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Home | Guidebooks | Cirencester

A visitor’s guide to Cirencester

cirencester

About Cirencester

Once upon a time, during the age of the Roman empire, Cirencester was the second largest town in the country, second only to London. This legacy has left a rich history that weaves throughout the town and is clearly visible in its ancient buildings and landmarks, including the Roman Amphitheatre resting just a short walk from the centre of town; for history buffs, Cirencester is a must.

In the very heart of Cirencester is the market square, first mentioned in the Doomsday Book in 1086 and presided over by the beautifully intricate cathedral-esque architecture of the church of St. John Baptist, it remains a vibrant and bustling place to visit. Every Friday and Monday the Charter Market is still held, and twice a month the Farmer’s Market comes to town. Thread your way through the honey-coloured streets and you’ll find all manner of independent shops, galleries, and artist studios, as well as traditional high street favourites. Food-lovers are also well catered for with a wealth of award-winning restaurants, pretty tea shops and old-world pubs to choose from.    

  1. Corinium Museum
  2. Roman Amphitheatre
  3. Cotswold Water Park
  4. New Brewery Arts
  5. Parish church of St. John Baptist
  6. Cirencester Park
  7. Cotswold Wildlife Park
  8. Cotswold Sculpture Park
  9. Bibury and Arlington Row Cottages
  10. Cereney House Gardens
  1. Corinium Museum
  2. Cirencester Antiques & Collectables Market
  3. New Brewery Arts
  4. Corn Hall & Arcade
  5. The Barn Theatre
  6. Parish Church of St. John Baptist
  7. Cotswold Driving Experiences
  8. Sundial Theatre
  9. The Cotswold Range

Barn Theatre
Cirencester

Community is at the heart of the Barn Theatre, and this former Nissen hut has been transformed into a beautiful, state-of-the-art, 200 seat space for theatre-lovers. Established as a charity, in addition to the superb stage productions, the theatre supports a performing arts education programme along with community and school outreach initiatives.  

Corinium Museum
Cirencester

Encompassing 200,000 years of history, the Corinium Museum houses a collection of highly significant finds from the Roman town of Corinium, that today is known as Cirencester. Embark on a journey through time as it charts the development of the Cotswolds from its prehistoric era through to today. There are thousands of artefacts and modern galleries offering an interactive and immersive experience.

Cotswold Sculpture Park
11-minute drive from Cirencester

The Elemental exhibition at the Cotswold Sculpture Park is a great way to enjoy art in the open air, exposed to the elements. Home to 170 sculptures from local and overseas artists, visitors can meander at their leisure through beautiful woodlands, dotted with shady glades, gardens and ponds. All of the sculptures are available for purchase.   

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Jubilee Galleries
Cirencester

Specialising in British & Continental paintings with a focus on mid-20th century post-war art, this charming gallery in the centre of Cirencester houses more than 120 paintings over three floors. The work on display and for sale is all original with selected limited edition etchings. You won’t find mass-produced prints here.   

New Brewery Arts Centre
Cirencester

This is the place to come and discover the best of British craft and creativity. The main gallery offers a regularly changing programme of exhibitions from the UK’s leading designers and artists, plus there are maker’s studios, workshops, and classes. There is also a shop where you can purchase unique and individual works of art and crafts.  

Cheltenham Jazz Festival
May

Featuring international headliners, cutting edge jazz and unique collaborations, the Cheltenham Jazz Festival is one of the leading events in Europe and is a feast for the senses. Previous performers include Gregory Porter, Jamie Cullum and Van Morrison and the Montpellier Gardens site is buzzing with outdoor music, food and drink stalls and family-friendly activities.

Cheltenham Literature Festival
October

For book lovers everywhere, the Cheltenham Literature 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 Show and Food Festival
July

Taking place in the glorious surrounds of Cirencester Park on the Bathurst Estate, the Cotswold Show and Food Festival is one of the most eagerly anticipated events in the countryside calendar. Packed with entertainment including a rare breeds pavilion, sheep shows, dog demonstrations, rural skills and so much more, this is a fabulous day out for all ages.

Phoenix Festival
August

The Phoenix is a completely free to enter, youth and community arts and music festival that takes place in the Abbey Grounds at the end of August each year. Enjoy two days of music, dance, and family-friendly fun in the heart of Cirencester.

Royal International Air Tattoo – Fairford
July

Drawing in more than 185,000 visitors, the Air Tattoo is one of the greatest air shows in the world and welcomes over 300 aircraft from 30 nations across the globe. With static exhibitions and thrilling air displays taking place over three days, this is a must for flying fans and adrenaline junkies.

Bathurst Estate & Cirencester Park
Cirencester

This historic 3,000-acre estate owned by the Bathurst Family boasts a beautiful 19th-century parkland designed by Alexander Pope, which the general public is free to enjoy at their leisure. Accessible via entrance gates on Cecily Hill, little ones will love stretching their legs here, whilst older visitors will enjoy taking in the stunning landscapes.

