Guildford

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

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

By bus

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

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, approx 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 mins on Saturday only from 8:30AM-6PM

Spectrum Leisure Complex - buses run every 12 mins M-F from 7:27AM–11:10PM, (although every 20mins after 7:30PM.)

Artington - buses run every 12 mins from Monday to Saturday from 7:30AM–7:30PM.
For more information National Park and Ride Directory

Merrow - buses run every 15 mins

the park and ride system is good for the environment and also it allows the city to stay congestion free!

By plane

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:

By train

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 limited amount of 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 London Road (Guildford), 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 0845-748-4950 from anywhere in the UK.

By coach

National Express serve Guildford with express bus (UK English:coach) services from around the country; advanced ticketing is necessary. Note that they serve a stop called Guildford Park Barn, which is a slightly out-of-town location near a Tesco supermarket. You will need to catch a local bus or taxi (if you can find one) to take you into Guildford.

By car

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

Map of Guildford town centre

By foot

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

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.

By taxi

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.

Alternatively taxis can 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

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.

By map

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:

These maps can be found in any good bookshop in Guildford (see 'Buy' section below), or can be bought online from the .

See

The Guildhall

Central Guildford

Surrounding Area

The Watts Chapel

There are also many interesting things to see around Guildford:

Do

The River Wey, five minutes away from Guildford town centre

.

River trips

Alternatively, 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

There are many walks around the North Downs surrounding Guildford including the North Downs Way which runs from Farnham (eight miles west of Guildford) to Folkstone 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.

Festivals

Learn

Adult learning providers include

There are also various private education providers including a Pitman Centre

Work

There is a government run Jobcentreplus on the corner of Onslow Street and York Road, near the Police Station.

Guildford also 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

Shopping

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,

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

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-Fr 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

Guildford is becoming a little mecca of restaurants with many different themes attracting different tastes. Be warned that on Friday and Saturday many of the venues get booked up weeks in advance and early booking is advisable to avoid disappointment.

Central Guildford

Surrounding Villages

Drink

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.

On or near the High Street:

Close to the River Wey

More traditional English pubs

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 recently billed as Guildford's Latin quarter due to the increasing number of dancing and salsa venues opening up there.

Nightclubs

Live Music Venues

Sleep

Budget

Mid Range

Splurge

Connect

Phone

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

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. Alternatively there are many WiFi hot spots in and around Guildford and WiFinder provides a register.

There are also several places that offer web and other internet access if you are travelling without a laptop. These include:

Go next

Theme Parks

There are three very good theme parks all within 45 minutes drive of Guildford:

Stay safe

Guildford is 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 being monitored 24 hours a day by CCTV cameras.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, February 15, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.