Built around its large train station, Woking grew up in the Victorian era. It experienced a boom in the post-war period when modern buildings, car parks and large retail outlets were constructed in the town centre.
In the original version of HG Wells' War of the Worlds (not the recent Hollywood movie), the woodland area northeast of the town known as the 'Sandpits' (due to the presence of beach-like areas of golden sands on Horsell Common) was the location for the aliens' attacks on Earth!
Woking is situated about six miles (9.6 km) off the M25 (Junction 11/ Wisley Interchange) and the same distance from the A3. Travelling northbound on the A3, turn off at either Painshill and follow the signs through Byfleet and West Byfleet, Burnt Common near Ripley and follow the signs through Send and Old Woking or further south at Burpham or Stoke both in Guildford.
Woking station runs a twice hourly RailAir coaches from the main entrance (on the non-town side) to Heathrow taking between 45 to 50 minutes depending on traffic. Gatwick Airport can be reached via the Gatwick Express; however this requires travel to London Victoria station which can be reached by changing at Clapham Junction. Trains leave London Victoria every 15 minutes reaching Gatwick in under 45 minutes.
Woking town centre is very compact, and is nearly completely pedestrianised with several small walkways and passages such as Church Path which has several bijou establishments. Woking is reasonably well served by buses to the surrounding villages and districts with buses leaving from Woking Station and Cawsey Way outside the Toys'r'us and Wolsey Place shopping centre. Areas with large areas of housing rather than traditional high streets such as Brookwood and Goldsworth Park are particularly well catered for.
The two main shopping centres; the Peacocks Centre and Wolsey Place both converge on the town square considered to be one of several 'central locations'. The others being the Bandstand on Cawsey Way and Commercial Way, a pedestrianised street that runs nearly 1,300 ft (400 m) to the Chertsey Road
- Underpass Mural. Why not visit the underpass which has a mural detailing the alien invasion of H G Wells' The War of the Worlds?
- 1 Henry VIII's Royal Palace, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Off Carter's Lane no vehicle access Very interesting for the history. Henry VIII's grandmother, Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother to Henry VII, lived at Woking Palace, during the reign on Henry VII, though it stopped being a royal palace in 1620, when ownership passed from James I of England and VI of Scotland to Sir Edward Zouch.
- 2 The Shah Jehan II Mosque. in Maybury was the first mosque to be constructed in the UK. Invested by the Begum of Bhopal, one of Bhopal's few female rulers in the late 1890s, it was in fact built by British architects who collaborated with the Oriental Institute to design the first religious building of its kind. The call to prayer can be heard in the surrounding areas of Maybury and Sheerwater, both of which have high numbers of Muslim families, mostly with roots on the Indian subcontinent.
- 3 The Lightbox. Modern art gallery with restaurant. Has permanent 'History of Woking' exhibition (free) as well as changing exhibitions, mostly free.
- 4 Brookwood Military Cemetery (On the A324 from the village of Pirbright, south west of the town of Brookwood). Open daily except for December 25 and January 1; 9AM until sunset. The final resting place for thousands of Allied soldiers killed in action in the various wars of the 20th and 21st centuries, including very recent British losses - behave respectfully at all times. A self-contained cemetery - the only one of its kind in the British Isles - houses 468 American military dead from World War I, and a small chapel. Once the largest cemetery in the world, Brookwood is also 'home' to a vast Victorian civilian necropolis and one of Britain's most important Islamic cemeteries. Guided walks are available. Free.
- 1 New Victoria Theatre and The Ambassadors Cinemas, Peacocks Centre, GU21 6GQ, ☎ . Good cinema and theatre complex. If you want to take in a movie, try and do so on a Monday when all tickets are £5 (any other day you can expect to pay £7 upwards). However, there isn't much in the way of food (bar the obvious popcorn and candy; they even took out the Baskin-Robbins stand) so if you want anything substantial, be sure to buy it before going in.
