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Home | Guidebooks | Cheltenham

A visitor’s guide to Cheltenham

Cheltenham Guidebook

About Cheltenham

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 hundred years later, Cheltenham is 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 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 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, fresh-from-the grill street food, to elegant gastro-pubs and Michelin-starred restaurants.

  1. Cheltenham Racecourse – a day at the races
  2. Cheltenham Festivals
  3. Cleeve Hill
  4. Sandford Lido
  5. Pittville Pump Rooms
  6. The Wilson
  7. Everyman Theatre
  8. Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway
  9. Holst Victorian Museum
  10. Mr Mulligans Crazy Golf
  1. Everyman Theatre
  2. The Wilson
  3. The Tivoli Cinema
  4. Pittville Pump Room
  5. Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway
  6. Hollywood Bowl
  7. Mr Mulligans
  8. Sibling Distillery

Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway
Cheltenham

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.

Holst Birthplace Museum
Cheltenham

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. Hear stories of its eclectic residents and experience life in Victorian times.

Jet Age Museum
12-minute drive from Cheltenham

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 plus engines in various stages of restoration. Many of the museums’ volunteers were pilots of the aircraft on display and so the experience you have is truly personal. 

The Everyman
Cheltenham

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.

The Wilson
Cheltenham

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.

Winchcombe Museum
20-minute drive from Cheltenham

Dedicated to all things Winchcombe, the Winchcombe Museum takes visitors through the historical heritage of the town and surrounding area. Displays include pieces from the Winchcombe Pottery, drawings from the excavation of Neolithic burial site – Belas Knap and curious relics including an Iron Age cup and a WWII field telephone found in the tower of St Peter’s church.  

Cheltenham Food and Drink Festival
June

Enjoy a fabulous weekend of exceptional food and drink in the beautiful surroundings of the Montpellier Gardens. Expect a wide variety of food from traditional British fayre to Moroccan, Thai and more. Indulge in free wine tasting talks, cheese tasting and cookery demonstrations by some of the country’s leading chefs.

Cheltenham Jazz Festival
April – May

The Cheltenham Jazz Festival is 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 it’s a real feast for the senses with free music, food and drink stalls and family-friendly activities.

Cheltenham Literary Festival
October

For book lovers everywhere, the Cheltenham Literary Festival is 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 include a range of free family-friendly activities too.  

Cheltenham Music Festival
July

Dating back to 1945, the Cheltenham Music Festival curates a breath-taking programme of musical events in cathedrals and churches across the region as well as sensational concerts in the town hall and Pittville Pump Room. Popular classics sit alongside new and contemporary music, and past performers include Alfie Boe and Nicola Benedetti.

Cheltenham Science Festival
June

Perfect for children (and adults) who are always asking ‘why’. The Cheltenham Science Festival 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.

Cotswold Festival of Steam
May

The spectacular festival of steam takes place over the May Spring Bank Holiday weekend and is a must for steam fans young and old. Up to eight locomotives take visitors on a steam-hauled journey through the countryside plus there’s the opportunity to see traction engines, preservation stands, and behind the scenes visits to the carriage and wagon workshops.

Prescott Bike Festival
June

For bike fans and enthusiasts, the Prescott Bike Festival celebrates the best in bikes and is an event that should not be missed. Mingle with motorcycle press, owners and judges, and witness the sheer engineering excellence of factory bikes, race bikes and one-off, custom-designed bikes. Of the two-day weekend, Sunday is the main show day so expect lots of action both on and off the track. 

Spectacle of Light at Sudeley Castle
December

Get into the festive spirit with a wander around the spectacular illuminated magical trail at Sudeley Castle. The beautiful grounds and surrounding woodland are lit up under the stars. With festive winter warmers such as spiced mulled wine and hot chocolate, this is a delightful experience for the whole family.  

The Festival™
March

Presented by the Jockey Club, the great and good of the jump racing world come together for four days of 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.

Wychwood Festival
June

Regarded as one of the best family-friendly festivals in the country, Wychwood is a weekend event that takes place within the beautiful setting of the Cheltenham Racecourse. With more than 100 acts covering the indie, folk, and world genres, four stages and a plethora of workshops, healing gardens and an artist’s quarter, this is the perfect opening to the summer festival season.

Adam Henson’s Cotswold Farm Park
25-minute drive from Cheltenham

Set high in the Cotswolds, overlooking the Windrush Valley, this is a fabulous day out for the whole family and much loved by locals and visitors alike. See rare breeds, spot new arrivals in the animal barn, follow the wildlife trails and spend time in the glorious countryside.

Mr Mulligans
Cheltenham

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.

Pittville Park
Cheltenham

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 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.

Sandford Park Lido
Cheltenham

Open from March to October each year, the 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 back to 1935 and has been a Cheltenham institution ever since.

Slimbridge
20-minute drive from Cheltenham

The WWT Slimbridge Wetlands Centre is a 100-acre wetland paradise of wide-open spaces and 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!

Sudeley Castle & Gardens
20-minute drive from Cheltenham

Steeped in one thousand years of history, and the resting place of Henry VIII’s sixth wife Katherine Parr, Sudeley Castle makes for a 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), and a huge adventure playground.  

Walk with Hawks
10-minute drive from Cheltenham

Enjoy a truly memorable experience at Walk with Hawks. This is not a traditional falconry centre and not open to the general public so must be pre-booked. You’ll have the opportunity to handle and fly a variety of birds of prey and gain a wonderful introduction to the ancient art of falconry.

Walks with Hawks

Bar Padron
Cheltenham
Perfect for: lunch, dinner

This delightful tapas restaurant works closely with a group of passionate Spanish suppliers and head chef Roberto Carlo Diaz Sanchez has created a menu of authentic tapas dishes, perfect for sharing. The wine list features exclusively Spanish wines, beers, and gins.  On a Sunday you can also feast on paella.

Bar & Wok
Cheltenham
Perfect for: 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.  

Brasserie Blanc
Cheltenham
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 along with dishes inspired by Raymond Blanc’s travels through North Africa, Asia, and the Americas. Expect a vibrant and lively atmosphere.  

Brew and Bake
Cheltenham
Perfect for: breakfast, morning coffee, brunch

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.

Cicheti
Cheltenham
Perfect for: lunch

Inspired by the Cicheti bars of Venice and Barcelona’s Pintxos bars, Cicheti offers tasting plates and sharing platters, along with 30+ wines which are all available by the glass. The best of Italy’s cured meats have been handpicked for the deli and are partnered with Europe’s finest cheeses, homemade French patisserie, and tiramisu.

Curious Café & Bistro
Cheltenham
Perfect for: breakfast, brunch, 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. From Tuesday to Saturday, they also offer an evening menu of fabulous Mexican dishes from Phatboys Street Food.

East India Café
Cheltenham
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.

Green Dragon Inn
12-minute drive from Cheltenham
Perfect for: lunch, dinner, 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 a daily changing specials board. Inside you’ll find roaring fires, exposed beams, and flagstone floors. During the warmer months, there’s outdoor seating as well.

Kibou Japanese Kitchen & Bar
Cheltenham
Perfect for: lunch, dinner

Kibou is a Japanese ramen and sushi bar and hot kitchen. 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.

L’Artisan
Cheltenham
Perfect for: dinner

Owned by Yves and Elisabeth, who have run restaurants in Paris and Provence, L’Artisan is a genuinely French, independent eatery in the heart of Cheltenham. The beautifully curated menu features an authentic range of classic French dishes and is regularly updated. There’s also an excellent wine list.   

Le Champignon Sauvage
Cheltenham
Perfect for: dinner

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.  

Lumiere
Cheltenham
Perfect for: dinner

Lumiere was opened by chef John 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 speak for themselves.

Muse Brasserie
Cheltenham
Perfect for: lunch, dinner

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 dining experience.

Prithvi
Cheltenham
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. This is a very stylish take on the traditional Indian restaurant experience. Open for lunch on Saturday’s only and dinner Tuesday to Saturday.

Purslane
Cheltenham
Perfect for: dinner

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.

Restaurant GL50
Cheltenham
Perfect for: dinner

Chef and owner Jonas Lodge started his career under legendary chef Raymond Blanc and has since worked with the likes of Paul Heathcote and Heston Blumenthal. His restaurant GL50 offers a relaxed approach to fine dining with a small, but perfectly formed, à la carte menu that changes bi-monthly.

The Coconut Tree
Cheltenham
Perfect for: dinner, takeaway

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.

The Daffodil
Cheltenham
Perfect for: lunch, afternoon tea, dinner

Set within an old Art Deco cinema, the Daffodil offers a beautiful setting for a great dining experience. Many of the original features remain and the glamorous interiors have been created by the flamboyant designer Lawrence Llewellyn Bowen. The menu is a blend of modern, classic, and traditional grill dishes.

The Ivy
Cheltenham
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.  

The Ivy, Cheltenham

Adam Henson’s Cotswold Farm Park
25-minute drive from Cheltenham

Set high in the Cotswolds, overlooking the Windrush Valley, this is a fabulous day out for the whole family and much loved by locals and visitors alike. See rare breeds, spot new arrivals in the animal barn, follow the wildlife trails and spend time in the glorious countryside.

