I fell in love with St Albans last November when I went there for a weekend trip with my friend Sarah. Not only is it ridiculously easy to get to (it’s only 20 minutes from London St Pancras station!) it’s also very, very quaint and cute. There’s also surprisingly lot to do for such a small city, which is why I really wanted to go back.
In a typical Laura fashion I visited quite a few of the same spots as I did last year (I’m a creature of habit..!) but I did manage to squeeze in a few new spots too, so please do read on!
As mentioned above, St Albans is very close to London and it’s super easy and cheap to get there. A fast train will take you there in 20 minutes from St Pancras, but you can also grab a train there from (amongst others) Elephant & Castle, Blackfriars or Farringdon if they are more convenient for you. A return ticket will set you back about £9.
At St Albans’ end you’ll have about a 10 minute walk to the centre of the city. There are signs at the station pointing you to the right direction, so you can’t (well, shouldn’t) get lost. There is another train station (St Albans Abbey) closer to the centre of things, but I don’t think there are any direct trains there from London – at least I haven’t seen any!
There’s no shortage of pubs in St Albans (seriously, there’s so many of them!) but one particular one you should absolutely try is Ye Olde Fighting Cocks. It’s right next to Verulamium park and it’s possibly one of the cosiest and most historical pubs I’ve ever visited. It claims to be the oldest pub in Britain, and although there’s not enough proof to back that claim off, it’s definitely one of the oldest there is. I couldn’t really take that many pictures inside as there wasn’t enough natural light, so you will just have to take my word for it…
Another pub I’d recommend visiting is The Snug for the cosy interior and beer garden (plus happy hour cocktails!). Also make sure to venture into the side streets every now and then – there’s lots of local haunts if you just explore a bit. Last time me and Sarah found a pub just a few streets behind our hotel with live music and danced the night away. So, definitely make sure to keep your eyes open!
The Beech House on St Peter’s Street is quickly becoming my favourite foodie spot in St Albans. They have a comprehensive menu of different foods from salads to pizzas and it really feels like there’s something for everyone. The salads are yummy and quite innovative and the pizzas are SO good too. You can make your own by choosing from a long list of ingredients – last time I went for a marinara and cherry tomato base with feta and red chillies and it was just glorious. I wish I’d taken a photo for you but I was just too hungry..!
Another good option for dinner is Number 23 which I also mentioned in my 5 things to do in St Albans post. This would be perfect for a date – it’s super cosy, dimly lit and the food is perfect for sharing. It’s hidden in little corridor so make sure you don’t miss it!
Whatever you do, make sure to leave room for dessert. This means a lot coming from me, as I’m not usually the biggest dessert person, but The Pudding Stop has completely won me over. It’s a little restaurant serving different types of dessert (and breakfast!) and they do the most amazing brownie and soft serve combos. I went with the blondie with butterscotch sauce and salted caramel soft serve, and it was the most amazing thing. I would pretty much travel back to St Albans just for that…
St Albans is an especially great location for a history enthusiast as it’s very much steeped in it. There is, of course, the cathedral, which always takes my breath away, but there’s also an old clock tower which you can climb up to and old roman ruins a bit further along through the park.
Admiring the cathedral is completely free (although they do ask for a suggested donation of £5 if you want to go in) but the clock tower and the ruins cost £1 and £5 respectively. For such little money, both of these attractions are well worth a visit to add a bit of culture to your trip to St Albans. My favourite was probably climbing up the clock tower – I really love a good view!
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