Hopefully, you will find at least one attraction in Surrey in the list below, that you were unaware of. If not, we applaud your ‘local’ knowledge of a place that has an unfair reputation for being a boring county, mostly populated by boring commuters.This post has an (unintentional) West Surrey bias, as we have lived there for most of our lives.
Look for Tesco Clubcard vouchers to various attractions as well.
1. Brooklands Museum – If only to look all over and inside the best aircraft ever made, Concorde.
Surreyfact – Brooklands was the world’s first purpose-built motorsport race circuit, opened in 1907.
2. Denbies Wine Estate – The largest single estate vineyard in the UK. No mention of cheese on sticks or ‘Blue Nun’ here, thank you very much.
Surreyfact – The county town is Guildford, but the Surrey County Council offices are in Kingston Upon Thames. Since 1965 officially a part of London, but most postal addresses use Surrey instead. How odd.
3. Painshill Park
Look on the website for free entry on Fathers day. At the moment (19/1/2014) the park is CLOSED – due to flooding. Nice walks and interesting follys to seek out at any time of year, preferably in dry weather. Check before you go if the delightful and recently renovated Grotto is open, opening times dependant on an available volunteer. Just up the road is the National Trust maintained Claremont Gardens, another majestic landscape and grotto awaits.
The World famous RHS Wisley Gardens is nearby too. But that fame comes with a price of crowds of visitors at almost any time of year. Dont miss the Bicentenary Glasshouse at Wisley, containing desert, tropical and temperate climate zones for plants
Surreyfact – Surrey has never had a professional Football League or Premier League club. Newly promoted AFC Wimbledon play at Kingstonian FC’s Kingsmeadow ground. As stated above, Kingston upon Thames is a London Borough.
4. Balloon flights over Surrey – Take your pick of companies below, (not a definitive list, btw. use google) start saving up now, it’s not cheap.
Surreyfact – A large area of South London (previously known as the Brixton Hundred) was in fact a part of Surrey, until the creation of the County of London in 1889.
5. Share some ‘llama love’ in the Surrey Hills – A walk with everyones favourite South American pack animal, unless they prefer horses, of courses. (sorry)
Surreyfact – Musicians born in Surrey; Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Paul Weller and Norman ‘Fat Boy Slim’ Cook. Groups formed in Surrey; The Jam, The Stranglers, The Vapours and Hard-Fi (who?)
6. Kew Gardens is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and deservedly so too. Try to go out of season if you can, it’s very popular. While at Kew we recommend the Kew Explorer ‘hop on hop off’ bus to get around, even if you do not have mobility issues. If you stay on for the full 40 minute tour the driver gives an informative an entertaining commentary, there is a small extra charge for this.
If the cost of Kew puts you off, there is a ‘2for 1’ offer if you arrive by train . There is a train station 800 metres away ;
Get in immediately after opening of the gates and go straight to the main greenhouses (above). These are the most popular attractions and will get crowded later on .The Temperate House is CLOSED until 2018. You can climb some steps and view the tree canopy from 2018, sorry. (below)
There are various walks you can take or use the hop on off and have a leisurely day instead. The Princess Diana Conservatory is probably the most crowded of all , so you may wish to start here. The award winning Davies Alpine House below;
Surreyfact – Godalming came to world attention in September 1881, when it became the first town in the world to have installed a public electricity supply.
7. Update (3.2.2014)- The Guildford Boathouse is CLOSED indefinitely, Godalming (Farncombe) still open. Round trips on the river wey from Guildford or Godalming – Both are popular boat trip departure points. Avoid Guildford during the annual Festival in July as it will be extremely crowded, and on raft race day the river will be closed to leisure craft.
Surreyfact – Cranleigh is the self-proclaimed largest village in England.
8. Leith Hill and Box Hill – Climb the tower at Leith Hill and you are(just)above 1,000 feet, from which can be enjoyed some of the best views in the whole county. Box Hill has a visitor centre and car parking at the summit, for those who want fabulous views without the effort of walking. Don’t miss the flowering orchids on Box Hill, early June to early July. Or Autumnal leaf displays at either location.
