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The London commuter town of St-Albans boasts a history stretching back to the time when it was known as Verulamium, the first major stopover on Watling Street in Roman times. Historic landmarks, such as a magnificent cathedral and a 15th century clock tower, together with great dining and shopping are among draws in town. St-Albans is also a good starting point for car hire excursions to attractions in Hertfordshire and the Home Counties.
Who to Book With
Local firms such as St Albans Car and Van Hire and international suppliers Avis, Enterprise, Thrifty and Budget all maintain depots and customers service offices in town and around the outskirts. People making an online booking can save themselves a lot of trouble and garner some preferential rates.
Best time to go
The summer months see St-Albans crowded with tourists visiting its abundant draws. The months either side of the mid-July to August peak period are a bit quieter, and accommodation and vehicle hire rates tend to drop accordingly.
Need to Know Essentials
When picking up a vehicle, the hirer is required to produce the following:
- A current UK or Eurozone driving license or an International Driving Permit
- A document such as a passport with photographic ID
- The credit card the hirer made the booking with
- Printed confirmation of the rental
St Albans is not big, so drivers usually have little trouble finding their way around or reaching the nearby M1, A1M or M25 motorways. The only times the streets might be congested are in the morning and evening rush hours. There are more than 2,000 on-street and car park parking spaces in the immediate vicinity of the town centre. Parking charges begin at around £0.60 for 30 minutes and go up in similar increments by the hour.
Apart from the town centre, St Albans and its surroundings are best explored by car. In the centre itself, the attractions are mostly within 10 minutes’ walk of each other. There is a good local bus network, but it primarily serves the surrounding residential areas. Taxi companies operate in town from several ranks.
St-Albans City is one of two railway stations in town. It is a stop on the line between London St-Pancras and Bedford. The London-bound services offer connections onto southern England and the seaside town of Brighton. St-Albans Abbey Station is the end terminus of services from Watford Junction. The two stations in St-Albans are one mile apart on opposite sides of the town centre.
A number of taxi companies provide transport to other destinations in the region. A choice of metered Hackney carriages, fixed fare private-hire and executive cars ensures that all requirements are catered to. There are taxi ranks at St Albans City Station and in the town centre. Two taxi companies of note are Yellow Line Taxis and Arena Taxis.
Several companies contribute to St-Albans’ bus network. Routes are comprehensive and link St Peter's Street and other town centre stops to the rail stations, the suburbs and towns in the vicinity, including Harpenden and Radlett. The bus system is geared towards commuters and residents and does not go to regional tourism sites, however.
With good rail links to London, St-Albans is a good base for trips to the capital’s abundant draws. It is also a good starting point for excursions to local attractions in the nearby countryside. Stately homes, theme parks, Windsor and all its delights, and even historic Bath can be enjoyed on a driving daytrip from St-Albans.
Wrest Park - This is a magnificent 200-year-old mansion set in a 90-acre estate. The Dairy sculpture gallery, beautifully-furnished state rooms and the opportunity of walking miles through gardens with Chinese pavilions and ornate statues have made this one of the top draws in the region.
Chiltern Open Air Museum - This is one of the more unusual attractions in the locality. The museum’s aim is to preserve structures found in the Chilterns. So far it, has around 20 exhibits, including a tin chapel, an Iron Age house replica and a WWII prefab.
ZSL Whipsnade Zoo - Home to a collection of 3,000 animals from all over the planet. African lions, Californian sea lions, lemurs, red pandas and otters are just a few of the varied species waiting to greet visitors. The famed Whipsnade White Lion chalk carving, a massive landmark visible from afar, indicates the route in.