Birdland Park & Gardens
24-minute drive from Cirencester

This is a wonderful experience for the whole family. Here you’ll find a delightful setting inhabited by over 500 birds including flamingos, pelicans, penguins and even the elusive cassowary. The aviaries, which total more than 50, house parrots, falcons, ibis, whilst the Parliament of Owls, the newest attraction in the park, provides a home for eight different species of owl.

Cotswold Motoring and Toy Museum
24-minute drive from Cirencester

Take a nostalgic journey back in time with a visit to the Cotswold Motoring Museum and Toy Collection. With over 40 cars, vintage caravans, classic motorcycles on display, as well as motoring paraphernalia from a bygone era and a fabulous toy collection, this is a fun day out for petrol heads of all ages.

Cotswold Water Park
16-minute drive from Cirencester

The Cotswold Water Park is an extensive wetland area covering 150 lakes where visitors can take part in a whole host of outdoor activities. Spend a day in the fresh air sailing, rowing, horse riding, shooting and even playing on a purpose-built beach or simply cycle and walk in the park.

Cotswold Wildlife Park
30-minute drive from Cirencester

Home to one of the UK’s largest zoological collections and diverse gardens, the park is home to more than 260 different species of animals, many of which are endangered in the wild, and sits in 160 acres of landscaped parklands and gardens. Daily activities include penguin feeding and the Madagascar walkthrough.

Cotswold Wildlife Park, Bolthole Retreats

Abbey Home Farm
8-minute drive from Cirencester
Perfect for: morning coffee, lunch

The café at Abbey Home Farm serves delicious vegetarian dishes of soups, salads, tarts, and gratins, all inspired by the 10-acre vegetable garden that surrounds the farm shop. There is always at least one vegan option available too. Lunch is served between 12 and 2.30 with tea, coffee and cakes and cold drinks available throughout the day.

Amore Mio
Cirencester
Perfect for: lunch, dinner, takeaway

Amore Mio is a delightful Italian offering a wide range of sough dough pizzas, pasta and homemade gelato. Dine-in or order online and pick up a pizza to go.

Bathurst Arms
8-minute drive from Cirencester
Perfect for: lunch, dinner

In the pretty village of North Cerney, the Bathurst Arms is a welcoming, traditional inn, distinctive by its pale pink exterior. The menu includes a selection of small plates, seafood, and classic grill dishes along with a cheese menu and a section purely for chips!

Bell at Sapperton
12-minute drive from Cirencester
Perfect for: lunch, dinner

The Bell at Sapperton is a quintessentially Cotswolds family-owned pub offering consistently good pub food and great service. This dog-friendly pub is also renowned for its Sunday lunches, and the fact that you can turn up and park your horse.

Café Mosaic
Cirencester
Perfect for: breakfast, lunch

This independent, family-run café is in the heart of Cirencester and offers great, homecooked food. Whether you are in the mood for a breakfast sandwich, coffee and cake or soup and sandwich, this is a wonderful place to refuel.

He Says She Waffles
Cirencester
Perfect for: breakfast, brunch

He Says She Waffles is a sweet and savoury waffle house with toppings to suit every occasion. Whether you’re in a breakfast waffle frame of mind or a decadently topped sweet indulgence, there will be something here for you.

Jacks Tearoom and Kitchen
Cirencester
Perfect for: breakfast, brunch, lunch

Tucked away on Black Jack Street, Jack’s is a wonderful spot for breakfast, brunch, and lunch and then once a month there is a fabulous supper club dinner, which pre-booking is essential for.

Knead Bakery
Cirencester
Perfect for: cakes and fresh bread

Whilst you can’t dine in, this bakery is a must-do for exceptional fresh baked bread, savoury, and sweet pastries. It’s the perfect place to call in for yummy snacks and lunch items to take with you as you explore. The range of cakes from the patisserie is equally gorgeous.   

Malt & Anchor
Cirencester
Perfect for: dinner, takeaway

This award-winning restaurant and takeaway is in the heart of Cirencester and offers an extensive menu of traditional chip shop dishes as well as a dine-in menu. Enjoy delicious options such as king prawn tacos, salt and pepper squid, wild boar and chorizo pie or bangers and mash with a glass of wine or a cool beer.  

MBB Brasserie
Cirencester
Perfect for: lunch, dinner

Formerly known as Made By Bob, MBB Brasserie is a Cirencester institution known for great service and good food. The social, open-plan kitchen space is all part of the experience, creating a vibrant and buzzy atmosphere. The menu is filled with yummy bistro dishes made from local ingredients.  

