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Few towns exemplify a classic English market town better than Taunton. This lovely little corner of Somerset is filled with shops, restaurants and historic landmarks. Visitors can walk the Heritage Trail through town and step back 1,000 years in time when passing impressive sites like St James Church. Taunton also makes an ideal base for excursions around southwest England. With car rental, there is no end to the variety of daytrips on offer.
Who to Book With
Most of the usual rental companies, such as Europcar and Avis, are on hand in Taunton for travellers who arrive by train or bus. There are several offices near the stations, as well as in the town’s big business parks like Trinity Business Centre. To ensure you get the car you want at the best rate available, book online as early as possible.
Best Time to go
Taunton’s weather is wetter and milder than that of the rest of England. July and August average 21°C and are always the busiest months in terms of tourism. Most of the rain falls in the autumn and winter, and December temperatures hover around 1°C. A good compromise is a visit at the edges of summer, when the weather is good but the crowds are lighter.
Need to Know Essentials
The following are required when collecting your car hire vehicle:
- A valid UK or EU driving license or International Driving Permit
- Another form of picture ID like a passport
- The credit card used to make the rental reservation
- A confirmation print-out if possible
Taunton has a reputation for rather shocking traffic conditions considering the modest size of the town. It’s something the city council is working on, and the congestion does ease up once outside the centre of town. A good idea is to use the new Taunton Flyer park and ride lots at the Silk Mills or Taunton Gateway. Parking is free, and adult return bus tickets to the town centre cost just £2.20. Taunton enjoys excellent access to the M5, along with major roads like the A358 and the A38.
Although Taunton is well-serviced by train, coach and road, only the public bus network provides transport around the town. Taxis are commonly used to travel short distances around Taunton, but many visitors opt to pick up a rental car at the train or bus station to make travelling around Somerset more convenient.
The Taunton train station is on three different lines: Reading to Taunton, Bristol to Exeter and the Cross-Country Route. First Great Western and CrossCountry are the two train operators available here, with fast and slow trains every hour to Exeter, Bristol and London. A few car rental companies can be found right at the train station for convenient pick-ups.
Plenty of taxis are around to help with downtown transportation. Firms like A1 Ace Taxis can be called by phone or booked online for convenient pick-ups any time of day. Taxis also tend to queue up at the train and bus stations.
Buses are the only form of public transport within Taunton. First Avon and Somerset is the company that operates the network, with buses covering most of the town area. Buses hit the stops every seven minutes during peak hours, with tickets costing around £1 per single fare. FirstDay passes, good for unlimited one-day travel, are a great deal at £4.30 for adults and £2.70 for children.
Somerset is one of the prettiest parts of southwestern England, and Taunton makes the ideal base for daytrips around the area. Both the Bristol Channel and the English Channel coasts are a short drive from town, as are popular destinations like Glastonbury and Exeter. Outdoor fans have both the Exmoor and Dartmoor National Parks for walking and miles of coastal road for cruising.
The Exmoor Coast - Located to the northwest of Taunton, offers both a national park and miles of scenic coastal road to explore. This area boasts some of the most sublime scenery in England, as well as ample options for walking, biking or horseback riding excursions in and around the park.
Glastonbury - A magical place, and not just because of its role in the legends of King Arthur. The Glastonbury Tor rises high above Somerset, capped by the ruins of St Michael’s Church. The town itself, also a real charmer, is just a short scenic drive through the countryside from Taunton.
Cheddar Gorge - England’s deepest canyon, with cliffs that rise 450 metres on either side of the road that winds through it. The gorge itself is quite a surreal thing to observe as it cuts into the flat Somerset plains. There are also caves underneath to explore, as well as the X-treme sporting centre for caving and rock climbing adventures.
Clevedon - One of the most charming Victorian seaside towns you’re likely to encounter in England. The presence of tourism here is just the right amount, with a lovely 1869 pier - where the Waverley paddle steamer takes passengers on pleasure cruises along the Somerset Coast in summer - the star of the show.