Denbies Vineyard can be added to this day out as it is very close to Box Hill.
Don’t drink and drive, you’ll spill it! Seriously, please don’t drive under the influence of alcohol.
Surreyfact – Surrey is the most wooded county in England at 22.4% of coverage, compared to an English national average of 11.8%
9. Clandon Park and Hatchlands Park – Both are stunning 18th century mansions a few miles from each other, just outside Guildford on the ‘Epsom Road’ (A246)
There is also the Surrey Infantry Museum at Clandon Park;
These National trust properties can be combined with another nearby, Polesden Lacey (below) to form a ‘handsome threesome’ day out.
Surreyfact – Hatchlands Park has the largest collection of keyboard instruments in Europe
10. Savill Garden, Valley Gardens and Virginia Water – At a combined area of 988 acres, ‘The Royal Landscape’ as these three areas are also known, offer landscaped gardens, woodland and lakes for your viewing pleasure. Maybe you could add a visit to nearby Runnymede, to see where King John signed the Magna Carta in 1215. Don’t miss the Queen Elizabeth Temperate House in Savill Garden, a wonderful selection of species from the National Plant Collections.
Surreyfact – When Surrey County Cricket Club’s ground ‘The Oval’ was located in Surrey, it hosted;
The first ever football international in 1870 (England 1 Scotland 1)
The first ever FA Cup Final in 1872 (Wanderers 1 Royal Engineers 0) ‘The Oval’ held 20 FA Cup Finals and two replays in total.
The 2nd ever test match in 1880 (England beat Australia by five wickets)
11. Devil’s Punchbowl and Hindhead Commons – Easily accessed by the busy A3, whose loud traffic will be submerged in a tunnel from July this year(2011). An extensive programme of guided walks available from wardens.Combine with Frensham Ponds, just along the A287 towards Farnham.
Surreyfact – At 1.83 kilometres (1.14 miles) the Hindead tunnel on the A3 is the longest non-esturial road tunnel in the United Kingdom.
12. There is so much more to see; Chessington World of Adventures, Thorpe Park, Newlands Corner, Silent Pool, Milford & Witley Conmmons, Oakhurst Cottage, Losely House, The Surrey Hills AONB, Guildford Cathedral and many more attractions.
Surreyfact – During her disappearance in 1926, Agatha Christie’s car was found in the car park at the Silent Pool, near Newlands Corner.
After all that lot, I would like to see anyone putting Surrey down as boring ever again. Lovely countryside and small towns of interest. Yes, there are traffic problems in the towns, but isn’t there everywhere?
Tips for today
Take a lot of change with you on driving day trips, those car park charges soon mount up.
Take a packed lunch to very popular locations, and try to sightsee at the times other people are having lunch. (generally 12 – 2pm) It is easier to get round places with less people at those times. And save queueing up at the cafe/restaurant too.
And Another Thing……
Lonely Planet has this as it’s header for an article about ‘Surrey’;
”Surrey is the place for wealthy London commuters to choose when they sprog (reproduce), move out of the city and buy a country pad. As such there are two strands of residents – those who commute and earn fat bonuses and those who are local and don’t – and some people mix better than others. Further away from the roaring motorways, the county reveals some inspiring landscapes made famous by authors Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sir Walter Scott and Jane Austen.”
So the writer of the above probably just stayed at home, and didn’t venture out into the ‘wilds’ of surrey in case the poor wretches of the county had go at them. Poor thing.
May we humbly suggest that that the writer of the above nonsense actually makes the effort to visit Surrey next time, after reading our blog for places to visit. Then this ignorant buffoon might be able to write a better informed article, or if that’s too much like hard work, let us do it for them. Surrey is a great place to visit, you just have to put the time and effort in to get the best out of it.
Let’s just say I disagree with Lonely Planet’s inaccurate article.