Your Guide to
Cheltenham and Gloucester
“A regal, Regency racing town and waterside city with historic docklands”
Cheltenham’s claim to fame stretches back through the years to 1716 and the discovery of mineral-laden springs beneath the town. A visit by the ailing monarch, King George III, to ‘take the waters’ put Cheltenham well and truly on the map and it quickly became a favoured haunt of the ‘smart set’. More than 300 years later, Cheltenham is consequently regarded as one of the most complete Regency towns in the country.
This vibrant town is bursting with history, but it’s also jam-packed with culture, the arts, and an impeccable racing pedigree. From a much-celebrated annual literary festival attracting authors from across the globe to fabulous music, jazz and science events, Cheltenham is likewise a place to refresh the mind and the soul.
Lying on the edge of town, within the embrace of the Cotswolds, is the Cheltenham Racecourse, home of the legendary Gold Cup, the most prestigious jump racing event of the year. Surrounded by gently rolling green hills, this much-loved course is unquestionably one of the prettiest in the country and its hospitality is renowned.
Alongside the festivals, sporting events and glorious architecture, Cheltenham is a place filled with independent shops and boutiques, as well as the usual high street suspects. You’ll also find an abundance of dining spots to tempt every palate from artisan coffee roasters to fresh-from-the-grill street food, to elegant gastro-pubs and Michelin-starred restaurants.
Gloucester is a lively and vibrant city with lots to do. The city has plenty to offer, including walking routes along the Gloucester and Sharpness canal, historic docklands, shopping, eating and drinking at Gloucester Quays, as well as several festivals hosted on the waterfront throughout the year. Gloucester is a great destination for all, from Rugby supporters to Harry Potter fans and everyone in between!
We hope you enjoy your stay in this much-loved part of the Cotswolds. To help you plan your days we’ve put together a collection of our favourite experiences, so you can make the most of Cheltenham and Gloucester
Presented by the Jockey Club, the great and good of the jump racing world come together for four days of undeniably spectacular jump racing at Cheltenham Racecourse. The Festival features the best jockeys, trainers and horses in the world, who go head-to-head over 28 races including the legendary Gold Cup.
On the north-eastern edge of Cheltenham, Cleeve Hill is the highest point in Gloucestershire and the highest peak in the Cotswolds. Criss-crossed by countless footpaths, including the Cotswold Way National Trail, the breathtaking views take in the Malvern Hills and on a clear day the Black Mountains in Wales. There is likewise oodles of open space, quite a few sheep, a golf course and a Neolithic burrow – Belas Knap.
The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (GWSR) is a steam and diesel heritage railway. Since 1981, the volunteers have restored over 10 miles of line, together with platforms, buildings, steam, and diesel locomotives and rolling stock. In addition to a scheduled service, GWR hosts a number of galas and enthusiasts’ events throughout the year, including the ever-popular Santa Specials.
The WWT Slimbridge Wetlands Centre is a 100-acre wetland paradise of wide-open spaces and accordingly the birdlife at Slimbridge changes from one month to the next. Explore the different zones including Asia, Australia, Flamingo Lagoon, Back from the Brink, and Tundra zone. Enjoy guided walks and talks, a Land Rover safari, and welly boot land – an outdoor wet playground for all the family!
Steeped in 1,000 years of history, and the resting place of Henry VIII’s sixth wife Katherine Parr, Sudeley Castle makes for a particularly fascinating day out. There are 10 award-winning gardens set in the 1,200-acre estate, a Pheasantry (housing one of the largest collections in the world of rare and endangered pheasants). There is also a huge adventure playground.
Visit the Cathedral in the heart of Gloucester’s city centre and enjoy the celestial surroundings of the 678-9 AD building. Whether you choose to join in with a service, light a candle for someone special, or simply wander around, taking in the surroundings, Gloucester’s Cathedral is worth a visit. The whole vast building is spectacular, but the stained-glass windows are perhaps the most dazzling to witness. For fans of Harry Potter, parts of the Cathedral may look familiar. Did someone say troll in the dungeon?
Dunkerton’s is a Cheltenham institution and alongside the range of cider tours and masterclasses available, it’s also a great food and drink experience. During the summer months, it’s a really popular place with a range of events to enjoy. bluebell woods, a colourful rose walk and a rockery.
Home and birthplace of composer Gustav Holst, the Holst Victoria House museum was founded by Holst’s daughter Imogen in 1974. Discover more about his life and see many of his treasured possessions including the piano on which he composed The Planets. Likewise, hear stories of its eclectic residents and experience life in Victorian times.
The Everyman Theatre was designed by famed architect Frank Matcham, who was responsible for the London Palladium, Coliseum and Hippodrome amongst others, and has been entertaining audiences since 1891. The theatre showcases a wide range of productions encompassing ballet, opera, music, and comedy as well as musicals and a hugely popular Christmas pantomime.
