The series of “one-day trips from London” is coming to an end. This is not my last post of places to go for one day if you feel or want to get away from London, but it is the second last. You may wonder why I am not talking about big or most-known places like Cambridge, Oxford, Brighton, but if by one side I think these are places will fit better in a kind of “a weekend away from London” because there is a lot more to visit and to do, on the other side the idea behind these posts is to give ideas to avoid the crowds and lessen the possibility of getting infected with COVID-19.
For me, and I have said this before, United Kingdom is much more than just London. I know that London is the place that everyone wants to visit and who comes just loves the city, but the country is a lot more than that – it is beautiful landscapes, woodlands, wildlife and really cute villages as for example Hitchin.
You can get a direct train from London (St. Pancras station) to Hitchin and it will take you around half an hour. I have been in Hitchin many times because a couple of years ago I worked in a hospital close by and from the first moment I fell in love with this village. The pretty architecture of the buildings, the village full of flowers and the narrow streets with hidden treasuries makes impossible not to love wandering around.
What to do in Hitchin?
- St. Mary’s church – This is the main church in the city center but I’ve actually never been inside. I was meant to visit it last weekend but there was a wedding happening so we couldn’t go inside. Behind the church there is a small garden where you can sit and have a picnic where there is also a small pound with a fountain.
- Hitchin Market – On Saturdays, especially during the mornings, when the market is full on, you can walk around and maybe buy some treasures. There are counters with fresh fruit and vegetables, books, clothes, bags, hats and much more.
- Windmill Hill – This a park on a hill, as the name itseff suggests and it is the perfect place to do a picnic and have a fabulous view of the village.
- Main Square – Maybe I should mention the main square as a place for food and drinks, but as it is worth to walk through I decided to write about it in this section. From the main square of Hitchin you can see the church, it connects to the main roads around Hitchin and there are a lot of tables where you can sit and have a drink (usually there are small counters around selling food and drinks). If you are lucky enough you will be presented with some kind of performance (the last time we visited Hitchin there was a girl playing violin – video below)
- Wandering around – I have said this above but I am going to repeat – it is so lovely to walk around and find these small stores, so conventional and with this vintage vibe. Really lovely.
I am leaving the best for the end: LAVENDER FIELDS
Me and my husband went last weekend and it was definitely the cherry on top of the cake – a finish to an amazing day. This year because of COVID-19 it is required to buy the tickets online in advance, I would say around one week in advance. We decided to book from 6-8 pm so we would be there at the sunset and get that lovely golden light which made our visit to the lavender fields so much more beautiful. It was breath taking! No words to express how beautiful it was!
Also it is a good place for those who have bee phobia (like me). There are so many bees around jumping from flower to flower and you just end up realising they will not hurt you. It is the nature at its best. The lavender is full bloom from middle of July until the end of August.
On the lavender fields in Hitchin they also offer outdoor cinema at night if you are interested- but I warn you – you need to buy the tickets well in advance.
Address: Cadwell farm, Arlesey Rd, Ickleford, Hitchin SG5 3UA
Hitchin – Food and Drinks
Warning: I haven’t tried many places in Hitchin, so I am just giving my personal experience of those place that I have eaten in!
Hitchin Kitchen Cafe
This a good place to learn how a good full British breakfast is served. I have been here just with my husband and I have been here with my parents (for them to try a full British breakfast) and I have been here with my husband and my sister-in-law. Basically, everyone that comes to visit us in UK – we bring them here. This is not a “posh” cafe, not at all, but the food is good, and the portions are massive. Trust me! If you have breakfast in here you will not need lunch, actually you don’t need food until the very end of the day. They also have other options (smaller portions) and you can decide to have lunch instead of breakfast. The prices are incredibly cheap.
Address: 48 Walsworth Rd, Hitchin SG4 9SU
There are really good options for lunch in the town centre. We only tried two Italian restaurants for lunch in Hitchin – Zizzi and Pizza Express. Both of them were good. If you want something lighter you can always grab something from Starbucks, Subway or from ASDA (the supermarket) and do a picnic either behind the St. Mary’s church or on the Windmill Hill. It will be cheaper and you will have a view.
Website (Pizza Express): https://www.pizzaexpress.com/
Address (Pizza Express): 19 Market Pl, Hitchin SG5 1DT
Website (Zizzi): https://www.zizzi.com/
Address (Zizzi): 21 Sun St, Hitchin SG5 1AH
Ice cream – Fabio’s Gelato
If you want good ice cream either after lunch, for tea or even instead of lunch, you must try Fabio’s Gelato. We only came here once not only because we didn’t like it, it is more regarding the usual big queue outside. The artisan ice cream is delicious and you can choose from a lot of different flavours, hence the queue.
Address: 13 Hermitage Rd, Hitchin SG5 1BT
For dinner you can also add the restaurants that I have mentioned above for lunch. If you go to either Pizza Express or to this Mexican/Latin restaurant, the Bar Amigo, you can have a view of the main square. In the Bar Amigo I usually have nachos as a starter and the fajitas for main – the Halloumi and Mushrooms fajitas. I have to warn you that my husband ordered the ropa vieja and he didn’t enjoy the meal, so maybe if you don’t want fajitas maybe try a different restaurant (?). Or maybe you can have some nachos and some cocktails (which are also very good, I have had a really tasty mojito here) and then have a proper meal elsewhere – Entirely up to you!!
Address: 23 Market Pl, Hitchin SG5 1DT
The Snug Bar
I have tried to go to other places for cocktails, but the Snug always gets me! From 3-9pm they have this called “2 for 1” where you can ordered two cocktails for the price of 1 (the two cocktails are the same!). I believe on Sundays this promotion applies all day.
The decoration of the place is super cute and the cocktails are REALLY tasty. We had around 5 cocktails and a beer (my husband’s attempt to look like a man) last weekend and we only stopped because we had to go to the Lavender Fields. Even after dinner at the Amigo Bar my husband wanted to go to another cocktail, but as it was after 10 pm we let this go. If you want to go for drinks, yes the Snug Bar is the place to go!
Address: 24 Sun St, Hitchin SG5 1AH
We wanted to try this pub because it is a bit away from the city centre and for that reason quieter. The pub is located in a nice area and even though we didn’t try the food, the drinks we had were tasty and refreshing. I would imagine the food would be standard pub food which by the reviews you might not regret at all! A good place to stop by and relax in a more peaceful environment.
Address: 45 Upper Tilehouse St, Hitchin SG5 2EF
- To avoid disappointments make reservations in advance – We were quite lucky we only had the tickets to the Lavender Fields and we could have a table at the Snug and at the Bar Amigo, but if we had gone during busier times maybe we had struggled.
- Wear a mask and keep social distancing. The mask is really needed especially at the market and when walking in the naroow streets of Hitchin where you don’t have much space and it can be quite crowded.
- Enjoy the village, it is really cute and you will love it!