- 2 Woking FC, Kingfield Stadium, Kingfield Road, GU22 9AA, ☎ . Good, wholesome Conference football. Woking's "The Cardinals", so named from a reference to the Cardinal Red half of the team strip, are a non-league team that play in the Blue Square Premier (tier 5). The grounds, situated south of Woking Park in Kingfield, have a large stand for home supporters, whilst away fans have to make do with standing terraces. Each home game brings associated problems of parking with many cars parking the entire length of Westfield Avenue, which runs adjacent to the stadium, as there is no adequate parking inside the grounds itself.
- Basingstoke Canal. The 32 mile (52 km) long canal goes the heart of Woking and as well as the obvious option of boat rides activities such as cycling, camping and fishing are well practiced. There are also a wide range of pubs located along the canal and it connects up to River Wey Navigation adding further scope for journeys. There is also a visitor centre further along the canal in Mytchett
- 3 Horsell Common. The most popular local walking destination. Most people choose to park in one of the car parks along Shore Road, about 1 mile north of town, and walk through the heathland. A footpath passes the rear of the attractive modern McLaren complex, up to Fairoaks aerodrome. The car park next to Monument Bridge on Monument Road adjoins the Muslim Burial Ground as well as Bronze Age barrows.
- 4 Surrey History Centre, 130 Goldsworth Road, GU21 6ND. Tue, Thu, Fri: 9.30am to 5pm; Wed: 10.15am to 5pm; Sat: 9.30am to 4pm. A 'library' of Surrey history with many historical documents. Not a general museum - book before visiting. free.
- 5 Big Apple, Crown Square, GU21 6HR, ☎ . 10AM-11PM. Town centre bowling alley with Laser Quest and amusement arcade. Situated next to the alien.
- Woking Rotaract. Is a well established local social club aimed at 18 to 30 year olds, also attracting numerous members who are new to the country or simply passing through. The club has a very varied calendar, including volunteering and fundraising opportunities alongside more conventional events such as cinema trips, paintballing and meals out.
Woking has a large shopping area which consists of the Peacock Centre and the Wolsey Place shopping malls, as well as adajcent pedestrianised shopping streets. Most stores are chains: there is little that is distinctively local; for a less 'clone town' shopping experience, head to Guildford.
- 1 Wolsey Place Shopping Centre, GU21 6XS, ☎ . A single level precinct that runs from the Bandstand Mall, next to the Telewest Tower (still known locally as the BAT building (British American Tobacco)) to Commercial Way at two separate entrances and Mercia Walk at the Town Square and Christ Church. Wolsey Place has over 65 retail outlets including Boots, a moderately sized Sainsbury's, Topshop/Topman and WH Smiths.
- 2 The Peacocks Centre, GU21 6DA. Constructed in 1992 encompassing three floors of retail space in over 80 outlets. Built around a food hall (serving mainly fast food) on the lower concourse the shopping centre has a modern all-glass design. The anchor store is Debenham's, while other stores include TK Maxx, HMV, H&M, NEXT, River Island and Monsoon. Occasionally the food court plays to musical and artistic productions run by local schools, organisations and groups.
- Markets - Monday - Saturday a basic fruit and veg market operates. There is a monthly farmer's market, and occasional French, Italian and Christmas markets. None are particularly spectacular.
- Others - Toys R Us is a something of a concrete blot on the landscape, but provides a wide choice of toys. Commercial Way has most of the town's banks, several estate agents, Harpers is an independent photo store on Commercial Way. The High Street, running alongside the railway line, is not pedestrianised and doesn't have much footfall, or many shops - several restaurants, plus CEX and a florist are essentially all that survive.
- Lion Retail Centre (near the mosque). has an Asda supermarket, Pets at Home, Hobbycraft (an arts supply shop), an Argos and Halfords.
The town has three cycle shops, Switchback Cycles, Evans and the Raleigh Cycle centre.
