Guildford- a guide for visiting this town in 2023

Surrey is full of lovely villages and towns, but we don't often hear people talk about Guildford. This historic market town is packed with interesting things to see and do, and it's very pretty too.

We wanted to publish a guide about Guildford for anyone planning to visit in 2023, let's get into it:

Where is Guildford?

As we mentioned in the introduction, Guildford is located in the county of Surrey, England. It's about 31 miles southwest of London, and is often described as the gateway to the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

What is there to see and do in Guildford?

You've got plenty to see and do in and around Guildford. Here are some of the highlights:

Guildford Castle

Guildford Castle is an impressive Norman castle which overlooks the town. It is thought to have been built by William the Conqueror, shortly after the 1066 invasion, and throughout history the castle has been used as a Royal Palace, a private residence, and even a prison. The castle itself is in remarkable condition given how old it is, but definitely make sure you take time to explore the gardens too - they're stunning and have some really interesting features such as a very well-made statue of Alice Through the Looking Glass. The real standout part of the castle is the Great Tower, and if you're ok with heights then we'd highly recommend climbing to the top for amazing views of the town. Learn more here -

Guildford Cathedral

The modernist cathedral in Guildford often divides opinion, but we think it's an architectural masterpiece. It's less than 100 years old so it's very different to many of the other cathedrals that we write about, but we still think it's very impressive - the design is described as 'Curvilinear Gothic', and the inspiration for this design came from French cathedrals such as the Albi Cathedral. As with the castle, you can climb to the top of the cathedral to enjoy stunning views of the town, although it's 249 steps to the top of the tower so not for the faint of heart. It's free to visit but donations are welcome, and you can also join a guided tour if you wish. Learn more here -

Loseley Park

Surrey is full of stunning country houses which are open to the public, and we definitely think that Loseley Park is one of the most impressive. Built in the late 16th century, this Tudor manor house was made using stones from the ruins of Waverley Abbey and is a Grade I listed building. Unless you're attending an event, visits to Loseley House are by guided tour only. A tour will not only take you around the impressive building, but you'll also get to explore the amazing gardens which feature a rose garden with over one thousand bushes. The tithe barn on the grounds was built in the 17th century and is a very interesting building, so much so that it is often used for weddings. Loseley Park is only a few miles from Guildford and is well worth the trip. Learn more here -

Stoke Park

Despite being on the edge of the town centre, Stoke Park is a wonderful outdoor space which feels like a world away from the hustle and bustle of a town centre. It's the largest park in Guildford and you'll find quite a bit within the 52 hectares - if you're looking to relax then the Japanese garden is lovely to stroll around, or if you're looking for some fun then you can play minigolf. Learn more here -

St Mary's Church

Although we appreciate the modern beauty of Guildford Cathedral, there is no denying that the older religious buildings tend to be prettier, and we think that is certainly the case with St Mary's Church. Most of the present building dates from the 12th century, but the most notable part of the church is the Anglo-Saxon tower, which is the oldest surviving structure in the town, incredibly dating from around 1040 AD. The tower is made from rough flint and has a very interesting look. It is also famous for being where Lewis Carroll preached. Visitors are welcome but asked to be respectful if a service is on. Learn more here -

Guildford Museum

If you're looking to get a great overview of the town then a trip to Guildford Museum is highly recommended. Here you'll find a really interesting mix of items, with objects dating from prehistoric times all the way up to the present day. The building itself is very beautiful, being a Grade II listed building which was built in the 17th century. It's free to visit too, although donations are warmly welcomed. And it's just a stone's throw from the castle so makes for a great place to visit after you've seen the castle. Learn more here -

Yvonne Arnaud Theatre

If you want to catch a show during your time in Guildford then a trip to Yvonne Arnaud Theatre is highly recommended. Here you'll find a great mix of shows, with everything from serious dramas to light-hearted comedy shows held here regularly. There is also a cinema room where films are screened, and it's a much more enjoyable experience to watch a film here rather than at a multiplex. The building itself is Grade II listed and lovely to explore, despite not being too old (it was built in the 60s). Learn more and book tickets for a show here -

St Augustine's Abbey

St Augustine's Abbey in Chilworth near Guildford is home to a living community of Roman Catholic Benedictine monks, and is an amazingly peaceful and beautiful place to visit. The abbey is based in the Surrey Hills, and the grounds are very well-kept and wonderful to walk around. But it's a visit to the abbey itself which is really special - the public is welcome to visit and pray here, and people of all backgrounds are welcome. Learn more here -


Watts Gallery Artist Village

This interesting gallery is actually based in the village of Compton just outside of Guildford, but it's only a short distance away from the town and is well worth a visit. It's dedicated to the life and work of George Frederic Watts, a Victorian-era painter and sculptor. Describing this as a "gallery" doesn't really do it justice as it really does feel like a little village - the works are all set out in different buildings and locations which you can walk between, and each area has its own unique feeling. Once you've explored the art, there is an excellent tea room with a great selection of homemade cakes. It makes for a very enjoyable few hours, learn more here -
We hope this guide has inspired you to visit this brilliant town. If you're interested in visiting other locations in Surrey then we have a guide about The Vanguard Way which takes you through parts of Surrey. We've also got guides about other towns and cities in South East England such as Chichester and Petworth.

Finn is the editor of You Well and has been writing about travel, health, and more for over 10 years.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *