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In the south-east of England, the leafy county of Surrey is renowned for its beautiful countryside, architecture, and history surrounding its picture-postcard villages and lively towns.

Thanks to its proximity to London, Surrey is a much sought-after place to live, providing a welcome distraction away from the capital. With plenty of things to do, Surrey is also a beautiful and fascinating county for visitors to discover.

Days out in Surrey

Surrey is full of superb indoor and outdoor activities, attractions, and days out. Alongside its major towns of Guildford, Leatherhead, and Woking, there’s Farnham, Dorking, and Godalming – smaller market towns that give Surrey its historic reputation. From history, heritage, and culture to adventure, excitement, and white knuckle rides, for things to do and family days out, Surrey certainly delivers.

Thrill-seekers will gravitate towards Thorpe Park near Chertsey for all the mega-rides and attractions they can handle, while Wildwood near Guildford provides extreme treetop fun and adventure for all ages. In nearby Woking, the WWF Living Planet Centre gives you global wildlife, oceans, freshwater, and forests learning experience in an exceptional building.

For things to do in Weybridge, the town has everything to offer fans of land and air transport through the ages. Motor racing fans of any age will love Mercedes-Benz World with its F1 and classic car exhibitions, racing simulators, and track driving experiences. Brooklands Museum celebrates the very best in speed and flight, including the legendary Concorde, and The London Bus Museum celebrates 150 of transport history.

For a slice of history and culture, a trip to Farnham should tick all the boxes. This historical market town has plenty of things to do, including the Museum and walks around the ruins of nearby Waverly Abbey. And for a fun way to uncover some gruesome Farnham history, why not try a Murder Mystery themed walking Treasure Trail?

For a great day of family adventure, a visit to Surrey’s famous Box Hill in the Surrey Hills Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty offers you plenty to explore. Take your pick from a hilltop stroll, a circular walk, or the 8-mile long Box Hill Hike to enjoy stunning views across 13 different counties – on a clear day you can even make out the London skyline. Whatever your choice of family days out in Surrey, this wonderful county has something for everyone.

Topography, geology, and climate

As an unashamedly rural home county, Surrey features some outstanding countryside landscapes. But this doesn’t mean its land qualities and soil types are anything less than diverse.

Across the north and west of the county, the soils are largely made up of clay and loam with a high level of acidity. This changes to less acidic, but base-rich clay and loam soils across the foothills of the Surrey Hills. Through this central spine of the county, the soil features become more fertile and lime-rich with pockets of loam and sand soils.

In the southern half of the county, the largely rural landscape consists of the same permeable and seasonally wet, acidic, and base-rich loam and clay soils as the north. There are also smaller areas featuring loamy soils in high groundwater areas.

The weather in Surrey is naturally similar to its nearest neighbours and that overall milder climate which is a feature of most south-western and southern counties. Rarely experiencing extreme weather one way or the other, temperatures in summer average at around 22ºC (70ºF) while winters can hover around an average of 2ºC (35ºF). Annual rainfall across the county varies and averages around 750mm (30”).

Surrey’s parks and gardens

Alongside Surrey’s exceptional countryside, there are plenty of beautiful and highly regarded gardens and grounds to visit, all with a diverse range of plants and flowers on display. Giving keen gardeners and horticulturalists plenty of inspiration, these glorious spaces also offer a relaxing family day out.

North and West Surrey

The only RHS garden in Surrey, Wisley Gardens is the Society’s flagship and best-loved garden, welcoming a million visitors a year. Covering 240-acres, Wisley provides a continually evolving landscape of different plants and schemes to explore. From stunning mixed borders, wisteria walks, and heather landscapes to rose gardens, herb gardens, and cottage gardens – and much more.

An outstanding events venue, Loseley Park near Guildford is a 16th-century country mansion that sits in 1,400-acres of countryside with a stunning 2.5-acre walled garden. This beautiful garden contains a Gertrude Jekyll-style border and a 500-year old Mulberry tree, alongside individual gardens ‘rooms’, providing interest throughout the seasons. And enjoy plenty of perennial waterside plants along a moat walk.

On the outskirts of Godalming, Winkworth Arboretum is an ideal place for the whole family to experience more than 1,000 varieties of trees, plants, and shrubs, including many rarities. The entire estate was meticulously planned to provide stunning bursts of colour across every season with impressive displays of magnolias, bluebells, and azaleas and the seasonal colour changes of the champion trees including American Chestnut, Blue Birch, and Truffle Oak.

Chiddingfold, near Haslemere, is home to the Ramster Gardens, delivering amazing colours all year round. Over 25-acres of grounds and woodland feature colourful spring displays of over 300 varieties of rhododendrons, camellias, and azaleas alongside a host of other shrubs and trees. The woodland trees are just as spectacular with maples, oaks, and larches giving long-lasting autumnal colours.

South and East Surrey

Dating back to the 16th-century, Titsey Place near Oxted features extensive formal lawns and informal gardens. Enjoy sweeping views across the Darent Valley from the upper terrace before being wowed by the formal rose garden. The spectacular Victorian-styled walled kitchen garden features a wide range of fruit, veg, herbs, and flowers, while the conservatory houses more exotic plants, including an impressive orchid collection.

Polesden Lacey, near Dorking, is a popular National Trust garden that also has something for every season. With stunning views out to Ranmore Common, enjoy a mix of herbaceous and spring borders, alongside a cut flower garden, an Edwardian rose garden with over 2,000 roses, formal garden ‘rooms’, and the old kitchen garden. There are also several waymarked walks and trails around the estate and surrounding downland.

For historic parkland, look no further than one of Surrey’s hidden treasures, Gatton Park near Reigate. Covering over 250-acres, the Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown-designed parkland has trademark features including borders, walks, rolling landscapes, and a 30-acre lake. Among this, you’ll find the dramatic rock garden and impressive Japanese garden, complete with a Minka-style tea house, lanterns, and oriental bridge.

A visit to the Hanah Pescher Sculpture Garden near Ockley will give you an altogether different experience in a beautifully tranquil setting. While the surroundings are an open-air gallery for around 200 pieces of contemporary art and sculpture, the garden itself is every bit as impressive. An immersive and natural collection of broadleaved plants, including giant butterbur and giant rhubarb, sit together with mature oaks and acers, and seasonal and perennial plants.