St Albans Official Visitor Guide 2022-2023

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WELCOME There has never been a better time to visit St Albans. The Sunday Times recently featured the city in its Best Places to Live 2022 guide in the Southeast - citing its thriving city centre, picturesque streets, incredible history, green open spaces and a strong community spirit. St Albans’ history dates back over 2,000 years and glimpses of the past are all around. A stunning Norman Cathedral, Roman ruins, a medieval Clock Tower and 500-year-old Charter Market all contribute to the city’s amazing journey through time. Quaint streets are home to cosy pubs, award-winning eateries, fantastic independent shops and big brand names. A thriving arts and entertainments scene and a host of recreation facilities make it a must visit destination. There’s always something happening with an array of events celebrating food and drink, arts and literature, music and sport and much more. Extend your stay and explore the district where neighbouring villages hold their own treasures. This Guide is divided into four sections: Enjoy must-see attractions, seek Inspiration in retail or eating and drinking venues, Discover new experiences and refer to Useful Information which includes a map to make your visit effortless. You can also find information at or scan the QR codes at the bottom of each page. Just 20 minutes from London by train and off the M1/M25, St Albans couldn’t be easier to reach. Enjoy our wonderful city!

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24 HOURS IN ST ALBANS Start your day with a coffee and pastry at St Albans Museum + Gallery which showcases the City’s fascinating history. The Clock Tower is a must and after ascending its 93 steps visitors are rewarded with stunning views of the city. Enjoy the buzz of the vibrant independent shops and twice weekly Charter Market for unique items and fresh produce. Next, absorb the heritage of St Albans Cathedral which boasts the longest nave in England, then wander through the Abbey Orchard to Verulamium Park, a sprawling 100-acre parkland that’s perfect for a picnic or leisurely stroll. Include a stop at the Roman Mosaic and Hypocaust and visit Verulamium Museum and the Roman Theatre for a true taste of everyday Roman life.

“St Albans is the perfect destination for all ages to enjoy.”

Finally, sit back and enjoy a drink in one of the city’s historic pubs which include ‘Ye Olde Fighting Cocks’ heralded as England’s oldest pub. @enjoystalbans

ENJOY 48 HOURS IN ST ALBANS Stay a few days and really get to know this amazing city and the surrounding district. Discover the most picturesque and interesting areas of the city and learn about its history by booking a guided walk with St Albans Tour Guides. For an interactive experience, the St Albans South Signal Box is a great place to visit, or the de Havilland Aircraft Museum, the UK’s oldest aviation museum. For family fun, Willows Activity Farm is a great day out for children of all ages. Explore the surrounding countryside including Heartwood Forest near Sandridge with its stunning spread of seasonal bluebells, or venture to Nomansland Common where children will enjoy climbing trees and building dens. The village of Wheathampstead boasts historical properties and trails, plus a selection of food and drink venues. With so much to do, be sure to make a booking at one of the award-winning pubs or restaurants, the perfect end to a memorable stay.

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HISTORIC ST ALBANS Not only is St Albans England’s most important Roman settlement, but it was also the home of Britain’s first Saint, Alban, the first battleground in the War of the Roses and has played its part in modern science as the home of the English philosopher Sir Francis Bacon and Professor Stephen Hawking. St Albans Museum + Gallery celebrates the city’s 2,000 years of history through displays, artworks and installations, while traces of Roman history are all around. Verulamium Museum displays incredible ancient artefacts, and a mosaic from a Roman villa has survived and can be seen in Verulamium Park, along with parts of the Roman city wall.

“St Albans has played a significant historical role, from ancient times right through to modern day.”

Wherever you walk, the city is packed with reminders of its rich heritage. Prime sites are the stunning Norman Cathedral built using Roman bricks and the unique Medieval Clock Tower in the town centre dating back to 1405. The Charter Market retains the lively spirit it exuded 1,000 years ago whilst pubs, shops and restaurants bring beautiful period buildings back to life.

