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One of the oldest market towns in southeast England, Tonbridge offers visitors a nice little base for exploring this largely rural corner of the kingdom. London is just an hour north, but you’d never know it strolling the quiet streets of this 13th century town. Tonbridge Castle is the big attraction here, but, with a car rental, it’s possible to venture on scenic country roads to the coast or countless West Kent villages that have been around for centuries.
Who to Book With
Europcar, National and Enterprise are just three of the big-name rental companies to choose from in Tonbridge. They have offices at the central train station right on High Street and in business centres like the Botany Trading Estate. Tonbridge isn’t a high profile tourist destination, but in summer it’s wise to go online and book your car hire in advance to be sure you’re getting the best rates and the perfect car.
Best Time to go
Like most of England, June through September is the prime time in terms of warm weather, sunny skies and long days. Expect daytime highs hovering around 22°C during the summer. April and May can also be very pleasant in Tonbridge, especially for touring the sightseeing spots like the castle, as few tourists are around.
Need to Know Essentials
You need to show the following documents when you collect your rental:
- A valid UK or EU driving license or International Driving Permit
- Another form of photo ID, such as passport
- The credit card used with the original booking
- A confirmation print-out (if possible)
Tonbridge doesn’t throw up many challenges when it comes to driving around the town. The centre can get a little congested at rush hour, but parking is relatively easy to find, both on the street and in the city’s car parks. The M25 motorway passes just to the north of Tonbridge, with a fast A21 bypass leading right into town and on to Hastings. The A26 trunk road is another useful option, running from Brighton to Maidstone.
Tonbridge is serviced by the Arriva bus company, which operates a useful network of stops around town. There are also taxis on hand to provide convenient inner-city transport. Many visitors who arrive by train rent a car at the station and travel under their own steam. The centre of Tonbridge can easily be walked on foot, however, as it is quite compact.
The train station at Tonbridge is the busiest in West Kent, handling nearly four million passengers annually. It’s an important railway junction, with lines running to London, Hastings, Redhill and Ashford. It’s quite easy to reach Tonbridge from London by train. The trip takes just 30 minutes and costs around £10 via the South East Trains company. The train station can be found right at the end of High Street at the edge of the downtown area.
Taxis are the most convenient transport option for moving around Tonbridge. The largest taxi rank is situated at the train station at the end of the High Street, where local companies like Streamline and Kent Chauffeurs provide a service. You can also phone in for a pick-up any time you like.
Arriva operates the public bus system in Tonbridge. The company has a good network of routes in and around the town, but this probably won’t be particularly useful for holidaymakers. Tickets are purchased directly from the bus driver and cost just over £1 for a single trip. There are also return trip and Day Saver tickets available for those who plan to travel a lot in a single day.
Tonbridge lies right in the heart of West Kent, one of the oldest inhabited regions of England, just to the south of London. This is an area of small medieval market towns, castles, farms and miles of country roads to drive. There are a lot of possibilities for a daytrip from Tonbridge, whether checking out a historic country town like Sevenoaks or a seaside destination such as Hastings.
Hastings - This is best known for the legendary battle that took place here between the Normans of William the Conqueror and King Harold’s English in 1066. There’s a lovely old town running up the hill from the harbour, the beautiful Hastings Country Park for a walk and the ruined Hastings Castle for a dose of Norman fantasy.
Knole House - One of England’s finest historic estates. Located just down the road from Tonbridge, this magnificent manor was built for Henry VIII and remains in superb condition thanks to management by the Historic Trust. This is just one of the attractions to enjoy on a day drive to the traditional market village of Sevenoaks.
The English Channel Coast - Located just an hour from Tonbridge on charming country roads or quick trunk roads. Once on the coast, there are scenic drives in both directions. Some highlights in this corner of England include the White Cliffs of Dover, Hastings and the resort town of Brighton, all within easy striking distance by car.