Téatro Bar & Restaurant
Cirencester
Perfect for: dinner

This award-winning, contemporary restaurant serves modern dishes featuring wonderful ingredients. Expect dishes such as wild boar bolognese, Orkney scallops, Cotswold pork chops and roasted monkfish. They also have a steak menu prepared on the Josper Grill, and there’s an outdoor fire pit area for when the weather is kind.

The Falcon Inn
5-minute drive from Cirencester
Perfect for: dinner

The owners of the Falcon Inn wanted to create a great village pub serving a good pint, interesting wine and excellent food at a great price and they do just that. There is a classic steak and burger menu plus dishes that change with the seasons including guinea fowl, Cornish fish stew and boeuf bourguignon.

The Jolly Nice Farm Shop
12-minute drive from Cirencester
Perfect for: breakfast, lunch

The Jolly Nice Farm Shop is jolly by name and jolly by nature. The menu includes breakfast items, sandwiches, pastries, and their toasties are exceptional. If you want to grab and go you can do a drive-through and, it’s one of the prettiest farm shops that we’ve ever seen.

The Potager, Barnsley House
9-minute drive from Cirencester
Perfect for: afternoon tea, dinner

The Potager Restaurant is a fine dining destination offering superb, local ingredients to create elegant and refined dishes, many of the vegetables, salad leaves, and herbs come from their kitchen garden. It’s a beautiful spot for a special occasion and their afternoon tea offering is rather delightful too.

The Potting Shed Pub
14-minute drive from Cirencester
Perfect for: lunch, dinner

Less potting shed and more gastropub, this charming, characterful pub with low beams and a huge fireplace, serves beautiful food, using fabulous local ingredients. Expect a menu of stylish classics including burgers, fish and chips plus steaks and seasonally changing dishes.

The Village Pub
9-minute drive from Cirencester
Perfect for: lunch, dinner

The Village Pub lies on the main street in the village of Barnsley and looks traditional but offers food that is definitely a step above your average pub grub with twice-baked souffle, pigeon breast and baked cod featuring on the menu and yes… it really is called the Village Pub.

Tierra and Mar
Cirencester
Perfect for: lunch, dinner

Enjoy a taste of Spain in the heart of the Cotswolds. Using local suppliers, Tierra and Mar offers a creative menu of Spanish dishes and an extensive tapas menu including cheeses, vegetables, fish, and meat as well as a range of delicious Spanish desserts. There’s a vegan tapas menu too.

 

Cirencester Golf Club
5-minute drive from Cirencester

This year-round 18-hole course has a rich 125-year history. Designed by James Braid, Cirencester is a mature course with spectacular views towards the town and undulating Marlborough Downs. It’s suitable for all grades of golfer, there is also a driving range and short-game practice area.

Cirencester Outdoor Swimming Pool
Cirencester

Built in 1869, this is one of the oldest swimming pools in the country and offers swimmers the opportunity to take a dip in a natural spring water pool, heated to an average 27˚C (80˚F). Located on the edge of Cirencester Park there is a 28m main pool and a children’s paddling pool. Usually open from May to September.

Cotswold Driving Experiences
9-minute drive from Cirencester

Experience the thrill of rally driving or the challenge of 4×4 off-roading in a safe and controlled environment. Purpose-built tracks, championship-prepared vehicles and expert instructors ensure this is a super-fun and authentic driving experience. There are junior rally options, and the opportunity to be a passenger in a 4×4 if you don’t relish being in control.

Cotswold Water Park
16-minute drive from Cirencester

The Cotswold Water Park is an extensive wetland area covering 150 lakes where visitors can take part in a whole host of outdoor activities. Spend a day in the fresh air sailing, rowing, horse riding, shooting and even playing on a purpose-built beach or simply cycle and walk in the park.

Westonbirt Arboretum
26-minute drive from Cirencester

This spectacular 600-acre arboretum offers a memorable day out whatever the weather, but is most well-known for its autumn displays, often being the picture-postcard of British autumn. Filled with over 15,000 trees from around the world, visitors can wander amidst the treetops on the award-winning STIHL Treetop Walkway or head off on one of the guided walks.

Corn Hall and Arcade
Cirencester

Located in the heart of Cirencester, the Corn Hall is open year-round and plays host to a range of markets. The Indoor Market runs Sunday to Thursday, with Vintage and Artisan Fairs on certain Sundays, and on Friday’s the Antiques and Collectibles  Market takes centre stage. Saturday is the turn of the Craft Market. Christmas markets usually run on a Sunday from the middle of November.

m.a.d.e
Cirencester

For something totally unique head for the m.a.d.e, the Makers and Designers Emporium on Silver Street. This beautifully created store showcases a constantly changing collection of homewares, accessories, stationery, children’s ware of gifts. You’ll find products from exciting British makers and designers as well as collections from established brands.