Housing an internationally significant collection of displays from the Arts & Crafts Movement and fine art collection, The Wilson is Gloucestershire’s pre-eminent art gallery and museum. It’s also home to the Open Archive where you can discover more about the life of Antarctic explorer Edward Wilson.
For book lovers everywhere, the Cheltenham Literary Festival is obviously a must. Attracting literary greats, high-profile speakers, and new authors from around the world, it celebrates the written and the spoken word. A variety of interactive events take place across the town and also include a range of free family-friendly activities too
The Cheltenham Jazz Festival is undeniably one of Europe’s leading events of all things jazz and features a diverse array of artists including international headliners, cutting-edge jazz and one-of-a-kind unique collaborations. The festival site is Montpellier Gardens in the heart of the town, and consequently, it’s a real feast for the senses with free music, food and drink stalls and family-friendly activities.
Perfect for children (and adults) who are always asking ‘why’. The Cheltenham Science Festival consequently brings together scientists and futurologists to inspire and make sense of the world around us. Past speakers include Brian Cox, Robert Winston, and Helen Sharman.
This is perhaps the best way to immerse yourself in Gloucester’s culture and history. Explore the city’s Roman origins and its past through the Dark Ages and Medieval period. The Museum has an interesting selection of art, as well as the Eastgate Viewing Chamber, where you can see Roman remains, a 13th-century tower and the Tudor ‘horse-pool’.
The award-winning National Waterways Museum is the perfect place to learn about Gloucester’s waterways in a fun and interactive way. With exhibits and displays, café and museum shop, it’s a great destination for all the family to enjoy.
A tiny but charming museum dedicated to the inspiration behind Beatrix Potter’s beautiful story, the Tailor of Gloucester.
Perfect for: casual lunch, dinner
Styled on the traditional noodle bars found throughout Hong Kong and China, Bar & Wok serves up steaming bowls of noodles, Cantonese dishes and street food. Dine at one of the simple bench-style tables and enjoy great-tasting fresh food paired with a selection of Asian beers. Booking isn’t strictly necessary but a good idea in the evening.
Perfect for: lunch, dinner
Set in the former ballroom of the Queen’s Hotel in Montpellier, the location for Brasserie Blanc is just beautiful. The French-inspired menu features classic French cuisine and similarly dishes inspired by Raymond Blanc’s travels through North Africa, Asia and the Americas. Expect a vibrant and lively atmosphere, there is a pretty bar and booking is recommended.
Perfect for: breakfast, great coffee and cake
A small café where you can enjoy excellent coffee, cakes, breakfast and brunch dishes in a relaxed environment or takeaway. Vegan and vegetarian options are also available.
Perfect for: lunch
Owned by Yves and Elisabeth, who have run restaurants in Paris and Provence, L’Artisan is a genuinely French, independent bistro in the heart of Cheltenham. Open for lunch only, the beautifully curated menu features an authentic range of classic French dishes and is regularly updated. There’s also an excellent wine list. Advance booking is recommended.
Perfect for: breakfast, brunch and lunch
This charming indie café offers a warm welcome, boutique décor and a lovely courtyard garden space in which they serve up yummy breakfast and brunch dishes and a range of sandwiches, salads, and light bites for lunch.
Perfect for: dinner
The East India Café showcases dishes from the era of the British Raj but with a modern twist and up-to-date cooking techniques. There’s a small but exceptionally well-curated a la carte menu, or you can choose from the beautiful seven-course tasting menu, also available as a vegetarian option. Booking is recommended.
Perfect for: lunch, dinner
This lovely pub is on the outskirts of Cheltenham, almost within touching distance of the racecourse. There are log fires, a sunny garden and it’s full of 16th-century character and charm. The menu is seasonal and there is also a wide range of craft beer, real ale and cider from Butcombe Brewery.
Perfect for: superb coffee and yummy cake
Forget the cookie-cutter high street coffee chains, Black Gold is a vision of wing-backed armchairs and filament light bulbs. There’s something just a little decadent about it. The coffee is excellent as is the cake, it’s the perfect place to linger a while.
Perfect for: lunch, dinner and Sunday lunch
This is a lovely 17th-century inn set in the beautiful Cotswold countryside just a short drive from Cheltenham. There’s a menu of traditional pub classics and also a daily changing specials board. Inside you’ll also find roaring fires, exposed beams and flagstone floors. During the warmer months, there’s outdoor seating as well.
Perfect for: lunch and dinner
Kibou is a Japanese ramen and sushi bar and hot kitchen. Particularly inspired by the bustle of Tokyo’s eating and dining scene, Kibou offers fabulous handmade sushi, katsu and tempura dishes and wonderful ramen. If you’re tempted, there is also an extensive selection of Japanese beers, sake and whiskeys.