Famous residents, in the world of science, include Sir Francis Bacon who was made Viscount of St Albans and is believed to be buried in St Michael’s Church, while Professor Stephen Hawking attended St Albans School, which is also one of the oldest schools in the world. St Albans claims its place in the history of film making and TV. A popular set location – Netflix drama The Crown chose the city’s cathedral as a substitute for Westminster Abbey – it was also home to one of the 20th century’s greatest film directors, Stanley Kubrick.



MUST SEE St Albans Cathedral stands over the place where Alban, Britain’s first saint, was buried over 1,700 years ago. Surrounded by beautiful parkland, the Cathedral is a treasure trove of history providing tours, events and activities for all ages.

Angelo Hornak

St Albans Cathedral, Sumpter Yard, AL1 1BY

St Albans Museum + Gallery, St Peter’s Street, AL1 3DH This is a world-class centre for arts and culture. Set over 3 floors, this state-of-the-art gallery showcases over 2,000 years of priceless heritage alongside contemporary art sharing local, national and world treasures.

Clock Tower, High Street, AL3 4EL Completed by 1405, the Clock Tower is the only surviving medieval town belfry in England. Climb the 93 steps to the top of the Tower and enjoy magnificent views. Visitors are warned that the spiral staircase is steep and narrow.

Cecelina Tornburg


“The Romans believed perfection was the preserve of the gods. They sometimes deliberately added mistakes to their mosaics to ensure they were not treading on their toes.”

Charter Market, St Peter’s Street, AL3 5DJ Established over 1,000 years ago, the colourful market is one of the largest in the Southeast. Discover an enormous variety of quality goods from fresh local produce to gifts, clothing crafts and more.

St Albans Tour Guides Walking Tour Discover the people, history and hidden stories of St Albans and the surrounding area. A wide variety of themed walks are provided reflecting the rich and diverse history of the city.

Blue Plaques St Albans Many prominent citizens who have lived and worked in St Albans are commemorated on buildings associated with their lives. A plaque for John Ball, a key leader in the Peasants’ Revolt in 1381, is outside St Albans Museum + Gallery with many more dotted throughout the city.


MUST SEE Verulamium Park, AL3 4SW Over 100 acres of parkland in the city centre, are named after the Roman City of Verulamium, on which it stands. The River Ver that flows through the park is a rare chalk stream, which feeds the ornamental lake, home to a wealth of waterfowl.

The Roman Mosaic & Hypocaust, Verulamium Park, AL3 4SW Discovered during excavations in the 1930s, this mosaiced floor of a large Roman townhouse also showcases a hypocaust – an ancient underfloor heating system and a marvel of Roman engineering. Verulamium Museum, St Michael’s Street, AL3 4SW This award-winning museum displays beautiful objects from Verulamium, the third largest city of Roman Britain. See some of the finest Roman mosaics and wall plasters outside the Mediterranean, and discover the life and times of a major Roman city.


Our Charter Market dates back to at least 1553. In 1834 a man named Faulkner offered his wife for sale in the Market Place for the equivalent of 12p!

St Michael’s Village, St Michael’s Street, AL3 4SP Nestled at the west end of Verulamium Park is St Michael’s Church, built on the site of Verulamium’s basilica and one of the most significant surviving Anglo-Saxon buildings in the county. Kingsbury Watermill, a working 16th century watermill overlooking the River Ver, is home to The Waffle House. Roman Theatre, Bluehouse Hill, AL3 6AD The remains of a Roman theatre with a stage rather than an Amphitheatre are the only example of its kind in Britain. Nearby are the foundations of a Roman town house, a sacred shrine and Roman shops.

Historic Pubs As St Albans was a day’s ride from London by horse and carriage, many Inns opened to satisfy demand for a night’s lodging and refreshments. There are still dozens of pubs around the city, many offering real ales (as you’d expect in the home of CAMRA) and delicious food – including Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, heralded as England’s oldest pub.