New Brewery Arts Centre
Cirencester

This is the place to come and discover the best of British craft and creativity. The main gallery offers a regularly changing programme of exhibitions from the UK’s leading designers and artists, plus there are maker’s studios, workshops, and classes. There is also a shop where you can purchase unique and individual works of art and crafts.  

Octavia’s Book Shop
Cirencester

Octavia’s is a brilliant independent bookshop, and with an owner passionate about children’s literature, more than half the stock is dedicated to children’s books; from tiny tots all the way through to young adults. There’s also a great selection of adult reading, with best sellers and reference books. The knowledgeable staff can also help with book club recommendations and are always on hand to talk all things ‘book’.

Arlington Row Cottages
16-minute drive from Cirencester

Set in Bibury, and famously described by William Morris as the “most beautiful village in England”, Arlington Row is one of the most iconic sites in the Cotswolds. Stroll through this delightful Cotswold village and take a step back in time. 

Cerney House Gardens
10-minute drive from Cirencester

Stroll through this beautiful 40-acre garden estate and discover a fabulous Victorian walled garden, with a vegetable garden and knot garden within, an orchard, bluebell woods, a rose walk and a rockery. The walled garden was once described by Country Living Magazine as “What most people aspire to in their gardens, and few achieve”.

Cirencester Amphitheatre
Cirencester

Lying on the outskirts of Cirencester are the remains of one of the largest Roman amphitheatres in Britain. Constructed in the 2nd century when Cirencester was known as Corinium, this stadium would have held 8,000 spectators. All that remains today are the huge banks that would have supported the tiers of seats, but the sense of place is palpable.  

National Trust Lodge Park and Sherborne Estate
24-minute drive from Cirencester

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.

In addition to having the walks of the Cotswold Way on its doorstep, there are many self-guided walks to enjoy in and around Cirencester. For history buffs, try The Whereat Trail, an easy-to-follow route from the Corinium Museum to the Roman Amphitheatre. For those after a slightly longer route, the field and woodland walk from Cecily Hill to Peddington Polo Ground is a great choice. Covering four miles in total, this circular walk starts takes you through parkland and across the River Churn before heading through rolling fields and woodland to Peddington Polo Ground. Another popular choice is the Riverside Walk from West Market Place in the town centre; a gentle 2.5-mile stroll along the riverbank, taking in the Abbey Grounds, Roman Wall, and an early 16th-century mill house.

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

Barnsley House Spa
9-minute drive from Cirencester

This blissful sanctuary is tucked away in a picture-perfect Cotswold village amidst beautiful secret gardens. Designed to offer the ultimate in relaxation with a range of treatments, steam room, hydrotherapy pool and spa garden terrace, you may find you never want to leave.

Calcot Spa
25-minute drive from Cirencester

This idyllically located Cotswold spa is surrounded by beautiful woodlands and is guaranteed to calm the spirit and relax the soul. Choose from a menu of indulgent spa treatments or linger longer with a spa day or perhaps a romantic evening session.

C-Side Spa at Cowley Manor
15-minute drive from Cirencester

This multi-award winning spa 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.

Spa6
10-minute drive from Cirencester

Spa6 is a tranquil spa within the DeVere Hotel at the Cotswold Water Park. This lovely, relaxing spa offers a range of therapies and beauty treatments including hot stone massages, to leave you looking and feeling fabulous. There is also a dry floatation room, a truly relaxing experience.

Adam Henson’s Cotswold Farm Park
30-minute drive from Cirencester

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.

Birdland Park & Gardens
26-minute drive from Cirencester

Birdland Park and Gardens in Bourton-on-the-Water are inhabited by over 500 birds including flamingos, pelicans, penguins and even the elusive cassowary. The aviaries, which total more than 50, house parrots, falcons, and ibis, whilst the Parliament of Owls, the newest attraction in the park, provides a home for eight different species of owl.

Cerney House Gardens
10-minute drive from Cirencester

Stroll through this beautiful 40-acre garden estate and discover a fabulous Victorian walled garden, with a vegetable garden and knot garden within, an orchard, bluebell woods, a rose walk and a rockery. The walled garden was once described by Country Living Magazine as “What most people aspire to in their gardens, and few achieve”.

Cotswold Wildlife Park & Gardens
30-minute drive from Cirencester

Home to one of the UK’s largest zoological collections and diverse gardens, the park has more than 260 different species of animals, many of which are endangered in the wild. It sits in 160 acres of landscaped parklands and gardens. Daily activities include penguin feeding and the Madagascar walkthrough.

Crocodiles of the World
30-minute drive from Cirencester

Dedicated to the conservation of these much-maligned creatures, you’ll be able to see 17 of the 24 species currently found in the world including fresh and saltwater crocodiles, caiman, and alligators. For those who want to get even closer, there are wild keeper experiences for children and grownups alike.

National Trust Lodge Park and Sherborne Estate
24-minute drive from Cirencester

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.

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