St Albans, England

St. Albans: A Favorite Day Trip from London

If you catch the Thameslink train from Kings Cross St Pancras, it takes a little less than an hour to be whisked away to St. Albans.  At this point, I feel confident that this is my top suggestion for a day trip from London!

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The bell tower at St Albans Cathedral

The walk from the St Albans City Station takes about ten minutes to arrive in the centre of town.  If you visit on a Saturday, you’ll get swept up in the market of food hawkers, artisans, and bowl-for-a-pound grocery stands.  But before the market, I knew my first stop would be the cathedral.  The street signs for this main attraction point you in the right direction from the moment you arrive, yet I found myself veering off path to check out small alleys and lanes.  Once such path took me to an arcade with vintage jewelry and crocheted household items, and it ended with a tea house full of senior citizens.  I was tempted to hang out with the locals, but a sign caught my eye pointing me towards the gardens and side entrance of St. Albans Cathedral. Bingo! (If you wanted to find this arcade, the only marker I remember was that it was near a Starbucks off of St Peters Street).

St. Albans Cathedral is the landmark that gives the city its name so it’s a must-see when you visit.  There is something around every corner once you get inside!  Apparently, the nave is the longest in England at 85 meters.  Weaving in and out of the various sections, you will see beautiful art and design.  Honestly, I’m usually the one that takes a seat while Corey explores the nooks and crannies of every church and cathedral we visit, however this one is a worthy stop if I do say so myself.

I was tempted to sit outside on the green surrounding the St. Albans Cathedral, but I wanted to make sure I could see the Roman Ruins before lunch time.  You will love the 20 minute walk along Fishpool Street towards St Michaels Village and the Roman Ruins.  I was very taken with the doors and windows of each residence, and I’ve added these pictures to the end of my post.

Verulamium Park is over 100 acres and on the way to the Roman theater. You can’t miss this perfect place for a stroll or run.  There are sections where you can see parts of the old Roman wall, and the Verulamium museum sits along the park edge for families and visitors.

To visit the Roman Theater, you walk away from the park and the museum, down a side road that brings you out to an expansive field.  A beautiful country building welcomes you to the landmark, and you pay a minimal toll to walk on the grounds.  I learned that the Romans built the third largest city, St Albans, in Roman Britain, and Verulamium theater was built as a space where native ceremonies could still be performed by the local people.  However, the locals weren’t too happy about the new residents and at one point, Queen Boudicca, burned the settlement to the ground!

It was time to visit the market to have a late lunch.  I took a different path back to the town centre so I could see more of the surrounding neighborhoods.  With Autumn in full effect, I couldn’t help but take my time.

FYI, the market and its food stalls close down by 4pm, potentially earlier, if the weather is chilly.  So I definitely missed lunch, but grabbed a samosa, and walked the length of St Peters Street.  While people were friendly, they were definitely closing up shop, so that was my cue to start heading home as well.  The trip back was an easy train ride, and I caught a gorgeous sunset as well at Kings Cross station.  It was a wonderful end to a lovely trip.

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And one more random bit…I might have walked up to various homes to catch a glimpse of their door knockers.

 

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