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Stevenage is a modern town offering good shopping and a choice of wining and dining venues. Although Stevenage dates from Roman times, it did not really evolve into a town of any size until it was designated a London overspill town in the 1960s. The town’s real attraction is to visitors using it as a base for exploring the Home Counties on the northeast side of London, with the added convenience of being only 30 miles from the heart of the capital.
Who to Book With
Avis, Enterprise, Thrifty, Alamo and National are the international car hire firms represented in Stevenage. There is also Economy, a Hertfordshire firm with a branch in town. The different company service offices are scattered around the outer edges of the town centre. Booking online allows tourists to compare the rates of the different suppliers.
Best Time to go
Stevenage is at its busiest during the summer months. In July and August, and in particular the weekend that the Knebworth Music Festival is staged, roads are often congested and vehicle rental and accommodation rates are at their highest.
Need to Know Essentials
When picking up a rental vehicle from the suppliers, visitors will be asked to present these items:
- Your UK driving license or an international driving permit
- Some other form of identification
- The bank card you used when you made the booking
- A hard copy of the rental confirmation form
Stevenage is a modern town that was designed to accommodate motor cars. There are usually roundabouts instead of traffic lights, which allow the traffic to run more freely, and at night, lofty street lamps keep all routes well lit. The town council runs 17 24-hour car parks in the town centre and the old town. Between 07:00 and 19:00, short-stay facilities are charged at around £1.30 an hour and £1.50 after. Day rates at long-stay parks cost around £6.
Apart from the town centre, Stevenage is quite spread out. Traffic flow is smooth and driving is the easiest way of getting around. The town centre is not too big and easily navigated on foot. For journeys beyond the town centre, bus or taxis are the public transport options. Exploring Hertfordshire or travelling to locations such as Peterborough, Cambridge or Hertford is often quicker and nearly always cheaper by car.
Stevenage Railway Station is the first major stop on the East Coast Main Line from London King’s Cross to Doncaster, York and Scotland. The station is also a stop on First Capital Connect suburban routes from King’s Cross to Cambridge and Peterborough. The station is within walking distance of the town centre. Buses leave from the front of the station for various locations in town. Two car parks with 500 long-stay spaces are adjacent.
Taxi ranks are sited at key locations in the town. Several firms, both in Stevenage and nearby Hitchin, offer 24/7 services in town. Most accept telephone bookings. One small firm with a big reputation is Ace Taxis.
A number of companies have contracts to run the town’s bus services. Arriva Southeast operates the majority of the urban services and routes to other towns in the region, including Welwyn Garden City (pictured above), St Albans and Hatfield, as well as to London’s main bus station in Victoria.
Stevenage has few archaeological or historical delights, yet there are quite a few interesting sites within one hour’s drive. The legendary Knebworth House is just across the other side of the A1M motorway. Other unique draws in range include the Mountfitchet Castle, Gulliver’s Land at Milton Keynes and Whipsnade Zoo.
Knebworth House - This is a palatial Tudor Gothic edifice with elegant state rooms that offer a walk-through 500 year depiction of the Lytton family history. Period furniture, art masterpieces and heirlooms adorn the chambers, while the Italianate gardens, featuring a dinosaur park, a miniature train and an adventure playground, have been adapted to cater to modern youngsters.
Gulliver’s Land - This provides an exciting day out for pre-teens. Rides such as Gulliver's Giant Tea Cups in Lilliput Land, carousels, the Ghost House and Gully Mouse's Magical Castle are guaranteed to keep kids enthralled. Plentiful rest areas, a camp site and food and beverage outlets round out the amenities.
Mountfitchet Castle - This is an authentic replica of a medieval motte and bailey structure and an attached Norman village. The 10-acre park doubles as a home for deer and other tame rescued wildlife. There is also a museum containing 80,000 toys that date from the Victorian age to the 1990s.