The Best Places to Visit in Surrey

The Best Places to Visit in Surrey

England’s most densely-wooded county, the leafy sprawl of Surrey is unrivalled for natural beauty. Home to one of England’s largest vineyards, the South East’s highest hill, the stunning Surrey Hills National Landscape (formerly known as AONB), ancient historical relics and a whole host of family-friendly attractions, every inch of this county offers something interesting to see and do.  

If you can’t wait to visit Surrey and discover the region that inspired some of the UK’s greatest literary minds, including Charles Dickens, Jane Austen and Lewis Carroll, we have just the guide for you. Compiling all the top places to see, we have put together a list of some of the must-see sites and attractions in the county for you to enjoy. Let’s get started.

North Downs Way

Two friends sitting on a bench overlooking the views on the North Downs Way

The desire to place one foot in front of the other and simply walk out into the countryside is one of the most natural, irresistible urges and one that attracts many to Surrey. Calling to the walkers and the wanderers, the North Downs Way is a designated long-distance National Trail which passes through more 153 miles of countryside – much of which is found in the county. Beginning in Farnham in Surrey and running all the way to the White Cliffs of Dover in Kent, it is undoubtedly one of the top things to do in Surrey if the lure of hiking appeals to you. It can also be explored on two wheels too, with bikes available to rent from local businesses like Surrey Hills Cycle Hire.

As well as being a great way to expel some energy, a walk along the North Downs Way provides superb opportunities to get to know both famous and lesser-known sides to the county. Along the way are eight castles, three cathedrals, three palaces and countless stately homes and gardens, as well as jaw-dropping natural beauty spots in the Surrey Hills and Kent Downs National Landscapes that’ll take your breath away. Of course, there are also lots of great pubs, vineyards and eateries en route too, so however far you roam, you’ll never be too far from a well-earned pick-me-up. 

If you're still looking for more outdoor adventures, you can also get in touch with operators including the Surrey Hills Adventure Company at the SHAC lagoon. Sharing the beauty of the Surrey Hills, they aim to connect all ages with the Great Outdoors and provide a wide range of activities, from woodland walks to paddleboarding to swimming and more.

Hatchlands Park

Children playing on a fence in the grounds of Hatchlands Park in Surrey

Hatchlands Park in East Clandon is home to 422 acres of sweeping lawns, rolling parkland and woodland, at the centre of which is an 18th Century stately home. Originally built for the British Admiral Edward Boscawen, a renowned naval hero and Cornish Member of Parliament, the house has undertaken many interesting roles over the years, from a school for girls to a printing press. Now a family home and museum, the house itself is open to the public on select days of the year from March to October, while the park is open 363 days a year.

Whether you want to savour peaceful moments in the formal gardens or stretch your legs in the dog-friendly parkland, the extensive grounds provide lots of space to explore. One of the biggest country estates in Surrey, it is laced with waymarked walks which allow you to wend your way through unspoilt scenery. There’s even a natural play area for children. Say hello to the resident donkeys and keep your eyes peeled for some of the estate’s hidden gems, including the old temple and ice house, before heading to the onsite eateries to reward yourself with tasty bites at the Coach House Café or Kitchen Café.

Vineyards of the Surrey Hills

A view over a sun-kissed Denbies vineyard in Surrey

One of the most famous wine regions in the UK, the Surrey Hills National Landscape has a very similar geology to that of the Champagne region in France, with chalky limestone hills drenched in warm sunshine. Perfect for growing a variety of grapes and creating delicious still and sparkling wines, the vineyards in Surrey profit from world-class conditions to produce their liquid riches. Needless to say, if you’re a fan of tasty tipples and would like to sample the fruits of the county, you’ll be in for a treat when it comes to vineyards.

Placing Surrey on the vino world map, the Vineyards of the Surrey Hills collaboration has been created between Albury Organic Vineyard, Denbies Wine Estate, Greyfriars Vineyard, High Clandon Estate and Chilworth Manor Vineyard. Celebrating excellence, this partnership between the county’s leading vineyards gives you the chance to try the best in business, all within the wonderful setting of Surrey’s stunning hills. With each vineyard offering unique tours and tastings, this is certainly an unmissable opportunity for every wine connoisseur.