MUST SEE Visit the ruins of Sir Richard Lee’s Tudor country house, built on the site of a 12th century nunnery. The site is an ideal spot for a family picnic, with adjacent wildlife meadow and the River Ver rare chalk stream.

Cecelina Tornburg

Sopwell Nunnery, Cottonmill Lane, AL1 2BY

The Gorhambury Estate, AL3 6AE/6AH Old Gorhambury was completed in 1568 by Sir Nicholas Bacon. Whilst little remains, you can still visualise its previous grandeur. Impressive Gorhambury House was later built and includes a 17th century painted glass window. Heartwood Forest, Sandridge, AL4 9DQ Heartwood Forest is the largest continuous new native forest in the country with wildflower meadows, an arboretum and community orchards. Adjacent Nomansland Common is a wild heathland supporting a wealth of rare wildlife.


Until 1863, the Clock Tower bell was rung at 4am to wake apprentices for work and in the evening when all the fires and lights were to be put out.


Explore the park & gardens

Indulge at the Stable Yard Shops & restaurant



INSPIRATION Quaint streets and medieval buildings house independent shops, while shopping areas play host to well-known brands. Follow a trail through the characterful streets and take in the best of the city’s retail offering. Starting at the Clock Tower, enjoy a browse along High Street for awardwinning fashion and lifestyle stores. Don’t miss the Village Arcade, a corridor of wonderfully charming boutiques and Heritage Close, with niche independents and steps down to the Cathedral. From there, head to picture perfect George Street for boutique shops and pubs in Grade II listed buildings. From the Clock Tower, make your way into the vibrant Market Place which has been at the heart of St Albans shopping for hundreds of years. To the left is Christopher Place, a crescent shaped shopping area with luxury brands and a central space for relaxing. Continue back through the bustling Market Place up towards St Peter’s Street, the main artery of the city centre, with flagship stores, banks and transport links.

“St Albans is a spectacular shopping destination with a fantastic mix of indie shops and high street brands.”

At the top of town, turn left on to Catherine Street for everything from salons to quirky cafes, pubs and interiors. Make your way back down and to the left of the town hall you will find see The Maltings, the largest shopping area in St Albans with big brand names galore and independents. Head on to Chequer Street for fashion, art and photographic goods as well as numerous food venues. Then turn left and explore London Road with health, beauty and sustainable independents. Carry on until you reach The Odyssey, a restored independent Art Deco cinema. Retrace your steps, back to the main junction, then turn left for the famous Holywell Hill to discover independent fashion, food, books, interiors and more.

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WHAT’S ON St Albans presents a packed programme of exciting events that celebrate the history and culture of the city and its people Plan your visit and find out what’s on when you are here at or scan the QR code below. (Events are subject to change.) The legendary Food and Drink Festival in September celebrates all things food throughout September and culminates with a street festival that attracts tens of thousands each year. Joy comes to George Street in October with the famous Gin and Jazz festival whilst there is fun for the whole family at the Cathedral Fireworks Spectacular. Indulge your curiosity at the St Albans Museum + Gallery where fascinating exhibitions take place throughout the year in this glorious Georgian Grade II listed building. St Albans truly sparkles at Christmas! Enjoy themed markets packed with unique gifts and warm up with some delicious seasonal food and drink and enjoy the fantastic Christmas Cracker event. Also, the series of festive installations and lights across the town centre are the perfect backdrop for a memorable picture.


“There is always something exciting to experience in St Albans.”

