and Aylesbury.
- Rickmansworth - Get the No. 6 bus to a lovely small town with a church, canal...
- Abbots Langley Get the 8/318 bus to enjoy the small cafés, the large park and woods.
|Routes through Watford|
|END ←||W E||→ West London → Bloomsbury-Camden|
|END ←||N S||→ North London → Hammersmith & Fulham/Wandsworth|
|Luton ← Hemel Hempstead ←||N S||→ Hendon → Central London|
|West London ← Heathrow Airport ←||anticlockwise clockwise||→ London Colney → East London|
|Hemel Hempstead ← Abbots Langley ←||NW SE||→ Hendon → Central London|