Silent Pool Gin Distillery

A botanics-infused gin overlooking the Silent Pool at Silent Pool Gin Distillery in Surrey

Silent Pool Gin Distillery in Albury was founded in 2014 when founders Ian McCulloch and James Shelbourne decided to turn their dream of setting up a small, local distillery into a reality. Wanting to build a sustainable distillery next to a freshwater source, they found the perfect location next to the atmospheric Silent Pool deep in the Surrey Hills. A truly magical place, Silent Pool is shrouded in myth and legend – the stories of which are woven into the branding on the side of the Silent Pool’s gin bottles.

With a focus on sustainability, the team at Silent Pool use ingredients from the region to produce local handcrafted, artisan spirits. United in vision and differing in flavour, each of their gins promises an explosion of flavours, with every ingredient thoughtfully considered for its unique properties that will tease, but not dominate, the palate. One of the best gin distilleries in Surrey, its collections include delectable offerings that can be enjoyed at home or onsite at the dog-friendly Pool Bar. Distillery tours are also available for a real behind-the-scenes experience.

RHS Garden Wisley

Autumn colours reflected in a pool at RHS Garden Wisley in Surrey

The flagship garden of the Royal Horticultural Society, RHS Garden Wisley in Woking is one of the best places to visit in not just Surrey but the country. One of the UK’s most renowned gardens, its focus is all about inspirational gardening and naturally attracts horticulturists from all over the world each year. Whether you’re a green-thumbed botanist seeking floral inspiration or are simply looking forward to wandering the rows of flower-lined pathways, you are sure to enjoy an unforgettable day out at Wisley.

Spread out across around 240 acres, there’s a huge amount to see and do here. In fact, you’ll likely need several visits to really do the site justice.  Head over to the welcome building to orientate yourself, before venturing off to one of the many themed gardens and areas – from the wellbeing garden to the pinetum, and from the wildlife garden to the Mediterranean terraces. A tour of the RHS Hilltop at Wisley is also recommended, the home of the UK’s first dedicated horticultural scientific centre, complete with exhibitions and interactive displays.

Box Hill

A view over Denbies vineyard towards Box Hill in Surrey

Box Hill in Tadworth is a well-known summit along the North Downs ridgeline, a range of chalky hills spanning the Surrey Hills and Kent Downs. One of the most famous landmarks in the region thanks to its far-reaching views, Box Hill is one of the best places in Surrey for walks in the open air. That said, if you’re too excited to soak up the vistas and want to skip out the walking part altogether, you can also park at the top of the hill for unbeatable panoramas over Surrey’s picture-perfect jigsaw of ancient woodland and chalk downland.

While there are lots of different routes to choose from, we particularly recommend the 8-mile Box Hill hike if you’re up for a challenge, or the 2-mile Stepping Stones walk if you’d prefer something a little more gentle. One of Surrey’s most beloved features, the stepping stones are located in a sheltered, wooded glen at the foot of Box Hill and across the River Mole. Bundle up a picnic to enjoy by the river or on the hill’s grassy slopes, or stop off at Box Hill’s National Trust-run Servery and Café located at the summit.

Winkworth Arboretum

Autumn colours and trees at Winkworth Arboretum in Surrey

A true haven, Winkworth Arboretum in Godalming was first established in the early 20th Century when a local doctor and avid environmentalist, Wilfrid Fox, poured his passion for conservation and the natural world into the wooded hillside near his home and created a stunning arboretum. Following his death in 1962, Wilfrid left his estate to the National Trust and, along with many of his original fledglings, the arboretum is now home to an internationally-recognised collection of more than 1,000 species of trees and shrubs.

Whenever you find yourself in Surrey, a visit to Winkworth Arboretum will reward you with an ever-changing kaleidoscope of colour. Especially beautiful in spring, the park’s magnolia, bluebells and azaleas are the stars of the show, while in the bronze-tinged depths of autumn the trees shake off their summer cloaks and transform into radiant, fiery beauties. Other highlights include the boathouse at Rowe’s Flashe Lake, the wetlands, and the peaceful Badger’s Bowl glade and the children’s natural play area.

