Chic restaurants, an art-deco cinema and a mix of familiar and independent shops give Berkhamsted’s high street an uplifting buzz.
What to see
Berkhamsted boasts a busy high street with many independent shops, alongside high street chains. A Farmers’ Market is held on the High Street on the third Sunday of every month, offering tempting items such as fresh fruit and veg, olive oil, cheese, honey, pies and local wines. For gifts, art, books and more, visit the Pop Up Bazaarat Berkhamsted Town Hall on the first Saturday of every month.
Berkhamsted Castle (c) Sean Wallis
Dating from as far back as the 11th century, Berkhamsted Castle is a towering motte-and-bailey castle – an impressive reminder of a once-mighty Norman stronghold. Enjoy an atmospheric stroll around the place where William the Conqueror was formally offered the English crown following his defeat of the Saxons at the Battle of Hastings.
September is the time to catch the International Graham Greene Festival: a four-day celebration of the acclaimed author of Our Man in Havana and Brighton Rock, with exhibitions, films and food. If you can’t wait, a Graham Greene Trailintroduces you to the local places that influenced him.
“Possibly Britain’s most beautiful cinema” (BBC), The Rexhas one huge screen set in a glorious 1938 art-deco proscenium arch. The whole experience is delightfully civilised; sink into large, comfortable seats with your choice of cheese and drink to accompany the film.
Take in the watery side of town on the Berkhamsted Waterways Walk. Starting at the station, the route explores the River Bulbourne and Grand Union Canal, and passes by the popular Boatand the Rising Sun (or ‘Riser’) pubs, which make good stops for canal-side refreshments.
Why not try out one of Berkhamsted Town Council’s audio trails to get you started?
The Ashridge Estate is just 7 miles from Berkhamsted and a gem in the AONB’s crown. Berkhamsted is also a gateway town to the Chilterns Cycleway – a 173-mile cycleway that takes in many of the highlights of the Chilterns AONB.
Comprising 2,000 hectares of wildlife-rich woodlands and chalk downland, it offers splendid walks and rides through outstanding scenery. For breathtaking views, scale the panoramic hilltop of Ivinghoe Beacon or climb to the top of the Bridgewater Monument, erected in 1832 in memory of the third Duke of Bridgewater.
Dunstable Downs is the highest point in Bedfordshire and just 11 miles from Berkhamsted. Footpaths criss-cross its grassy slopes, and a Neolithic burial ground and a set of medieval rabbit warrens make impressive stops along the way. Include the Chilterns Gateway Centre in your visit.
Bluebells at the Ashridge Estate, Image Graeme Cannon.
Berkhamsted is a gateway town to the Chilterns Cycleway – a 173-mile cycleway that takes in many of the highlights of the Chilterns AONB.
Ivinghoe Beacon - a late bronze age to early iron age hillfort.
Photo by Chris Smith
Chesham is a gateway to walking in the AONB, well-connected with its own branch of the Metropolitan Line. Walks lead through the historic streets into the pretty Chess Valley.
Tring – 5 miles away
The Rothschild family left their legacy across Tring, with distinctive buildings dotted among the shops and cafés of its town centre, and a branch of the Natural History Museum.
College Lake Nature Reserve – 6 miles away
College Lake Nature Reserve. Once a former chalk quarry, College Lake has been transformed into a thriving wildlife centre by the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust. It is a haven for migrating wildfowl and notable for beautiful orchids and cornfield flowers. Stroll along easy access trails and enjoy refreshments in the Visitor Centre.
The Snow Centre – 7 miles away
The Snow Centre at Hemel Hempstead is one of the coolest places to go to enjoy skiing, snowboarding and other snow sports on indoor slopes of real snow.
Whipsnade Zoo – 9 miles away
Red Panda at Whipsnade, by Ritchie Valens
Whipsnade Zoo – 9 miles away. Set on the slopes of the Chiltern Hills, the UK’s biggest zoo is home to more than 2,500 animals, many of which are endangered in the wild. Whipsnade is noted for creating interactive and inspiring exhibits and exciting events.
Warner Bros. Studio Tour – the Making of Harry Potter – 11 miles away
Warner Bros. Studio Tour – the Making of Harry Potter– 11 miles away. Take in the world of the Harry Potter films as you travel down Diagon Alley and venture into the Forbidden Forest. Find out about the costumes, sets and props used for these popular films in a truly immersive experience.
Getting here by train
Berkhamsted is only 30 minutes from London. It is situated on the West Coast Main Line and serviced by London Northwestern Railway out of London Euston.
A selection of some of the best walks in the Chilterns, from short easy strolls to all day walks, and all through beautiful scenery. The best way to shake off the cobwebs, enjoy tranquil surroundings and burn a few calories!
Find out more about volunteering in the Chilterns - indoor, outdoor, practical or desk based there's something for everyone, whatever age or stage! Use our interactive volunteering hub to find the perfect opportunity for you.