London has an enormous amount to offer when it comes to days out. Iconic historical sites and entertaining attractions abound, and the West End is home to some of the best shows in the world. However, stay in London too long and you will likely feel compelled to swap the clamour and crowds of the capital for a calmer yet equally engaging environment where your children can get a healthy dose of fresh air.
Fortunately, there is no shortage of easy-to-reach destinations for those looking to take a break from the city. For families with small children, among the most attractive of these possibilities is St Albans. This characterful town boasts a fascinating heritage and pretty countryside that children will be eager to explore, and it is easy to reach from the capital.
Make life easy and travel by train from London to St Albans, a journey of just 20 minutes. Read on to discover what makes St Albans the ultimate London day trip destination for families.
The history of this cathedral spans around 1,700 years, back to when Alban himself lived and died in the town which at the time was known by its Roman name ‘Verulamium’. The cathedral as we know it today was first constructed by the Normans shortly after their arrival into the country, and it remains among the most significant structures of its kind.
Following a grant from more than a thousand individual donors, St Albans Cathedral has recently been restored. The unveiling, however, was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic – a fact that’s referenced by one of the new carvings, which is wearing a facemask.
For London-based families trying to escape the urban nature of the metropolis, it is only sensible to take advantage of one of St Albans’ most attractive features: the surrounding countryside. Relax in the remarkable Verulamium Park and take the time to explore nearby Heartwood Forest which is home to an impressive half a million trees.
Of course, there are also plenty of wonderful sights to see in the town itself. There is a Roman open-air theatre and a huge number of filming locations for major Hollywood movies. You can indulge in a leisurely stroll along with the River Ver, explore the many captivating buildings dotted around the town centre, or – if you have the legs for it – climb to the top of the local clock tower and take in the magnificent views.
Once a popular stop for travellers on the road, St Albans is home to a whole range of picturesque old coaching inns including, famously, one of the oldest pubs in the country. Well, we can’t be entirely sure that it is the oldest pub in the country – the Guinness Book of Records took the title away in 2000 when its history couldn’t be documented.
What we can be sure of is that St Albans boasts an enviable selection of restaurants, including chains like Slug and Lettuce, as well as a host of historic eateries offering authentic and world-class grub that will keep the whole family happy!