Cleeve Hill
15-minute drive from Cheltenham

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 breath-taking views take in the Malvern Hills and on a clear day the Black Mountains in Wales. There’s oodles of open space, quite a few sheep, a golf course and Neolithic burrow – Belas Knap.

The Festival™
Cheltenham

Presented by the Jockey Club, the great and good of the jump racing world come together for four days of 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.

Sandford Park Lido
Cheltenham

Open from March to October each year, the 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 back to 1935 and has been a Cheltenham institution ever since.

Slimbridge
20-minute drive from Cheltenham

The WWT Slimbridge Wetlands Centre is a 100-acre wetland paradise of wide-open spaces, and 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!

Court Farm Shop
12-minute drive from Cheltenham

Court Farm was established way back in 1936 and today, the farm shop is an outlet for their own wonderful produce including free-range eggs, beef, lamb, and pork. They are strong supporters of other local producers so can you also pick up fruit, vegetables, dairy, bakery treats, chutney’s, pickles and jams, plus ales and cider.

Maison Chaplais
Cheltenham

This lovely deli is packed with all sorts of wondrous goodies and includes a fabulous cheese counter. Pick up charcuterie, pates and fresh bread, and then pop upstairs for coffee and a cake. 

The CheeseWorks
Cheltenham

A must for any cheese lovers out there. Offering an outstanding array of local, gourmet and international cheeses you can also purchase from a wide selection of artisan products including chutneys, crackers, whisky, port, wine, and chocolate.

Vinegar Hill
Cheltenham

Vinegar Hill is a family-owned independent retailer with 11 stores across the UK. Stocking a mix of carefully curated homeware, gifts, jewellery, and stylish fashion, this is a great place to browse for something a little different. 

Chedworth Roman Villa
25-minute drive from Cheltenham

Lying in the beautiful Cotswold 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.

Cleeve Hill
15-minute drive from Cheltenham

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 breath-taking views take in the Malvern Hills and on a clear day the Black Mountains in Wales. There’s also the Neolithic burrow – Belas Knap.

Lodge Park and Sherbourne Estate
25-minute drive from Cheltenham

Spend time in a peaceful Cotswold 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.

Sudeley Castle & Gardens
20-minute drive from Cheltenham

Steeped in one thousand years of history, and the resting place of Henry VIII’s sixth wife Katherine Parr, Sudeley Castle makes for a fascinating day out. There are ten 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), and a huge adventure playground.  

Cheltenham is surrounded by fabulous walking trails including Cleeve Hill, Lineover and Dowdeswell Woods.

For more information about walking and cycling, take a look at our Walking and Cycling Guides online.

Cowley Manor
15-minute drive from Cheltenham

C-Side Spa at Cowley Manor is multi-award winning and sits within 55 acres of parkland, woods, and meadows. Alongside the 19m slate-lined indoor pool and 15m heated outdoor pool, this spa offers a comprehensive menu of treatments using their own custom range of body and skincare products, Green & Spring.

Greenway Hotel & Spa
12-minute drive from Cheltenham

At the Greenway Hotel you’ll find a Cotswold Spa designed with sheer bliss in mind and inspired by its wonderful Cotswold location. Exposed brickwork, historic beans and heavenly ESPA products create a memorable experience.

Tonic
Cheltenham

Located in the centre of Cheltenham, Tonic offers a boutique spa experience with two treatment rooms and a range of treatments including massages, facials, and beauty. There is also a menu of treatments designed for mums-to-be.

Tonic

Adam Henson’s Cotswold Farm Park
25-minute drive from Cheltenham

Set high in the Cotswolds, overlooking the Windrush Valley, this is a fabulous day out for the whole family and much loved by locals and visitors alike. See rare breeds, spot new arrivals in the animal barn, follow the wildlife trails, and spend time in the glorious countryside.

Cerney House Gardens
20-minute drive from Cheltenham

This hidden gem is something of a secret. Set around a Victorian Walled Garden, they form part of the Angus family home and are filled with glorious old-fashioned scents and colour. Wander through 40 acres of woodland walks and Cotswold parkland and leave the hustle of the 21st century behind for an hour or two.

Imperial Gardens
Cheltenham

The Imperial Gardens are just one of the many green spaces in Cheltenham and is planted with more than 25,000 plants each year to provide a magnificent, floral display. During the summer months this garden also plays host to outdoor events and the town’s many festivals.

Slimbridge
20-minute drive from Cheltenham

The WWT Slimbridge Wetlands Centre is a 100-acre wetland paradise of wide-open spaces and 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!

Sudeley Castle & Gardens
20-minute drive from Cheltenham

Steeped in one thousand years of history, and the resting place of Henry VIII’s sixth wife Katherine Parr, Sudeley Castle makes for a fascinating day out. There are ten 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), and a huge adventure playground.  

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