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The cathedral city of Lichfield’s two claims to notability are its magnificent, medieval red-brick cathedral and its most famous son, Samuel Johnson, author of the first authoritative English language dictionary. Set in the county of Staffordshire, just north of Birmingham, Lichfield today is a fine example of a Midlands traditional market town and a great base for touring the region. Founded by St Chad in the 7th century, the town is still an ecclesiastic centre, with its 230 listed buildings and fine Georgian architecture easily explored on foot. However, trips around the surrounding rural countryside are best with self-drive via car hire.
Who to book with
Due to its closeness to Birmingham and the M6 motorway, Lichfield is well supplied with car rental depots, with Avis and Enterprise the best-known. In addition to internationally-known companies, a number of local car rental firms, including Mercury Rent-a-Car, offer good services. Booking in advance online is the best idea, especially during popular holiday periods.
Best time to go
The busiest and most expensive times of year as regards hotels and car rental charges are the Christmas and Easter holiday seasons and the months of July and August. Given the many historic attractions in the town and across the region, a visit to Lichfield is enjoyable at any time of the year, and the local weather is no worse – and no better - than anywhere else in the UK.
Need to Know Essentials
When you collect your hire car, you’ll need to present the following:
- Your current UK driving licence or an International Driving Permit
- Valid photo ID, such as your passport
- The credit card used for the online booking
- A printed copy of your booking confirmation
Set within easy reach of the M6 motorway and the A5 and A38 trunk roads, Lichfield makes a good base for touring the Midlands region. Parking during the week is usually straightforward, but the main car parks struggle to cope with demand on Saturdays and in the pre-Christmas period. There’s a multi-storey car park near the railway station, a large car park off the Friary, another at Cross Keys and a fourth just off Beacon Street. Traffic in the town and on its access roads is heavier during rush hours, but in general Lichfield and its surroundings give a civilised driving experience.
For detailed information on here, visit our Guide to the UK.
A comprehensive public transport network covers the region due to its industrial importance since the Industrial Revolution, but exploring Lichfield’s historic centre on foot is the best option. In general, for sightseeing daytrips around the region or a shopping trip to nearby Birmingham, self-drive with a rental vehicle is the most economical way to travel, as train fares across the UK are expensive and bus routes may not cover all attractions.
Lichfield has two train stations, Lichfield City and Trent Valley, with both serving the Cross City Line originating in Birmingham. Litchfield City Station abuts the town centre and Trent Valley Station serves the West Coast Main Line with direct routes to London, Stoke-on-Trent and Crewe junction for Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow. Local trains serve Rugby, Stafford, Nuneaton and Tamworth. Services are operated by Arriva and First.
Lichfield’s bus station is located opposite Lichfield City Railway Station, close to the town centre and its main shopping district. Arriva bus routes run around town and to Birmingham, Cannock, Tamworth, Rugeley and Stafford, as well as to local villages and the National Arboretum. Bus travel tends to be slow and local services shut down early on weekday evenings, making them more suitable for residents than for visitors.
Taxi travel in Lichfield is by pre-booked cars, with one operator based in the centre and others in nearby towns. A choice of London black cabs and saloon cars is offered, and the return journey from Birmingham’s international airport is about £65.
The history of Staffordshire and the Midlands ranges from medieval times through the Industrial Revolution, with Lichfield within easy reach of its highlights. Away from the cities are stretches of scenic countryside which are perfect for self-drive daytrips, including stop-offs for lunch at country pubs. An hour away to the northeast are the spectacular moorlands of the Derbyshire Peak District National Park and Nottingham’s Robin Hood country.
Peak District National Park - Although the A32 and A51 routes to the moorlands may be faster, taking the A515 from Lichfield via Ashbourne takes you through typical English countryside and charming villages to the southern edge of the national park. Continuing on the same road, you’ll drive through spectacular rolling moorland scenery to the spa town of Buxton with its Georgian terraces.
The Potteries - The A51 running north from Lichfield passes through rural countryside to Stafford, where you can pick up the M6 motorway to Stoke-on-Trent, the city famous as the Potteries Five Towns for its 300-year-old ceramics industry. Stoke-on-Trent’s Potteries Museum tells the tale and displays exquisite artefacts, and the drive back via the A50 and A5152 opens up even more scenic options.
Snowdonia National Park - Just over an hour’s drive to the west on the M54, passing through Shrewsbury and Welshpool, brings you to the border with Wales. The road becomes the A54 and leads to the pretty town of Dolgellau and the rugged mountains of Snowdonia National Park and Mount Snowdon itself, England’s highest peak.