Perfect for: celebratory occasions
This Michelin-star establishment has been supplying exceptional dishes to the people of Cheltenham since the late 80s. The restaurant offers two, three and four-course menus for lunch and dinner, as well as set menu options. Expect perfectly crafted modern French dishes.
Perfect for: all-day dining, afternoon tea
Set within the Grade I listed Montpellier Rotunda, The Ivy offers a stylish, vibrant dining experience in Cheltenham. Open for all-day dining and weekend brunches, the menu at The Ivy features British classics, a roasts and grill menu, and some rather lovely cocktails.
Perfect for: elegant lunches, dinner
Lumiere was opened by chef Jon Howe and his wife Helen to be the kind of restaurant they would love to dine at. Stylish and unassuming, Lumiere offers modern British dishes using the freshest local produce. There’s a small but beautiful lunch menu. In the evening, choose from the six or eight-course tasting menu. The reviews unquestionably speak for themselves.
Perfect for: lunch, dinner and gorgeous cocktails
Although the menu here is predominantly French, expect to find flashes of Indian and Far Eastern influences throughout the menu. The restaurant is modern and vibrant and offers a relaxed but superb dining experience.
Perfect for: dinner
Prithvi offers a memorable dining experience in a beautifully intimate restaurant. Both the à la carte menu and Prithvi tour tasting menu feature traditional gourmet Indian dishes with a twist. Open for lunch on Saturdays only and dinner Tuesday to Saturday.
Perfect for: beautiful seafood
Seafood lovers should make sure a visit to Purslane is on their list. This small, independent restaurant specialises in the freshest, sustainably caught seafood and the best local, seasonal produce. The evening service features five and seven-course tasting menus as well as a full à la carte option.
Perfect for: breakfast, brunch, and lunch
Owned by Simon Wood (winner of MasterChef in 2015) this is a delightful artisan eating space with a comprehensive menu of dishes using local produce. Expect rhubarb and custard buttermilk pancakes, chorizo rosti, lamb shawarma, as well as baps and wraps.
Perfect for: lunch and dinner
A lovely restaurant offering an array of small tasting plates covering earth (plant-based), land and sea. There is undeniably a strong farm-to-fork philosophy and local produce features prominently.
Perfect for: dinner
The Coconut Tree is a Sri Lankan street food restaurant offering a mouth-watering menu of traditional dishes including a large selection of vegan and vegetarian-friendly options. Expect a chilled vibe and some excellent cocotails – cocktails inspired by the flavours of Sri Lanka.
Perfect for: dinner
A fun, adventurous dining experience that is immersive and takes diners around the globe. The lighting is moody, the music audible and the menu features six or 12 unique courses. Come hungry. Booking essential.
Perfect for: coffee, brunch and lunch
Both artisan coffee house and delicious kitchen The Find serves an enticing breakfast, brunch, and lunch menu seven days a week. Table bookings are taken during the week, at the weekend it’s walk-ins only. There may be a little wait when they’re busy, but it’s well worth it.
Perfect for: lunch, dinner, drinks and casual meals
‘Gloucester’s best-known secret’, Café Rene is a classic characterful and charming English pub. It’s also renowned for its live music scene and great food.
Perfect for: tapas and small plates, dinner, drinks, Greek, Mediterranean
Greek on the Docks is a lovely inviting place to dine and socialise. With large glass windows and doors overlooking Gloucester’s historic dock, and delicious authentic food, the restaurant is undoubtedly a popular spot.
Perfect for: lunch, coffee, snacks
A favourite with the locals, On Toast serves toasties with a twist. With savoury and sweet options including traditional choices like ham and cheese, and more conversely unusual fillings, including Mars bar and Crème Egg. Order your toasties on the phone ahead of time and pick them up on your walk along the docks.
Gloucestershire has a rich aviation history and the Jet Age Museum preserves a unique collection of artefacts and aircraft charting the region’s aeronautical heritage. There are 22 aircraft across the site, additionally engines in various stages of restoration. Many of the museum’s volunteers were pilots of the aircraft on display so the experience you have is truly personal.
Cradled in a beautiful, quintessentially English valley are the remnants of what was once one of the grandest Roman villas in Great Britain. Through a series of spectacular mosaics, take a stroll through Britain’s Roman past. The tranquil setting and abundant wildlife make for a lovely day out.
Spend time in a peaceful Cotswold National Trust estate filled with wildlife including fallow and roe deer, badgers and foxes. This is also the home of England’s last surviving 17th-century grandstand along with 18th-century water meadows.