SPRING • • • • •

The St Albans Big Iftar Eid in the Park SusFest International Organ Festival (St Albans Cathedral)

Hertfordshire County Show

SUMMER • • • • • • • • • • • •

Platinum Jubilee Celebrations Enjoy St Albans Street Festival Tudor Summer (St Albans Cathedral) Larks in the Parks Comedy Garden Pride in the Pub OVO Theatre production in the Roman Theatre St Albans on Sea exhibition (St Albans Museum + Gallery)

Alban Pilgrimage St Albans Film Festival Childwickbury Arts Fair St Albans Folk Festival

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Wildfest St Michaels Folk Evening Legends Festival Harpenden Summer Carnival The Art of Grieving (St Albans Museum + Gallery)

AUTUMN • Pub in the Park • CAMRA Beer and Cider Festival • Henry Moore Exhibition (St Albans Museum + Gallery) • Enjoy St Albans Food and Drink Festival • George St Gin & Jazz • St Albans Cathedral Fireworks Spectacular • St Albans Christmas Cracker WINTER • Enjoy St Albans at Christmas • Childwickbury Christmas Market

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“Discover independent pubs across the district with the brilliant pub trail map. Go to ”

BON APPÉTIT St Albans has a remarkable history and reputation with food and drink. With a vibrant modern-day foodie scene and characterful pubs, it’s a must-enjoy culinary destination. Did you know the hot cross bun originated in St Albans! The ‘Alban Bun’ was created by Brother Thomas Rocliffe, a 14th Century Monk at St Albans Abbey, who developed the recipe and would feed the poor on Good Friday. With over 100 restaurants, bistros, pubs, cafes and coffee shops, there is something to suit every taste for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Whether you are looking for somewhere special, a place that welcomes pets, a restaurant with a great kids’ menu or something else, St Albans has it all. An historic inn-keeping city, St Albans has the most pubs per square mile in the country with many independently owned serving up incredible food and a warm welcome. As St Albans is the home of CAMRA you can expect a wonderful selection of real ales on tap and the friendly conversations are in full flow. The city boasts a plethora of award-winning eateries that are perfect for @enjoystalbans

“Tom Cruise is said to have ordered lobster and chicken tikka masala when he visited Veer Dhara.”

special occasions. Visit Thompson St Albans, the only 3AA Rosette restaurant in Hertfordshire or Lussmanns independent fish and grill for sustainable dining (booking ahead is recommended). Enjoy incredible flavours from around the world with food stalls on the weekly markets with dishes from counties including Peru, Brazil, Mexico and Spain. The high street offers cuisine from every corner of the globe. Enjoy Moroccan and Lebanese at Al Farid, Turkish delights at Aspava, top Thai food at Thai Rack and Indian served to perfection at Infuse…with plenty more to discover! Pets are welcome at many restaurants, pubs and cafes. If exploring Verulamium Park head to The Waffle House in St Michael’s Village to enjoy scrumptious Belgian waffles. Delicious Afternoon Teas are served at St Michaels Manor, The Ivy in the city centre and Sopwell House a Georgian country house hotel on the edge of the city. Before you leave be sure to stop at The Pudding Shop for delicious handmade treats to take home with you.

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© Stephanie Belton

MARKET MAGIC St Albans has an extraordinary history. With a rich Roman past, it’s been home to many fascinating people who have influenced the city and shaped the culture of modern Britain. But it’s the market that is at the heart of the St Albans story. For over 500 years it’s has been a regular fixture, trading every Wednesday and Saturday and is a must visit for fresh and locally produced goods. Whilst today, an eclectic mix of traders offer fresh produce, diverse artisan goods and world foods, this was not the case in earlier times where streets and areas were dedicated to the sale of certain goods such as fish by the bucket, cattle and iron. Come rain, wind or snow, traders are there offering everything you could want or need. Legacy family businesses sit side by side local start-ups looking to kick start their business journey. The market is a weekly focal point for locals and a huge draw for people far and wide who are attracted by its buzzing atmosphere, in which to purchase quality goods. In more recent years the market offering has expanded to include fringe markets which draw shoppers in with their specialist produce. Sundays throughout the year play host to a rotation of diverse market events including Sustainable, World, Farmers and Vintage markets.


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to The White Hart Hotel & Tudors Restaurant

The White Hart Hotel is a charming timbered old coaching inn located in the heart of St Albans, opposite the Cathedral and Abbey, offering value for money accommodation, bar and Tudors restaurant.

