Surrey’s county town combines a wealth of history and grandeur with all the amenities and excitement of a thriving modern town. Within Heathrow, Gatwick and the coast all less than an hour away, and a 35 minute train ride from London Waterloo, it’s a popular commuter town and an attractive location to set up home, with good education, fantastic shopping and some spectacular countryside right on your doorstep.

The cathedral town with a market town vibe

GUILDFORD’s rise as a major town is reflected in various notable landmarks, from the 14th century Guildhall with its 17th century clock, standing out over the cobbled High Street, to its imposing 20th century cathedral, up on the hill by the University of Surrey. The River Wey, which snakes through the town, brought commerce and riches to the town and today offers boating and fishing, or just a serene backdrop to a walk.

Two parallel shopping streets and not one but three covered shopping centres mark Guildford out as a great place to get through your Christmas list – any time of year! – and with plenty of independent shops as well as major department stores, you can find some real gems.

The writer PG Wodehouse, DJ Tony Blackburn, actress Celia Imrie and model Jodie Kidd were all born in Guildford and other claims to fame include the only royal castle in Surrey, commissioned by William the Conqueror, remnants of the oldest synagogue in Europe, the first recorded reference to cricket, around 1550, and being one of the first places ever bombed from the air, when a Zeppelin attacked the town in 1915.

With lots of great places to eat and drink, theatres, cinemas and a the excellent Surrey Sports Park, there’s something for everyone in Guildford, as befits our county’s biggest town. Here are some further details about what Guildford has to offer:

Guildford High Street in the evening
Shopping and coffee

Shopping in Guildford is a real treat, with lots of interesting independents to discover and plenty of places to stop for a coffee or a bite to eat. Guildford offers bags of choice for all budgets, from Primark and TK Maxx to the posh boutiques of the Tunsgate Centre, all within easy walk of the railway station.

Most of the shops are centred on North Street, where you’ll also find Guildford Library and traditional market every Friday and Saturday, and the cobbled High Street, home to the main Post Office and a farmer’s market on the first Tuesday of every month. But venture further afield and you’ll find some charming little alleyways with fascinating independent outlets and bijou restaurants.

The High Street also holds an antiques and brocante market three times a year, in June, September and November, and an art and makers market in July.

Transport and parking

Sitting right on the A3, 15 minutes from the M25 and M3, Guildford is easy to drive to and from. It also sits on the mainline from Portsmouth to London, as well as the line from Tonbridge to Reading, which takes in Redhill, Reigate, Dorking and a number of smaller Surrey towns and villages.

Local bus services run regularly to Guildford’s outlying villages and beyond to Godalming, Haslemere, Woking, Cranleigh, Epsom, Leatherhead, Camberley and Horsham.

There is plenty of municipal parking around the town but it’s advisable to book ahead as it’s a popular shopping destination and the car parks fill up, especially at Christmas.

Open spaces and activities

Stoke Park is the biggest open space in Guildford – 27 hectares of grassland, perfect for a picnic and a game of rounders on a summer day. For real serenity, visit the new Japanese Garden in Stoke Park Gardens, which are open from 8am until dusk.

South of the town is Shalford Park, running alongside the River Wey where the Tillingbourne flows in to meet it, providing a picturesque backdrop for a lazy stroll and plenty of fun for the kids. The viewing platform at Guildford Castle is well worth a look too.

To the west of town is the University of Surrey campus and Guildford Cathedral, which famously featured in a rather grizzly scene in The Omen.

Medical and Dentists

Royal Surrey Hospital is located west of town beyond the University and cathedral. There are half a dozen GP surgeries within a mile of the town centre and a Bupa Health Centre in Chertsey Street.

A number of dental practices can be found close together near the junction of London Road and Waterden Road and you can see the list of local NHS dentists here.

Schools and nurseries

Guildford provides education all the way from pre-school to university. This is a list of schools and nurseries in and around Guildford town centre:

Pre-school, Infant and Primary schools:

  • Camp Beaumont - RGS Guildford
  • Castle Nursery and Preschool
  • Sandfield Primary School
  • Child's Play Pre-school
  • St Nicolas CofE Infant School
  • ChristChurch Pre-school Playgroup
  • Busy Bees
  • Fitzsimmons Place Nursery
  • Drayton House Nursery School
  • RGS Prep School
  • Lanesborough School
  • Students Intuition
  • Christopher Robin Day Nursery
  • Challengers Guildford
  • Pewley Down Infant School
  • Holy Trinity, Guildford, CofE Aided Junior School
  • Queen Eleanor's Church of England School
  • Weyfield Academy
  • Boxgrove Primary School
  • St Thomas of Canterbury Catholic Primary School
  • The Hope Service
  • Onslow Infant School

Secondary schools:

  • Christ's College, Guildford
  • George Abbot School
  • Guildford County School
  • Kings College Guildford
  • Pond Meadow School
  • Royal Grammar School
  • St Peter's Catholic School
Sport and entertainment

Surrey Sports Centre provides an outstanding range of facilities, including 50m swimming pool, climbing wall and indoor courts for squash, badminton etc, plus extensive outdoor sports facilities.

The Spectrum, on the edge of Stoke Park, offers swimming, bowling and ice skating, and if you want something wilder, try the nearby Wild Wood Adventure, with its zip lines and rope courses, or Air Hope Trampoline Park, out by the A3.

There are clubs for every type of sport you can imagine, with Guildford Rugby Club and Guildford City Football Club both competing at a good level.

The arts are well catered for in Guildford too, with big name stars regularly appearing at G Live and the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, with The Boileroom and Electric Theatre putting on the latest in new music and drama respectively.

We celebrate and support local businesses at The Surrey Circle and believe that their contribution adds to the appeal of Guildford. For more information, please visit our Business Hub