Woking is not a fine dining destination. More gastronomic choice can be found in Guildford, or by fast train to central London.
The predominant local cuisines are Indian and Italian, and numerous examples of these can be found in the town centre. The town's restaurants are located primarily on Chertsey Road, where there is KFC, Nandos, Pizza Hut, several Indian restaurants, an Italian restaurant, McDonalds, and Roosters Peri Peri (a cross between KFC & Nandos). In addition, the High Street/Broadway has Sang Thai restaurant, kebab shops, some Chinese and pizza takeaways, more Indian restaurants. On Commercial Way is a Chinese Buffet (eat as much as you like).
- Enzo's. a more intimate choice, a bar/restaurant
- 1 Jeitta, 9 Church Path, GU21 6EJ (2 mins' walk from the station.), ☎ . M-Th 11AM-11PM, F, Sa 11AM-11:30PM, Su noon-10PM. Delicious Lebanese food served with a smile. If you don't know what to order, share some meze. BYOB. They also do takeaway. ££.
A second dining/drinking location is Goldsworth Road. Restaurants here include Pizza Express and Zizzis.
- So's Kitchen (on the Guildford side of the train station). operates a takeaway with adjacent restaurant, and is perhaps the best Chinese in town, although by no means fine dining.
The town centre chain pubs all offer cheap, low-quality food, for as little as £2.
- Stovells (in nearby Chobham). For a more refined 'Surrey' dining experience
- Drake's (in nearby Ripley). 1 Michelin Star)
Woking's major drinking spot is based on Chertsey Road with several pub chains such as Wetherspoons operating pubs. Eight pubs and bars can be found on this street alone, with two or three others situated on the south and west side of the town. However drunkenness and bad behaviour can all too often be found here due to increased alcohol intake on 'pub crawls' and 'benders'. This has improved in the past five years with increased policing and ID requesting though the fault rests entirely with the young adult drinking population.
Woking's clubs include Chameleon, a small bar with a packed dance floor, playing mainly pop and hip-hop music, Chameleon (also known as Chavmeleon) is seen as the trendier bar by many and as a right dump by others. The bouncers are reported to be violent. On the other side of the block is Quake. A larger establishment, with three floors of space plays mainly classic pop music and hip-hop though occasionally it is used more appropriately with outside DJ's visiting, something which hopefully will grow in future years.
RSVP bar plays mostly urban and is popular with Wokings' Asian and newly growing African and Caribbean populations.
The Bed on Church Path is an chic restaurant, night club and bar, which is newly refurbished.
- L'Aroma, High Street (Turn left out of the station and it's down on your right), ☎ . Family-run traditional Italian cuisine in the heart of Woking.
- 1 Holiday Inn Woking, Victoria Way, ☎ . Due in part to the presence of a large consulting company in Woking, a large corporate Holiday Inn is located in the centre of the town. It's expensive but more comfortable than your average Holiday Inn. Expect cheaper rates at weekends.
- 2 Premier Inn Woking West, Bridge Barn Lane (located on the edge of the town), ☎ .
- 3 The Wheatsheaf pub, Chobham Road (just a couple of hundred yards from town), ☎ .
There are bed and breakfasts dotted around some of the villages though these are hard to find.
- London is just under 30 min. away by train (London Waterloo to Woking non- stop).
- Portsmouth is 50 min. away by train (Woking to Portsmouth fast service)
- Windsor is just under 40 min. by car.
- Farnham is under 40 min. away by train.
- Guildford is 15 min. away by road, or train.
Woking also has fine countryside and is extensively wooded with forests and copses beginning within 1–2 miles of the town centre. Woking Park to the south east has two large greens, flower beds and a miniature golf course as well as tennis and cricket facilities. There is also Horsell Moors, the Hoe Stream, and the Basingstoke Navigaton System which reaches the villages of St Johns, Brookwood, Woodham, Sheerwater and New Haw