I was recently asked to run a workshop for St Albans District Council on how to promote more tourism to the area. Even though I have lived in St Albans for over 10 years, there were even some things I wasn’t aware of or simply taken for granted. So whether you are a day-tripper, on a family break or looking for a weekend away here are just 10 (of many more) great reasons to visit St Albans:
- Walk through roman history: St Albans is Hertfordshire’s only city and has been welcoming visitors from far afield for over 2,000 years. St Albans was first known as Verlamion, and later as Verulamium when the Romans changed the name. Simply walking around the old ruins across St Albans or visiting the St Albans Museum brings the incredible history to life.
- Take a pilgrimage to the home of first christian martyr; St Alban is honoured as the first British martyr, and his grave (on which the Cathedral and Abbey Church of St Alban was built) quickly became a place of pilgrimage. For over 1700 years, people have journeyed to St Albans to remember Alban, to pray for peace and healing. The annual pilgrimage will take place on Saturday 23rd June this year. St Albans Cathedral is also a thousand years old and as you can imagine – steeped in history.
- Experience Harry Potter at Warner Brothers studio tour; St Albans is just 20 minutes drive from the newly opened Warner Bros. Studio Tour provides a unique showcase of the extraordinary British artistry, technology and talent that went into making the Harry Potter movie series – the most successful film franchise of all time.
- Get to London in just 20 minutes (perfect for the Olympics); St Albans is just 20 minutes train ride away from London St Pancras. So why not stay in St Albans to enjoy the relaxing surroundings after experiencing all that London has to offer. With the Olympics coming up soon make sure St Albans is on the list for places to stay or visit too.
- Take a break in beautiful green spaces; St Albans has over 70 green spaces including Clarence Park, Rothamsted Park and the famous Verulamium park which hosts a stunning lake, children’s splash park and Roman ruins. You can even feed the ducks.
- Flutter through Butterfly World; St Albans is home of the biggest butterfly experience in the world. This £27 million project is the largest of its kind and is home to over 600 tropical butterflies.
- Shop, eat and be merry; St Albans City and District hosts an array of weekly markets along with lots of boutique and mainstream shops set in impressive historical surroundings. When all shopped-out stop and have lunch in one of the many restaurants from Jamie Oliver’s recently opened Jamie’s Kitchen to Wagamamas. Or why not have a pint or two in one of the 50 local pubs including the Guinness Book of Records oldest English public house – Ye Olde Fighting Cocks. For a personal recommendation, my favourite store has to be ‘Chaos City‘ a very cool comic book store just off the main high street.
- Put on your dancing shoes; If you like music, then check out some of St Albans finest music venues. The Horn Pub, for example, is winner of the Live Music Pub of the Year and hosts new bands every week, or Batchwood Hall nightclub, an 18th century Mansion House set in 33 acres of lavish woodland it really has to be one of the most prestigious clubs in many miles. Not to forget too, that St Albans is the home of Enter Shikari and famous 60’s group, The Zombies.
- Let’s go fly a kite (and visit a baby Elephant); St Albans is also just a short car journey away from Whipsnade Zoo, where you can get close up to some of the world’s hairiest, scariest, tallest and smallest animals – including cheetah cubs, elephants, tigers, lions, rhinos and giraffes…. and 2,500 more. Whipsnade Zoo is also just around the corner from the Dunstable Downs where flying a kite takes on a whole new experience.
- Chill out and relax at a local health spa; St Albans and the surrounding areas host several health spas to give yourself a well deserved break with a massage, facial, sauna or simply a relaxing swim. Why not check out Westminster Lodge which is a stone’s throw from Verulamium Park, or Sopwell House Country Club and Spa, which was once the Georgian country home of Lord Mountbatten.
There is so much more I could share about St Albans and the reasons why I love living here but this blog post would get far too long. So I’d be interested to know what you think too if you have visited or are a resident. Have I missed something you feel should be in this list or have you any questions before your first visit to St Albans. Let me know in the comments below…