Explore the historic center of Surrey’s largest town, which is lined with handsome old storefronts.
Guildford is an attractive market town with a 17th-century clock and a cobblestone main street. Browse shops ranging from designer stores to independent boutiques, admire the town’s historic architecture and check out the regular street markets.
Visit Guildford Cathedral, set on an imposing hilltop above the River Wey. The cathedral’s stark red-brick exterior is balanced by a bright interior of pale Somerset sandstone and white Italian marble flooring. The cathedral regularly hosts interesting events. Take a guided tour of the interior.
Enjoy the panoramic views from atop Guildford Castle. First constructed in the 12th century, the castle’s shell keep is the only part of the original complex visible today. See the exhibit in the Great Tower, which includes a model of the original castle and an interpretation panel examining its long history.
Tour The Spike, a well-restored workhouse dating back to the early 20th century. Through costumed reenactments and hands-on activities, The Spike offers interesting insight into poverty in Britain during the 19th and 20th centuries.
Don’t miss the traditional street market on North Street every Friday and Saturday. With more than 20 stalls, the market is an excellent place to shop for fresh produce and meats, in addition to accessories and home furnishings.
Head 11 miles (17.5 kilometers) outside of Guildford to visit Polesden Lacey, a 19th-century mansion in Great Bookham. Inside, admire the exceptional collection of early 20th-century porcelain, furniture, silver and artwork. Walk through the mansion’s beautifully landscaped gardens or rent equipment to play a game of croquet.
Guildford is also an excellent base for visiting the RHS Wisley Garden, a 240-acre (97-hectare) garden 10 miles (16 kilometers) northeast of the city. The garden is touted as one of the most diverse in the world. Smell the fragrant air of the rose gardens and inspect the trial fields, which are used for new vegetables and flowers.
Take a train or drive from London to reach Guildford. If arriving by plane, choose flights that land in Heathrow or Gatwick airports.