Weddings & Functions

Outdoor seating

Dine in the hotel’s intimate oak-panelled Tudors restaurant with a cosy fire place, serving modern British cuisine. Enjoy some drinks in the cosy atmosphere of the adjoining bars that includes a selection of Ales.

15 charming bedrooms


T 01727 853624


DISCOVER GET ACTIVE As home to the Ryder Cup, St Albans boasts excellent golf courses, sports facilities, and an abundance of green space and cycle routes. Verulam Golf Club, Centurion Club and Batchwood Golf Club offer members a challenging course and fantastic views. Abbey View Golf & Track is a 9-hole course with Foot Golf which the kids can enjoy.

“The wider district also offers a plethora of walks and cycle paths. Discover more at ”

The Alban Way is a safe, flat and traffic-free route linking Cottonmill Lane, St Albans to Wrestlers Bridge, Hatfield. There are many access points, and it is dotted with pretty views, play areas, recreation grounds and reminders of its previous use as a railway line. If tennis is your sport, then practise shots on the courts at Clarence Park or try bowls, football and hockey which can also be played here. Westminster Lodge Leisure Centre has extensive facilities including a gym, swimming pools, climbing wall and spa – check programmes in advance. Bring your wheels for a daring ride on the all-weather Pump Track at Cottonmill Community & Cycle Centre. Suitable for cycles, skateboards and scooters, plus with an additional combined cyclo-cross and BMX track, and leisure track, it’s a great place for all ages. Try something new or practise old tricks at The Pioneer Club. Book a coaching session, bring a skateboard and learn how to fly through the air with speed and skill.

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FURTHER AFIELD One stop away on the train or a short drive is Harpenden, boasting a wide array of independent shops and restaurants as well as a monthly Farmers Market that sells the finest fresh produce. There is no shortage of green space here; Harpenden Common hosts regular cricket matches, Rothamsted Park’s 56 acres includes a play area and skateboard park, while Rothamsted Manor is a stunning Grade 1 listed manor house with beautiful gardens. Nearby Redbourn Village Museum offers visitors a glimpse into a varied past. Cricket is played on Redbourn Common in summer and The Cricketers pub offers a warm welcome. Quaint cafes and shops adorn the village while surrounding countryside offers scenic walking trails – see The setting of Redbournbury Watermill couldn’t be more idyllic. The working mill, 2 miles north of St Albans, provides ingredients for the on-site bakery, and walking trails around the mill allow visitors to enjoy picture-perfect countryside. Charming Wheathampstead village has an extraordinary history and lovely countryside walks including Devils Dyke which dates to around 50BC. Measuring 32 @enjoystalbans

feet deep and 100 feet across – it was the scene of a battle between Julius Caesar and local tribes. Wheathampstead Village Centre Trail includes 21 historical properties on a 1.5 km walk. Savour the architecture, history and geology of the village on this selfguided tour.

“Picturesque, historic and full of character, a visit to some of the pretty villages around the district is highly recommended.”

Farr Brewery set in the Ayot Estate, is a micro-brewery producing award-winning craft ales. The brewery supplies local pubs and visitors can sample a pint in its taproom with tours available. Nearby Sandridge Village is a popular place for walkers and cyclists who often stop at the pubs and tearoom for refreshments. Popular Heartwood Forest and Nomansland Common attract dog walkers, families, model aircraft flying and horse riding - great places to enjoy nature.

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FUN TIMES Birthplace of 60s rock band The Zombies and home to Stanley Kubrick, St Albans retains a thriving arts and entertainment scene. The Art Deco style Odyssey Cinema shows a varied range of hits, cult movies and arthouse offerings. Head to the Alban Arena for national touring shows, rock and pop concerts, comedy, film and the must see annual panto. The Sandpit Theatre hosts concerts, dance, comedy and film while Trestle is known for its mask and physical theatre shows. The Maltings Theatre and Abbey Theatre offer a kaleidoscope of productions from musicals to Shakespeare and folk to childrens shows. St Albans has a vibrant live music scene which includes The Horn who have won UK Music Pub of the Year twice. Check out for listings. Looking for a big night out? Head to Havana for an electrifying party atmosphere and fabulous cocktails. See and hear the fascinating world of mechanical musical instruments at the magical St Albans Organ Theatre.