This hidden gem is something of a secret. Set around a Victorian Walled Garden, the gardens form part of the Angus family home and are filled with glorious old-fashioned scents and colours. Wander through 40 acres of woodland walks and Cotswold parkland and you can indeed leave the hustle of the 21st century behind for an hour or two.
This undeniably picture-postcard village offers a wealth of attractions including Birdland Park and Gardens, the Model Village, the Dragonfly Maze, and the Cotswold Motoring Museum. Wander alongside the riverside walk, as the River Windrush flows through the centre of the village, before refuelling with a cream tea in one of the lovely independent cafes.
Experience the great outdoors with a peek into the flamboyant frivolity of the early 1700s in the UK’s only complete surviving Rococo garden. Designed as a fanciful pleasure garden for the owner of Painswick House it has thus been faithfully restored. In 1748, local artist Thomas Robins painted the garden. Little did he know that his painting would be the blueprint for the restoration, more than 200 years later.
Bourton-on-the-Water acquired the nickname ‘Venice of the Cotswolds’ for the abundance of bridges spanning the River Windrush
The welcoming and friendly Cotswold Farm Park is a delight for every age and is a much-loved local attraction. Spend the whole day visiting the rare breeds, meet the new arrivals and follow the wildlife trails. It is set in glorious countryside overlooking the Windrush Valley.
Open from March to October each year, Sandford Parks Lido is a Grade II listed, heated outdoor swimming pool that encompasses a 50m main pool, a children’s pool and a paddling pool. The lido dates to 1935 and has been a Cheltenham institution ever since.
This beautiful space is the perfect place for kids to let off steam. It’s the largest ornamental park in Cheltenham, is Grade II listed and is overlooked by the magnificent Pittville Pump Room standing guard at one end of the park. There’s a simply vast children’s play area with sand and water play plus a number of aviaries and lots of green space for games and picnics.
Mr Mulligan’s has two epic adventure golf courses, electro-darts, shuffleboard and pool and is a family-friendly fun experience for all. Work your way through a land where the jungle meets the sea and 36 holes of miniature golf weave through multiple obstacles.
This inflatable assault course will have people of all ages jumping for the lunar stars. Discover a whole city, complete with Crater Mountain, astro slides, solar tumbling tracks and mega bounce and ball pits. There’s a dedicated dodgeball area where you need to jump away from the meteorites and even an alien invasion you’ll need to escape from, bouncing your way to victory. With a dedicated toddler area as well, you can rest assured the whole family will be entertained, and no doubt out of breath after these activities!
Discover a magical village green circus, one that entertains the adults just as much as the children. Giffords Circus is fast becoming a national treasure and entertains across the countryside every summer, travelling to different sites across the Cotswolds including Barrington, Blenheim Palace, Daylesford and Sudeley Castle. Their home base is just outside Stroud, and accordingly, they always return for their final performances of the year.
Set on the Daylesford organic farm, Bamford Spa offers a holistic approach to relaxation and healing. A range of treatments use both modern and ancient techniques to fully relax the body and let the mind quiet. Classes are available and you can purchase access to The Spring Wet Spa.
The magnificent surroundings of Cowley Manor make the C-Side Spa a luxurious escape. After enjoying a treatment of your choice and a swim in the indoor or outdoor pool, you can also wander the grounds where you will find natural springs and lakes.
An award-winning spa just outside the heart of Broadway, a picturesque Cotswold location. You will also find a menu of treatments, a relaxed spa café and fitness suites alongside the candlelit infinity pool.
Take some time for yourself at Hatherley Manor Spa. A thermal suite lets you choose your favourite way to rejuvenate or meditate in their tranquil relaxation room. Visit for a treatment and spend some time in the pool for a break away from life’s stresses.
Open for spa days or treatments, Cotswold House Spa also has a hair salon and nail bar on site. Found in the centre of Chipping Campden, combine your spa day with a stroll around the town.
The luxurious Ellenborough Park will not disappoint. Surrounded by countryside on the outskirts of Cheltenham you can also enjoy the grounds after your favourite treatment or treat yourself to afternoon tea.
This oasis of calm is an ideal retreat to relax and unwind while on holiday in the Cotswolds. With a choice of day packages and mini spa days, you will find something that will fit your needs perfectly.
The Lygon Arms on the main street in Broadway is a wonderful place to while away a few hours with a treatment before spending time relaxing and enjoying the peace and quiet on a lounger. This hotel is also home to the James Martin Grill for a delicious meal.
Choose how you want to spend your time by booking either a spa day, a treatment, or add-on use of the pool facilities. This space only allows eight users at a time, making it a truly relaxing experience.
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Please Note: Information correct at time of publishing. Please check the destination/attraction direct website before visiting to confirm opening hours and visitor details.