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In the past, Basingstoke was known as a dull town, but recently it has grown into an attractive base for travellers looking to explore central location and South East England. The town lies off of the M3 motorway between London and Southampton and is a major interchange between these cities and the southwest of England. By car, visitors can easily tour around the town - nicknamed the ‘Doughnut City’ because of its numerous roundabouts - as well visit nearby attractions in Hampshire and the rest of the region.
Who to Book With
Well-known international car hire firms, such as Avis, Thrifty and Europcar, along with local suppliers Easy Car and Practical Car & Van Rental, have offices right in the town centre. Organising car rental online before arrival is highly recommended to ensure you get the vehicle of your choice and the best rates possible.
Best time to go
It should be no surprise that the summer is the most favoured time to visit Basingstoke, as this is when the weather is at its best. It is also when rates are at their highest, however. Winter is the wettest time of the year and can get quite cold, with roads sometimes becoming quite slippery.
Need to Know Essentials
The following documents are required when picking up your vehicle:
- Both parts of a valid UK driving license
- Documentation to prove your identification
- The credit card used when making the reservation
- Proof of booking
Basingstoke’s central area is encircled by a ring road, linking it to the M3 Motorway, the A33, the A339 and the A30 (London Road). The town itself is easy to navigate and does not usually have congestion problems outside of regular rush hours. There are adequate car parks throughout the town, both on and off street, with daily rates running between £4.20 and £5.20 on a pay-and-display system.
Car hire is a great way to whiz around the city, though many central bars, restaurants and hotels are within walking distance of one another. There is also a footpath along the Basingstoke Canal that stretched for two miles and a great local bus network that serves the town and its surrounding area. Still, for accessing attractions outside of Basingstoke, a car is by far the most popular means of transport.
Basingstoke has a railway station on the National Rail’s South Western Main Line, which runs from London Waterloo to Weymouth. The Basingstoke Railway station is also the starting point of the West of England Main Line, linking the town, as well as the rest of South East England, to Exeter. Local trains also run north from Basingstoke Railway station to Reading.
Taxis are not a necessity in Basingstoke, but are a great option for getting to and from a nearby airport, such as Southampton Airport, London Heathrow or London Gatwick. Reputable companies such as A2B Taxis and Sam’s Taxi Service offer airport transfers on fixed rates.
The Basingstoke Bus Station is the start and end point for all buses that run through the town and to the outlying areas. Most buses are operated by Stagecoach Bus, although the purple and white buses that run between Basingstoke Leisure Park and Basing View are provided by the town council. There are also direct coach services linking Basingstoke to London and Southampton, operated by National Express.
Basing House is the town’s main attraction, although there is also a wealth of things to see outside of the city, making Basingstoke a great destination for daytrips. The historical Winchester Cathedral, Farnborough Abbey, the south coast of England and the stunning South Downs National Park are all within a short drive from the town.
South Downs Way - This is a scenic long-distance footpath that runs through the South Downs National Park from Winchester to Eastbourne. Alternately, you can reach the park by car along route A272 from Winchester to Midhurst. This drive meanders through the picturesque countryside to the market town of Petersfield and to the lovely town of Midhurst.
Winchester Cathedral - Built in 1079, this cathedral is home to the world’s longest Gothic nave as well as the 12th century Winchester Bible. The cathedral was originally built on a raft in a marsh and stayed that way for 500 years. Today, it welcomes more than 300,000 visitors each year and still holds regular services.
Farnborough Abbey - This is the burial site of Napoleon III, his wife and his son, and also home to many Benedictine monks. The abbey, just a 30-minute drive from Basingstoke, features a farm, bookbindery and a publishing house.