FAMILY FRIENDLY Come rain or shine, St Albans offers families an endless array of fun activities to enjoy. Verulamium Park boasts a Roman themed children’s playground, splash-park and football pitches whilst Clarence Park offers a children’s play area with sandpit and lots of green space. The Alban Way is ideal for a cycle or scoot, flat and traffic-free. Fun is guarenteed at Willows Activity Farm with its children’s shows, tractor rides, farmyard petting, funfair rides and huge indoor and outdoor play areas. For a rainy day, soft play is a great option so try DJ’s Play Jungle, Cotlandswick Leisure Centre or Westminster Lodge Leisure Centre. At the UK’s oldest aviation museum, the de Havilland Aircraft Museum, visitors can get up close to the iconic Mosquito. Kids will love the woodland trails at Hatfield House & Park or head to Knebworth House for acres of land and unique Dinosaur Trail and adventure playground.

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“St Albans’ history dates back over 2,000 years and glimpses of the past are all around.”

HELPFUL INFORMATION Visit Herts is the official tourism website for Hertfordshire:

ACCESS ST ALBANS Shopmobility is a charitable scheme providing free battery powered scooters and manual wheelchairs to anyone that needs help getting around the city centre. You don’t have to be registered disabled or elderly and can book in advance by calling 01727 819339, or register on the day at the office. The St Albans Shopmobility office is located on the ground floor entrance of the Drovers Way car park (off Catherine Street).

CHANGING FACILITIES Toilets and changing places are available at Civic Centre, Westminster Lodge, and Cunningham Hub. See for more details.

STAY A LITTLE LONGER From small, intimate bed and breakfasts to large hotels and self-catering apartments make the most of your visit and book a stay at one of the city’s fantastic accommodations. Visit for full listings and contact details. Did You Know facts credited to St Albans and Hertfordshire Architectural and Archaeological Society.

If you require furher information regarding this guide contact the BID office on 01727 251 310

Official Visitor Guide 2022© is designed and published by William Lawrence Adv. The Mission Hall, Clifton Street, St Albans, AL1 3RY.

Disclaimer: Whilst every care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this publication, St Albans BID cannot accept responsibility for any errors or omissions.


TRAVEL TO ST ALBANS Car Parking: See the CITY MAP for car parks. Blue Badge holders can park for 3 hours free (please display permit and time clock). Visit for more information on where to park, charges, electric charging points and options for motorcycles and people with disabilities. By Rail: St Albans City station is only 20 minutes from London on the Thameslink line between Bedford and Brighton, connecting St Albans to London Luton Airport, Gatwick Airport, and London St Pancras International for Eurostar services. St Albans Abbey station links to Watford Junction, for connections to London Euston, the West Midlands and the North via the West Coast mainline. Both railway stations are a ten minute walk from the city centre. By Bus and Coach: St Albans is well connected with services from North London, Welwyn Garden City, Hatfield, Luton and Watford. National Express coaches link the neighbouring towns of Hatfield and Hemel Hempstead with Stansted, Heathrow, Luton, Gatwick, Oxford and Cambridge. By Air: Both London Luton Airport and Gatwick Airport are directly linked to St Albans by rail. Stansted and Heathrow airports are also easily accessible by road, bus and coach.

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By Car: Close to the M1, A1(M) and M25 (Junctions 21a & 22), St Albans is easily accessible from all parts of the UK.

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Shop. Eat. Stay. Enjoy.


Visit Hertfordshire’s only Cathedral City Enjoy our independent shops, explore our heritage sights, and don’t forget to try some of our award-winning food and drink.

Cecelina Tornburg

Just 20 mins from London St Pancras or just off the M1/M25.