To be honest, when I was invited by a fellow blogger to visit St. Albans, I had no clue where it was and what to expect. I quickly did some research and learned that it’s a small town in Hertfordshire, about 30 kilometers north of London. I also discovered that St. Albans (map) has a great history that goes back to Roman times when it was called Verulamium and that it’s most famous for its impressive cathedral. My friend, Andy, had collaborated with various local businesses to create an itinerary that included watching the Guy Fawkes fireworks show (a popular annual event across the United Kingdom), visiting the local museum and a guided walk around the town. It promised to be a wonderful weekend in St. Albans and we were in good hands. We soon discovered that there are quite a few interesting things to see in St. Albans, including the impressive Cathedral and the Roman mosaics.
Things to see in St. Albans
The St. Albans Cathedral
St. Albans is a lovely place for a weekend break away from London. The main highlight is the magnificent St. Albans Cathedral. At one point in time, the Cathedral was the principal abbey in England and it was here that the first draft of the Magna Carta was created. You could easily spend an hour or two exploring the Cathedral, with its soaring ceiling and stunning stained-glass windows, or strolling around the Cathedral grounds. At 84 meters, the nave is the longest of any cathedral in England. Don’t miss the quirky blue statues in the Cathedral!
The Roman Mosaics
St. Albans is also home to a unique archeological discovery in England: a series of Roman mosaics from ancient Roman homes in the area. The mosaics are in an amazingly well-preserved state and can be viewed at the Verulamium Museum. Parts of the old Roman settlement can also be viewed at the adjacent Verulamium Park.
A stroll around St. Albans
St. Albans is perfect for a leisurely stroll. High Street is lined by a good variety of shops, cafés and restaurants. Standing proudly at the edge of High Street is a 15th century Clock Tower, one of only two similar towers in England. Further down High Street towards George Street, you’ll see wonderful examples of Tudor architecture. Turn towards Fishpool Street for more gorgeous centuries-old houses. You’ll also find the Black Lion Inn in Fishpool Street, a historic inn that’s been refurbished and is the perfect place to stay for the weekend.
Simply the best waffles!
Further down the road on your right, as you cross the bridge over the River Ver, you’ll find the old Kingsbury Watermill which now houses the Waffle House. Savoury or sweet, they serve simply the best waffles! While you’re there, ask for a tour of the watermill.
Across the road from the watermill, you’ll find the entrance of the Verulamium Park, a gorgeous park with extensive lawns, lakes and Roman excavations. The Verulamium Museum is located right next door. Situated at the far end of the park is the Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, a pub that is reputed to have accommodated Oliver Cromwell during the Civil War.
St. Albans is a short 20-minute train ride from St. Pancras Railway Station in London, making it ideal for a day-trip or a weekend break. The closest airport is London Luton, just 15-minutes away.
Search for hotels in St. Albans (Booking.com).