Polesden Lacey

Polesden Lacey country home in Surrey

The story of Polesden Lacey, a stunning country house in a vast 1,500-acre estate in Great Bookham, is a fascinating one. Its former owner, Dame Margaret (Maggie) Greville was a highly influential British society hostess, philanthropist and Royal matchmaker, who had purportedly promised to leave Polesden to the Royal Family upon her death. Instead, she bequeathed all of her jewellery to Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother), including a diamond necklace once owned by Marie Antoinette, and left her house to the National Trust.

Today, the Edwardian country home is open on weekends to the public and its extensive grounds are open throughout the year. With stunning walled gardens framed by roses and acre upon acre of rolling fields and ancient woodland, it’s a paradise for visitors and wildlife alike. A gift shop and café also reside within the estate, and for a fun detour, the famous Denbies Wine Estate is only 4 miles away. One of the largest vineyards in the country, Denbies awaits with a divine collection of wines, all locally grown on the chalky slopes of the Surrey Hills. 

Newlands Corner

Views from Newlands Corner in Surrey

Newlands Corner is a 250-acre nature reserve and beauty spot near Guildford in Surrey. Looked after by the Surrey Wildlife Trust, it’s a popular spot amongst walkers from near and far looking to make the most of the area’s rambling paths and far-reaching views that, on a clear day, extend as far as the Surrey Hills, the Weald, and the South Downs. It also happens to be where Agatha Christie took refuge during her 11-day disappearance in 1926, an event which caused a nationwide manhunt before she was later recognised in Yorkshire.

If the idea of long, leisurely walks in the fresh air appeals, you can choose from a number of routes in and around Newlands Corner. The 153-mile North Downs Way runs through the area, and there are a plethora of smaller routes twisting and turning their way through this stunning reserve. If you’re lucky, you may also be able to catch a glimpse of some of the local wildlife who take sanctuary in the area too, including everything from dormice to row deer. A discovery centre, café, toilet facilities, free parking and nature play trail are all present at the reserve.

Leith Hill Tower

Leith Hill Tower from below with blue sky and clouds overhead

Leith Hill Tower rises dramatically above its surrounding landscapes and, at 1,029ft at the top, marks the highest point in South East England. First built in 1765, it has been a popular visitor attraction since Victorian times and is still open to the public each weekend from April to October. Scale the 78 steps to the top of the tower and savour the sweeping views, spying as far as the English Channel to the south and the iconic frame of Big Ben in Westminster to the north. You can even make the most of the tower’s strategically positioned telescopes to see famous landmarks up close.

Once back on terra fierma, continue your exploration of Leith Hill by picking up one of the local walking trails around the hill, through aromatic Rhododendron woodland and across open heathland. You can also stop off at Leith Hill Place, the childhood home of English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams and the social retreat of naturalist Charles Darwin. The house, along with its kitchen serving food and drink, is open Friday to Sunday throughout the summer and early autumn. A tea kiosk is open year-round at the tower itself, offering welcome refreshments in summer and warmer-uppers in winter.

Day Trips from Surrey

A view of the houses of parliament and Big Ben in London

Less than an hour from both central London and the coast, Surrey is perfectly positioned for day trips. Whatever you’re looking for, an outing to the capital will provide endless inspiration for things to do, from romantic days out with your loved one to family-friendly activities for all generations. Choose from countless markets overflowing with fresh local produce and Michelin star restaurants serving award-winning food, royal parks offering regal adventures and world-famous museums beckoning for fascinating discovery. Ice skate, time travel, dog walk and lose yourself to the magic of the city.

Of course, you can also swap the heels for the flip flops and head seaward for rejuvenating days by the shore. Coastal hubs like Brighton are in easy reach of Surrey’s verdant landscapes and offer the kind of timeless seaside fun that will captivate all ages of beach-goers. From gazing out to sea on the end of Brighton’s Grade II-listed pier to tucking into the freshest local fayre at one of the city’s top eateries, a day trip to Brighton will create cherished memories and beloved anecdotes that’ll long be shared around the dinner table.

Feeling inspired to discover the beautiful Surrey? Take a look at our luxury cottages here


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